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October 9, 2010
That Hurts – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 4:25-32
Scripture: 
Topics: 

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In this series of sermons, Philip De Courcy warns the church not to settle for two-thirds of God. Christians often fail to grasp that through faith in Christ, they were not only given the gift of eternal life, but they were also given the giver of eternal life—the Holy Spirit—as a further gift. That puts the Christian at a great advantage because the Holy Spirit lives to bring God, vast as He is, within the narrow circumference of our lives.

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Transcript

Let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ephesians chapter four. If you’re with us for the first time this morning, we are in a series of studies on the Holy Spirit. A series we have entitled You Have The Advantage because we want this man to grasp the reality that we are living at a distinct advantage to those under the old covenant, to those who lived before Pentecost. Our Lord Jesus Christ died, rose, and ascended and at his ascension the spirit of God was sent to indwell us. And Jesus says that his leaving and the spirits coming is a huge advantage, a huge advantage to those of us who live for him. And we’ve been trying to come to a better understanding of who the Spirit is and what the Spirit does, and I want to speak today on the subject of grieving the Holy Spirit because you see if the Holy Spirit is that indispensable, that strategic, and he is in the life of the Christian, the last thing we want to do is get in his way.

The last thing we want to do is undermine what he’s trying to do in us for Jesus glory. So look to Ephesians chapter four and verse 25, “Therefore putting away lying. Let each one of you speak truth to 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 word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary ratification. 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, tender-hearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

DL Moody, the evangelist and the founder of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago now with the Lord said this, “You might as well try and hear without ears, breathe without lungs as try to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit in your heart.” I love that quote and it’s a good reminder as to the importance of this series of sermons because the Christian life is impossible and implausible apart from the indwelling, infilling ministry of the blessed Holy Spirit. The Christian must and ought to live in relation to the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 proves the point. What are we told to do? They were told to walk in the spirit and not fulfill the deeds of the flesh. The word to walk there carries the idea of carrying yourself, conducting yourself. We’re to conduct ourselves in relationship to the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re to keep in step with the spirit.

Ignorance of indifference towards the Holy Spirit, listen to me guys, is a spiritual death wish because you can no more hear without ears and walk without legs and breathe without lungs as live without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit operational in your life. Let’s remember who he is. He’s God. He’s the breath of life. He’s the spirit of Christ. He’s the comforter. He’s the power of the most high God. Let’s remember what he does. He regenerates, he convicts, he baptizes, he indwells, he gifts, he seals, he instructs, and he prays for every child of God. Now, you and I need indeed to relate all that we do to this relationship with the Holy Spirit and given that fact we would do well not to grieve him. Wouldn’t you agree?

That’s why Paul says here in Ephesians chapter four and verse 30 and do not grieve. It’s an imperative in the Greek. It’s a command. It’s something you must do. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. We’re not helping ourselves when we hurt the helper. Put that down and think about it. We’re not helping ourselves when we hurt the helper. When we bring discomfort to the comforter, it’s the spiritual equivalent of scoring an known goal. We’ve all seen it. Some of us have done it, where the player kicks or heads the ball past his own keeper. It’s one thing to be beat by your opponent. It’s quite another thing to be beat by yourself, scoring into your own net. In fact, in South America, that’s the unpardonable sin for a soccer player.

In fact, in 1994 you have the tragic story of a Colombian soccer player by the name of Escobar who scores an on goal against his own team when they were playing the United States and put Colombia out of the World Cup. He returns to Colombia and one month later he shot dead in a coffee shop in Colombia because the one thing you don’t do is score against your own team. That’s going to an extreme to shoot the guy, but nevertheless, we’re not meant to do that. Why hand the opponents a win from your own hand?

And so Paul wants us to realize here that we’re not to work against the one who’s working in us and working for us. Now, Ephesians is a book written by Paul from the city of Rome around AD 60, 62 and it’s rich in teaching on the Holy Spirit. In fact, it’s probably one of the most comprehensive treatments of the Holy Spirit in all of Paul’s epistles. He talks about the sealing of the spirit. He talks about how the spirit energizes our prayers. He talks about how the spirit takes up the word of God like a warrior would take up a sword.

