When you spend time with God, you get to know His ways as well as His Word (assuming you are reading His Word). More than that, you develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. You eventually get to know His ways to the extent that you sense when you are about to grieve Him.
The problem is, when we grieve Him, we almost never know we did it! We find out later. But you rarely know at the precise moment. Samson told his secret to Delilah and didn't feel a thing. But he found moments later than his prodigious strength had gone. (See Judges 16:20-21.)
I would define spirituality as "the time gap between sin and repentance." In other words, how long does it take before you realize or admit that you sinned—that you were wrong? Some take years. They say, "I'll never admit I was wrong." And they are true to their word.
Some, however, after a long time, cool off or come to themselves and say, "Well, perhaps I got it wrong after all." But what a pity that it took so long! Some narrow the time gap to months, some to weeks, some to hours (that's better), some to minutes, some to seconds. And if you can narrow the time gap to seconds, you are often able to sense the wings of the dove flapping and ready to fly off—and you stop yourself!
Don't finish that sentence! Don't write that letter! Don't make that phone call!
Nothing is worth grieving the Holy Spirit.
So, if you want to have a lively, real, unfeigned and constant relationship with God, His Son and the Holy Spirit, you must get to know God's ways. One of the ways of the Holy Spirit is that He is sensitive—like a dove.
Did you know that pigeons and doves are in the same family? But they are not the same! You can train a pigeon; you cannot train a dove. The pigeon can be domesticated; the dove is a wild bird. A pigeon is belligerent; the dove is loving. A pigeon is boisterous; a dove is gentle. A pigeon will mate with more than one pigeon; the dove mates with only one dove for life.
The pigeon represents the counterfeit spirit—strange fire. The dove represents the Holy Spirit—holy fire. I reckon there are services where people imagine that the Holy Ghost came on the church, but when you get to the bottom of it, you discern it may be pigeon religion. Strange fire. Personally, I think it is an absolutely wonderful but probably rare moment when the authentic Holy Spirit comes down in great measure. Holy fire.
It is so easy to grieve the Spirit. It happens to people on the way to church. They shout to each other as they drive into the parking lot. Then they worship as if nothing is wrong and wonder why there is no sense of God. It happens to a minister as he prepares his sermon. It can happen at any moment.
Although we have only ourselves to blame when we lose our tempers, point the finger or speak of another person in an unflattering manner, it is also true that our adversary the devil lurks about, looking for an opportunity to seize our weak spot. We all have them.
The ungrieved Spirit in me will connect with the ungrieved Spirit in you. If you get two or three people together when all have been walking in the ungrieved Holy Spirit, there is richness of fellowship. That doesn't mean everybody is in total agreement theologically or politically. But the sweetness is there.
Imagine what it would be like when congregations of a dozen, or 1,200, or 12,000 are all—everyone—walking in the same ungrieved Holy Spirit! Who knows what would happen when marriages are healed, people start forgiving their parents, Christians start speaking to one another, ministers finally start speaking to one another and everybody truly loves each other!
First the dove, then the fire.
I wonder how many people pray for the fire to fall but take no notice of their personal attitudes. I wonder how many pray for revival but do not think of examining themselves. I wonder how many go to church to worship God and hear a sermon but have no awareness of personal issues that cause the dove to stay at bay. I wonder how many times we grieve the Spirit and feel no conviction of sin whatever.
If, therefore, you want to know what grieves the Holy Spirit, read Ephesians 4:30-32.
Keep short accounts with the Lord. As soon as you sense bitterness—and the dove lifting from you—turn to the Lord. Remember 1 John 1:9. He is faithful.
The goal is to enjoy unbroken fellowship with the Holy Spirit so that there is no discontinuity in sensing His smile and presence. After all, you want the dove to remain.
Adapted from Holy Fire, by R.T. Kendall copyright 2014, published by Charisma House. The Holy Spirit, greater than our theology, bigger than any denominations, beyond all we can imagine is God's gift to us. If you want to increase your knowledge of this most misunderstood member of the Trinity, or if you long to experience His presence in your life in a deeper way than ever before, this book is for you. To order your copy, click here.
PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF 01/20/2014
This week ask the Lord to teach you His ways. Hide Ephesians 4 in your heart and ask Him to help you digest it, renew your mind and practice what it teaches. Continue to pray for those who have fallen victim to weather conditions, crime, sickness and financial losses. Pray for your church leaders, and follow the Lord's leading in helping them reach out with the gospel to your community and those in need. Continue to pray for national revival, more laborers for the harvest field and for the peace of Jerusalem. Ephesians 4; 1 John 1:9.