James Merritt - Holy Hurt
We're in a series that we're calling "Holy Who," because quite frankly, there are a lot of people that just, you know, the Holy Spirit's just not really on their agenda, and so, we really thought, and I've really been convicted for a while that we really need to talk about kinda the neglected person in the Trinity. We talk a lot about God the Father. We talk a lot about God the Son, but we don't always talk very much about God, the Holy Spirit, and just so by way of review, let me just remind you, we said a couple of weeks ago that there are only two kinds of people in the world. You can divide every person you know, every person you live next door to, every person you work with, every person you're kin to. There are only two kinds of people in the world. Only two kinds of people in this room right now.
There are people who have the Holy Spirit and people who don't, that's it. You either have the Holy Spirit or you don't. If you're a believer, you have the Holy Spirit. If you're not a believer, you do not have the Holy Spirit because, we said a couple weeks ago that the first thing that God does for you when you give your life to Jesus is He gives you the Holy Spirit. It's an exchange. I give my life to Jesus; Jesus gives me the Holy Spirit. So, the reason why we're doing this series is because we're trying to address two problems people have with the Holy Spirit, and by the way, whether you're a believer or an unbeliever, you've got this problem. The first problem obviously that I'm trying to deal with is this problem of ignorance because the truth of the matter is, if you're an unbeliever, I promise you, you probably don't know anything at all about the Holy Spirit, but I've got news for you.
There are a lot of believers that don't know very much about the Holy Spirit. There are some of you in this room, you can talk some about God. You can talk some about Jesus, but if I were to begin to say to you, tell me everything you know about the Holy Spirit, the conversation might not last very long at all, and that's not unusual. There's a very interesting story in the book of Acts about the Apostle Paul. He was over in a city called Ephesus preachin'. I have been there many many times. It's a beautiful city, and he had found some disciples there and he was askin' them about their spiritual condition, and so he asked them a great question. He said, "Hey, by the way, have you received the Holy Spirit"? Now listen to what they said. They said, "No, we have not even heard there is a Holy Spirit".
And there are a lot of believers, there are a lot of unbelievers, believers just like that. There are many people in the world, they don't even know anything about the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of believers, they know very little about the Holy Spirit. So I said, okay, we need to learn about the Holy Spirit, but there's a bigger problem. I think the bigger problem is not ignorance. I think the bigger problem, can I be honest, is indifference. I think there are a lot o' people that are just indifferent to the Holy Spirit. I mean, even if they know something about the Holy Spirit, they know very little about the Holy Spirit and they're not even interested in learning about the Holy Spirit. Can I just be, I'm just being honest. Just, let's just say if this is true of you, if it is, you don't have to say anything, just agree in your heart. How many of you who are believers in Jesus, you go through a typical day and you never even think one time about the Holy Spirit? He's never even on your radar screen. He's not anywhere on your agenda.
You don't ever give the Holy Spirit even a second thought. And I'm just gonna be... I just had to tell you the truth. The average Christian, the average Christian is just glad they're saved. They're just glad they've got eternal life. They're just glad they've been forgiven. They're just glad that they know when they die, they're going to Heaven. They're not interested in living a Spirit-thrilled, Spirit filled, Spirit-drilled life. They're not interested in living a Spirit-controlled, Spirit-honoring life. They just really kinda wanna be left alone to do their thing and go to Heaven when they die. So let me tell you why this series is important.
Let me tell you why it's important to you whether you're a believer or not. Let me tell you why it's important whether you know Jesus or not. Let me tell you why it's important whether you are a Christian or not. Here's why it's such a big deal. "You cannot be rightly related to God the Father, unless you are rightly related to God the Son, and you cannot be rightly related to God the Father or God the son unless you are rightly related to God the Holy Spirit". So you get that in your mind. If you're not rightly related to God the Son, you can't rightly be related to God the Father, but even if you're rightly related to God the Son and God the Father, you won't be rightly related to them until your rightly related to God the Holy Spirit. So, with all of that said, today, we're gonna talk about a subject that I guarantee you, I would bet, if I were a betting man, I don't bet, but I'll tell you what, that man in that blue shirt in the front row looking right down there, that guy is one rich dude.