He talks about the unity of the spirit. He talks about the filling of the spirit and here he talks about the grieving of the spirit. Now let’s get our context. Remember, a text taken out of its context becomes a pretext. Now this verse is in a section of the book going back to verse 17, where Paul is outlining the behavior of a new man in Jesus Christ. If you just look at verse 24, you’ll get what I’m saying. Paul says, “Put on the new man which is created according to God in true righteousness.” Paul is talking here about the fact he puts it this way to the Corinthians, if any man is in crisis a new creature, all things pass away and all things become new. Christianity is not turning a new leaf, right? It’s taking a new life. Christianity is not out to make good men better. It’s out to make bad men good. And that’s what Paul’s talking about here.

And then in the verses we read verses 25 through 32, Paul outlines five birth marks of those who have received new life in the Lord Jesus Christ. And verse 25, they don’t tell lies. In verse 26, they don’t display fits of unrighteous anger. In verse 28, they don’t steal. In verse 29, they don’t speak ungraciously and in verse 31, they don’t display or harbor bitterness. And so I want us to begin to look at this section that outlines those sins that grieve the Holy Spirit. Now, before we jump in and look at the sin of grieving the Holy Spirit and the specifics of grieving the Holy Spirit and with time we might touch on the setback of grieving the Holy Spirit, I want you to notice something, I think that’s important because in this statement and in this statute, Paul establishes the personhood of the Holy Spirit and that’s important.

We want to remember that the Holy Spirit is a person. Nip yourself, if you find yourself speaking of him as an it or a thing, that’s to despise him, that’s to offend him because the Holy Spirit is a person. And then even this text reminds us of this and we established this in our first sermon, but I think it’s interesting to note that the Holy Spirit can be grieved, he can be grieved, and I think you have to be a person to be grieved, don’t you? When you crash your computer, it doesn’t grieve. When you give a sick person an antibiotic, the weakening viruses don’t grieve. Only people made in the image of God can grieve. We grieve at the death and suffering and disappointments which other people endure. And if the spirit of God grieves, and it must be that he is not a force like electricity, he’s not a power like the wind.

He’s not something impersonal like crystals. He’s a person who feels and acts and reacts like other people. He’s not a human being, but he is a person and the fact that we can grieve him reminds us of that fact. Well, let’s look at what I call first of all the sin of grieving the Holy Spirit and keep this idea in mind that you and I, if we grieve him, we’re scoring a known goal. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot, we’re throwing the ball to the opposition because of who he is and what he does. I cannot afford to grieve him. I wouldn’t want to grieve him. It’s a sin because you see this isn’t a present imperative in the Greek text. By now I think, you know what that means. Okay. It’s a present imperative. It’s a command that we must continually fulfill.

What’s the command? Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Not at any time should we bring sorrow to the spirit of God, which reminds me of something I find interesting and I want to remember this. When I sin, I’m not only breaking a commandment, I’m breaking a heart. I’m not only breaking the law of God, I’m sinning against the love of God. I’m breaking the heart of God. I’m grieving him. This is the Holy Spirit of God. This is a sin. In fact, it’s serious stuff, isn’t it, to grieve the Holy Spirit.

I was helped here by Oswald Sanders in his book on the Spirit and his gifts, the magnitude of an offense he says is determined not alone by the nature of the offense, but by the dignity of the one against whom it was committed. Okay. It’s one thing for me to slap the face of a man, but it’s another thing for me to slap the face of a king. That the slapping of the face is no different from the man to the king, but the seriousness of the offense is different given the dignity and majesty and power of the king.

And while you and I wouldn’t want to grieve anybody, we do understand we wouldn’t want to especially grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We grieve the Holy Spirit of God, we offend God, we bring sorrow to God. Oswald Sanders says this, “The fact that the Holy Spirit is a divine person equal in power and majesty with the Father and the Son, invests every offense committed against him with special gravity.” Indeed, the only sin for which the scripture states there is no forgiveness is against the Spirit which is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in Matthew 12 verses 31 to 32, and that would be a sermon in itself. As we’re looking at this sin, a serious sin because it’s bringing sorrow to God the Holy Spirit, I want to answer two questions quickly, what it is and what it is not. Okay. I don’t want to do this.

