The Holy Spirit is fully aware that we are sinful. So his disappointment is not connected to our failure to be perfect. Rather it is connected to our not continuing in the path of sanctification. How can we keep on the right path?
The most important area of self-examination concerns maintaining a relationship of love with the Holy Spirit. When Paul refers to the grief of the Spirit, he is not only indicating that the Spirit’s holiness has been affronted, but also that his love has been wounded. This is a reminder that the Holy Spirit is a person and not just a power.
How wonderful is the love of the Spirit! He was there in the eternal community of love in the Trinity as each of the three persons anticipated their involvement in our salvation. The Father looked forward to our being adopted, the Son to our being redeemed, and the Spirit to our being sanctified. Each looked forward with equal love.
The love of the Spirit was seen in his making of the universe, and he was grieved when Adam sinned, just as he was grieved at his rejection by the people of Noah’s day. His love was seen in the way he led the Israelites, and again he was grieved by their behaviour.
The love of the Spirit was seen at Pentecost, when with great delight he came in greater fullness to his church. His love was seen in the way he pursued you through your years of rejecting him, and it is seen in the way he has blessed you as a believer. How sad, and strange, to grieve such a Lover!
A second important area, connected to the previous one, that prevents this sad development, concerns the right use of Christian liberty. It is not likely that a backslider begins the process by disobeying a clear command of God. Rather, his decline often begins in what can be called neutral areas. When that happens, the problem is that Jesus is not first, and the Spirit has been grieved. The lesson is, watch out how you use your liberty as a Christian. You could lose your spiritual fire.
A third crucial area for preventing this sad situation is the right use of the means of grace. Means of grace are the various channels that God uses to bring blessing to his people. God has provided some means that are individual and other means that are corporate. We need both and one cannot be used instead of the other.