I would bet $1000 of his money... that 99% of you have never in your life heard about the topic we're going to deal with today. You've never given a second thought to something the Apostle Paul said to this church over in Ephesus, but what he said is one of the most incredible statements and one of the most somber warnings to believers and unbelievers you'll find anywhere in the Bible. So, if you brought a copy of God's word or you got a Smartphone or an iPad or whatever it is you might do, I have, I want you to turn to a book called Ephesians, and I'm gonna help you find it. The Bible's divided up into the Old Testament and New Testament. Go to the New Testament, and then there's a book called Ephesians. You'll hit the gospels first. You keep turnin' about four, about six, seven, eight, nine books and you'll come to a book called Ephesians.
I want you to turn to Ephesians chapter 4. We're gonna look here in verse 30, and I want you to listen to what Paul said to this church in Ephesus. Now listen to this. He says, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God," Wow, I can do that, yeah. "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption". There are a lot o' you right now goin', I didn't know that was in the Bible, and you're sitting there going, "You mean, I've got enough influence with the Holy Spirit, I can grieve the Holy Spirit"? If you're a believer in Jesus and you're a follower of Christ, you can grieve the Holy Spirit. Now that word grieve is a very powerful word. It means to cut to the quick. It means to break someone's heart. It means to cause someone great sorrow. So, let me paint this picture for you. You have the power to bring tears to the eyes of the Holy Spirit.
Now think about that. You have the power to bring tears to the eyes of the Holy Spirit. Now, that in itself tells us something about the Holy Spirit and that is, the Holy Spirit is a person. He's not a thing. He's not a force. He's not an influence. He is a person. How do I know that, 'cause you can't grieve an influence. You can't grieve a thing. You can't grieve a power. You can only grieve a person. Just as God the Father is a person, God the Son is a person, God the Holy Spirit is a person, and guess what? He has feelings just like you do. As a matter of fact, that word grieve is a love word. You know, you know why I grieved my mother? Because my mother loves me and I love her. You can't grieve someone that you don't know or someone that doesn't love you. You can anger your enemy. You can aggravate a stranger, but you can only grieve somebody that loves you.
You know, we talk a lot about the love of God. We talk about the love of Jesus. Have you ever thought about the love of the Holy Spirit? Paul said this in Romans chapter 15. He was talking to some Romans. He says, "I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me". But Paul said, the Holy Spirit loves you. The Holy Spirit wants what is best for you. The Holy Spirit only wants to lead you to the places where you need to go. The Holy Spirit only wants to lead you to do the things that you ought to do.
So, the question now that I wanna ask this morning and you oughta be asking is this question. So, if I can grieve the Holy Spirit, what are those things that I can do that grieve the Holy Spirit? What are the kind of things that I can do that could break the heart of the Holy Spirit? So here's what Paul does. In this passage of scripture, he says, "Let me share with you two or three things that I promise you if you will do, you will never grieve the Holy Spirit of God". You will never bring what I call holy hurt to the Holy Spirit. So, what are those things we must do on a daily basis if we do not wanna break the heart of the Holy Spirit? All right, this'll go real fast.
Number one, we must control our tongues. We have to control our tongues. There is someone that goes with you everywhere you go and always hears every word you say, and that is the Holy Spirit, and Paul's gonna tell us that one of the ways you can grieve the Holy Spirit is by the way you use your tongue, by the very words that you speak. For example, I'll tell you something that grieves the Holy Spirit, when we lie, when we don't tell the truth, it grieves the Holy Spirit. Jesus, in John 16:13 called the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit only deals with one thing. He deals with truth. He doesn't deal with lies. He doesn't deal with fables. He doesn't deal with fiction. He doesn't deal with myth. He only deals with truth, and when the Holy Spirit leads you, He always leads you to speak the truth.
