When a Christian person realizes she made a serious mistake, or something similar, it won’t be long before she thinks that the Holy Spirit is disappointed with her, that He does not talk to her as much as before. It can even happen that some people take a passage like this one:
Ephesians 4: 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
In this case, there are two main tendencies as wrong as the other. In one case, these same people will then begin to imagine the Holy Spirit as a person, starting to have like tears flowing down. Then the image will clarify seeing the Holy Spirit inundated by an immense sadness, totally overwhelmed, He will not at that time held His role anymore in the lives of these people. From this fact people will think that the Holy Spirit is not really longer speaking to them because He would be so much caught up in sorrow and sadness. The result of that kind of thoughts would be a totally broken relationship for this person, because he will consider that the Holy Spirit would have no other choices than to leave that person so much he would provide sorrows.
The other tendency is to believe that the Holy Spirit will become sad, and in addition to this sadness that He's going to be disappointed with me, because I would have caused Him some sadness. Here again these people think that the Holy Spirit would not endure this sadness and this disappointment any longer, and eventually leave us, or at best wouldn’t talk to us anymore, cutting off the connection between Him and us.
These two tendencies are as wrong as the other. A bit of spiritual maturity and common sense, will help us to understand that the Holy Spirit doesn’t feel any sadness. Sadness implies a moral suffering, so how the Holy Spirit, who is God, could feel a moral suffering? God does not change, the Holy Spirit does not change either. God is sufficient in Himself, the Holy Spirit is also sufficient in Himself. God is not subject to the circumstances and the Holy Spirit is not subject to the circumstances as well. If the Holy Spirit had to experience sadness because of the misdeeds of the children of God on Earth, He would be in a permanent sadness. But we know He does not change. The Holy Spirit is not happy with some of us and sad with the others. Such a way of thinking about the Holy Spirit would show that we consider that the Holy Spirit would have human reactions, that His mood would be submitted to the situations in which He would be.
God is love, joy, peace, and so is the Holy Spirit. They do not practice love, joy, peace, they are love, joy and peace. The Holy Spirit is a person who reflects the nature of God, and cannot therefore feel any sadness, disappointment, nor dejection. Such things are only the result of sin; the sadness, disappointment, discouragement are consequences of the fact of sin, they are the consequences of not fully being in peace, in joy, in love.
Now it is easy to understand that the Holy Spirit will never experience sadness, nor anything negative, because He is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and temperance.
So what does Paul mean in this passage from Ephesians 4:30 then?
The word translated as "grieve" in this passage is in Greek LUPEO. This word actually means sadness in the human sense of the word, but it is also used in another passage located in the epistle of Peter.
1 Peter 1: 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials...
If we analyze this word of Peter, we can see that he speaks to people who face trials. These Christians had to go through trials which could be persecution or circumstances unfortunately generated by their everyday lives. Here the word LUPEO translated as "grieve", has a different notion from the passage of Ephesians 4:30. In this word of Peter, LUPEO has this notion of pressure that forces us to deal with a problem. Peter talks about what makes their joy, this joy is permanent because it corresponds to the faith that salvation in Christ gives. We can see that the translation of LUPEO by "grieve" is not optimal in this case. Indeed how could we live our salvation in Christ who gives joy, and yet feel sad at the same time. It can be either one or the other, but certainly not both at the same time. Moreover Peter speaks of a kind of obligation saying: "if need be...". Would Peter say that the trials are a necessity?
So LUPEO has here the notion of obligation with a kind of heaviness that leads us to deal with an unpleasant problem. That's what Peter said when he says he is grieved by various trials. These Christians had problems of temptations, of persecution perhaps, and they had to deal with them. How could they deal with them?
Through various ways of course like:
• Talking with others to clarify
• Remaining in joy
• Remaining in faith
In other words, Peter could say something like: "The salvation that you have received in Jesus Christ, it is the very thing that makes your joy, it's your faith that allows you to be in this perfect assurance. For the time being you have trials in your lives, and you must deal with them, take care of them even if it is not pleasant, so they will be resolved".
It is the same way for the Holy Spirit in the passage of Ephesians 4:30. The Holy Spirit cannot be grieved. Paul talks in the five previous verses of everything that concern the fact of sinning by various actions such as: anger, lying, giving access to the devil, stealing, saying bad words. In this word of Paul these are the things that "sadden or grieve" the Holy Spirit as translated here. LUPEO here has the same meaning as in 1 Peter 1: 6. Here it is about persons who, by their bad deeds, will generate a sort of "obligation" for the Holy Spirit to deal with these problems in the lives of these same persons. By committing such actions these persons will put the Holy Spirit in a position where He will have to deal with these problems. Because of these actions of sin in the life of these Christians, the Holy Spirit will have to dedicate Himself to help them so that they change their way of thinking, there is a necessity to help these people to understand to no longer do so, that grow stronger on the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit loves us and wants that we grow in thoughts and acts, He will have to suspend His regular teaching for a time, in order to deal with these actions of sin in the life of these Christians. It is somehow in a certain pressure that weight on the lives of these people, that the Holy Spirit must deal by obligation with a problem of attitude in the life of these Christians.
When Paul talks about grieving the Holy Spirit, it is question of a situation which is not pleasant that grow stronger and force the Holy Spirit to solve the problem.
We could formulate it literally in this way: " by your bad attitudes, don't oblige the Holy Spirit to set aside your teaching for a time, in order to help you solve some behavior problems, He has sealed your spirit so that it could remain in perfection. So change your behavior in order not to waste His time in the education of your growth".
The passage of 1 Thessalonians 5: 19 Do not quench the Spirit, goes exactly in the same way.
There is therefore no question of seeing the Holy Spirit not talking to me, not answering me, nor even departing from me. We have explained this passage in depth so that each person is now well aware that the Holy Spirit will keep His relationship with me no matter what happens. He will never cut Himself off from my person, He will always be ready to encourage me, teach me, teach me how to change some of the attitudes of my life for the best. The Holy Spirit is not a human being, He is God, and as such He loves me unconditionally like God or Jesus can do.
Bye for now.