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January 8, 2011
That Hurts – Part 2
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.

More From This Series

Transcript

Let’s take our Bibles and turn back to Ephesians 4 looking at the subject, That Hurts, the issue of grieving the Holy Spirit. Turn to Ephesians 4:25. “Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you 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 word 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, tender-hearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgive you.”

Guys, the phrase shooting yourself in the foot has become part of the idiom of the English language. It’s used and it’s employed to convey the idea of doing something detrimental to your own well-being or to your own cause. It speaks of working against yourself. It speaks of a self-inflicted wound, taking yourself out of the fight by your own foolishness. In fact, it’s believed and argued by some that the phrase comes from the fact that some cowboys were so quick on the draw that would often discharge the weapon while it was still in the holster and shoot themselves in the foot.

Well, grieving the Holy Spirit, which Paul addresses here in Ephesians 4, it’s the spiritual equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. It’s working against your own best interest. It’s to do the work of the enemy for them because the last time we looked at this, we saw the breadth and the depth of the Spirit’s ministry in the life of the Christian. He convicts, he regenerates, he baptizes, he gifts, he empowers, he seals, he instructs, he comforts, he prays. All of those things he seeks to do in us, through us, for us, and with us.

Therefore, to grieve him, to hurt him, to get in his way is to shoot yourself in the foot, spiritually speaking. To pain Him is to wound ourselves. To hurt the helper is no help to us. To discomfort the comforter is no good at all. So I want to come back into Ephesians 4 and try and pick up where we left off. We noted that this is a letter written by Paul somewhere between AD 60 and 62. He’s writing from a prison cell in Rome. This is a letter rich in teaching on the Holy Spirit. In fact, it may be one of Paul’s most comprehensive letters on the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the life of the Christian.

We have come to a section in the book where Paul is outlining the behavior of the new man in Christ, the new man with new manners. We’re told here in the section beginning of verse 25 that there are five birthmarks of those who receive new life in Christ. In verse 25, we’re told they don’t tell lies. In verse 26, we’re told they don’t display fits of unrighteous anger. In verse 28, we’re told they don’t steal. In verse 29, we’re told they don’t speak ungraciously, and in verse 31, we’re told that they don’t harbor bitterness.

Interestingly, each of these exhortations contains a negative, a positive, and a motivation. For example, verse 25, put away all lying. That’s the negative. Speak the truth, that’s the positive, and what’s the motive? Because we’re all members of one another. Those who belong to the community of truth in Jesus Christ don’t tell lies about each other or falsehoods towards each other.

So Paul, after itemizing these sins, those things that should not be present in a believer’s life, he concludes that such activities are harmful in a number of areas. Verse 25 tells us that it wounds the body of Christ. Verse 26 tells us it invites the devil into our midst. The thing that interests us is that in verse 30, Paul tells us that it grieves the Holy Spirit. We certainly don’t want to work against the one who is working for us in so many areas.

So let’s get back to the text. There were three things we sought to cover. First of all, we looked at the sin of grieving the Holy Spirit, then we looked at the specifics of grieving the Holy Spirit. We didn’t finish that, and then we’ll get to this morning the setback of grieving the Holy Spirit.

Now, in relation to the sin of grieving the Holy Spirit, I’m not going to rehearse that or revisit that. This verse in verse 30 is in the imperative form. We are commanded not to grieve the Holy Spirit. This is something that should not happen in each of our lives, and to disobey it, to feel to fulfill that is to sin grievously and gravely because we sin against the Holy Spirit of God.

We looked at what it is and what it is not and we’ll leave it there, but I would note this, the Bible distinguishes between sins against the Holy Spirit which are forgivable and a sin against the Holy Spirit which is unpardonable. I think it’d be good just to distinguish that. We’re dealing with sins against the Holy Spirit, which are forgivable. It’s clear from the text and from the surrounding letter, but go over with me to Matthew 12, and we’re introduced to what is called the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. It is something that’s unforgivable, it’s something that’s unpardonable. I just want to make it clear that what we’re talking about in Ephesians 4:30 is not what Jesus is addressing in Matthew 12, but it’s worth noting what this sin is.

