Wednesday: The Holy Spirit in the Believer’s Life

In discussing sins of speech within the Christian community, what exhortation does Paul share about the presence of the Holy Spirit with believers? Ephesians 4:30.

Paul simultaneously offers a daunting warning and a heartwarming promise. Our sins against one another in the church are not minor misdeeds with little consequence: what grieves the Holy Spirit is our misuse of God’s gift of speech to tear down others (Ephesians 4:25-27Ephesians 4:29Ephesians 4:31-32). That Paul echoes Isaiah 63:10 underlines the serious warning: “But they [Israel] rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them” (ESV).

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In a reassuring promise, Paul affirms that the Holy Spirit seals believers from the day they accepted Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14) until “the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit’s relationship with the believer is not fragile but durable. When believers disregard the indwelling presence of the Spirit by weaponizing God’s gift of speech, the Spirit is not said to leave but to grieve. The Spirit intends to remain present with believers, marking them as owned and protected by God, until Christ’s return.

Paul underlines the full divinity of the Spirit as “the Holy Spirit of God” and highlights the personhood of the Spirit by portraying the Holy Spirit as grieving. (See also Romans 8:16Romans 8:26-271 Corinthians 2:101 Corinthians 2:131 Corinthians 12:11Galatians 5:17-18.)

We must tread with care in discussing the mystery of the Godhead. The Spirit is both One with and distinct from the Father and the Son. “The Spirit has His own will and chooses accordingly. He can be grieved and blasphemed against. Such expressions are not fit for a mere power or influence but are characteristics of a person. Is the Spirit then a person just like you and me? No, we use limited human terminology to describe the divine, and the Spirit is what human beings can never be.” — Paul Petersen, God in 3 Persons — In the New Testament (Silver Spring, MD: Biblical Research Institute, 2015), p. 20.

It is “the Holy Spirit of God” who lives in such intimate contact with us that our actions are said to affect Him. We share life with a member of the Godhead committed to us in a durable relationship that seals us until the end of time. What should be our faith response to this amazing truth?

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