The Ministries of God the Holy Spirit Today: Sealed by the Spirit
Ephesians 2:21–22; 1:13–14; 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22
Ephesians Lesson #080
August 23, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we’re thankful for so much that You have revealed to us in Your Word, and even though we have studied some things many times before, we have heard some things many times before, there are always things that are left out, things that we don’t have time to cover, things that we haven’t understood yet, things that we may not have even perceived yet.
“Father, each time we go to Your Word, there are fresh things that we recognize, and God the Holy Spirit brings different things to our attention in order to focus us on our spiritual life and our need to apply specific passages and specific doctrines.
“Father, as we study today, as we are reminded of this incredible work of God the Holy Spirit, that He has sealed us and all that that entails, may we recognize that the purpose of this ultimately is not simply to understand what the Scripture teaches, but to recognize that the implication of this teaching is to challenge us to greater faithfulness and more consistent obedience in our walk with You.
“We pray that You would open our eyes further into these truths as we study today, in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Continuing our study on the ministries of God the Holy Spirit today, our focus today is the ministry of the sealing by God the Holy Spirit.
Key passages relating to sealing:
- Ephesians 1:13–14, which we surveyed at the beginning;
- Ephesians 4:30, which we will conclude today;
- 2 Corinthians 1:22.
In studying Ephesians, we went through Ephesians 2:11–22. Within that group of about 12 verses, there are two paragraphs and each ends with some statement about the Holy Spirit.
The first one is Ephesians 2:18, “through Him—that is, Christ—we both have access by one Spirit …”
It’s important to understand this because the Greek preposition EN can have a number of meanings. I believe that the most consistent one to understand “with the Spirit” is that He is the means by which God the Father is accomplishing something. We learned from passages we studied and read last time that both the Father and the Son send the Spirit.
In Ephesians 2:22 the Spirit is instrumental in building this invisible temple and it has two aspects:
- 1 Corinthians we learn that each believer is a temple: God the Holy Spirit makes each of us a temple for the indwelling of God the Father and God the Son. We are indwelt by all three members of the Trinity.
- Ephesians 2:22, He is building us as believers—the universal body of Christ—into a temple for the dwelling of God.
All believers: everyone who has trusted in Christ as Savior—from the Day of Pentecost in AD 33 until the coming Rapture—is part of the invisible, universal body of Christ. Some are already promoted and in Heaven, others are awaiting their promotion to Heaven. Some of us count each day hoping and looking for His return in the clouds to take us to be with Him.
Previously, we studied “The Ministries of God the Holy Spirit Today,” most of which did not occur in the Old Testament. I think His restraining ministry did occur in the Old Testament. But I don’t think His convicting ministry—in the sense that it is taking place today—occurred in the Old Testament.
In the passage where Jesus is teaching that it’s convicting the world of sin, judgment, and righteousness, all three are related to what Christ does on the Cross. That could not have taken place in the way it’s taking place today in the Old Testament or prior to the Church Age,
“At the time of salvation” = regeneration, which is true for every person who believes the gospel—whether it is the Old Testament gospel of the future coming of the Messiah or whether it is the New Testament gospel, looking back to the Cross—all are regenerate.
I think there are other things that accompany regeneration in each dispensation, but that doesn’t deny the fact that, Ephesians 2:1, we’re all born dead spiritually, but that we are physically alive.
Spiritual death does not mean we’re a corpse that can’t do anything, it means that we are just separated from the life of God. I think it is a distortion in the way some people teach total depravity and spiritual death. Ephesians 4:17 is clear that it is “alienated or separated from” the life of God. So, all need to be regenerated.
It’s interesting that even Lewis Sperry Chafer did not believe regeneration took place in the Old Testament. There is so much confusion about each one of these ministries! He said something like it occurred because he thinks that it’s totally related to some of the distinctives related to the Church Age. That’s why it’s so important to discern the core idea of being born again.
Jesus tells Nicodemus—who is living in the Old Testament dispensation, the Age of Israel, before the cross—“you must be born again,” expecting him a) to understand it, and b) to be able to do it. If regeneration is only for the Church Age, then you have a problem with that. Regeneration occurs in every dispensation.
The baptism by the Holy Spirit is the mark of the Church. Again, often a much-distorted doctrine, poorly understood by many, but one that simply indicates that we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection according to Romans 6:3–6.
