By Jill Briscoe
As we confess our sin to God, He will apply the benefits of Christ’s death on our behalf. He will apply the wood, that is, the cross on which Christ gave His life for us. The Cross has an application for us every day of our lives. Because Christ died for whatever it is I am confessing, He can forgive and cleanse me on an ongoing basis. He can give me clean hands and a pure heart–a heart that loves Him and wants to make a difference.
The Spirit helps us to pray all the right prayers, the prayers that say “Christ is everything,” while the devil works to get us to say, “Anything but Christ!” God’s Spirit through God’s Word will show us the place where we lost the will to want His will, and then we must be obedient to the things He shows us. As we practice the will of God on a daily basis, it should become almost second nature to know when things are not the way they ought to be.
As we come to love God more and more, we will want to grieve Him less and less. Grieve is a love word. You can’t grieve one who doesn’t love you. As we spend more and more time with the Lord, we will acquire a knowledge that cannot be learned any other way. We will become sensitive to the things that bring Him pleasure and the things that bring Him grief. Paul says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30).
It’s like being married. When I first got married, I didn’t know what brought my husband joy and what brought him grief. I thought I knew, but I really didn’t. Now, after forty-two years of marriage, I know instinctively. To the extent that I have taken the trouble to get to know my husband, I have grown to know what makes him happy and, conversely, what upsets him.
Likewise, the longer I “live with God,” the more instinctively I know what brings Him pleasure. I cannot emphasize enough that there is no shortcut to living effectively for God. Prayer that doesn’t work, doesn’t work. But even though it is work, it doesn’t feel like work at all, because it is love work. For those who do it, it is all joy!
What does the Scripture specifically say about the things that grieve the Spirit? Ruth Paxson, in her book Life on the Highest Plane, says it well:
To grieve the Holy Spirit means that we are causing pain to someone who loves us. What, then, in us causes the divine One grief?
- He is the Spirit of truth (Jn. 14:17) so anything false, deceitful, hypocritical, grieves Him.
- He is the Spirit of faith (2 Cor. 4:13) so doubt, unbelief, distrust, worry, anxiety, grieve Him.
- He is the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29) so that which is hard, bitter, ungracious, unthankful, malicious, unforgiving, or unloving grieves Him.
- He is the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4) so anything unclean, defiling, or degrading grieves Him.
- He is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1:17) so ignorance, conceit, arrogance, and folly grieve Him.
- He is the Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7) so that which is barren, fruitless, disorderly, confused, and uncontrolled grieves Him.
- He is the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2) so anything that savors of indifference, lukewarmness, spiritual dullness, and deadness grieves Him.
- He is the Spirit of glory (1 Pet. 4:14) so anything worldly, earthly, or fleshly grieves Him. As long as we are indulging known sin we are living in the same abode with a grieved Spirit who is thereby hindered from manifesting Himself fully in and through us (22-23).
It is a helpful exercise to take a good look at this list on your knees and ask “What do I do that is at odds with who God is?” When the Lord sees our contrite hearts, He will make sure we know how to get back on track. Realize that you live by grace on borrowed time with borrowed gifts and borrowed opportunities. Ask Him to forgive you and cleanse you.