Well, I got to know what I ought not to do or what it is I ought not to do. So what it is to grieve the spirit. Well, the word grieve here carries the idea of causing sorrow, pain, or distress. In fact, Paul picks up the language of Isaiah 63 in verse 10. If you go back to Isaiah 63 in verse 10, there you read of high Israel vexed the spirit of God through their disobedience and their repeated rebellion. God showed grace upon grace upon grace, mercy piled upon mercy. Yet Israel seemed to turn away from God’s law and sin against God’s love. And we read in Isaiah 63 verse 10, “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned himself against them as an enemy and he fought against them.” If you look at the Septuagint, the LXX, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, this word is used to speak of David’s grief for his son, Absalom.

You read about that in Second Samuel 19, verses one through two. And then as we leapfrog over to the New Testament, it’s used for the sorrow that the disciples begin to feel when the news is given to them that Jesus is leaving. In John chapter 16 and verse 20, the Lord Jesus Christ is aware of the impact that his leaving is going to have on them. Most surely I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice and you will be sorrowful. But your sorrow, that’s our word, your grief, it’s the same word, will be turned into joy. So what is the grieving of the Holy Spirit? It’s a bringing of sorrow and pain to the Holy Spirit. Grief is a heavy emotion. Some of you have experienced great grief at different levels, perhaps through a rejection or a failure in business or the loss of a loved one, the loss of a wife, the loss of a mother, the loss of a father, the loss of a brother, the loss of a sister, and that grief isn’t easy to shake.

It burrows deep into our heart. It’s not easily evicted. It dogs our attempts to feel good some days. It triggers tears days and weeks after the event, after the thing that brought that loss or that grief. That’s our word. This is an emotive word. This is an emotional word, and I think therefore, that it ought to bring a certain heaviness to our heart to think that we would bring a heaviness to his heart. We need to feel our sin more than we do. We need to feel its weight and it’s guilt not just in legal terms where we have broken the law of God but in love terms where we have grieved the heart of God. In fact, this isn’t just an emotive word, it is a tender word, isn’t it? One can anger an enemy, but one can only grieve a friend. Think about that.

You can really only grief someone who loves you in the first place and the deeper the love, the greater the grief. That’s why we say those who hurt us the most, love us the most or we love them the most. That’s why the greatest pain is the rejection of a son or a daughter, a prodigal kid. I’ve ministered to families. I’ve held up those who are broken by that. Nothing’s more painful. It’s a dagger to the heart, that someone that you love would not love you back but intentionally grieve you, wound you, mock you. You see you can anger an enemy, you can only grieve a friend and if the Holy Spirit of God brings us to faith in Jesus Christ, gives us new birth, which issues in the new life, sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts, opens our eyes to understand the beauty of grace in this world, acts as a down payment towards our future life with God in heaven.

If he loves us that much, how much do we grieve him when we fail to comply to God’s word and God’s will? How can we be so bad to someone who’s so good? I think that’s the import of these words. I think I’ve told you this story before, but before I became a believer, like a lot of young men in Northern Ireland, I got caught up in the tension between the communities, got involved in some things and I remember one situation, I won’t go into in detail, but I find myself in the middle of a riot, a full scale riot. There were hundreds of us up against the police who were in armored cars, who were in full riot gear. I remember getting caught up in that, but I wasn’t a believer, but I’d grown up in a godly home.

My father was a deacon in the local Baptist church. He was a man who was honored in his community, respected by his friends, even admired by his enemies. I remember in the middle of that someone putting a petrol bomb in my hand and when nobody was looking in the melee of all of that, I set it aside because even as an unbeliever, I felt convicted. I remember it clearly like it’s in slow motion, frame by frame my thought process. Imagine the noise, the commotion, bottles, bricks, petrol bombs, police, plastic bullets, all sorts of stuff going on. And in the middle of that crowd, I had a moment, it was a God moment. It was one of the links in the chin of my salvation. But I remember putting that thing aside and going, you know what? This is not what Billy De Courcy son ought to be doing. This is not the thing I would want to get caught doing and be trailed by the scruff of my neck to the door of my father’s house and bring shame to his name and dishonor to our home.

