And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
(Ephesians 4:30 ESV)
Over the past few days Paul has given us specifics about how the behavior of God’s children should be different from the world around us. While the world is steeped in sin and isn’t aware of it (or if they are, they don’t care), those who belong to God are not to sin. Of course, its impossible for anyone to stop sinning. None of us can be, or will be, perfect in this life. Sin will always be a temptation and it will get the best of us more than we’d like to admit.
But sin hurts us and hurts others, as we’ve been reading. When we lie, steal, speak unkindly, or get angry we damage relationships between ourselves and other people. God is all about relationships. He desires an individual, personal relationship with each of us through His son, Jesus. He also desires for us to have healthy relationships with our family members and neighbors.
Its easy to see that sinful behaviors hurt other people. But God wants us to also realize that sin greive[s] the Holy Spirit, who is God. In this verse Paul takes a short break from his list of five behavior changes to remind us that when we sin we are not only damaging our human relationships, but we also hurt God.
The Greek word translated “grieve” here is λυπεο (pronounced: loo-peh’-o) which means “to cause sorrow; to make sad”. God gets sad when we sin. This word is an anthropopathism which is a big word simply meaning a human emotion ascribed to God. It is similar to the word anthropomorphism which refers to a human physical characteristic we attribute to God, such as “God’s right hand”. These types of words don’t describe God exactly, but help us understand Him to some extent through the use of human characteristics. God does not have a right hand. Nor does He get sad the same way we do.
God does not need us to make Him happy. The sadness He experiences when we sin is not because He feels a loss – He is complete with or without us – but because He knows what sin costs us. Just look at all the wars, diseases, poverty, loneliness, pollution, and misery all around our planet. All of it is caused by our sin. This life is nothing like the life God wanted for us and we have no one to blame but ourselves.
God created the world and designed how it should work. He then told us exactly how to have a great life. But we disobey Him. Disobedience to God is the very definition of sin. Instead of doing what God tells us to we do our own thing and it causes all kinds of problems.
Life was meant to be one of perfect relationships among human beings, God, and nature. That is exactly how it was in the Garden of Eden [Genesis 2]. But it didn’t last long. From the moment Adam & Eve disobeyed God the world has been on the wrong course and will only continue to get more off-course as sin is cumulative. We can never undo the damage we have done.
This grieves God because He knows how great life could be for us and what we are missing out on.
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