The Ministries of God the Holy Spirit Today: Grieving and Quenching the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 2:21–22; 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19
Ephesians Lesson #082
September 6, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father we’re thankful for Your many blessings to us beyond anything that we can ask or think. As Paul concludes in our section in Ephesians 3, we are blessed with every spiritual blessing, and we have no idea of the scope of that word “every.”
“Father, we are amazed at all that You have given us and all that we have learned about what You have given us in our study in Ephesians on the Holy Spirit. We are so thankful that we are each indwelt by God the Holy Spirit: that we cannot lose that indwelling of the Holy Spirit no matter what, that He is working in our lives to make us as individuals, as well as the church as a whole, a unified body for Your dwelling.
“Father, we can’t even understand all that that implies, but that is so beyond anything that we can think. Help us now as we continue our study about the Holy Spirit’s ministries today. Help us to understand these in the light of Your Word that we might apply these realities and these commands consistently. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 4. We will look at two things related to what we covered last time—that is, the filling by means of God the Holy Spirit. And that is the idea of grieving of the Holy Spirit and quenching the Holy Spirit. This takes us to two passages, the only two passages that mention each of these. Grieving is mentioned in Ephesians 4:30 and quenching in 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
We are studying Ephesians and at the end of Ephesians 2, we saw these two verses:
Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him—that is, through Christ—we both have access by one Spiri t…”
Here we see the different roles of the Trinity. It is Christ who gives us access to the Father by His death for us on the cross. He died for our sins so that the sin barrier was removed, but that doesn’t mean we’re automatically saved; we still have to trust in Him; believe in Him. And if we do not, then we are already condemned, John 3:18.
So the emphasis is on the fact that we have access by one Spirit to the Father. “We” meeting Jew and Gentile, saved Jews and Gentiles, no longer that barrier between Jew and Gentile. And because of the cross, no longer that barrier between us and God.
At the end of that section in Ephesians 2:22, Paul again refers to the Holy Spirit and says, “in whom you—that is, you Gentiles—also—along with us Jewish believers—are being built together—this is a corporate idea—for a dwelling place of God by means of the Spirit.”
I’ve talked about this phrase “by means of” translating the Greek preposition EN, and we will review the significance of that as we look at filling a little bit later in our introduction.
“The Ministries of the Holy Spirit Today.”
To the world He is restraining evil, and He is also convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and justice. Sin because they have not believed, and that takes us back to what I mentioned a minute ago, John 3:18, condemnation is because we have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
At the time of salvation:
- God the Holy Spirit regenerates us, Titus 3:5.
- The baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:13, which must be understood in light of the Matthew 3:13.
- The indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:15, 6:13; we are all permanently indwelt by the Spirit
- Sealed by the Spirit, Ephesians 1:13.
- The filling by the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18.
See how many of these are mentioned in this Epistle of Ephesians.
What’s interesting is that so many of these, as I’ve pointed out, have confusion about them. It’s just amazing.
We looked at “What the Bible teaches about the ministries of God the Holy Spirit today.”
Last time, “What the Bible teaches about being filled by the Spirit.” I didn’t realize until I was going through the slides this morning that I did not have the correct slide up on being filled by the Spirit.
The baptism by the Spirit at the instant of salvation. Then God the Holy Spirit is used by the Lord Jesus Christ to identify us with His death, burial and resurrection, and we are placed in Christ. That is our new legal position before God—we are in Christ.
We are also indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. Those have to do with eternal realities, our eternal position before God. This is our new identity in Christ as Church Age believers: members of the Church, the bride of Christ. All of these terms used to describe us give us such an elevated position in this Church Age.
There are experiential realities or temporal realities. We may be indwelt by the Spirit, but we are to be filled by means of the Spirit, which is approximately the same as walking by means of the Spirit. We can either be filled or not be filled; it’s a binary command. When you have a command like “be filled by means of the Spirit,” either you are or you aren’t. “Walk by the Spirit” is also binary—either you’re walking or you’re not walking, one or the other. It’s not a little bit of one or a little bit of the other.
People sometimes say, “Well, you know we all do things for mixed motives.” Well, speak for yourself. If you’ve got mixed motives, a little leaven leavens the whole lump, as Paul says in Corinthians. If you’re doing things from mixed motives, then it’s still sinful. A right thing done in a wrong way is wrong; a right thing done for a wrong reason is wrong. We have to confess sin.