Look at verse 31 of Matthew 12. Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men,” and that includes what we’re dealing with this morning, lying ungracious words, fits of anger, bitterness. Those things acknowledged and repented of find the full forgiveness of Jesus Christ. If we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just to for forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So Jesus acknowledges there is this full forgiveness, this free forgiveness. “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the son of man, it will be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him either in this age or the age to come.”

Guys, I think you’d admit that’s scary stuff. That’s going beyond the pale. That’s God abandoning a soul to hell. What’s the context? Well, Jesus has just healed a demon possessed blind man and mute man, the Pharisees take issue with Jesus’ ministry, and according to verse 24 of Matthew 12, they say that this fellow speaking of Christ does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub the ruler of demons.

Here we have an attributing of the work of the spirit of God to the work of the evil one himself. Jesus then takes them on. He says, “That’s interesting. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Why would Beelzebub be casting out his own emissaries? Doesn’t make sense,” and Jesus goes on to talk about that and talk about his own ministry. Then he addresses this issue of us blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

The sin he was confronting here in terms of the Pharisees deliberate rejection of what they knew to be of God is unpardonable. We’re not dealing with the run-of-the-mill rejection of the gospel, and maybe that’s not the best way to put that. It’s clear from Paul’s own conversion. Here’s a man who acknowledges he was a blasphemer. He was a violent man. Here’s the man who fought the work of God in some sense until he’s saved, the next chapter nine, but he tells us what in his letter to Timothy, “I did it out of ignorance.”

He hadn’t fully grasped the nature of Christ. His mind hadn’t been fully opened yet to the glory of what God was doing in the incarnate word. So there was still a chance, there was still an opportunity for Paul to repent and those sins of his can be forgiven, but there comes a point, there is a time when rejection of God’s word and rejection of God’s word is more fixed, is more symptomatic of something greater. It’s willful, it’s slanderous, it’s repeated, it’s extreme.

These Pharisees were given incontrovertible evidence of Jesus’ power and the glory of his person. This isn’t the first time they have dogged the steps of the Lord Jesus. Their rebellion is fixed, repeated, extreme, willful. When a man gets to that place, there comes a point where he crosses a line and God abandons him. That’s a blasphemy against the work of the Spirit that is unforgivable and unpardonable in this life and the life to come. That’s scary stuff.

Aaron Burr’s name is a black mark on the pages of American history. He betrayed his own country and president. When he was a college student, a preacher came for a series of revival services on campus and young Aaron Burr struggled under conviction of sin, but he wrestled himself free from that conviction. He said that at that moment he had decided against Jesus Christ. Years later, referring back to that time in college when he was under deep conviction of the Holy Spirit, he said this, “At that time I made a decision. I told God, ‘You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone,'” and he said, “God has kept his word and I have kept mine.” That’s scary stuff. May that not be true of any of us or anybody that you and I love. The sin of the grieving of the Holy Spirit is one thing, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is another.

We moved on to look at the specifics of grieving the Holy Spirit. We have a series of exhortations here about the manner of the new man in Jesus Christ. Here we have a profile of a life that’s been touched by God’s grace. Any man’s in Christ, he’s a new creature and those old habits and those old ways and those old loves and those old lusts pass away. He no longer lies. He no longer steals. He no longer has fits of anger and ungracious words and is an unforgiving soul.

We looked at the fact that the Spirit is grieved by lying and falsehood. We looked at the fact that the Spirit is grieved by unrighteous anger. We looked at those things the last time we were together. Let’s pick up where we left off. I want you to see verse 28. “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.” I want you to see the negative, steal no longer. I want you to see the positive, work with your hands. Want you to see the motivation, that you may have something to give to him who is in need.

Salvation not only brings about a positive change in our mouths and in our hearts, but in our hands. Back in the Decalogue, the 10 Commandments, Exodus 20:15, what are we told? “You shall not steal,” and that’s going to show up in the life of someone following in the footsteps of the incarnate God himself, Jesus Christ. We see that fleshed out in living color in Luke 19, little Zacchaeus. When I think of Zacchaeus, I think of Danny DeVito. See, you’ve got Zacchaeus. He’s a man of small stature. Jesus comes into the town there near Jericho and he wants to see what this is all about. He climbs a sycamore tree and Jesus stops.

