“Grieve not the Holy Spirit,” Eph. 4:30. Consider who He is, what He has done for you, how much you are concerned in His continuance with you: and remember, that He is a free, infinitely wise and holy agent in all that He does: who came freely unto you, and can withdraw from you; therefore grieve Him not.
Grief is here ascribed to the Holy Spirit, not properly but metaphorically, in order to give us such an apprehension of things as we are able to receive. What may justly grieve a good man, and what he will do when undeservedly grieved, represent to us what we are to understand of our own condition with respect to the Holy Ghost, when He is said to be grieved by us. And grief in the sense here intended, is a trouble of mind arising from an apprehension of unkindness not deserved, of disappointments not expected, on account of a near concern in those by whom we are grieved. Hence we may see, what it is we are warned of, when we are cautioned not to grieve the Holy Spirit. As,
1. There must be unkindness in what we do. Sin has various respects towards God, of guilt, filth, and the like. But grieving Him denotes unkindness, or a defect of love, answerable to the testimonies we have received of His love to us. He is the Spirit of love, He is love. All His actings towards us and in us, are fruits of His love; and all our joys and consolations arise from a sense of the love of God, communicated in an endearing way of love unto our souls. This requires a return of love and delight in all duties of obedience on our part. When instead hereof, by our negligence and carelessness, or otherwise, we fall into those things which He abhors, He observes the unkindness and ingratitude which is therein, and is therefore said to be grieved by us.
2. Disappointment in expectation. Properly speaking, disappointment is utterly inconsistent with the prescience and omniscience of the Spirit of God. But we are disappointed, when things fall out contrary to our expectations, and to the means employed for their accomplishment. And when the means that God uses towards us, do not by reason of our sins, produce the effect they are suited unto, God speaks of Himself as disappointed, Isa. 5:2. Now disappointment causes grief. As when a father has used all means for the education of a child, and expended much of his estate therein, if he through dissoluteness or idleness deceive his expectation, it fills him with grief. The Spirit of God has done great things for us; and they all have a tendency to an increase in holiness, light, and love. Where they have not a suitable effect, there is that disappointment which causes grief.
3. The concern of the Holy Spirit in us, concurs to His being grieved. For we are grieved by those in whom we are particularly concerned, those whom we love, or to whom we are related. The miscarriages of others are passed over without any such trouble. Now the Holy Spirit has undertaken the office of a Comforter, and stands in that relation to us; and His love towards us has already been declared. Hence He is so concerned in us, that He is said to be grieved with our sins, when He is not so at the sins of others, to whom He stands in no special relation.
Now we may be said to grieve the Spirit, (1) When we are not influenced by His love and kindness, to answer His mind and will in all holy obedience, accompanied with joy, love and delight. This He deserves at our hands, this He expects from us; but where He is neglected, when we attend to duties with an unwilling mind, or servile frame, we are said to grieve Him.
(2) When we lose the sense and impression of signal mercies received by Him; when we forget the grace, kindness and condescension of the Holy Spirit in His dwelling in us, and communicating the love and grace of God unto us, we may well be said to grieve Him.
3)Some sins there are, which in a special manner, above others, do grieve the Holy Spirit. These our apostle discourses of, 1 Cor. 3:15-20, and by the connection of the words, he seems to make corrupt communication, which always has a tendency to corruption of conversation (conduct), to be a sin of this nature verses 29,30.”
-From The Holy Spirit His Gifts and Power by John Owen (1616-1683) Published by Kregel Publications Grand Rapids, MI 1954 Pages 352-354.