So Paul says this in verse 25. He says, "Therefore," that is, therefore, in light of the fact that you've got the Holy Spirit, "each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body". This is the number one problem tongues have caused me as a pastor, and it's a word that begins with the letter G. You wanna guess what that word is? It's gossip. Gossip grieves the Holy Spirit. So, what does Paul say in verse 29? He says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths".
Now, you're gonna see in a minute why he's talkin' about gossip because the Spirit of God expects us to exercise control over what comes out of our mouth when it comes out of our mouth to whom it comes out of our mouth and the way it comes out of our mouth. By the way, that word there unwholesome, you know what that word literally means? It's a super-strong word. It refers to rancid fish, to withered flowers, to rotten wood. In other words, what Paul said was, Do you know when you gossip about people, and especially about people that you're supposed to love, he said it's a stench in the nostrils of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, you say well, how do you know that's what Paul's talking about, because let's keep reading the next part of that verse. He says, "But only say what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit," now watch this, "those who listen".
Now I wanna tell you something you know is absolutely true. There is one thing that comes out of our mouth that 100% of the time is always unhelpful and it's always un-beneficial to hear it, and you know what this is, it's gossip. Now, I'm gonna prove that to you. I guarantee you, none of us in this room have ever heard anybody share gossip or listen to gossip that was helpful, beneficial, because that's what makes gossip gossip, it's negative. It doesn't build up, it tears down. It doesn't deliver people, it destroys people. I've never yet had anybody say, "Hey, I gotta tell you something good about somebody, but don't tell anybody". No, it's always bad, it's always negative. I've heard plenty of gossip that was meant to tear someone down. I used to teach my boys growing up a lesson.
Can I be honest? I've had to learn the hard way more than once. You never have to apologize for anything you don't say. It's true, you don't ever have to apologize for anything you don't say. It pays not to gossip. See, the Holy Spirit only has one desire for us, only one. That's to build us up. That's the only desire we oughta have for other people is to build people up. Now, I could talk a lot more about that, but there's one other issue, and I hate to bring it up, and I'm not trying to be a prude when I bring this up, but I have to. I'm just being honest. There's one other problem with the tongue that I believe is an issue, not just in the church or outside the church, but in the church, not just in the Christian community or outside, but inside the Christian community, and there's another problem and that's profanity, dirty jokes, crude remarks, racist jokes, sexist jokes, jokes about homosexuals. Listen to what Paul says a few verses later down in chapter 5. "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving".
One of the ways I know that God gives me a pure heart, when I hear filthy language come out of somebody's mouth, I wanna take a shower. Look, I'm not a prude, I'm not a puritan. I don't mean it that way at all. I'm a big guy and I've heard it all, but if you've got a pure heart and a godly mind, there's just something about filthy language, it just kinda makes you cringe. Well, how much more do you think it grieves the Holy Spirit, when those of us who say we love Jesus and those who say we know Jesus tell dirty jokes and crude jokes and coarse talk's coming out of our mouth and we're using profanities and obscenities, and by the way, you may or may not know this, profanity's at an all-time high in our culture.
One out of ever 100 words that's spoken today in public is a swear word. Kids are now learning how to swear at ages three and four, and for many kids, it's a regular habit by the time they're 11 and 12, and here's the sad thing, nearly two thirds of adults say they've got rules about their children swearing in the house, but they admit, they do it inside the house and outside the house, and no one even blinks today when God's name is dragged through the mud and language is used that could peel the bark offa trees. I just want you to keep in mind, God hears it all and God knows it all and we break the heart of the Holy Spirit when we use our tongues in a way to either lie or gossip or say things that we shouldn't say. So the first thing I'd say is, control the tongue. I don't want to grieve the Holy Spirit.
So, there's another thing we need to do. We need to control our temper. Now, Paul is so concerned about this. He talks about it twice in this passage. Back up in verse 26, he says this, He says, "In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry". Now that's interesting. Paul says, "You can be angry and not sin". But, let me just be honest. That's possible, but the truth is, 98% of the time, we get angry, we're sinning, right? Now, it's possible. If you've got a hair-trigger temper, if you fly off the handle at nothing, you grieve the Holy Spirit. It breaks the heart of the Holy Spirit. By the way, there's an even stronger admonition in verse 31, listen to this. He says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice".