We saw last time that every believer in the Church Age is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit.
In looking at the ministries of God the Holy Spirit, we’ve broken each down
Last time, we saw that the indwelling is something that is part of a plan of God for His dwelling among His people.
And I didn’t even carry it through to the fact that when we get into the new heaven and new earth, there will not be a need for a sun or a moon to illuminate the earth because the Earth is illuminated by the glory of God. And God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will dwell with us in that future state.
This is a doctrine that goes across in one form or another: there is an indwelling of God throughout many of the ages and dispensations.
We are baptized by the Holy Spirit at the instant of salvation. At the same time, we are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. All of these other ministries that we’re talking about happened at the instant of salvation.
1. There was an indwelling of God in the Old Testament before the Church.
He indwelt in the Garden of Eden, I believe, until the former earth perished. Then He did not dwell on the earth until the Israelites built the tabernacle when He was enthroned between the cherubs on the Ark of the Covenant until the time of where Ezekiel sees the departure of the Shekinah—that is, the glory of the dwelling presence of God.
It seems God does not return: it’s not mentioned that the glory of God dwelt in the second Temple. Then it is not until Jesus is born, where you have the eternal Second Person of the Trinity dwelling in His physical body.
“In Him,” Paul said, “dwelt the Godhead, dwelt the fullness of deity.” Colossians 2:9
2. Regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are different; they are not the same.
3. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit today.
We recognize that at the instant of salvation God the Holy Spirit takes up residence in every believer. His purpose is to make both the Church as a whole and the individual believer a temple for the indwelling of God the Father and God the Son.
The next ministries that we talk about are not the same as indwelling—and some people get confused about some of these issues—they are the result of the indwelling. They are distinct ministries, but they flow out of the fact that God the Holy Spirit indwells us.
First, “What the Bible teaches about being sealed by God the Holy Spirit.”
At that instant of salvation, at the same time that we are baptized by the Holy Spirit and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are also sealed by the Holy Spirit. The key passages that we will look at emphasize that the sealing by the Spirit is related to the indwelling. But remember, they are not the same thing.
We have already studied on this in Ephesians 1:13, one of the central passages for the sealing by the Spirit, “In Whom—that is, in Christ—In Him you also …” The reason he is saying ‘you also,’ he’s just talked about what the Jewish background believers who were first saved at Pentecost in the early part of the Church from Acts 2 to Acts 10, had experienced.
“In Him you also—you Gentiles also—when you heard the word of truth—the Gospel of your salvation—in Whom—I’m restating that because of the way the Greek is shaped—when you believed you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.”
That participle is important because it’s coterminous; it says, “when you believed.” At that instant is when you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. The Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of promise.”
You will hear some people say and you will read some theologians who say that this is the promise of the Spirit that was promised in the New Covenant and will then go to passages in Ezekiel and Jeremiah 31:31–33 to make that connection.
On Friday morning I have this group of 20 to 30 pastors, including missionaries from around the world, pastors in England, in Sweden, as well as many of the states, who login every week.
About a year and a half ago we did an in-depth drill-down on the New Covenant. We took two books, one by Mike Stallard and another by Christopher Cohen on the issue of the New Covenant. Stallard’s book is based on the papers that were given at the first meeting of the Dispensational Hermeneutical Study Group, which at that time was meeting at Baptist Bible Seminary up in Pennsylvania.
He points out that there is no doctrine among dispensationalists about which they disagree more than the doctrine of the relation of the Church to the New Covenant. And when you start reading all these different views, it gets to be a real mare’s nest.
There were three basic views that were presented at the conference. I got each of the men, because I knew most of them, who had written the different position papers. What you have are these books where you have a position paper, then the other two people respond and critique his view.
We went through that and also blended it in with a study of Chris Cohen’s book, in which everyone agreed to the same position, which was that the Church has no relationship to the New Covenant. I am very close to that position—that the New Covenant is for Israel not the Church.
There are a lot of things that happened with the Church in relation to the Holy Spirit that are similar to, but not the same as. Where a lot of these guys make their mistake is thinking that when the New Covenant says the Spirit will be in you, that that’s the same as what we have now. It’s similar but it’s not same, so you have to make these specific distinctions.
What I find in so many of the writings of different theologians about what the role of the Holy Spirit—especially the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the sealing of the Spirit today—is that how they understand some of these passages is directly related to how they understand whether or not the New Covenant fully came into effect on the Day of Pentecost, partially came into effect on the Day of Pentecost, or a foreshadowing or nothing.