Can you imagine that moment? “Hey, Zacchaeus, come on down here, you wee rascal,” because he was a chief tax collector, he had robbed people, he had embezzled people. He had burdened his own society selfishly. “Come on down here. Make haste because I’m going to stay in your house,” and that home has changed and that heart has changed. Read about it in Luke 19 where Zacchaeus said, “Hey, I’m going to give half my stuff to the poor, and anybody I robbed, I’m going to pay back fourfold.” Jesus said, “Salvation has visited your home today.”

It’s not that that is the grounds of salvation, giving to the poor. It’s the evidence there was a change of heart. It was a throwing in his lot with the one who was there to display the love of God to all men, the one who had made himself poor that we might be made rich.

The hands that stole will under Christ steal no longer. In fact, the hands that grab from others will turn around and give to others. The thief will become a philanthropist. Now, stealing has many forms to it. I think in its bare essential understanding, this text will be talking about stealing property or possessions, but it has a wider application, doesn’t it? The thievery comes in the form of stealing property, stealing time, stealing ideas, plagiarism. We can steal by not paying a debt.

Stealing can take place by what you do or by what you don’t do in the place of what you should do. We can steal by not giving a full effort. We can even steal a person’s reputation through slander and gossip, and all this is forbidden. Know the Christian is to be someone marked by a work ethic. The Christian man ought to be a man marked by hard and honest and work marked by integrity.

Over in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, what do we read? Paul says, “Here’s what you need to aspire to,” the Thessalonians. “Aspire to lead a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your own hands.” There it is. Your Christianity is going to show up here. You’re going to have calloused hands, blistered hands, honest hands. As you put your hand into the hand of the one whose hands are scarred, he’ll change your hands. Those hands that once stole will steal no longer, they will give to the poor.

Paul tells us in Acts 20, “We assume from the words of the Lord Jesus that it’s better to give than it is to receive.” This is what marks the life of the Christian, honest, hard, generous work. The motivation for working hard is so that we might relieve the plight of others with what the Lord has given us. That’s interesting, isn’t it? The motive for work in the text of scripture is not individual gain alone. That’s certainly not ruled out.

If a man doesn’t work and provide for his family, what does Paul say? He’s worse than an infidel. I have a responsibility to take care of my wife and my three girls to put something on the table, to put something away for a rainy day, to help them make something of their life. That’s certainly part of this and part of the work ethic, but on top of that, as a Christian man and worker, you and I are being challenged here to work with our hands what is good so that we may give to him who has a need.

Certainly, that would include maybe pastors who have dedicated themselves to the work of the gospel. You read about that, the workman’s worthy of his hire. Though we need to communicate with those who communicate in the word, double honor and all of that. I’ll say no more in case you think that’s a self-advertisement, but it’s there, it’s there. We’ve got missionaries to support and global missions to support. We’ve got brethren and sisters who are in need. We’ve got a deacons fund, a benevolent fund based on a number of passages in the New Testament and principles in the Old Testament. There are people in need all around us, and when we get our wage on a Friday, whether once a month or every week of the month, we have not only got to set aside that which is necessary to provide for our family, we’ve got to then set aside that which is necessary for the Lord’s work.

1 Corinthians 16, “Set aside on the first day of the week that which the Lord has prospered you with.” Then we’ve got to think, “Hey, is there someone in the sphere of my influence that I know is in need?” That’s the way it works. The Christian is not to defraud by taking what is not theirs and neither is the Christian to defraud by withholding what should be in the hands of someone else. I haven’t thought about that as much as I probably should have. I think you’d admit that also. So we need to be generous towards others and towards the church.

I like the broadcast of Paul Harvey. In 1995, he shared this insight. The Butterball Turkey company set up a hotline to answer consumer questions about preparing holiday turkeys. One woman called in to inquire about cooking a turkey that had been in her freezer for 23 years. The operator told her it might be safe if the freezer had been kept below zero degrees the entire time, but the operator warned the woman that even if it were safe, the flavor was probably deteriorated and wouldn’t recommend eating it. The lady on the other end of the call said, “That’s what I thought. I’ll just give it to the church.” Something wrong there, isn’t there? I think I would grieve the Holy Spirit, huh?