We studied the whole concept of being filled by the Spirit in light of Ephesians 5:18, that the content isn’t described there. We’re filled with something. The means of the filling is the Holy Spirit, and as long as we’re walking by the Spirit, then we’re walking in the light. I have a white circle there: we’re walking in the light.
But when we sin, then we’re no longer walking in the light, we’re walking in darkness. We’re walking according to our sin nature, described by theologians as “carnality” or “fleshly.” We’re living on the basis of our sin nature and not on the basis of the Word of God, not on the basis of the Holy Spirit, so we confess sin.
When we are living in carnality and on the basis of the sin nature, these two passages in Scripture describe it as grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18, not that far from Ephesians 4:30; we will look at the context. Most of you have heard me teach this many times as you’ve heard others teach this many times. It’s like, well, this is just so easy and so basic. Every time I go through this, I observe some other things.
But we’re a minority. We believe in a free-grace gospel. That makes us a pretty slim minority. We believe in dispensations. That makes it a slimmer minority. We believe that it’s important to confess sin in order to walk by the Spirit. That’s an even slimmer minority.
And it’s getting slimmer all the time because the pastors and theologians that fill our pulpits and lecterns are all drifting, and have drifted, off course. So we have to constantly be reminded of this. It’s amazing how many new listeners we pick up all the time online, all over the world. So it’s important for new people to understand this, as well as for us to be reminded.
We saw that “with the Spirit” translates the Greek phrase EN PNEUMATI.
“With” indicates content, “Fill my cup with that coffee.” Coffee is the content. But if you say, “Fill my cup with the pitcher,” the pitcher isn’t what you’re putting into the cup; the pitcher is the means of filling the cup with what’s in the pitcher. When we are filled by means of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is like that pitcher, and what comes out of it is what fills it.
What is that? We saw last time that being filled by means of the Spirit means He’s filling us with something. That’s seen in the parallel passage in Colossians 3:16, which gives all the same results that we saw in Ephesians 5:19 and following. But in Colossians 3:16, it doesn’t mention the Spirit, but, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.”
That’s the idea: the Holy Spirit and the Word of Christ work together. The Holy Spirit is filling us with His Word and this happens while we are walking by means of the Spirit.
But if we stop walking by the Spirit, the alternative is that we’re grieving the Spirit, we’re quenching the Spirit. And then we will fulfill the lusts because we are not walking by the Spirit. We’re fulfilling the lust of the flesh, which is what grieves or quenches the Holy Spirit.
Last time I pointed out, because of the confusion that exists over this, some scholars take both of these Greek words as synonyms. The first word is used in this passage, PLEROO and is used here as an imperative; a command. You either are filled are you are not filled, one or the other.
Yet it’s used in some other places where the grammar is different. It usually has the idea of filling, for example, “fill your heart.” “Your heart” is in the genitive here. In our passage, Ephesians 5:18, the Spirit is in the dative—or the instrumental case. This gets into grammar … I know, I see eyes glaze over when I mention it, but it’s important because they’re two different meanings completely.
Acts 5:3 is an example. Acts 5:28 is a little more clear. The head of the Sanhedrin is speaking to Peter and John, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine …”
See, “with your doctrine” is not the same grammar as in Ephesians 5:18. But often Ephesians 5:18 is translated “be filled with the Spirit.” “With” implies content, and that’s what Acts 5:28 is talking about, “… you have filled Jerusalem …” with what? What’s the content of the filling? It’s “your teaching.” It’s everywhere.
It’s in the genitive case, it’s completely different, and that’s the problem that you have throughout Acts.
It’s used again in Acts 13:52, “And the disciples were filled with joy—once again, content—and with the Holy Spirit.”
Here it’s content because it’s distinctive; it’s describing spiritual maturity. It was an idiom, so you can’t break it down into the grammar and syntax and come up with the meaning.
A lot of phrases that we use are idioms. They’re not necessarily exactly what the literal meaning is. You will never become aware of how idiomatic your language is until you go teach in a foreign country through a translator.