That affects it, so you have to really learn how to read these guys with of lot of discernment, and so it’s not always quite as simple as some people might think.
We have this distinct ministry for the Church Age. I do not think there is anything like this, even for Jewish believers in the Millennial Kingdom. They are not said to be sealed by the Spirit.
It is based upon the Greek SPHRAGIZO, which means to seal. It is stated in the aorist tense, which is a past tense form in the Greek indicating that at the time they believed, they were sealed; it happened in the past.
Both of these are in the aorist tense, PISTEUO, the word for “believed” is a participle that is related to SPHRAGIZO. When you have two aorist tenses—the participle is an aorist and the main verb is an aorist—then the action can either precede the action of the main verb or it happens at the same time, but they both happened at the same time in the past.
The next verse introduces a related doctrine that is significant for understanding the nature and purpose of the sealing ministry.
Ephesians 1:14, “who is—that is, the Holy Spirit—the guarantee of our inheritance until—looking forward to something that brings about the fulfillment of it—until the redemption of the purchased possession.”
We’re redeemed. Christ paid the penalty of the cross; that happened historically. We realize our redemption when we trust in Christ as Savior, but we don’t realize the fullness of that until glorification. This is saying that we have been given this guarantee of our inheritance.
In the Greek it is ARRABON, usually translated as “deposit” or can be translated as a “pledge” or an “earnest.” The issue here is what’s the difference between a pledge and an earnest? That is important to understand, so we will get into that as we go forward.
1. Briefly define the term, so you understand where we’re headed
2. What is the meaning of SPHRAGIZO, “to seal?”
3. What is the meaning of ARRABON, “to pledge?”
4. What do these four key passages teach us?
- 2 Corinthians 1:21–22
- 2 Corinthians 5:5
- Ephesians 1:13–14
- Ephesians 4:30
5. To summarize why this is important to us in our spiritual life.
One thing that we see here from Ephesians 1:13 is that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. He is stated there to be the means of the sealing. When we get into the 2 Corinthians passage, we will see that He is also the sealing itself. So, He is both the seal and the One by Whom the seal is accomplished, in much the same way that Jesus Christ is both High Priest and the sacrifice.
“The seal by the Spirit is the pledge that certifies God’s ownership and protection, which secures the salvation of the Church Age believer from the moment of faith when the Holy Spirit indwells until ultimate salvation and glorification is realized.”
“The seal by the Spirit is the deposit—that’s a better term—that certifies God’s ownership and protection, which secures the salvation of the Church Age believer from the moment of faith when the Holy Spirit in dwells until ultimate salvation in glorification is realized.”
As you can see from the definition, part of the significance of this for us is that we have this guarantee and this security that we are owned by God, we are marked by God; we are identified as His possession. That is one of the critical elements to understanding what the Bible teaches about our eternal security.
What is the basic meaning of SPHRAGIZO?
In Ephesians 1:13, we are “… sealed by the Spirit of God.”
This word, like most words, have several meanings. You can look up LOGOS in the Greek dictionary and see 20 or 30 different meanings for LOGOS. We have English words like that, so you can’t just take every meaning and read it into a particular usage. You have to look at it and say, okay, which meaning really fits the best?
This word has a number of different uses. Sometimes it refers to physical seal. This was a stamp of some kind usually made out of clay, sometimes made out of metal or something harder, where there is something carved on the underside that when it is pressed into wax or something of that nature, then it leaves an imprint that is readable.
It was like a signature—it was unique; everybody had their own distinct particular seal. This was how you would sign any document, not a personal signature. But you would also relate to a signature that was unique to that person, so everybody’s seal was just a little bit different.
It referred to that physical seal that was used, and it also would refer to the impression, so it talks about the object itself or the imprint that it would leave. This is equivalent to a person’s signature, so that if you are signing a contract, signing a check, signing a title deed or signing a letter, you would use your seal. Everybody would carry their seal with them where ever they went.
It was sometimes used as a decorative attachment to your clothes, so that you would hang around your neck or have it hanging around your waist or something like that, so it would be considered an accessory. And they were used so widely that Herodotus comments that everyone had a staff and a seal.
