When the Apostle Paul said, "Be filled with the Spirit," he was indicating that there are two classes of Christians - those "filled with the Spirit" and those who are not "filled with the Spirit." Christians should be aware of the ways and the seriousness of sinning against the Holy Spirit.
Saints can ignore the Holy Spirit. He is a Personality. He is co-equal with the Father and with the Son. He deserves the same devotion, love, consideration, and fellowship as the Father and the Son.
Have you determined to find out everything you possibly can find in the Word of God about this Wonderful Person, the Holy Spirit? If you are not making some kind of effort to do so, you are guilty of ignoring Him. He does not want to be ignored by those He loves and wants to empower and fill to the full.
Saints can grieve the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul was addressing Christians when he said, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God,:" (Ephesians 4:30). The context of this verse of Scripture reveals ways in which we can grieve Him (verses 29-31): by unprofitable talk on the one hand and un-Christ like actions on the other. Let us consider some of these unholy, unprofitable exercises.
"Corrupt communication" covers a wide category of conversation. Exaggerating, gossiping, lying, suggestive innuendos, dirty stories, slang expressions, "jesting," and "foolish talking" are corrupting influences in a person's life that will grieve the Holy Spirit. Isaiah was smitten with conviction in this area of his life. He cried out, ":Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips::" (Isaiah 6:5).
"Bitterness" about anything or any person in the life of a saint is devastating. "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;" (Hebrews 12:15). The tragic results of many being defiled is simply because the Holy Spirit is grieved when bitterness takes over in a heart. He cannot function in His fullness in such a life; therefore the flesh runs rampant.
"Wrath" is poison to the soul. There is a sense in which we can "Be:angry, and sin not" (Ephesians 4:26). But the anger we are considering in this verse of Scripture is fatal to spirituality. Its fruits are animosity and resentment, which are deadly works of the flesh.
"Clamor" is usually the conduct of very immature Christians. Bickering, quarrelling, contentious people are, by their own conduct, ruling out the full function of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
"Evil speaking" has a sharp, caustic note. It is not gentle in expression because the Holy Spirit is rendered inoperative. The tongue of such a person is abusive and sometimes blasphemous in language.
"Malice" is a deadly foe of the Spirit-controlled life. To be spiteful and hold ill will is to notify the Holy Spirit that He is being substituted by an unholy spirit.
This is not a complete list of sins against the Spirit, but it reveals much of how we can grieve Him. I think it would be profitable for all of us to take inventory. Honest hearts do not want to deter the work of the Holy Spirit even to the slightest degree.
"Quench not the Spirit." (1 Thessalonians 5:19). "To quench" means to put out the fire. The Holy Spirit is known as the Spirit of burning. One aspect of His work is to burn out the dross in order to purify the saints. Do not dampen the fire of the Spirit in your soul. To do so is to limit the power of the mighty working Holy Spirit in your life.
HEALING THE DAMAGE
It is cruel to ignore the Holy Spirit. It is unkind to grieve Him. It is disastrous to quench Him. All of these are damaging sins. Such conduct produces a sub-standard, depleted, anemic brand of Christian. No matter how loud the shout of victory, if any one of these sins is practiced, the shout is as "sounding brass and tinkling cymbal." There is no sweet harmony, no loving disposition, no gracious, kind demeanor in a saint who hinders the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart.
What is the answer to the spiritual malady that is devitalizing the saints today? First, we need to realize that the Holy Spirit is resident within us and that He must not be treated with indifference or contempt. Twice in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthian Churches, he reminded them of the indwelling Spirit of God, (1 Corinthians 6:19) "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (See also 1 Corinthians 3:16). It is also evident in the Apostle's teaching that the Holy Spirit is to be Lord in our lives. "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17). Anything short of the Lordship of the Spirit in our lives is sin because it limits the Holy One of Israel.
There is only one answer to the sin question, whether they are sins of worldliness, sins of the lust of the flesh, or sins against the Holy Spirit by ignoring, grieving, or quenching Him, they must be confessed to the Lord. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9). ":and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7). This is the way of true restoration.
The Apostle Paul refers to ":the communion of the Holy Ghost." (2 Corinthians 13:14). In this blessed communion with this Wonderful Person, let us share with Him our sorrow and repentance for the way we have been treating Him. Let us tell Him that we want Him enthroned in our lives as our Comforter, Guide, Teacher, and Lord. He will warmly welcome us back into His full fellowship.
-Wm. B. Young