Although on the outside I was acting tough and running with the herd and the crowd. I remember that day feeling a father’s love in the midst of our riot, not wanting to grieve him, not wanting to bring shame to our home. That was God, that was grace, that was the angels protecting the elect. I put it like that in Hebrews chapter one, but it’s that sense. It’s grieving a father’s love. It’s hurting someone near and dear. That’s what it is. When you and I sin, we not only sin against the law of God, we sin against the love of God. The spirit has feelings, he has emotions, he has shown his love, and we ought not to do that which breaks his heart.

I like what Tony Evans says in his book on the Holy Spirit, on this very issue of grieving the Holy Spirit. “You may sin the same sin you sinned as a sinner, but you can’t sin the same way as you did when you were a sinner.” Speaking to Christians, isn’t that true? What is it not? Plainly put, the grieving of the Holy Spirit is not the leaving of the Holy Spirit. Okay, we can hurt him, we can [inaudible 00:20:15] in him, we can offend him, we can bring sorrow to him. But while we can cause the loss of the spirit’s power in our life, we cannot cause the loss of the Spirit’s presence. I think it’s important to know that. What it is, is a grieving. It’s an offense to the holiness in the heart of God, the Holy Spirit, but it is not something that causes him to leave us high and dry. There is a loss of fellowship. There is a loss of fruit, but there will not be a loss of presence.

I think that’s important. Now, that wasn’t true prior to Pentecost. That certainly was not the case under the old covenant. Remember that incident in Judges chapter 16:20, Samson has sinned away the grace of God and what do we read? That he gets up to fight the Philistines as before, but he didn’t know that the Lord had departed, departed. God had hightailed it out of Samson’s life. David dealing with the guilt of his sin with Bathsheba. In Psalm 51 verse 11, he’s talking about that, the grief that brought to him and to God and he prays that the Lord wouldn’t take his Holy Spirit from him. We see it happening in Samson’s life. We see David’s concern that it doesn’t happen in his life, but in the New Testament, that’s not the case. Didn’t we read in our opening studies in John 14 verse 16 that Jesus Christ is going to come to us through the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is come to indwell us forever?

In fact, in this very verse, what are we told? And do not grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. And so I think it’s important for you and I to know that our sinning and grieving the Holy Spirit while grave and consequential, it doesn’t lead to us being unsealed or unsaved of the loss of our salvation or the loss of his indwelling presence. From Pentecost forward, the Spirit has been given by God to indwell us forever. Our sinning therefore leads to a definite loss, but not a leaving. And I’m glad for that. How much does God love us? He remains despite our feelings. He convicts us of sin and encourages us not to sin again.

I like what John Walvoord said in his book on the Holy Spirit. I think this is helpful. I probably should unpack this more than I’m going to do, but hopefully you’ll grasp the gist of it. Former president of Dallas Seminary, in his book on the Holy Spirit, he says this, “The spirit is grieved by definite sins, not by the presence of the sin nature.” Okay. So when we sin, we grieve him. But the Holy Spirit knew what he was getting when he got us. When he took up residence in this house, he knew it was a mess and he’s not going to leave the house, but he is going to tidy the mess up. He’s not going to put up with the mess. But I do like that, “The spirit is grieved by definite sins, but not the presence of our sin nature.” He’s not going to leave us because we sin.

In fact, B.B. Warfield, the great reformed theologian, tells the story of Francis of Assisi riding along on his horse the first day on which he had come to know peace with God and he wanted his life hence forth to be a life that measured and mirrored the love of God, just like the Savior. And so he was riding through the woods, turning the corner on a road when he comes face to face with a leper, he’s surprised the leper is surprised and he turns the horse and hightails it out of there. He’s a little bit down the road when he pulls the horse up, he’s convicted and so he turns back, meets the leper once again, dismounts, gives the man all his money. Then he takes his hands and touches the lepers head, pulling it down into the bowed position and he kisses the crown of the man’s head. And from that moment on, he regularly visited the leper colony speaking to the men and women there who suffered that horrendous disease, wash their sores gently, showing them the love of Christ.

