I’ve been married for two months, and I have already discovered that I don’t have answers for every question my wife asks about the bible. Ephesians 4:30 says “do not grieve the Holy Spirit.”
So my wife asked “what does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?”
I made up an answer: “Honey, it’s sin that grieves the Holy Spirit.”
But then she asked “Doesn’t sin grieve the Father and the Son too?
What does it mean, specifically, to grieve the Holy Spirit?”
In his blog, “Three Surprising Ways to Grieve the Holy Spirit,” Kevin Deyoung uses three scriptures to answer my wife’s question.
We grieve the Holy Spirit when we use him to excuse our sinfulness (John 16:7-11)
We grieve the Holy Spirit when we pit him against the Scriptures (1 Cor 2:6-16)
We grieve the Holy Spirit when we suggest he is jealous of our focus on Christ (John 16:13-14)
This answer satisfied my wife, but it led to my own question: What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit when leading worship? Here’s how I apply Deyoung’s three points to worship leadership.
If we lead worship with unconfessed sin in our hearts, we grieve the Holy Spirit.
Worship Leaders must ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light on sin.
John 16:8 says the Holy Spirit will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness.” If we step on stage to lead worship, and we have unconfessed sin in our hearts, we grieve the Holy Spirit. This is why our church leadership prays and takes communion together before leading at the Austin Stone downtown campus.
We are unholy people, who are charged with leading unholy hearts into the most holy place. So we beg for the presence of our holy God, for it is in God’s presence that Isaiah was convicted of his unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5), and it is in God’s presence that our congregation will be convicted of sin. On occasion, I will also plan a time of corporate confession into a worship set.
I will quote a verse about confession (1 John 1:9, James 5:16, Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 32:5) and encourage the congregation to confess their sins in silent prayer.
Worship Leaders must incorporate scripture into their leadership.
1 Corinthians 2:13 describes God’s Word as “wisdom taught by the Spirit.” If our songs, our prayers, and our spoken words are not scriptural, we grieve the Holy Spirit. This is why my songwriting process is based around scripture, the songs I choose contain scriptural truth, and if I open my mouth to say something from stage, I want scripture to come out.
This doesn’t give me permission to flaunt my bible knowledge by spewing out a list of references. It simply means that I should lead intentionally and scripturally, allowing the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom.
If our songs do not glorify Jesus, we grieve the Holy Spirit.
Worship Leadership must be Christ centered.
In John 16:14, Jesus says “He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify me.” If our songs do not glorify Jesus, we grieve the Holy Spirit. Look at the songs you’re writing and choosing. Are they vague or explicit? Muslims, Hindus, and Jews could sing “we love god.” Only Christians can sing “on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied. For every sin on Him was laid; here in the death of Christ I live.” Christ centered songs allow the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus. Write them! Choose them!
Before you take the stage this week, ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light on your sin, lay that sin at the foot of the cross, and lead your band in a time of confession. Look through your song lyrics, identify the scriptural truths in them, and plan a time to read or pray scripture during your set. Lift high the name of Jesus, and beg the Spirit to glorify the Son, for “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.”