Now that word get rid of, real interesting word. It refers to, what it literally means is to lift up and it means to take away. Paul says, you oughta take your temper, treat it like trash, haul it all from your heart, put it out to the curb where it belongs and leave it there. Somebody has noticed that anger is just one letter short of danger, and you know we've seen that played out today. There's a phenomenon we have in our culture today. It has a term for it. Nobody even used this term 30 years ago. You've heard it. Some of you have experienced it. It's called road rage. Road rage doesn't just happen on the highways. Road rage happens in homes. Road rage happens in marriages.
So you number one, we number one, we have to control our tongues, and then we have to control our temper. Let me show you the third one, if I haven't got you, this gets you, trust me, 'cause this is one we never think about, no pun intended, but Paul says, we must control our thoughts. If we don't wanna grieve the Holy Spirit, we must control our thoughts. Let me tell you why. Let me tell you how this works. The Holy Spirit comes into you to make you just like Jesus. Why does He want to make you just like Jesus? He wants to make you like Jesus so that other people want to be like Jesus, and He wants other people to be like the Jesus that lives in you.
So when the Holy Spirit comes into your life, here's what the Holy Spirit says. He says, "James, I'm gonna come into your life and I'm not coming to your life just to change your actions on the outside. I wanna change your attitudes on the inside. I don't wanna change just your methods. I wanna change your mindset". So, we read back up in verse 22 and 23, "You were taught," he said. "with regard to your former way of life," that is, before you became a believer, "to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the," what's that word? "in the attitude of your," what? "your minds". Paul says, when the Holy Spirit comes into your heart, He wants to change even the way you think because, remember, He goes with you everywhere you go.
So he not only listens to everything that we say. He not only looks at everything that we do. He also reads every thought that we think, and the Holy Spirit is so sensitive that when our minds go where they should not go, whether it's in the areas of lust or jealousy or bitterness or anger, it grieves Him. It breaks His heart, and see, many of us, and I'm guilty of this, so maybe you can join me in this, we kind of fall into this trap, and here's what we do with our life, we've kind of said, "Okay, I know I shouldn't talk wrong, so I'll try to watch what I say, and I know that I shouldn't act wrong, so I'll just try to watch what I do". I mean, come on, man, what I think? I mean, who knows what I'm thinkin' right now? Right, I mean, it's just, how am I possibly hurting anybody by what I think?
Well, Paul said, "If you think bad thoughts, lustful thoughts, jealous thoughts, anger thoughts, bitter thoughts, grievous thoughts, it grieves the Holy Spirit, but that raises a big question. Good grief, Pastor, if that's true, how in the world do you handle that? What in the world do you do with your thought life"? I'll tell you what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to let the Holy Spirit do what Paul said to the church in Corinth when he wrote this. He said, "I want you to take captive," this is a great way to put it, "I want you to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ".
In other words, every time, every time, listen to this, every time we fail to do what God tells us to do, every time, this is 100% of the time. Whenever we do something we know we should not do, do you know where that first started? In the mind, always starts in the mind. Let me give you an example. So where does the sin of adultery start? In the lust of the mind. Where does the poison of bitterness? How does that get poured into our heart? From the glass of anger in the mind. Why are we jealous of the success of somebody else? Because we've got envy in the mind. Because remember what I said to you. Everywhere you go, the Holy Spirit goes with you, and that's not just true to what you say. That's not just true to what you do. That is true in what you think. So, everywhere your mind wanders, guess who's waiting on it? The Holy Spirit.