When you start saying certain things, they look at you like you just grew a couple of horns on your head and have lost your mind, because they don’t understand the idiom. For example, if you say, “Well, that’s the third strike and three strikes you’re out.”
That may communicate to an American audience who knows something about baseball, but it doesn’t say anything to some tribe in Africa with no concept of baseball. We use these idioms and phrases all the time, so when you have this verb “to be filled” with double accusatives or with two things, that indicates just a description of a person’s character.
We saw that the other word, PIMPLEMI, is very different. Almost 98% of the time it’s immediately followed by someone speaking.
For example, in Luke 1:41, “And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,” it’s content, it’s not by means; it is a genitive. It’s PIMPLEMI, and afterwards she speaks.
We see this in other passages with Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist who was “filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied.” PIMPLEMI indicates something like a prophetic utterance. The Holy Spirit is giving some kind of inspiration.
Another way in which it’s used is descriptive. For example, in Acts 3:10, “they were filled with wonder and amazement.”
Acts 5:17, “they were filled with indignation;” descriptive of their character.
Our topic: “What the Bible Teaches about Grieving and Quenching.”
If we are being filled by the Spirit and then we sin, that is described by these two words. Yet there is debate about this, so I want to look at the context and talk about just exactly what this means.
Ephesians 4:30 is the passage on grieving the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 is the passage on quenching the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 Paul says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
When we look at this, we understand the sealing ministry of God the Holy Spirit. We’re focusing on, what does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit? Then we’ll look at 1 Thessalonians 5:19, what it means to quench the Holy Spirit.
To get to the understanding of this, we have to go to context. Context is always so important. What is going on in this part of Ephesians?
The first three chapters talk about all of the riches that God has given us and all of the blessings that God has given us.
The next 2½ chapters focus on the walk of the believer.
Then in the last chapter the warfare of the believer.
The focus is all the things God has done for us in Ephesians 1–3, but starting in Ephesians 4, it shifts to application.
Paul begins, Ephesians 4:1, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
The key phrase here is “to walk worthy.” It has an imperative sense because he says, “I beseech you or I entreat you, I encourage you, to walk worthy.”
This is a keyword that is used several times in Ephesians, the Greek PERIPATEO, which has the literal meaning of walking, going step-by-step: walking somewhere or doing something step-by-step. But it has a figurative sense, which doesn’t come into play until you get into the Koine period after 300. Classical Greek did not have a figurative meaning; it’s just used in a literal sense.
By the time of the Koine, it’s used as an idiom or figure of speech for how a person conducts their life; how they live their life:
- What are the characteristics of the way you live your life?
- What kind of character traits do you exhibit?
- What are the priorities in your life?
- How do you organize your life?
- What is important?
- What is not important?
- What would people say if they were to describe your character?
The idea is, how do you conduct your life?
We see in this word usage that there are two ways that we conduct our life. We either do it in a way that is worthy of that which we have received from the Lord and that means that we recognize how much He’s blessed us with, that we can’t earn it, it was freely given to us.
But because we’ve been given so much, our response of gratitude is that we want to live in a way that brings honor to God because He’s done so much for us. It’s motivated by grace. That’s the positive. But it’s also used in a negative sense: not to walk according to the course of this world. We have the positive and we have the negative.
It’s the same word in Galatians 5:16, “Walk by means of the Spirit,” so we have to connect these dots. The positive walk traits that we see emphasized in Ephesians are what it means to walk by means of the Spirit over in Galatians 5:16.
Look at a couple of things. At the beginning in the first half of the Epistle, we see the word used twice. It’s used many times in the last part. It’s used five times in the second part. But the first part is used descriptively in Ephesians 2:2, talking about the life of the unsaved Gentile, Ephesians 2:1, you “were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you once walked—in which you once conducted your life.”
It is characterized by trespasses and sins. Everybody’s a sinner. Some people get really offended by that because they think sin just applies to somebody who is a racist or a sexist, somebody who is a conservative, who’s a white-American-evangelical-Bible-believing-dispensational-free-grace Christian. You know, the big social sins.
We’ve had these social sins in the past. We had child labor; we had slavery; intemperance—you were a drunk. All of these were identified as big social sins back in the 19th century because America became influenced like Europe did with European Protestant liberalism.