Think about the story in the Old Testament where Judah ends up trying to have a sexual relationship with what he thinks is a prostitute. He does and she’s disguised, but it’s his daughter-in-law Tamar, and so he doesn’t have the money to pay her, so he gives her his staff and his seal, which everybody carried with them.
We have several examples of the use of the seal, and it’s important to look at these because they tell us what the basic meanings are. In this first group, one of the things that a seal was used for was to seal something off, to close something off, or to make it inaccessible.
The example is in Daniel 6, the story of Daniel being put into the den of lions, a story that many of us are familiar with. King Darius was going to make sure that he can’t get out, so that nothing happens. The procedure was that when the door was closed, it was sealed with his own signet ring.
Daniel 6:17, this stone is brought to the mouth of the den, placed in the opening, then there would have been some rope or something of that nature that has wax affixed to it, and then he stamps it with his seal. So, if that’s broken then you know somebody’s gone in there or Daniel has gotten out. It demonstrates when he comes back that it is still sealed, so nothing has happened and Daniel is still inside. Of course, we know that God rescued Daniel, and the lions just weren’t hungry that day.
It’s also used at the sealing of the tomb of Jesus; the same thing: the tomb in which Jesus was sealed, the rock rolled into place, a rope stretched across the opening and affixed to either side. The wax is placed on it, then there is a seal placed there to keep it from being accessed: nobody can go in; nobody can come out.
The idea of making it inaccessible also includes the idea of protection, because it’s protecting it from someone getting in there or from someone getting out. Matthew 27:66 says that the Roman guard “… made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.” The idea is to makes it inaccessible; it is secured, and it is a protection.
Different ideas we’re seeing with sealing.
In Revelation 20:3, we learn the fact that Satan is going to be cast into the abyss, the arresting angel who takes him down to the bottomless pit, shuts him up, and then sets a seal on him, so that he cannot get away. He is not going to be able to access the world, and the world is not going to be able to access him for a thousand years. So, it secures him away from the human race; again the same idea that is present in a seal.
We also see this sealing in Revelation 5:1–2. In Revelation 4 there is the scroll, sealed with seven seals, and the angels are looking for someone worthy to open the scroll, to open the seal. So that which is inside the document is not accessible. Nobody knows what is inside the scroll, and it is secured by the seal, so no one can access it.
Then we read that there is one who is found who is worthy to access the seal, the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins, and He comes before the throne of God and is given the seal.
Revelation 5:1, “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne—God the Father—a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’ ”
This is another idea in sealing. All of this relates to protecting someone, keeping it inaccessible, secure.
Another idea in sealing is that it certifies or secures something. It secures or certifies a person. So, if he has the seal of whoever sent him on a mission, then that certifies him as the emissary or as the representative of the one who sent him. For example, a king.
In Genesis 41:42, Pharaoh gave Joseph his seal, indicating that he represents the Pharaoh and speaks with the same authority as the Pharaoh. Here it adds a different idea: it not only certifies Joseph as the representative of the Pharaoh, but also indicates that he has the authority of the Pharaoh behind him.
Another example from the Old Testament, Haggai 2:23. The Lord making this prophecy, “‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel …’”
Zerubbabel is in the line of David. He wasn’t going to be the king, but was going to be the head of state, as it were, for the Israelites that had returned from Babylon. There were only a few of them; when you add them up, there might have been 60,000 or 70,000 Jews that returned. Most of them stayed in the diaspora.
God says, “‘In that day, I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel’ says the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring—that is the ring that has the seal on it—for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.’ ”
God gave Zerubbabel this signet ring. He is the representative of God, has the authority of God as the king, and he has the authority to rule and to lead Israel.
These are all part of the idea of the significance of sealing.
Also, we see in some passages that a seal certified important documents. It could certify a will, a marriage contract, a deed of sale, or it could certify a covenant. This, of course, is an important aspect of it. Important documents were agreed to, then both sides would put their seal on that particular document.
There are examples of that in Jeremiah 32:9–12 and Nehemiah 9:38–10:1. The priests affixed their seal to the covenant that was being renewed with God. They went through a covenant renewal ceremony after they returned to the land after the Babylonian captivity. Nehemiah has read through the Mosaic covenant, and now they’re affixing their seal to it to obey it and to implement it.
Last but not least, Paul relates it to the sign of circumcision in Romans 4:11, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also.”
