Premise: The Bible teaches that the Spirit indwells Christians (Acts 2:38; 5:32; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20), seal them (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30), and is the earnest of their inheritance (Ephesians 1:14).
In the days of Trajan there lived a Christian named Ignatius, who sealed his faith with his blood. Ignatius was commonly known as Theophoros– the Bearer of God. The title given to Ignatius is one to which every Christian who is faithful to his calling may in some degree humbly lay claim. Christ is in him “the hope of glory.”
Consider three ideas about sealing of the Spirit:
Sealing authenticates that the salvation transaction is completed
In Paul’s day, important documents were sealed with wax and imprinted with an identifying symbol, usually by pressing a signet ring into the wax. Even today important legal documents are often stamped with an official seal to signify the completion of the transaction.
When God saves us, the Holy Spirit seals us. It is not a mark upon our foreheads or a tattoo on our bicep, but an invisible, spiritual stamp seen only by God and known to the believer only by faith.
Thus the sealing of a person is tied to his conversion. Paul indicates that the sealing takes place after one hears and believes: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye hear the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). Belief here refers to a submissive, obedient faith. The Philippian jailer is said to be a believer after his faith obeyed what it was taught to do (Acts 16:29-32).
In God’s plan of salvation, a new Christian knows exactly the time he was sealed by the Spirit. In denominational dogma, a person is saved at the point of faith (mental assent) in Jesus as God’s Son. When asked, most people cannot give a time when they became a believer. Many grew up learning the Bible and never really remember a time when they did not believe. Even those who come to faith as adults usually do so over time-they read the Bible, listen to sermons, read books, It is usually more of a dawning than a light bulb that comes on at once.
In God’s plan of salvation, a believer’s faith must act before it saves. Once one believes in Jesus, he must repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Christ before others (Matthew 10:9-10), and be immersed for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16). At that point, one is saved (1 Peter 3:21) and thus sealed by the spirit (cf. John 3:3-5).
A signature on a letter attests to the genuineness of the document. A notary seal, stock certificate seal, or the great seal of a state or nation shows the item is authentic. The presence of the Spirit’s influence proves the believer is genuine. The Spirit thus becomes the first payment of all the blessings that God has in store for Him in heaven (Ephesians 1:14). Between his conversion and death, he must live in such a way that he does not grieve the indwelling Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30; 2 Timothy 2:19).
Sealing shows that God has taken ownership of the new Christian
Abraham had an outward, physical seal that he was accepted by the Lord: “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had” (Romans 4:11). He was circumcised when he was ninety-nine years old.
In Paul’s day, idolatrous Gentiles had emblems and tattoos cut into their bodies as a seal of ownership of a deity. Also in Roman culture, livestock and slaves carried a mark that showed who owned them, similar to the way a rancher brands range cattle today. A brand (seal) helped prevent theft and runaways, and avoided disputes about ownership.
New Testament Christians were not given a physical mark of ownership such as circumcision or branding, but they were given a spiritual one. Sealed means, “to stamp with a signet or private mark for security or preservation; to attest.” Figuratively, God has put His seal on us when He has purchased us to be His own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives is a verification of our divine sonship (cf. Ephesians 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:20).
Paul writes about that aspect of sealing: “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (2 Timothy 2:19).
The indwelling Spirit is the dividing line between the servants of God and the servants of the devil. The Spirit does not dwell in sinners; He does not fail to dwell in saints.
The Spirit does not dwell in sinners. Jesus said the world cannot receive the Spirit because it cannot see Him and does not know to look for HIm (John 14:17). Paul added that the “natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14; cf. Matthew 13:11-15; Revelation 2:17).
The Spirit does not fail to dwell in saints. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). Paul sums it up succinctly- sons receive the Spirit. He wrote, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).
Sealing assures the believer that he will be secure
The Romans sealed the tomb of Jesus to protect it from tampering by His disciples (Matthew 27:62-66). A hard signet was pressed into softer wax or clay, with the implicit message that it was by Roman authority that Jesus was entombed. Tampering would defy the authority of Rome and would not be tolerated.
God recognizes His children and accepts responsibility for their safe passage through life to heaven. He is pictured as delaying His judgment of sinners until He had “sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads” (Revelation 7:3; cf. 9:4).
Rejoice! The deal has been sealed.