How can you and I cooperate with God in the process of spiritual growth? Spiritual growth is becoming like Jesus Christ. And He is our perfect role model for every aspect of life.
4:30 and stop grieving the Holy Spirit of God, with [or, by whom; literally: within] whom you were sealed into for the day of redemption.
It is possible to grieve God the Holy Spirit. What causes Him sadness? That’s in the next verse.
Again, the “within” above is an important translation. It is our eternal connection with the Holy Spirit of God Who is our seal. In a very real sense, The Holy Spirit is the seal Himself. And we are in Him just as He is within us. An insightful auithor years ago called this the interpenetration of God and man.
What does “sealed” mean?
And what does the seal do? It marks us as God’s property. That original word “seal” was used to describe the mark cut in lumbar with the owner’s logo. When the logs were sent downstream to their destination, they could be located and collected via that seal. So many points in Scripture assure us of our safety and salvation. The fact that God owns us is one of them.
When men own us, it is called slavery. When God owns us, it means freedom.
4:31 All bitterness and hot anger and wrath and outcry and slander—let them be removed from you, along with all wickedness,
The passive mood of the words in the above verse is important. The word I translated “be removed” above is in a passive command form with the sense of “allow this to be done.” It is not our self-discipline that gets the job done. Me gritting my teeth and determining that I will not be angry or loud or say bad things about others, not to mention forsaking all wickedness. No. The secret is in letting the Holy Spirit work the sanctification of Christ within us. It is always a miracle of grace obtained through faith.
We do have to choose not to sin, but that choice should always be accompanied by depending on God to give us strength to resist temptation.
Also, the verse above details part of the things we can do that will grieve the Holy Spirit—anger, yelling, putting down others, and all wickedness. It is never good to put down another person, that is be personally derogatory.
4:32 becoming yourselves kind to one another, tender-hearted (compassionate), showing grace (forgiveness) to each other, just as God in Christ also has given grace (forgiveness) to you.
And just as it takes grace to rid ourselves of our bad habits and tendencies, once again it takes grace through faith to cultivate the best habits and tendencies. All that good is accomplished by God with our permission. All our good qualities are a fruit of the Spirit of God’s work within us. And they become visible by our obedience and cooperation with God’s leading.
We obey, we do works, but we do not depend on our own strength to do so; we depend on God—this is living by faith, not sight. We do works, not to earn our salvation—we are not saved by our performance—but out of love for God and His generous grace and goodness. We do works to activate the grace of God within us. It is His grace that produces sanctification. Works are our active proof to God of our willingness. Words alone are not enough. Action clears the way to get the job done.
That is the way of progress.
So how do we please God? By being kind, caring and compassionate, forgiving others the way God in Jesus has forgiven us (that is, all sins and mistakes, past, present and future).
May we show by our actions today that we are willing indeed for God’s Holy Spirit to do His work within us, forming the character of Jesus within us.