They changed the meaning of the word “kingdom” to a temporal sense: we’re living in the kingdom of Christ, so let’s clean it up! We can’t experience all the blessings of this kingdom the Bible talks about until we get rid of all these sins. So, let’s get rid of slavery, let’s get rid of tobacco, let’s get rid of alcohol; let’s get rid of all of these different social sins.
Today it’s a different collection of social sins. There are a lot of non-Christians who think, “Well those are the things that we’re talking about,” and they’re not guilty of those things, so they’re okay.
But the Bible says that sin is anything that is contrary to the character of God, and it involves the worst sins which are mental attitude sins. The worst sins have to do with arrogance and pride and anger and hatred and jealousy, because those are what motivate the external sins. And somebody can be just filled with bitterness and anger and hatred, but they’ve managed to cloak it in a very nice wonderful veneer. Then all of a sudden something happens and you begin to see how bad they really are.
But in our arrogance, we deny the fact that we’re really sinners. “I’m pretty good, but those people who live next to me, they’re really bad.” “That guy I work with is really bad.” “You ought to see President Trump. He’s horrible. What a sinner!”
Everybody else is worse than they are, so they think they’re okay, but they don’t recognize that the measuring rod, the standard, is about a mile high and they may be a centimeter higher than their next-door neighbor, but they still have a mile to go to even come up to God’s standard.
Everybody lived according to their sin and trespasses, and it’s according to a standard, “the course of this world,” Ephesians 2:2, “according to the prince and the power of the air—that’s Satan. He is the one who energizes the world system.
All the philosophies, all the religions that are in the world, historically and in the present, come from the mind of Satan. That’s his way of thinking. It is characterized by his sense of A) arrogance and B) autonomy, independence from God. He thinks he can be God, and he’s independent of God.
That’s exactly what happens with us when we’re living according to the sin nature. We think we’re the center of the world and that we can take care of our life better than God can.
Paul says, writing to the Ephesian Gentiles, these are the sins you once walked in; this is what characterized your life. Then at the end of that section, Ephesians 2:10,
“For we are His masterpiece—His work of art, as I translated it—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
These good works are what should characterize our lives, which begins in Ephesians 4.
I’ve already covered Ephesians 4:1, we’re to walk worthy of that calling—that is to follow Christ and imitate Christ.
Ephesians 4:17 Paul said, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.”
We’re given a positive command in Ephesians 4:1, “walk worthy,” and a negative one in Ephesians 4:17, “no longer walk like the rest of the Gentiles.”
When we’re first saved, we still think like an unsaved person. We still have all those nasty habits we had as an unsaved person, we still have all those comfortable mental attitude sins that we had as an unsaved person. And it’s only as we grow as a Christian, walking by the Spirit, that we stop being conformed to the world and transformed into the character of Christ.
Between this context in Ephesians 4:17 and the next time we have “walk” in Ephesians 5:2, is when Paul is going to say, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:2 comes back with a positive command, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved usb…” That becomes the standard: we’re to love one another as Christ loved us.
In Ephesians 5:8, we have another positive command, “For you were once darkness—that is, unsaved. You were born in darkness—but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”
Ephesians 5:15, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”
A lot of times we need to learn how to make wise decisions. A wise decision does not necessarily have to do with moral issues. It has to do with applying the Word—what’s going to give me the best opportunities in the future to get to Bible class, to go to church, to study the Word, to grow spiritually.
It may not be “right or wrong:” whether to live in this house or that house or different other decisions. It’s wisdom, it’s practical, it’s a choice between something that is more beneficial and something that may lead to or have the potential of self-destruction. It’s the difference between wisdom and being a fool. It’s not necessarily moral versus immoral, scriptural versus non-scriptural. It has to do with application. We’re to walk as wise.
Let’s look at the immediate context of Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
We have a negative command talking about how we should speak. Nothing is more convicting to all of us than the passages in Scripture that talk about the sins of the tongue, because we so easily—that’s James’ point in James 3:1 and following—succumb to the sins of the tongue.
That includes expressing our anger, expressing bitterness. It includes slander, gossip, maligning people, saying all sorts of horrible things. In fact, the word here that is translated “corrupt” is used to describe rotten fruit; something that is rotten, something that is putrid. It has the idea of something that is no longer fit for use.
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no putrid or rotten word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification—that which is going to improve the situation and that which is going to come as grace to hearers.”
