Does God Still Suffer?
For so long I assumed that when Jesus suffered on earth as a man, ultimately dying on the cross and becoming SIN for the whole world, He said, "It is finished," and His suffering ceased. How wrong that assumption was!
Paul writes, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30). To grieve someone is to hurt them, break their heart, shun them and many more defining words. The verse is based on the fact that the one grieved is a Person, not an 'it.' The Holy Spirit is God; He is as much a Person as are God and Jesus. And, it is possible to hurt Him.
Jesus left this earth and returned to heaven so that God the Father could send us the Holy Spirit. When someone repents and turns to God for salvation, the Holy Spirit makes that soul a new creation. Old things pass away, all things become new, because the Holy Spirit makes him or her a new creation.
In the book of John, after the Last Supper and prior to going to Gethsamane, Jesus taught His disciples about the coming and ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is the Father's gift to us. His coming into us makes possible our living holy and righteous lives by the purity He gives and the power to live above sin.
The book of Ezekiel discloses that God promised He would one day write His laws on our hearts. He does that by the infusion of the Holy Spirit into the temple God makes within us when we are born again. The Holy Spirit teaches us His word, he intercedes through us, and declares God's salvation to others, using our lips to do so.
But, it is easy and perhaps too common for believers to be so involved in life's constant flow of activity and busyness that the quiet, sweet voice of the Holy Spirit becomes lost in the noise and commotion. He is easily pushed aside or ignored.
Paul cautions us in Ephesians 4:30: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
Time, a precious commodity, is so taken with our day-to-day, minute-to-minute survival and involvement in the world, we find it impossible to give the Holy Spirit time to speak to us, guide us, and teach us the Word. In so doing, we find we have grieved Him. His voice grows more dim and fades. If we don't immediately make amends and confess our failure to God, we do not hear His voice and drift farther and farther off course.
The Old Testament was given to us as a pattern of how we ought to live. Israel walked with God and enjoyed His blessing and provision as long as she obeyed God's precepts, laws. and ordinances. The Torah comprised of the first five books of the Old Testament is not a legalistic book. The meaning of the name 'Torah' signifies to instruct, to teach. God wrote His precepts so we can know how to walk with Him in blessing.
Ezekiel says that God will write His laws on our hearts. That happens when the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life. But if we don't follow His guidance and leading, and, instead, quench and grieve Him, the next step is to miss the way and, in Israel's case, she drifted into idolatry.
The same thing happens to Gospel believers today. First, we neglect prayer and Bible reading that nurtures that Life within us. If we disobey the voice of the Holy Spirit and do not repent, we slowly grow cooler and cooler, and idolatry is the next step.
Idolatry, you say? But we don't carve figures out of wood or marble like they did! No, but we continue our spiritual practices at church or even at home without any real spiritual Life in them. They become religion and religious practices and rituals, nothing more. All the dynamic is gone from them.
We devote more and more time and attention to hobbies like boating or fishing, social media and TV, accumulation of material possessions like houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, job promotions, higher salaries, more educational degrees and so goes the list. None of those are bad in themselves, but they become idols when they absorb our time, attention, priority, and interest.
And that is why God grieves today. He knows the absolute awfulness of hell and its eternity of suffering away from His presence. He also knows what the Godhead suffered to purchase our ability to know Him as He really is, to enjoy His abounding peace and joy; to fellowship with Him in ineffable oneness!
At a human level we know the power of love spurned. Right now, God's heart seeks to be known. He allows rejection time and again, suffering grief each time He is scorned. The time is coming when He will have had enough. Then will come judgment like the world has never seen!