21 May 2021
As we appreciate communion with the Holy Spirit, what should then be our responses? Three kinds of responses may be mentioned.
1) Do not grieve Spirit
The term associated with Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:30 is actually drawn from Isaiah’s exposition of Israel’s post-exodus wilderness wanderings. They rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.
The Christian has entered into a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Spirit and must learn to be sensitive to His love, kindness and tenderness. Even if the Spirit cannot be “passively grieved”, we can live in a way that is grievous to Him. He will respond to us as though He had been grieved since we have become insensitive to the offensiveness to Him of our spiritual indifference and carelessness. The result is that “We lose both the power and pleasure of our obedience”.
The Holy Spirit, in His infinite love and kindness toward us, has condescended to be our comforter; He does it willingly, freely, powerfully. Shall we grieve Him by negligence, sin, and folly? Shall not HIs love constrain us to walk before Him and to be well pleasing to Him?
2) Do not resist His Word
The emphasis here is the relationship between the Spirit and the Word. The concern is the spiritual vision when we listen to the exposition of the Word. The Spirit gives gifts to the church for her upbuilding. If we see only mere men, no better and perhaps no more able than ourselves, preaching and teaching the Word, we inevitably reduce the preaching and teachiching of God’s Word to the words of men. It is then that we are in danger of belittling the Word, then resisting it, and ultimately despising it. Our calling is to fix our gaze where it properly belongs: the Word is the Spirit’s sword; its exposition is the Spirit’s instruction to release the Word into our lives to do its work of conversion and transformation.
The Spirit is the third person of the Divine Being, the One who proceeds from the Father and the Son, the eternal Spirit. He is therefore to be worshiped, loved and adored. It is the ever-increasing Christlikeness to which this leads that is both the fruit of our communion with the Spirit and the goal in His communion with us.
3) Do not quench the Spirit
“Grieving” reflects our relationship with the Spirit, “quenching” reflects on His ministry. The picture that comes to Owen’s mind is that of “wet wood…cast into the fire” – a spirit and lifestyle that in effect hinder the gracious work of the Spirit as, like a fire. He burns in love for us and seeks to stir up a love for holiness within us. Rather than dampen inner promptings to faithfulness and obedience, we must learn to fan them into flame.
The Holy Spirit does not bring glory to Himself but to the Son. But this should not be used as an argument for our failing to give glory to the Spirit as well as to the Son and the Father. The role of the Spirit within the Trinitarian economy does not minimise His full deity, nor does it exempt us from worshiping Him. Rather, the Spirit’s role calls forth from our hearts admiration, adoration, praise, and devotion to the One who so lovingly shines on the Son and comes to us as the Spirit of grace. Because this is HIs ministry, we have all the more reason to worship the Spirit together with the Father and the Son. The Spirit comes to us as an earnest, a pledge, a down payment of final redemption. He is here and now the foretaste of future glory. But HIs presence is also an indication of the incompleteness of our present spiritual experience. Precisely because He is the firstfruits and not yet the final harvest, there is a sense in which the indwelling of the Spirit is the cause of the believer’s groaning. The presence of the Spirit brings us already a foretaste of future glory, but also, simultaneously creates within us a sense of the incompleteness of our present spiritual experience. So communion with the Spirit brings joy into the life of the believer and yet a deep sense that the fullness of joy is not yet.
In that light, we are not to be disappointed or discouraged; the call is to endure, persevere, and be faithful, for consummation is just ahead of us when Christ comes again.
In the meantime, let us prayerfully consider whether we may have grieved, quenched and resisted the Holy Spirit in our life and service.