So often we hear peoples’ focus: they complain all the time, everything that comes out of their mouth is negative. They may be complaining about politics, complaining about the COVID virus, complaining about their kids, complaining about their spouse, complaining about their parents, whatever it is. And people just don’t want to be around that.
But if you are walking by the Spirit, then your words should be gracious and kind, giving something positive. It imparts a positive spiritual benefit. That’s what it means by edification to the hearer.
First we see Paul describing things that should not characterize the Christian life. Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
The word for grief in the Greek is LYPEO, one we’ve studied many times. It means sorrow; it can mean what some today would call emotional pain. It can mean something like anxiety or something of that nature. But it is feeling the pressure of negative circumstances, and it can be grief over the death of someone or the loss of someone.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t grieve in that sense, in that emotional sentence, because the Holy Spirit is God. This is in a class of words that are anthropopathisms. “Anthro” comes from the Greek ANTHROPOS, meaning man.
“Pathism” comes from PATHOS, having to do with the emotions. It means attributing to God human emotions that He doesn’t actually possess in order to give us a frame of reference for understanding His plans or His purposes. This is debated by some theologians. I had a seminary professor who said there are no anthropopathisms in the Bible. Well, I doubt that.
Clearly there are anthropomorphisms: the eye of God, the hand of God, the arm of God. God does not have literal eyes or hands or arms. Anthropomorphism means attributing human form to God. He doesn’t actually possess those human forms.
We get the parallel definition on anthropopathisms that a human’s emotions are attributed to God that He doesn’t actually possess for the purpose of giving us a frame of reference.
Think about a situation. Many of you are parents or grandparents, and you see your child do something that runs counter to everything that you’ve ever taught them to do. How do you feel about that? You’re disappointed, there may be some resentment, may be some anger, you feel sad because you know what the consequences are going to be.
The idea that you want to hold onto is that the standards have been violated. When your standards are violated, you know there are going to be negative consequences, and the same thing is true here. When the standards of God are violated and we sin, then the standards of righteousness are violated. So, God the Holy Spirit will need to do something judicially.
One of the things He does judicially is get us back into fellowship. When we sin we don’t lose the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t depart us. We are permanently indwelt by God the Holy Spirit from the instant that we are saved.
But when we are walking by the Spirit, it’s positive. He’s filling us with the Word of God, and as we learn the Word of God we learn how to live, we learn what the principles are; we learn the standards of living as a member of God’s royal family. When we’re walking by the Spirit everything is great, and He’s using all of that to positively produce our spiritual growth.
But when we sin, the Holy Spirit has to shift gears, because when we’re not walking with the Lord, we’re not in fellowship, we’re not enjoying that fellowship with Him. God the Holy Spirit needs to get us back into fellowship, so that we can continue our positive spiritual growth.
I remember hearing someone years ago say, “Well, the problem with that whole view of needing to confess your sins is they don’t believe the God the Holy Spirit is doing anything if you’re out of fellowship.” And that’s a complete distortion and misunderstanding of this whole doctrine.
It’s not that God the Holy Spirit isn’t doing anything, it’s just that He isn’t doing anything to promote your spiritual growth because His focal point is now getting you back onto the path so that you can go forward, so that you can walk by the Spirit. His responsibility at that point is to rebuke and correct instead of positively developing spiritual growth.
This idea of grieving the Spirit is not something that’s unique to the New Testament; it is also in the Old Testament. Isaiah 63:10. Some people say, “Well, wait a minute. There’s no Trinity in the Old Testament.” Well, you just haven’t read it well. There’s a lot of places where you have God, Yahweh, speaking to the Angel of the Lord who is the Second Person of the Trinity—the Son of God, His Messiah, His servant. Then He makes a statement related to “My Spirit.”
Well, in several passages in Isaiah all three Members of the Trinity are mentioned. Isaiah 63:10, two Persons in the Trinity are mentioned. Talking about Israel, “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.” Grieving the Spirit has something to do with rebellion.
The Hebrew word translated “trespass” really means rebellion. Sin is rebellion against God. So when Israel rebelled against God, it grieved “His Holy Spirit.” The “His” is God the Father. The Holy Spirit is God the Holy Spirit. That’s two members of the Trinity right there in Isaiah 63:10, so there is an Old Testament precedent for that.
