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The Seal of the Spirit
The Down Payment of Our Full Redemption
Have you ever sent or received a registered letter? A letter like this is sealed carefully and then the post office stamps it a number of times across the edges of the seal to be able to detect whether or not there is any tampering going on.
There are only two people who can break that seal. One is the person sending the letter, if for any reason it is sent back to him. The other is the person receiving it.
The Bible talks about the believer being sealed in a similar way, with the Holy Spirit, until the day of redemption. In other words, we are sealed until the day Christ returns to complete our salvation (Ephesians 4:30). The interesting thing is that the person who seals us, and the one who sends us on to heaven is God. And God is ultimately the recipient. Only God can break the seal, and He tells us that He won't do it.
I. What are the Verses on Sealing?
There are three places in Scripture that talk about the sealing with the Holy Spirit. II Corinthians 1:21,22 says:
"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge."
In Ephesians 1:13, Paul says:
"In Him (Christ), you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise."
And finally we have have Ephesians 4:30 which gives us this command:
"And grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption."
II. Who is Sealed and When?
We learn from these Scriptures that all believers in Jesus Christ are sealed with the Holy Spirit at the time that they believe. The Apostle Paul makes no distinctions here. There are no exceptions,even if a believer allows sin into their lives. Though it isn't ever seen as a good thing and sin quenches the Spirit's work in the believer's life (I Thessalonians 5:19), it doesn't unseal the sealed believer. The Spirit with whom we are sealed, will never leave us.
In the books of 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Paul was talking to the believers, and there was a lot of trouble. There was much division, and at least one believer was having sex with his father's wife. Yet Paul makes no distinction. They were all sealed with the Holy Spirit. And Paul, in Ephesians 4:30 commands us not to grieve the Spirit, based upon this very fact that we are all sealed until the day of redemption. Grieving the Spirit comes from any sin that we may allow into our lives.
III. What is the Purpose of Sealing?
From archaeological findings it has been determined that being sealed in Paul's time meant to be imperially protected and retained for imperial use. And when God seals the believer with the Holy Spirit, it is His mark of ownership of the believer. ` The Apostle, in another place, gives us the same idea when he tells believers:
"What? do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
Besides God's ownership, the seal is a pledge. Some Scripture translations use the term earnest. An earnest is a commercial transaction where money is paid in advance to bind a bargain. It gives assurance that the transaction will be completed sometime in the future.
The believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit as a pledge or guarantee by God that He will some day complete the work of salvation that He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6). A day will come when God will redeem the whole person, body soul and spirit. In Romans 8:23 Paul refers to that day as our adoption to sonship. In Ephesians 4:30, he calls it the day of redemption. And in Philippians 1:6 he calls it the day of Jesus Christ. But no matter which of these it is called, God has promised us that nothing will stop His work in us.
IV. What are the Results of Sealing?
This concept of sealing is one of the greatest evidence's of the eternal security of the believer in Scripture. If we are sealed unto the day of redemption, it goes without saying that sin cannot cause us to be unsealed, and end our relationship with God. We have God the Holy Spirit actually dwelling in us from beginning to end.
However, Scripture also makes it very clear that rather than being a license for sin, the sealing with the Holy Spirit is an incentive to live a pure and holy life. If we truly love the Lord and are grateful for what He has done for us, then why would we want to cause Him grief? In our relationship with Him we'll rather want to please Him and make the Lord proud of us. If we are trying to get away with sins because of our security, it is rather an indication that we may not really have a relationship with Him at all.
Having an understanding of the sealing of the Holy Spirit is one of the most freeing and exciting truths in God's Word. It gives us a confidence that God truly loves us, and has done everythng possible to make sure we will be with Him forever. Salvation is truly of the Lord. He began it and will see to it that it will one day be completed. He has promised that we are sealed until the day of redemption, and God never goes back on his promises. Knowing that our relationship is secure, we are now freed to live the rest of our lives glorifying our Lord and Savior. What a wonderful God we serve!