Let’s move on to verse 29. Verse 29, “The Spirit is grieved by unwholesome speech.” Guys, remember all that we’re talking about is an undermining of God’s work in our life. God has saved us for so much. He has so much for us, and the Holy Spirit has come as the executive of the Godhead to give us all that’s been purchased in Jesus Christ, present and future. Now, you and I should want that. So why would we shoot ourselves in the foot by these things that ought not to be present in our lives, which grieve the Holy Spirit, which cause him to step back in terms of his work in our lives?

Here’s another one, unwholesome speech. Look at the negative, no corrupt word out of our mouths. Look at the positive, speak what is good and edifying. Look at the motive, to impart grace to the hearers. Let’s be reminded, the tongue may be a small part of the body but it can make or break a person’s day. James reminds us that, doesn’t he? He talks about the bit in the horse’s mouth or the rudder on the ocean-going vessel. Small part of the horse, small part of the ship, but it turns that ship, it directs that horse and James goes on to say, “And so the tongue is a little member, but all the mischief it can get us into, it can be said on fire by hell.” So you and I need to be cognizant of that. We need to recognize the importance of the tongue.

If you go back to Proverbs 15:4, we see this importance outlined. “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 21:23 reiterates this, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Elsewhere in Proverbs 18:21, we read this. It’s one of my favorite verses in the book of Proverbs, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Life and death is in the part of the tongue. Our mouths are a big issue. What we say, when we say it, to whom we say it, about whom we say it, it’s a real issue.

In fact, James would say to us in chapter one of his letter that if a man doesn’t get his tongue under control or a woman doesn’t get her tongue under control, their religion is in vain. You have to question whether the grace of God has truly touched and transformed that life. If you go back to Matthew 12:30-36, the Lord Jesus tells us that every idle word will be given account of on that final day, and by our words, we will be justified or condemned.

It’s not that our speech saves us, but out of the heart, the mouth speaks, and if the mouth hasn’t been changed, the heart hasn’t been changed, and so God will be able to determine on judgment day whether we were his by just looking at our words, idle words, harsh words. Big stuff, isn’t it? That’s why Paul brings it up. You got to get a control of your tongue or else you’re going to grieve the Holy Spirit because words guide or words lead astray. Words build up or words perturb down.

So he says that no corrupt word should proceed out of our mouth. The word corrupt here is a word that’s used in Matthew 7:17-18 and Matthew 12:33 of spoiled fruit and rotting trees. It’s used I believe elsewhere of fish that stink, that which is unhealthy, putrid, corrupt. The Christian is not to be marked by rotten speech, profanity, obscenity, vulgarity, slander, gossip on truths, cynicism, flattery, and taking the Lord’s name in vain. These are destructive patterns. The Christian’s words are to be marked by grace and seasoned with salt.

The motivation is what? Well, Paul tells us to impart grace to the hearers what’s necessary for edification. Listen, guys, this is a gospel implication. God has spoken graciously to us, hasn’t he in Jesus Christ? The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation. For me, that came home to my heart in the 28th of January 1978 when God dealt with me graciously, spoke to me graciously, and saved me by his grace. Therefore, those of us whom God has spoken grace to will want to speak grace to others in the name of God. Our words ought to be vehicles and channels of God’s grace to others. That’s the way it should be.

Listen to Proverbs 12:18. “There is one who speaks like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” Say that which is good in edification, which ministers grace to the hearer. You know what? That’s not easy. In fact, I, in reflecting in this, wrote down a series of questions I need to ask myself before I say anything in a context where what I’m about to say is substantive and important. Am I going to improve on the silence? What is my motive in saying this? Is it the right time? Are these the right words? What impact would these words have on me if the situation was reversed? What would Jesus say? Because remember, no man spoke like this man. It’s a good question. Maybe that would be enough and enough itself really if you can’t remember the others. Come up with your own list and will these words come back to haunt me on the day of judgment? Got to put my words through all these checkpoints before I proceed on to say something. We need to minister grace.