Circumcision is the sign. Abraham had already trusted in Christ. When we read the statement in Genesis 15:6 that “… Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness,” the verb tense indicates Abraham had already believed God at some time prior to the events of Genesis 15:1–5.
God’s promise to Abraham is based on the fact that Abraham had already believed in God. This verse goes on to say that he had trusted in God and had been justified when he was uncircumcised. Paul’s argument: circumcision wasn’t the basis of justification; obedience to the Law wasn’t the basis for justification. It is faith alone.
Circumcision, then, is a sign or certification. God is certifying what has already taken place—that Abraham is a believer and was saved and is going to be the father of all those who believe, whether or not they are Jews. He’s the physical father of all—Jews or Gentiles—and, according to Genesis 3, he is our spiritual father.
The Lord Jesus Christ is sealed by the Father, John 6:27, “Do not labor for the food which parishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
That includes the idea of God the Father authenticating Jesus, certifying Jesus, giving Jesus authority. The context is He has just fed the 4,000; there’s just been this miracle, and that attests or certifies to Jesus’ deity and His claim to be the Messiah.
The sealing also indicates ownership and protection. People would put their seal on just about anything that they owned, just as you might put a mark on different things; if you have books, you write your name in it. I have an embossing seal that I use on books in my library. We mark our possessions that way, and that was true in the ancient world.
In conclusion, we’ve learned from these examples of sealing that the Holy Spirit uses this analogy to teach the believer about His sealing. We’re sealed at the moment of our salvation. The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal, and He is also the means by which that sealing is applied by His ministry.
Ephesians 1:13–14, we also see that the Trinity is involved: God is the One who does the sealing, we are sealed in Christ, so He is the sphere in which the sealing is done; and it is the Holy Spirit who is the instrument of the sealing.
We see from this that the Holy Spirit certifies that God owns us, certifies God’s protection of us, that it happens at the instant of salvation. So, from the instant that we believe, until the Lord takes us to be with Him, this identification and certification is seen as the deposit.
The next thing is the deposit that is a given as a way of indicating what we will eventually receive.
4. What is the meaning of ARRABON?
Is this the idea of an earnest deposit, a down payment? The Holy Spirit is the down payment for our salvation, is how I understand it. The idea of a pledge doesn’t quite fit. What exactly is that the distinction here? What is the significance of an earnest payment or a down payment?
In Greek this word could cover either scenario, so we have to understand the difference:
- You’re familiar with a deposit or an earnest payment. To buy a house you have to put down a certain amount of money to guarantee that you will fulfill the obligations of the sale, and you will carry out the sale. It is also to guarantee that the seller will not violate the contract and sell to somebody else. If you break the contract and you decide not to buy, then you forfeit that deposit.
- A pledge: when you give something as a pledge that you’re going to do something. It may be something valuable, it may be a jewel, it may be money, it may be gold, but when the contract is fulfilled, you get that back.
In the analogy God gives us this ARRABON when we’re saved. Does He get anything back? No. So it doesn’t fit the idea of a pledge; it is a down payment. Because we’re given the Holy Spirit as a down payment or deposit of our complete salvation which will eventually be fulfilled: we will have much more.
Really the best way to understand this concept is that it’s an earnest payment, a deposit, or down payment. Down payment is a much more user-friendly term.
2 Corinthians 1:21–22, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and has given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
I put pledge or deposit there, because you have to make a decision which one. That’s how most people will handle it. It’s the idea of a deposit. The Spirit is given as a deposit or a down payment on our future complete salvation and glorification.
Interestingly, when you get into this particular passage, it has a little bit of a complicated exegesis. Because the four verbals: “establishes,” “anointed us,” “sealed us,” and “given us,” are all translated as finite verbs, which is fine. I think that’s the sense that’s there. They’re all aorist participles in the Greek, so they indicate something that has already taken place in the past.
It’s interesting to look at each one of these.
1. “Establishes” means to make something firm, to make it certain, to make it sure, or to attach something to a firm foundation.
“He who establishes us” connects us to a firm foundation Who ultimately is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Chief Cornerstone, the foundation is the apostles and prophets, so this is the imagery of the Word. We are basically grounded in that foundation as a result of this: He establishes us in Christ; that is part of what it means to be in Christ.
2. He “anoints us,” the Greek verb CHRIO. The noun is CHRISTOS, which is a translation of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which means to be anointed.
