Ephesians 4: 29 - 32, Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. NKJV
For a while, the Lord has been speaking to me about believers and the need for us to guard our hearts from the wiles or strategies of the Devil. I see two primary and effective ways that Satan works in order to cause a Christian to grieve the Holy Spirit. Satan will find entrance into our hearts so that he might gain power over our decisions when we act or react to temptation and/or offense.
Many times when Jesus made reference to the Holy Spirit being our Comforter, He also mentions that He is the Spirit of Truth. If we should allow anything (offense) or anyone (offender) to cause us to stumble from obeying the truth, then we, too, will grieve the Spirit of Truth.
When we're single and out on our own, it's easy to make a rash decision and do something on the spur-of-the-moment, but when you get married, there's another person who must be included in the decision-making process. When you and I were out in the world doing our own thing, it was all about self and what made us happy, but now that we're born again and married to Christ, we must first consider His will over our own. Doesn't Jesus instruct us in Matthew 6 to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Remember, "Father knows best."
As the Lord has been showing me specific principles and examples of what can happen once these principles are violated, I couldn't help but share these valuable truths with you today. When God called John the Baptist into the ministry, He told John how he would be able to recognize the Christ. Obviously, God had foretold to John that one day he would have the high honor of baptizing Israel's Messiah. John 1: 32 - 34 says, And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God." NKJV
Please notice that, even though Jesus and John were cousins, John didn't know Jesus was the Son of God until the Holy Spirit made Him manifest by descending upon Jesus. Once the Holy Spirit lighted upon Jesus, John knew for certain that, indeed, this was the Christ. At this moment, John was fully engaged in his calling to be the forerunner of Christ and to bear witness of Him. However, later in John's ministry, something transpired that caused John to fail to see Jesus as the Christ, and he began to question the calling and authority that rested upon Jesus.
Matthew 11: 2 - 3, And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming one, or do we look for another?" NKJV
You're probably wondering the same thing that came to my mind when I realized what John was actually doing in this passage. How could John, the forerunner and witness of Christ, suddenly doubt the VALIDITY of Jesus' calling and authority? What could Jesus have possibly done to John that caused him to doubt Jesus was the Christ and to forget all the times that God through the Holy Spirit had confirmed this to be true? Jesus did nothing against John, but rather John took an offense over something that had gone wrong in his own life or ministry.
Matthew 11: 4 - 6, Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." NKJV
Let's take a moment to look at the spirit of offense in John's life. Notice that John's perception about Jesus changed when he came under the influence of offense. He began to see Jesus in a different way than the way that was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. The spirit of offense had "so" blinded John that he began to question the very One that he-himself had confirmed to be the Christ. This also happened with Adam and Eve after they entered into temptation and offended the Law of God in the garden. They viewed God with a different understanding after their offense than they did before it. When they opened their hearts to sin and the spirit of offense, they became afraid of God for the first time. God didn't change. However, sin had changed their hearts, which distorted their perception. The same transformation had taken place in John's heart as well. He no longer stood in confirmation and agreement that Jesus was the Christ, but was in opposition to the point that he wanted Jesus to prove Himself to him.
John had allowed an offense to replace the influence of the Holy Spirit. He had begun to grieve the Holy Spirit by the new attitude he had developed...probably while he was in prison awaiting to be executed for the gospel's sake. Even though he confessed on the banks of the Jordan, "I must decrease and Christ must increase." Apparently, John wasn't in total agreement with the way God was allowing him to decrease. Maybe he didn't feel he deserved to be in prison. So beware how you handle an offense when something unexpected or tragic occurs in your walk with Christ. We cannot allow the spirit of offense to push the influence of the Holy Spirit completely out of our hearts and begin to disobey the will of God. John was going back on his calling when he made the decision to allow an offense to make him doubt the authority that was on Jesus' life. There's so much more than can be said about today's subject, but I realize this is a devotion and not a book. To protect your heart from taking on offense when faced with a seemingly impossible situation, ask the Lord to keep your heart. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil." In Jesus' name, I pray.
Enduring the Test of My Faith,
Pastor Asa Dockery