Someone has said this concerning that story, “Whatever truth is in that story of Francis of Assisi, we can catch something of what the spirit’s love for us means.” No leper sores on our souls, no gangrenous infestations in our spirit can stop him working lovingly in our lives. He has entered the leper colony of our hearts and made them his home forever. It’s a striking illustration. Oh, we can grieve the Holy Spirit by definite sins, but he is not grieved by the presence of our sin nature. And so you and I want to grasp what we’re talking about here when we talk about grieving the spirit. What it is, is a sorrow brought to his heart as we not only break the law of God but we sin against the love of God. And what it is not is the possibility of the Spirit of God leaving us because of our sin.

Let me move quickly through the specifics of grieving the Holy Spirit. We’ve already acknowledged that he is grieved by definite sins. He’s not put off by our sin nature. And this command comes in the middle of a paragraph which outlines what Christians ought not to do. Remember what we said? Paul has outlined the behavior of those who are now new creatures in the Lord Jesus Christ. And he gives us a list of things here. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s suggestive. And there are five things here we want to note quickly. The spirit of God is grieved by lying and falsehood. You don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit, then don’t lie. Now here’s an interesting thing about these verses. Every one of these verses has a negative, a positive, and a motivation. And when we get to each verse, I’ll quickly outline them for you. The negative here in verse 25 is put away lying. The positive is speak the truth with your neighbor. And the motivation is you ought not do that because we’re all members of the one body.

Now the Spirit of God is called what in John 14:17? The spirit of truth. Therefore, you and I can easily conclude the one thing that offends him, one thing that gets up his nose, pierces his heart is untruth, falsehood in any form. So you don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit and your command did not to grieve him. Why would you want to grieve him? It’s a spiritual lone goal. Then guard your lips. Consciously defrauding someone or deceiving someone is abhorrent to the Holy Spirit of God. What do we read in Proverbs six verses 16 through 19? What is one of the things the Lord hates of the six things the Lord finds an abomination, a lying tongue. Therefore, the Christian ought to be serious in their words, honest in their dealings, true to their promises and without hypocrisy in their lives. We’re all working in that. God give us grace to work all the harder because nothing characterizes the Christian life like truth.

When we’re see, if we’re brought into the whole realm of truth, our eyes are opened to the truth. We are in dwell by the spirit of God who is truth. We follow the one who loves truth. Therefore, it is becoming of those who love the Lord Jesus Christ to be marked by truth. Dr. Madison Sarratt, who taught mathematics at Vanderbilt University for many years before giving a test would admonishes class something like this quote. Today I’m giving two examinations, one in trigonometry and the other in honesty. I hope you will pass them both. If you must feel fail one, fail trigonometry. There are many good people in the world who can’t pass trig, but there are no good people in the world who cannot pass the examination of honesty and why? Well, the motivation is this. We are all members of the one body and one of the themes of Ephesians is unity, right?

Go back to chapter four. We are to endeavor, right, to keep the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace because we’re one body, one spirit called the one hope and one calling under one Lord due to one faith and one baptism. Therefore, when one member sins, it affects every other member. Lying harms the body of Christ because fellowship is built on trust and trust is built on truth. And when you and I are not truthful people, we are harming the body of Christ. Chrysostom, the great preacher put it like this. If the eye sees a serpent, does it lie to the foot? Or if the nose smells a deadly drug, will it lie to the mouth? Or if the tongue tastes something bitter, will it lie to the stomach? You see his point? Our hand works for the benefit of the body. Our smell works as a warning system for the body, our taste, all of these things work together for the good of all.

Secondly, the spirit is grieved by unrighteous anger. Verses 26 through 27, “Be angry and sin not, don’t let the sun go down in your wrath. Don’t give place to the devil.” I want you to see again here the negative, the positive, and the motivation. The negative is not to be sinfully angry, the positive to be righteously angry. The motivation, don’t give the devil a foothold. Now, here’s the thing that I think you and I want to understand. Paul begins by holding out the possibility that you can be justly and justifiably angry. There is a time and a place to get heated over some things. Jesus did, didn’t he? John chapter two, verses 13 to 16, Jesus gets real angry with the money changers who had turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves.