I like the story of the Bishop Fulton Sheen, believe who was over the Catholic community here in Los Angeles. He entered a greasy spoon restaurant for breakfast one day and he was met with a waitress who was groggy, disinterested to a point where she hardly showed any enthusiasm in taking his order. He said this, “Could you bring me some ham and eggs and some kind words?” When she returned some 15 minutes later, she sat the food down. In fact, she really thumped it down on the table. “There,” she said with a growl. He said, “But what about the kind words?” The server looked at him one moment and then said, “If I was you, I wouldn’t eat those eggs.” That may be ministering grace, but I’m not sure it’s a full expression of grace, but you and I need to minister grace to one another.

Let’s move on. The spirit is grieved by bitterness between people. It’s the last thing that grieves him. Verse 31, “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 forgive you.” Look at the negative, don’t be bitter. Look at the positive, be kind and forgiving. Look at the motivation, forgive as you have been forgiven. Little statement worth thinking about, guys.

Forgiving people ought to be forgiving people. Just a flat-out no-brainer, isn’t it? Forgiving people ought to be forgiving people, and that’s the motive. Now, if you look at the context of this fourth chapter, it begins with Paul’s passion for unity and the oneness in the body. He tells us in verse four, “There is one body and one spirit just as there is one calling in hope in Christ, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” That’s why in verse three he tells us we need to endeavor. That means to work hard at. It’s a strong verb. We need to work at keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.

You see, the Christian life is lived in the context of one another’s because in union with Christ, we are in union with all those who are in union with Christ and we have a relationship with them. Therefore, the last thing that should mark the Christian community is bitterness between believers. That’s so grieving to the Holy Spirit who has come to baptize us in the one body, who gifts us so that we would serve one another selflessly and put others before ourselves. That’s his work and he gets really ticked off when he sees us working against each other and working against the good of the body and the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace, and bitterness will do that.

So Paul recognizes that there’s a potential for that at Ephesus. He may even have some things in mind, I don’t know, but what’s true of them is certainly a challenge to all fellowships. There are always occasions by which we can tear at the fabric of fellowship and friendship. There’s a series of words here. The word bitterness speaks of a sour spirit, a sourpuss saint. Wrath and anger are obviously similar, the former denoting a passionate rage and the latter a more settled sullen hostility. It’s just there.

Clamor describes people who get excited, raise their voices in a quarrel and start shouting and screaming. They’re the kind of person that stamps their foot and shouts. Then we have slander, speaking evil of someone behind their backs, defaming them and their reputation. Malice is just a settled ill will. There’s almost a progression in this. It just gets worse until Paul says, “Hey, you got to put this away as soon as possible.” The bad’s got to be replaced by the good.

The Holy Spirit has been instrumental in bringing to us the benefits of Christ in our regeneration and redemption. What do we read in Romans 5:5? That the love of God has been shed and brought in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. He brings the love of God to us, both to our minds by truth and to our hearts and souls by his own presence. He presents Christ to us often and Christ is the epitome and expression of God’s love.

Now, God’s lavish love in Christ is being poured in us by the spirit and he wants us to pour it out. What is being poured in must be poured out. He doesn’t want us to be reservoirs. He wants us to be channels, and that’s why he says then, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving, even as God has forgiven you.”

It’s not easy to forgive. C.S. Lewis said that, “Forgiveness is a beautiful word until you have something to forgive.” It’s hard work. It’s not in our nature to do that. That’s why we need that new nature in Christ created after him. We need to put off the old man and put on the new man. Paul supplies us with a motive here. We are to be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving because that’s how God has dealt with us.

Just when you want to stick it to somebody, just when you want your pound of flesh, the Holy Spirit starts messing with you and he just reminds you, “Do you want God to deal with you the way you want to deal with this other person because God has not dealt with you after your sin, nor rewarded you according to your iniquities?” No. You’ve got to deal with them as God has dealt with you. That’s the whole irony, isn’t it, of that story in Matthew 18:21-35, the parable of the unmerciful servant whom the king pardons in a most magnificent, magnanimous way and then he goes out and throttles his friend for 10 bucks and Jesus said, “This is crazy,” and the craziness is we will take the forgiveness of God who has been infinitely offended and who surrendered up his own son that the one who was in his bosom and has paid for that sin and who has stepped out and come towards us.