If you’ve ever been in a Baptist church, a Pentecostal church, or maybe even in some Bible churches, they will talk about and pray about getting a fresh anointing from the Spirit. They will talk about anointing in a lot of ways that are not exegetically defensible.
Outside of this mention by Paul, the Apostle John is really the only one who uses the word “anointing” in several places. That’s just John’s way of talking about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; they are the same. And we that it’s connected with the sealing. He’s anointed us; that is, He has given us God the Holy Spirit who indwells us, and then that is connected to His sealing ministry.
More about “anointing” in a future lesson in this series; I’ll go through those 1 John passages. But it’s important to see here that Paul is connecting the sealing ministry to the indwelling ministry of Christ. We have been established in Christ; God the Holy Spirit indwells us.
3. He has “sealed us:” that is, He has put on us a mark of ownership. We may not be able to see that in one another, but God the Father can certainly see us.
Revelation 7 talks about the 144,000 who are saved. They’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses; they are not Mormons. They are not anybody who has yet appeared on the planet. They are 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Unless you believe in some sort of voodoo hermeneutic, you have to say that these are literal Jews from those literal tribes. They come after the Tribulation begins, they are marked with a seal and their role is to go forth as evangelists throughout the world.
It protects them from being killed until the time comes when the Lord will allow them to be martyred. They do not survive the Tribulation. But for the first half they go throughout their ministry. They’re sealed, a visible mark apparently that protects them.
We’re sealed and “God has given us …” Notice the way the verb is structured. It is God the Father Who is the One who performs the action.
4. He gives us God the Holy Spirit in our hearts—our innermost being—He indwells us. He is a down payment, a deposit for that future salvation.
The next time that word is used is in 2 Corinthians 5:5. Paul says, “Now He—meaning God the Father—He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as an ARRABON, as a down payment.”
God the Holy Spirit is mentioned here as the down payment on our salvation, so that we have certain realities today that are simply a shadow of that which we will have when we are glorified and when we are with the Father in heaven.
We’ve studied this, Ephesians 1:13–14, “In Him—that is, in Christ—you also trusted—that is, you believed, past tense; you have believed—after –or when you believed—you heard the word of truth—that is, the gospel. In Him you also trusted, when you heard the word of truth—that is—the gospel of your salvation …”
Which is very simple: the gospel is just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is who He claims to be; He is the Messiah. He is the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, and He is the One who died on the Cross for our sins. We don’t have to do anything in order to get salvation.
We don’t have to clean up our lives. We don’t have to feel sorry for our sins. All we have to do is trust in Christ, and we will be saved. The faith is alone: it’s not faith plus anything.
And it’s Christ alone: we’re not trusting in Christ and our works, we’re not trusting in Christ and the saints; we’re not trusting in Christ and Mary. We’re trusting in Christ alone. That is the gospel, the good news of our salvation.
“… in whom also—that is, in Christ also—having believed—again, past tense. It goes back to when you believed—you were sealed—we could translate it also—at the time you believed, at the instant you believed—“you were sealed by means of the Holy Spirit of promise,”
“… who is the guarantee—that down payment, that deposit—of our inheritance …” He has given as a guarantee that it will be completed, that we will receive that inheritance; He is our deposit—until the redemption of the purchased possession …”
We are the purchased possession, and until we realize our full salvation and are glorified, we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.
This one was in our Scripture reading earlier, Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
This verse is not only connecting sealing with that promise of future redemption, but it is also connecting the sealing to our sanctification. Because the command there “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” is an anthropopathism, and it communicates to us the severity of our sin. It’s in the context of Paul warning them about five different things that could characterize their life in disobedience to God.
The initial command starting in Ephesians 4:25 is, “Therefore, putting away lying—that’s the first thing: lying or not telling the truth or being deceptive is the initial statement—Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor—why?—for we are members of one another.” He is really talking about within the body of Christ, because that’s the only other way in which we are members of one another, going back to 1 Corinthians 12.
The second command Ephesians 4:26 which relates is another sin, the sin of anger, “Be angry, and do not sin.” How do you do that? Well, you don’t act on your anger. You don’t let your anger cause you to say things you will regret; you don’t let your anger cause you to do things you will regret. You don’t let your anger cause you to destroy other people’s property.