We read in Acts 17 verse 16, Paul standing at the gates of the city of Athens and he looks at the idolatry. Okay. And remember his theology back in the first part of Romans. Hey, and this is the evidence of man’s sin nature. He’s decided to worship the creature rather than the creator. And what does it say of Paul? It says, he was provoked. Very strong emotional word in the Greek and he was seething. His skin was crawling, his heart began to pound. He began to almost grit his teeth in that spiritual sense. Look at the idolatry here. The lack of worship for the one true God. And it motivated him to get on a soapbox on Mars Hill. Despite the mockery of the crow, he began to preach Jesus to them and the resurrection. Anger can be a positive force.

John Chrysostom again wrote, “He who is not angry when he has cause to be sins.” That’s a great quote. You can sin if your anger is wrong, but if actually you’re confronted with unrighteousness, injustice, idolatry, those things that offend God and grieve the Holy Spirit, if that doesn’t grieve you, there’s something wrong with you. Listen to that quote again. “He who is not angry when he has cause to be sins.” It’s an interesting thought. We certainly don’t want to be angry in sin, but we’ve got to think through, could I be sinning when I’m not angry? A good benchmark for righteous anger is that we need to be angry with sin alone for it not to be sin. God’s glory and justice to our neighbor, attacks on the glory of Christ, the work of Satan, innocence being corrupted, harm to the church to name a few. There are the things that should bring us to our boiling point. Not personal insult, not wounded pride, not offended sensibilities, not unmet preferences.

We ought not to have an allergic reaction to every little piece of lice, pollen that blows our way. But it is possible to be angry and sin not. But it’s also difficult how quickly that which ought to be a reflection of God’s holy character becomes an expression of our sinful, selfish nature. Justifiable anger gets cuddled to a degree and given our fallenness, it quickly degenerates into defending ourselves, our preferences, our sensibilities over and against the glory of God. It’s not easy to be angry with the right person at the right time to the right degree for the right purpose in the right way. That’s not easy. So while Paul says here, “Be angry,” he then goes on to say, “And sin not.”

In fact he helps us here. Here’s how you can guard yourself against your anger becoming unrighteous. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. We’re not to allow the sun to go down on our wrath. Our anger ought to be short-lived. We need to keep short accounts with God and with others. Anger ought to flame out but not smolder endlessly. We need to be eager to show reconciliation and conciliation. So we’ve got to guard ourselves here and the motivation not to sin in anger, not to let the sun go down on your wrath is what? Be careful because the devil likes to exploit and leverage the stresses and the strains that bring the vision to churches and bring fracture to friendships. That’s what he says, doesn’t he? Be angry, but don’t sin. Here’s one of the things that’ll keep you from sinning. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. If you’re going to be angry, let that anger be short-lived. Always be seeking conciliation, reconciliation. Be angry at sin only so that you don’t sin in your anger.

And be aware of this. The devil loves to exploit this. Do not give him his [inaudible 00:35:12]. That’s an interesting word. It’s a military term. It speaks of a beachhead. It was my privilege to stand on the cliffs of Normandy a couple of years ago and look down at Omaha Beach in Utah and try and imagine the hard work and the sacrifice of those men meeting the weathering machine gun fire of the Germans and fighting up that beach because the allied forces needed to get a beachhead so they could advance towards Berlin. That’s our word. And Satan is looking to get a beachhead, a foothold in our life. And one of the things he looks for is an angry man, a bitter man, a man who’s ticked off with everything and anything in life. Devil keeps company with angry people. He loves angry people because they make his work so much more easy because anger leads to other sins and it leads others to sin because they react to our unrighteous anger with unrighteous anger.

And there’s this come for irrigation. There’s fuel on the fire. When I was in the RUC in Belfast, one minute I’m throwing bricks at the police, I get saved. The next minute I’m getting bricks thrown at me. But that’s conversion, isn’t it? There’s the beforehand, there’s the after. When I was in the police, one of the weapons the IRA would use against us was the mortar bomb. They would make these homemade mortars. They would weld the plates and the tubes onto the back of a lorry, low bed lorry or a truck as you call it.

