When Paul says “and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph 4.30), he is talking to justified saints. It is a very good question, with a pretty simple answer, but usually comes from Christians who have not been taught to be gospel-centered:
- Very good question- Our life is hidden with Christ in God. In Christ, God is well-pleased. To be justified is to be declared righteous by God, and it is for all those who are in Christ. And as I just said, in Christ, God is well-pleased. BUT, Christians are told not to grieve the Spirit. Can I, as one who is pleasing in His sight because of Christ, also at the same time grieve Him? How can justification be true while at the same time, justified saints anger the Lord? This is a good question.
- Pretty simple answer- our justification is always first and foremost about our legal standing in the law-court of heaven. Our grieving of the Holy Spirit is always about our daily battle with sin. Our righteousness in the sight of God is always the basis for our eternal life in heavenly glory. Our disobedience that displeases God always has to do with our relationship to Him as our Father. In one sense, to be able to displease our Father is good news in comparison to an unbeliever being able to do a good work that will not please His Creator. The short of it: Justification has to do with salvation and eternal standing; grieving the Spirit has to do with sanctification and has no bearing on eternal standing. Even shorter of it: Justification gets us into the Family; grieving the Spirit is grieving God as a family member.
- Why the question is a non-gospel-centered question- The only reason people struggle with this is because Christians (most of the ones I know) only want to worry about things that affect their salvation. The question behind the question could be “If I’m already justified, why should I worry about whether or not the Holy Spirit is grieved”; or it could be “why would God let anyone into heaven who displeases him”; or it could be “how is it not a contradiction that God is pleased and displeased by the same human being?”
I believe the answer to all three questions will help you grow in gospel-centeredness. I will try to address these in the next post.