This is one of the problems that I have with the kind of things that are happening today in the riots and the destruction that goes with them. People say, “Well, I’m angry about these things.” Well, if you act out on that anger, that is a sin, and if you destroy other people’s property, that is a sin, and so how can you as a Christian participate in that?
With these things that are happening today, many Christians are saying they are aligned with these particular organizations, but that means they’re validating all that they are doing. This does not honor God or honor Christ. Just because you and they agree that a wrong thing has been done, doesn’t mean their solution is something that you should be involved in.
“Be angry and do not sin—and second—do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Don’t continue to harbor that anger in your soul any longer than sunset. By sunset you have to give it up, because if you continue to harbor it, it will eat away at your soul, and as Peter said, these are the sins that make war against your soul.
The third, Ephesians 4:27, “Do not give place to the devil.” That doesn’t mean that you should not get involved in the occult, although that would be included. All human viewpoint is a part of the world system.
All human viewpoint is demonic influence. Don’t give place, don’t get involved with the philosophies of the world. Don’t get involved in the other religions or their way of thinking. Don’t buy into the psychobabble as a way of explaining human behavior.
What you need to understand from the Word of God is that the problem is sin, the solutions are in the Word of God, and the Word of God is sufficient.
In Ephesians 4:28 we have the fourth command, “Let him who stole steal no longer—and the emphasis is on—but rather let him labor, working hard—working diligently—… that he may have something to give him who has need.”
The giving to those who are in poverty, to helping them, should come from the individual’s volition and not the government. It is not the government’s responsibility. When the government steps in and takes over responsibility from the individual and violates the first divine institution, it is always inefficient, and it is handled irresponsibly; there is no way to validate it.
Up until the end of the 19th century, most charitable needs were met through the church or church related organizations. Several books have been published over the last 20 years demonstrating that that was much more efficient and could hold people accountable. And it was based on local organizations and local people who could follow-up.
The emphasis in Scripture is, as Paul says at the end of 2 Thessalonians 3, if you don’t work, you don’t you don’t eat. There are cases where there are people who cannot. We’re not talking about those who “cannot.”
We are not talking about the widows and the orphans. Under the Mosaic Law there was a safety net for them, the third tithe, but that is not to be normative. It’s primarily to be handled by the family, but there was a way to handle things when there were exceptions.
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for edification.”
Any of those previous sins, representing a whole lot of others, would grieve the Holy Spirit of God. This is not to be characteristic of someone who is owned by God, who is protected by God, and who is sealed by God and is the thrust of that particular passage.
Looking at these passages, we come to understand that the role of God the Holy Spirit as He seals us is that it provides a deposit, a down payment. It looks to the future; the full realization of that.
1. We learn that we have eternal security. We never should doubt our salvation. Never question it. Because whether we feel like it or not, God the Holy Spirit has sealed us until the day of redemption.
2. It’s a guarantee of our salvation, it is a down payment on our salvation. But it is also a motivation to live our spiritual life to glorify God and to not get involved in habitual sinning that will grieve the Holy Spirit.
Of course, when we sin, we confess sin and we are instantly forgiven, but we are not to treat confession of sin as a get-out-of-jail-free card, so that we can just sin freely.
God the Holy Spirit provides this for us; He is the means for providing it. When we are sealed, we are identified as God’s possession, we are secured by that sealing, and that can never be broken.
Next week we will begin to look at the filling of the Spirit and the leading of the Spirit and a couple of the other things that are related to the Spirit’s ministry today.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to come together, to be reminded of such a gracious thing that You have done. Our salvation is secured by Your character, by Your promise in so many places. Additionally, as part of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, You have, as it were, branded us as Yours. We have this mark on us that we are Yours. We are owned by You, and You protect us. This is just an additional act of Your grace to us.
“Father, You do so much for as, You’ve given us so much, and to understand these things drives us even further to gratitude for all that You’ve given us into a desire to serve You and walk with You more consistently.
“We pray that anyone listening to this message would understand the gospel: that Christ died for their sins. Christ died for everyone’s sins; everyone is a sinner. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the only solution is Christ’s payment for our sins.
“He is the One who died for us and only by believing in Him will we have forgiveness of sin, no matter what it is, no matter what the shame. Christ paid the penalty, we are forgiven completely and totally and are given eternal life, and that is sealed and marked by the Holy Spirit.
“We pray that anyone listening would trust in Christ the Savior. We pray all these things in His precious name. Amen.”