And one of the things we had to do is the British Army would often do some work for us and they would work out the different places that an IRA unit could maybe launch an attack on our stations. And so one of the patrols I was often involved in as a reserve police officer was what was called the mortar plate patrol. If we had intelligence that maybe this was a real possibility in our area, then we would put on special patrols. And it was usually the reserve forces that did them where our whole job for five, six, seven hours was simply to go from one place to another in regular intervals to make sure nothing was getting set up because we knew they were the launch points. Okay. Remember, stations are in urban areas, a lot of houses. There was only so many areas that were open to the IRA firing these mortars at us and we knew what they were.

There was maybe six or seven of them in our area and we would spend the night simply visiting those areas, making sure that they weren’t setting up for an attack. And I’ve often thought about that since I’ve left the police and continue on in my Christian life. And you and I need to think that through. You know what? The devil looks for those places in our life. He looks for those launch points. And I’ll tell you what one of those launch points is, is anger, frustration. Men are very capable of this, aren’t we? We are strong, we’re emotional men, and we want to cultivate that side. I don’t like weak milk toast, men. We’re meant to be man with convictions and passions. And when the spirit of God gets ahold of us, he harnesses that. And we stand up for the glory of God and the glory of Jesus Christ.

And we stand up against injustice and we defend the weak and we stand behind the cause of righteousness. But just like all good things in a fallen world, that can get spoiled, that which is righteous becomes unrighteous, that which ought to be to the glory of God, becomes selfish. And the devil’s just standing in the wings licking his chops because he knows he’s going to get a foothold, a beachhead. I don’t believe the believer can be possessed by the devil, but I do believe a believer can be oppressed by the devil. We can invite demonic attack. We can make it easier for the enemy. And this is one of those areas. In fact, that does remind us of the seriousness of this. The fact that you and I need to be aware of this.

I think it’s interesting in this passage, and here’s where we’ll end. I’ll need to pick this up the next time we’re together, but Paul in this passage, itemizes sin. And then he tells us the effects of that sin. He tells us that it harms the body of Christ, it invites the devil and it grieves the Holy Spirit. It’s the consequences of sin. The body life of the church is harmed. The devil is given room to work and we bring sorrow to the one who has been sent the help. It is no help to us to hurt the helper. But what’s interesting in this passage, you’ve got the mention of the devil and the Holy Spirit in one section. And that’s interesting and that’s instructive because when you and I disobey God, listen to this guys, and this is where we’ll finish. We invite the one person into our lives we don’t need and then we hurt and stall the work of the one person in our life we do need therefore don’t sin because in sinning you give place to the devil and you grieve the Holy Spirit.

And the devil wants us to sin because he would rather fight us in our strength and fight us in the power and protection of the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for this study. Lord, it is worth slowing down and milking this passage. We thank you for the work of the Holy Spirit. We thank you the advantage he gives us. We thank you for the comforter that he is. We thank you for the gift that he is on top of the gift of Jesus Christ.

And though God, I know in my life that I’m picking the ball out of my own net far too often, I’m shooting myself in the foot, I’m grieving the Holy Spirit, I’m scoring a spiritual own goal because when I sin and disobey your law and feel the walk in the spirit and then fulfill the flesh, that I’m inviting the work of Satan and I’m retarding the work of God. And I don’t need that one person, but I do need that other person. Therefore, help us Lord to see the seriousness of this sin, what it is, what it is not. Help us Lord to go down this list too today. Challenging enough.

Lord, help us indeed not to lie. Help us not to be duplicitous, man. Help us to be on the inside what we pretend to be and present ourselves to be on the outside. God, we live in a world of deception. We live in a world of ethical confusion. Help us as businessmen, as men, to give an honest day as work to pay honest wages, to pay our debts, to keep our promises, to be honest in our tax returns. This is the mark of a man walking in the spirit. Though God we pray we’ll not be angry and sin, but we’ll be angry and sin not. Lord, help us to be more conciliatory. Help us to be more tender to our children, more loving towards our wives, more forgiving towards our enemies, so that indeed the Spirit of God might fill us to fullness, that we might live to the glory of Jesus Christ. Lord, help us to score against the enemy, not score against ourselves. In Jesus’ name, amen.