There are things we can do that will grieve the Spirit. If we do not daily seek Him and cooperate in following where He leads us, our Christian experience will weaken.
God doesn’t force. When we receive the baptism of the Spirit, He will have a greater impact in our life. We will feel His prompting more strongly. He will be daily putting the desire in our heart to obey God. He will call us to study God’s Word and to pray more. The Spirit will cause us to begin loving righteousness and hating sin. However, we are always free to disregard His prompting. When we do this we begin the process of “grieving,” or “quenching,” the Spirit. Paul gives practical advice in many portions of Scripture on how to avoid doing this. These practical counsels to the believer on living the Christian life are intended to help us maintain the fullness of the Spirit in our lives. Two examples of such counsel are found in the following Bible verses:
“And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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” (Eph. 4:24-32).
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:14-19).
Paul knew that the Spirit of God dwelling in believers would be prompting them to do the things listed in these verses. If we refuse to yield to His prompting, though, we will be in danger of grieving and quenching the Spirit.
If you find that you have grieved the Spirit, don’t become discouraged! Ask God to forgive you, and He will (1 John 1:9). Then ask God in faith to fill you anew with His Spirit, and He will do that, too (Luke 11:13).
David knew God’s mercy. He had committed the sins of adultery and murder. He had walked away from the prompting of God’s Spirit in his life when he committed these terrible acts. Yet when he was convicted of his sin by the Spirit, he turned to God in prayer. Note especially these words:
“Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit” (Ps. 51:9-12).
When we find that we’ve been slipping away from God we must not let another moment go by without confessing our sin, accepting God’s forgiveness, and claiming the promise of the renewing of the Spirit in our lives just as David did. Then we will be strengthened once again in the “inner” man to be victorious over Satan:
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19).
We serve a wonderful God. When we have failed Him, let us remember:
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him” (Ps. 103:8-13).