How to Grieve the Holy Spirit

When we make creatures or creature comforts — any thing whatever but what we receive by the Spirit of Christ — to be our joy and our delight, we are false with Christ.

John Owen, Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Part 2, Chapter 51

John Owen says this is one the ways we can grieve the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ gave us the Spirit for our sanctification and consolation2. Finding our consolation in other things goes against one of the very purposes for which God sent his Spirit to us.

Scripture condemns Demas, who was “in love with this present world” (1 Tim 4:10).3 God also instructs us:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

1 John 2:15–16

Indulging sinful cravings, or taking a self-righteous pride in the things we have or do, are sins that grieve God. They involve acting in unbelief. They can even elevate created things to a status only God should have in our lives. This is a violation of the First Commandment, which says we’re not to have any gods before God.

Not only so, but loving “this present world” is foolish. 1 John 2:17 says, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” Finding our joy in perishable things is a poor investment of our affections. Owen comments that the daily work of Christians “is to get their hearts crucified to the world and the things of it, and the world to their hearts; that they may not have living affections to dying things….”.4 Let us stir up our affections for God, who lives forever!

How can we reconcile some of these truths with other Bible verses that encourage an enjoyment in created things? Ecclesiastes commends finding joy in our work or our possessions (5:18–19). God speaks approvingly of the ability to enjoy the work of our hands (Isaiah 65:22).

First, we should not interpret 1 John 2 to mean that physical matter is evil. God created it and called it good.

1 Timothy 4 can help us here. Some people were forbidding marriage and eating certain foods. God says this was wrong. Why? “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (v. 4–5). We can enjoy the things God made without being guilty of idolatry when we thank him. It pleases God when we recognize that he is the source of every good thing (James 1:17), and when we express our affections to the Lord through thanksgiving, and we pray. Failing to recognize God when we enjoy his gifts is unbelief, and Scripture says “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

1 Owen, John. Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Public domain. Republished by CCEL. Accessed April 3, 2021.

2 Ibid.

3 Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

4 Owen. Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Part 2, Chapter 5.

Jesus Loves You

All that ever [Christ] did or does, all that ever he underwent or suffered as mediator, was for their sakes.

John Owen, Communion with the Triune God1

When we think of God’s love, we can go wrong in two ways.

First, we can emphasize God’s love to the point where God’s glory becomes subservient to our personal worth. We become the center of the universe, pushing God to the periphery. We can wrongly believe that God’s greatest goals are to promote our happiness and well-being.

Second, we can emphasize God’s glory to the point where we think his love doesn’t even qualify as real. After all, the reasoning goes, if God does everything for his own glory, how could he have any other motives for what he does? We may find ourselves not taking what God says about his love at face value.

For the sake of this post, I’m going to take it for granted that God’s ultimate end in creating everything is his own glory.2 This article will therefore attempt to address the second problem: devaluing God’s love. Specifically, I’ll show that the Jesus—God the Son—really loves us, and that his love is amazing.

What does the Scripture say?

  • And for their sake I [Jesus] consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:19)3
  • and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
  • For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
  • As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:9)
  • Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

That is just a sampling. You can also look at John 13:34; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:35, 37; 1 Peter 1:20–21.

Jesus’s love is real. It is self-sacrificial. It is abundant. The fact that Jesus’s ultimate aim is God’s glory does not diminish the reality or the strength of his love for us.

After referencing Hebrews 2:14–15, John Owen speaks of how Jesus loves people who trust in him: “He valued them above his life.”4 Jesus would rather have died than that we should have died in our sins! Owen goes on to say of believers, “they are the apple of his eye, his jewel, his diadem, his crown.”5

Does your view of Jesus’s love align with Owen’s? Does it align with the Bible’s? I’ll confess that I do not normally think of Jesus’s love this way. It is to my detriment that I don’t think more of his love, and that I do not think of his love more. Owen recognizes that reflecting much on Jesus’s love would benefit us: “Were our hearts filled much with thoughts hereof, it would tend much to our consolation.”6

1 Owen, John. Communion with the Triune God, ed. Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2007), 247. This is an edited version of Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost by John Owen. The latter book was republished by CCEL, and you can find the original source for this quote at, albeit with older language.

2 You can find a compelling defense of this in Jonathan Edwards’s A Dissertation Concerning The End For Which God Created The World. You can find a footnoted edition in the second half of John Piper’s God’s Passion for His Glory.

3 Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

4 Owen, John. Communion with the Triune God, 249.

5 Ibid., 250.

6 Ibid, 251.