Those of us who were running from him, he took the initiative, he showed the love, he paid the price, he absorbed the debt, he took the pain, and what, you’re going to hold out on each other? You’re going to have these little skirmishes in the church or in your family or relationships? Now, the cross of Calvary tells us that God is not the enemy of his enemies and he’s not the enemy of our enemies.

Sam Storms in a sermon on this text was helpful. He said this, “God forgave us by absorbing in himself the destructful and painful consequences of our sin against him. Forgiveness is therefore the decision to live with the painful consequences of another’s sin.” God forgave us in Christ by canceling the debt we owe. We are no longer liable for our sins in any way. We’re not made to pay for our sins.

There’s repentance but not penance. Amen. Two different things. Penance is a Catholic idea. It’s a works of righteousness idea if I pay for my sin. Jesus paid penance for me. He wants to see repentance but of me, that I stop loving that which he hates and died to cover, and that’s to see him with regards to you and me, we’ve got to cancel that other person’s debt, not have them pay undue penance, not hold it over their head.

Forgiving others as God has forgiven us means that we will resolve to revoke revenge. We won’t look for our pound of flesh. Forgiving others as God has forgiven us means a determination to do them good rather than evil. It’s not that God just took something away. The amazing thing about salvation is what he put in its place, his righteousness for my sin, his obedience for my rebellion, and then the gift of the blessed Holy Spirit as a friend and an ally and an advocate. It’s an amazing thing.

Not only did he forgive me my sin, but he put me in a right relationship with him and he’s the one doing all the work to make that relationship work. When I forgive someone and I’m called to forgive someone as you are, it’s just not some stoic, static thing that, “Okay, I’m going to put that aside.” You actually work on reconciliation. You work on relationship. You work on repaying evil for good, and the Holy Spirit is there to help us do it and we couldn’t do it for ourselves. It’s a God thing.

I’ve seen men in northern Ireland, violent men become gentle as lambs. George McKim comes to mind. Hopefully I’ll see him in March when I’m back home preaching, a dear friend of mine, a Pentecostal pastor in Northern Ireland. He was a Protestant terrorist and yet George McKim’s one of the most gentle men you’ll ever meet. There’s a sweetness about him. We used to call him Gentle George, and yet there would’ve been a day when he’d have blown your head off. He hated Roman Catholics.

He was caught up in the violence and vitriol of Northern Ireland. Transformed, no bitterness, no clamor, no wrath. There’s a kindness and a gentleness to him because he learned as Martin Niemöller learned, a fellow jailbird because George McKim did time in one of the prisons in Northern Ireland, so did Martin Niemöller for trying to kill Hitler, which is a just thing in its context, but that’s not the point of this story, but as he languished in prison, he was laid hold of a bitterness towards his guards. Yet one day he was reminded looking out at gallows that he wondered if he would swing from Sinanuf. He was reminded of the cross and that’s what he said to himself. That’s where I got that quote. “That day I learned that God is not the enemy of his enemies and he’s not the enemy of my enemies.”

If you and I are not to grieve the spirit, lies must be replaced by truth. Unholy anger must be replaced by righteous anger. Stealing must be replaced by generosity. Unwholesome talk must be replaced by edifying speech, and bitterness must be replaced by forgiveness. Last thought, and it’s a simple and a limited thought, the setback of grieving the Holy Spirit.

Look at the end of verse 30. Go back to Ephesians 4:30. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” As we began this sermon, so we will end this sermon. Grieving the spirit, doing that which he doesn’t want us to do, which causes him to postpone in us that which he wants to do is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. It’s a setback. Let me show you what I mean by that.

It’s working against God’s loving purpose towards us. The spread has sealed us. We looked at that, didn’t we, in a previous study? Not only did we read that in Ephesians 4:30, we read in Ephesians 1:13, “In him, you also trust us,” speaking of Christ. “After you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and whom also having believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance.” That should remind you of Peter’s words, “We have an inheritance in heaven that feedeth not away reserved for us.” It’s about heaven and eternal joy that’s ours, and the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of that, that someday Jesus will come back and receive his purchased possession. That’s called the day of redemption. That’s the coming to the air of Christ for his church. That’s what we would call the rapture, the snatching away, the catching away of the saints when that final act of God’s work in us will be complete.

