Ephesians 4:30-32 declares: And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Here is the fifth and final sin that can easily creep back into the Christian’s life.
These final verses are a summary of what has gone before and graphically contrast the natural reactions of the “Old Man” with the spiritual actions of the “New Man.” In other words, in the Christian walk, the Believer must not react according the impulses of the flesh, rather he must act according the impetus of the Spirit. Once again we consider the negative first: grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
As a foundation to all that follows, Paul first emphasizes that the Christian grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. What a statement! It is actually an allusion to Isaiah 63:9–11, where the prophet declares that God’s people “rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit.” Here is a strong reminder of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the practical result of that doctrine.
Harry Ironside is no doubt correct when he observes that this statement is the most important part of this entire passage. The word grieve (lupeō) means “to sadden, bring pain, or afflict with sorrow.” While all sin saddens God, not just the ones Paul lists here, these listed sins are apparently especially painful to the Holy Spirit. Why? Because they are especially inconsistent in the Holy Spirit indwelt life. Nothing is more inconsistent in the Holy Spirit indwelt life than lying, unrighteous vengeance, stealing, corrupt speech, and the rest of the sins listed here.
We studied the “Sealing of the Holy Spirit” back in Ephesians 1:13-14. As we learned, the word “seal” pictures the ancient signet ring, which signified acquisition, absolute ownership, authenticity, and assurance. While the first mention of sealing is doctrinal, this second mention is practical. The principle here is that since we are sealed until we go home to be with the Lord, we are to act like it now by not grieving the Holy Spirit through sin. This brings us to Paul’s summary list.
First, there is bitterness (pikria), which simply means “harbored hostility,” a smoldering resentment, holding a grudge. In his commentary on the Greek text, John Eadie puts it best: Bitterness is a figurative term denoting that fretted and irritable state of mind that keeps a man in perpetual animosity—that inclines him to harsh and uncharitable opinions of men and things—that makes him sour, crabbed, and repulsive in his general demeanor—that brings a scowl on his face, and infuses venom into the words of his tongue.”
Bitterness is the end result of suppressed anger, and as Hebrews 12:15 declares, it defiles us. The Greek behind “defiled” there is miaino, which means “to stain with color, tinge, or pollute.” Anger must not be suppressed—it must be dealt with.