When we look at this, we realize that in Ephesians 5:18, “but be filled by the Spirit” is going to stop when we’re grieving the Holy Spirit.
Let’s look a little more at the context of Ephesians 4:30, where we’re told not to grieve the Spirit, followed by Ephesians 4:31–32, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
We have what to avoid in Ephesians 4:31, and what we are positively to do in Ephesians 4:32.
Let’s talk about these terms.
Bitterness is when we harbor resentment toward someone because of anger at a real or a perceived injury. We may just take offense: somebody said something innocent that didn’t mean anything by it, yet we take it as a negative, then just keep working it over, working it over until we become more and more angry and upset and bitter about it. Bitterness is a long-term spiritual cancer of our soul based on either a perceived or real injury from somebody, and we just keep nurturing that anger.
Next, wrath and anger are different Greek words; first THUMOS and second ORGE. What’s interesting is they are about 90% synonymous, but when you have them together, THUMOS has to do with outbursts of anger, somebody who loses their temper quickly.
It’s the result of not getting your way. It’s the result of somebody not responding to us the way we think they should, and we feel rejected, so we get angry about that. It can run the range from indignation or irritability to rage and resentment. Whereas the word for anger has that idea of really thinking about it. This has to do with more of a long-term rage that is in the soul.
“Clamor” is an interesting word; it literally means a shout or an outcry. It’s used in Acts 23:9 in a courtroom scene of the Sanhedrin. Paul says, “Well, I’m really being tried for my belief in the resurrection.” The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection; the Pharisees did. This was a huge bone of contention between them.
When he says he is on trial for the belief in the resurrection, up jumped the Pharisees and they started yelling at the Sadducees, then the Sadducees started yelling at them, and both sides just lost control, arguing and yelling, and shouting at each other. That’s the basic meaning of the word “clamor.” It means yelling and screaming at each other.
The first thing that came to my mind was all the street riots that we’ve been seeing on the news all over the country. And you hear of Christians who think that it is really a good idea to support ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter and all these other organizations. But my question is, if you are a believer in Christ and you’re being told to not be bitter, don’t harbor resentments.
This whole idea of paying reparations to African Americans because five generations back their ancestors were brought over as slaves, they were never enslaved. I never enslaved them. You never enslaved them. This is a long-harbored bitterness.
I know a black pastor in this town who has said in private to two of us who are white that he can’t talk about some of these things in his church because people are so resentful of slavery. Well, my question to him is, “Then why are you a pastor? You’re not addressing the issues.” “Well, then I won’t have a job.” That’s the real subtext, so this is a real problem.
There’s resentment. There’s bitterness. There is a long-term anger, thought-out anger, wrath, clamor, all of these are violated. No Christian can be part of any organization where this is the mental attitude that characterizes that organization. That shouldn’t characterize any of us.
We’re to put it away; the word there is like taking off a garment: you remove it from being characteristic of your life. In contrast you’re to be kind to one another. That doesn’t mean they deserve your kindness. That’s what grace is all about; it’s undeserving goodness or kindness to somebody. You respond in kindness and gentleness to somebody who doesn’t deserve it at all. That’s what this is talking about.
Forgiving one another. The word there for forgiving is based on the word for grace. It’s not APHIEMI which deals with canceling a debt, although this word is used in that way sometime. Here it’s emphasizing the grace aspect: they don’t deserve forgiveness, but they are to be forgiven.
Tenderhearted has to do with mercy, and the comparison is “even as God in Christ forgave you.”
There’s not a single sin committed by any human being that’s going to demand more forgiveness than the forgiveness of God to human beings. God forgave us. We are no better than anybody else, it doesn’t matter who you are. God’s grace is the foundation for how Christians ought to deal with those who’ve mistreated them.
There’s a chapter break here, but it’s an awkward place for chapter break.
Ephesians 5:1–2, Paul goes on to say, “Therefore be imitators of God—we’re to imitate God in all of His attributes. Not the next-door neighbor, not other people in our culture or subculture or our friends. We are to imitate God—as dear children.”
Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love …”
Love should characterize our lives. There’s nothing loving about these riots and demonstrations. There’s nothing loving the way a lot of businesses operate and treat their employees. There’s nothing loving about how employees are maybe reactive to their employers. And there’s nothing loving about some of the bitterness and anger and hostility that goes on in a lot of marriages. All of these things Paul will address in the last part of Ephesians 5 and into Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
When we’re committing any of these sins—and they’re just representative—then that grieves the Holy Spirit. It is violating His righteous standard, and now He has to operate in terms of getting us to change our minds and He rebukes us and corrects us.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 is a command in the midst of a series of commands. It’s interesting to see that context. The command is not to quench the Holy Spirit.
The Greek is SBENNUMI, which means to extinguish something, like extinguish a fire; or to quench something like if you’re very, very thirsty, your throat’s on fire, you’re parched and you put that out by drinking water. So, you can quench your thirst or you can quench a fire by putting the fire out.
The idea here is to cause a fervent activity to stop. So, the Holy Spirit is doing what in our lives when walking by the Spirit? He’s bringing the Word of God to our minds, so that we can grow and mature. We aren’t to stop that activity; we stop it when we sin.
The context interesting is here; notice the commands.
1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always.” What’s the fruit of the Spirit? Love and joy. So, we’re to rejoice always.
1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing.” That doesn’t mean that you’re just always praying, but that you’re consistently praying throughout the day in your life. These can just be little bullet prayers, just “thank you, Lord,” or something that nature.
We’re to rejoice; we’re to pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, we’re to give thanks. Ephesians 4 says that we are to be thankful for all things, and here we are to “give thanks in everything; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus…”
There are three different areas in the Spiritual life. Then you have this negative command in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit …”
In all of those that we just talked about, God the Holy Spirit produces joy in our life, He is the means by whom we pray when we’re in right relationship with the Spirit. He’s the One who produces a grace attitude and gratitude in our lives, and if we sin we’re stopping that. That’s what it means: Don’t quench the Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:20, “Do not despise prophecies.”
That has to do with spiritual gifts. At that time, the New Testament gift of prophecy was still in effect, so they were told not to despise someone who had the spiritual gift of prophecy.
1 Thessalonians 5:21, they were to “test all things—that is, evaluate whatever was said against the Word of God—and to hold fast to what was good.”
In conclusion, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from every category of evil.”
Usually, this is translated “to abstain from every kind of evil.” People get the idea that what that means is that “I’ve got to avoid everything.” But this is talking about every category of evil. We are to watch our lives and not to get involved with different types, different categories, of sin, all of which will quench the Holy Spirit.
When we are walking by the Spirit, then we sin, we’re quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit and walking in darkness. As we continue to sin it grieves the Holy Spirit and quenches the Holy Spirit until we confess sin. When we confess sin, at that instant we’re restored to fellowship. This is the most important thing we must understand, so that we can continue to grow and mature in the spiritual life.
Next time we will look at a tricky topic because it’s often misunderstood, as each of these are. That is, what does it mean in the Scripture when it says that we are led by the Spirit? Most people think that has to do with divine guidance.
I’ll give you a hint: most people are wrong! It has nothing whatsoever to do with divine guidance. Divine guidance has nothing to do with the context of either of those passages. Both of them, in fact, are talking about walking by the Spirit. We will look at that as we wrap up our study on what the Holy Spirit is doing in the believer today next time.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word today and to focus on all that we have in Christ. That we are to walk worthy of that which we have been given, not for gain or to gain salvation, but to show our gratitude for all that we have been given in our salvation.
“Father, we pray that we might take to heart what we have learned. We can never be sinless, but when we sin, we need to confess sin, so that we do not stay in a status of grieving the Holy Spirit or quenching the Holy Spirit.
“We pray that if there’s anyone here or anyone listening who has never trusted in Christ as Savior, that they would recognize that’s the most important decision anyone can make in life. That we need to trust in Him because we are all sinners. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
“But there needs to be someone to pay that sin penalty for us, and the Lord Jesus Christ did that on the Cross, where He bore in His own body our sins, so that He who knew no sin was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in us. That we might gain Your righteousness and be declared justified, not by anything that we have done, but by what Christ did on the Cross. And that is ours simply by trusting in Him, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Father, we thank You for being refreshed by Your Word today, and pray that we can be encouraged and strengthened to press on in our spiritual growth. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”