See, the night we trust Christ, at that moment instantaneously, irrevocably, we’re given a position in Jesus Christ and his righteousness is imputed and applied to us. That’s what we call justification. That’s being saved from the penalty of sin. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who regenerates us and generates in us a love for Christ, a passion for righteousness, and we begin to pursue likeness to Christ. We are now set apart for the joy of God and the pleasure of Christ, and that’s what we call sanctification.

Now, justification is instantaneous, full irrevocable, forever settled. Sanctification, well, that’s a moving target. Sometimes it’s three steps forward, two steps back. It’s from glory to glory, from faith to faith, but some days, as Paul says, we have to hang our hands down, our heads down and say, “That which I would not do, I just did,” but then we get a hold of ourselves, we confess, we repent. You know what? He’s faithful and just. He knows what he’s dealing with. God’s in it for the long term. He that begun a good work in us will perform it. That’s sanctification, that’s progressive. We seek to lay hold of all that God has laid hold of us for.

Then there comes that final act, when it does not yet appear what we shall be, but when he appears, we shall be like him. That’s the finishing skill. That’s where the job gets all wrapped up. In the air instantaneously, this vile body made on like unto his. The residue of our flesh and our love of those things that God doesn’t love will be instantaneously removed and we will be glorified. See it from the penalty of sin. See it from the power of sin. See it from the presence of sin.

I told the staff the other day, “Our salvation is progressive.” Stephen Alford helped me with this some time ago as a young Christian when he was speaking in Belfast. He said, “Imagine it like this. You’re on a ship that’s run aground. It’s taking on water. It’s listing. You can see the shore. So the lifeboats are lowered. You get into the lifeboat and you get off the sinking ship. You are saved. Then you row for the shore. You are being saved. You’re putting a further distance between the ship and yourself as you head towards the shore, but then when you pull that lifeboat onto the shore and get your feet onto terra firma, there’s that sense, ‘Well, I am now completely saved.'”

That’s what God is doing in every man around these tables and anybody listening to this message. He has begun a work in us, justification, sanctification, glorification, and the Holy Spirit is at the heart of that. We have been sealed with him, by him until the day of redemption. That’s where we’re headed. That’s where we are headed. That’s what God has for us. Anytime you and I grieve the Holy Spirit, there is a sense in which we are setting back that glorious future. We’re getting in the way of something so magnificent. We should knock our heads against the wall and say, “How dumb are we?” and then remind ourselves we’re really dumb. How bad is our fallen condition apart from Jesus Christ that we would continue to shoot ourselves in the foot. We would continue to score own goals in our own net.

He is the one who’s been given. Don’t grieve him. He sealed us until the day of redemption. He’s here to make us more like the Lord Jesus. He’s here to give us all that God has given us in Christ. Grieving the Holy Spirit is an act of a Christian who has forgot their future. That’s about it.

Well, guys, that’s our study in the grieving of the Holy Spirit. Grieving the Holy Spirit is indeed an act of a Christian who has forgot their future because our future is with Christ. Therefore, let us not work against the one who has been sent from Christ to make us like Christ, the one who keeping us for Christ and the one who someday will present us to Christ on that day of redemption when the trumpet sounds and time shall be no more.

Let’s pray. Lord, we find ourselves this morning as satisfied biblical treasure hunters. Oh, we thank you for this shaft that we have mined this morning for a second time. We thank you for the book of Ephesians. We thank you for the celebration of Paul over Christ in this book. He hardly takes a breath in chapter one, one long sentence as he tells us about our election and predestination, our security, our adoption, all that we have in Christ. Lord, we recognize this morning that in the gift of Christ, we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We’re sealed by him until the day of redemption.

You started something you’re not going to finish, and we’ve got to confess with shame and sorrow that, Lord, we work against that which you are working for us. We shoot ourselves in the foot. We just get in the way. Forgive us. May we feel more grieved over the fact that we have grieved the one who is setting out to secure our glorious future. May we in the present be mindful of that. Help us indeed, Lord, to put away unwholesome speech, to steal no longer. Lord, help us to be angry and sin not. Help us, Lord, to work on our relationships with one another for we pray and ask these things in his name. Amen.