So, that's why our thought life is so important to God, and if you still don't get it, I'll make it real easy. The reason why God is so concerned and the reason why the Spirit's so concerned with the thoughts that are in our mind and what we think is this. The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. So, if you think depressed, you will feel depressed and you'll act depressed. If you think bitter thoughts, you'll have bitter feelings and you will act in a bitter fashion. If you think thoughts that are angry, you'll feel angry and you will act like you are angry because listen, there are only two sources of thought in your life. There are satanic thoughts, which lead to temptation and there are godly thoughts which leads to inspiration.
And so, Paul is telling us, listen, the Holy Spirit is so sensitive about you and so caring about you and so loving towards you, and so concerned that you live the best life you can, He's not just concerned about what you do or what you say, but also how you think. He wants you to act godly and talk godly and live godly and think godly. He literally wants you to think the mind of Christ. He wants you to think the thoughts of God. Now here's a great question I wanna help you answer today 'cause there are some of you here today right now, let's just be honest, you battle with lust. You battle with jealousy. You battle with envy, and I'll tell ya, I don't mean this to sound funny, I really don't, but it is kind of amusing to me to see how the average person thinks they deal with that problem, 'cause here's how we deal with it.
Now let's just see if you can't relate to this. So I got a problem with lust and you know what we'll say? We'll say, "Man, I've just got to quit lusting". Well, how's that work out for ya? Let me tell you why that doesn't work. You ready? I don't want anybody in this room right now thinking about an elephant. Did you hear what I just said to you? What do you think about right now? Don't lie to me. You think about an elephant. When I tell you not to think about an elephant, do what I tell you to do or hit the bricks. Don't think about an elephant. Seriously, did that work? No, as a matter of fact, what did it do? Just the opposite. So you say, "Boy, I gotta quit lusting". What do you do? You lust. I gotta quit being bitter, you stay bitter.
You say, "Okay, Smartypants, if that doesn't work, how do you do that? How in the world can I get my thought life under control"? All right, let me show you. Somebody comes up to me and says, "Hey Pastor, do you see that glass"? Yep. "That glass is full of air". It sure is. "Can you get the air outta that glass"? Oh yeah, that's easy. All the air is gone. What'd I do? I didn't say to that glass, "You just gotta get the air outta yourself". It's not gonna work. Here's what I said to the glass. "I'm not even gonna try to get the air outta you. I'm just gonna fill you up with something else". Now let me tell you how to get your thought life under control. You ready for this? Read that book. Get that book in your mind. Get those thoughts in your mind. The Holy Spirit was sent to point people to Jesus, period. That's what He does all day long 24/7. His job is to point people to Jesus.
The greatest work that the Holy Spirit does is when He comes to someone who doesn't know Jesus and He convicts that person of the fact that he or she is a sinner. He convinces them that they need a Savior and He connects them to that Savior named Jesus. Somehow the Holy Spirit does that work where that person realizes, "I'm a sinner. I need the grace of God. I cannot save myself. Jesus Christ is the Savior. He died on the cross, He was raised from the dead. He's alive right now and if I will trust Him, He will save me, He will forgive me. He will change me, He will make me a new person." and boom, that person is born again.
That is the greatest work of the Holy Spirit, but when the Holy Spirit comes to someone like you and you hear a message like this, and you hear everything I just said. Jesus loves me, yep, He died for me, yep, He came back from the dead, yep. He wants to forgive me of my sins, yep. He wants to give me eternal life, yep. He wants to give me a purpose for living, yep. No thanks, not interested. It just breaks the heart of the Holy Spirit. It crushes the Holy Spirit. It grieves the Holy Spirit.
It brings tears to the eyes of the Holy Spirit because God the Father loves you so much, He sent Jesus to die for you, and God the Son loves us so much, He came to die for us, and God the Spirit loves us so much, He wants to take us by the hand lead us to the one that loved us so much, He sent one to die for us so that we could know Him forever and ever and ever. So, don't be guilty of this holy hurt. Don't be guilty of breaking the heart of the Holy Spirit. If you're not a believer, in the name of Jesus, become one today. If you are a believer, don't walk out of this building without a determination, I want to live a Spirit-filled, Spirit-thrilled, Spirit-drilled life 'cause that's the only life worth living.