Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching from Ephesians 4:30 in our series through the book of Ephesians. As we’ve been moving through the book as a church on Sunday mornings, the section spanning from Ephesians 4:17-32 is focused on living the Christian life. If the first three chapters are focused on the doctrine of salvation, chapters 4-6 serve as a practical guide to helping us live out the Christian faith.
Although we covered Ephesians 4:30 in our previous sermon, I wanted to spend one week focused primarily upon the truths that we see in this single verse. Contained in this one verse are two crucial truths that we must not forget.
It Is Possible to Grieve God
Unlike the impersonal gods that litter the landscape of human history, the Triune God of Scripture is not impersonal. The doctrine of divine impassibility declares that God doesn’t feel emotion, but as we read the pages of Scripture, we see that our God not only feels emotion, but He has likewise chosen to reveal that truth to us.
Specifically in this verse, we see that Paul instructs the church at Ephesus and the surrounding cities to refrain from grieving the Holy Spirit. It’s important to recognize that the Holy Spirit is not in impersonal force. He is the third Person of the Godhead. He is grieved (vexed, offended) by specific choices that we make.
The word translated, Grieve, comes from the Greek term, λυπέω which means, “to cause severe mental or emotional distress, vex, irritate, offend, insult.“ Just as Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus and was angered at the profaning of God’s temple, so is the Holy Spirit grieved at the sins of God’s children.
Specific ways in which the Holy Spirit is grieved include:
1. Sinful living
2. Unbiblical doctrines
3. Unhealthy focus upon the Spirit above the Father and Son in worship
4. Seeking and engaging in extrabiblical revelations
5. Avoiding the ordinary means of grace
As our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we must consider how we speak, how we worship among the church, our relationships within the church, and our heart toward authority (within the church and to God Himself). Are we guilty of grieving God?
It Is Impossible to Lose Your Salvation
Although it’s possible to grieve God through sinful choices we make, it’s impossible to lose the salvation that God has given to His children. The second half of Ephesians 4:30 clearly says, “by whom you were sealed until the day of redemption.”
The word, sealed, comes from the Greek term, σφραγίζω meaning, ”To provide with a seal and security measure. To close up tight and seal up. To mark with aseal of identification.” In ancient days in the Roman culture, such seals were used for animals to mark property and identify ownership. It was also used in such manners as a king sending a letter that was sealed with mark of the king on wax, demonstrating ownership and authority of the king himself.
When this word is used in relation to our redemption, it’s proof of ownership (see Eph. 1:13-14) and the ultimate guarantee of our present and future salvation in Jesus Christ. It should be future noted that the phrase “until the day of redemption” is a clear reference to the return of Christ when God will bring all things to a final culmination in Jesus. We have this sure promise that if we have been saved, we will remain saved. Salvation is of the LORD according to Jonah. Just as we see in Romans 8:28-30 and John 10:28-29, it’s impossible to lose the salvation that we have received from God.
To suggest that we can lose our salvation is not only an unbiblical doctrine that grieves the Holy Spirit, but it’s also extremely arrogant to think that any human being has the ability to keep themselves saved. In short, if it were possible to lose our salvation, not only would every Christian fail, but the total population of Christians would fail before the sunrise tomorrow morning.
How do we explain people like Judas in Scripture? It’s clear that certain people professed faith in Christ but then walked away. As 1 John 2:19 clearly teaches, such people were never truly converted in the first place. By walking away they demonstrate that they were never the children of God in the beginning.
As we look at Ephesians 4, we must remember the importance of pursuing unity within the church. To be a rogue Christian is to behave like a non-Christian and such behavior grieves God. He will not allow us to stay there. We must not stay there. If you continue to sin and do not receive the correction of God, you prove yourself to be something other than a Christian—whatever you may be.
How do you know that you’re a Christian? Do you have the fruit of the Spirit flowing out of your life or does your life look more like the world?