The Spirit's Seal Ephesians 1c
Stephen Caswell ©1999
Putting Something On Lay-by
My wife likes to go shopping. Especially if there is a sale on and bargains to be had. She tells me how much money she has saved me and how lucky we are to get it at this price. When I ask where she got the money to but it from? She says easy, I just put it on lay-by. A lay-by only requires a deposit of 10% to secure the article. Some people pay off most of the lay-by and leave a small amount so they can hide the gift from the family and keep it a surprise. In a similar way God has purchased believers for Himself. He has put a deposit on them through His Holy Spirit. They belong to Him and one day He will come back to collect them for Himself.
For the last two Sunday mornings we have been looking at God's plan of salvation. We have observed the work of all three members of the trinity. Today we will look at The Spirit's Seal. Today there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. So this morning we will also look at the wider work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people. I will follow this line of thought in chronological order. There are five specific areas I want to address.
Firstly Conviction - Sin Condemned
Jesus Christ promised the disciples that He would send another comforter. He then outlined some of His ministries. Conviction relates to the lost. John 16:7-11 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: “of sin, because they do not believe in Me; “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The Holy Spirit convicts people so that they might come to God through repentance.
Prosecution In A Court Room
The word convict means convince, rebuke, tell a fault. The Holy Spirit gives a troubled conscience to sinners. He tugs at your heart making you feel uneasy. As God's people proclaim the Gospel, the Holy Spirit convicts the hearts of the hearers. Believers are like witnesses in a courtroom giving testimony for Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the prosecuting attorney who confirms the guilty charge against sinners. God does this to lead people to repent so that they can be forgiven. Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? My own life!
The Holy Spirit convicts the world about sin because in general people don't believe in Jesus Christ the Holy One. He has exposed their sin. The Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness because Christ has fulfilled the law. He has completed the Fathers will [salvation]. Having been rejected by men, He returned to the Father again. Of judgment because Jesus Christ judged Satan on the cross. Satan the author of sin was defeated by Christ's death and resurrection. How do men respond to the Spirit's conviction? Two ways, they either receive Christ or resist Him. Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The phrase, Cut to the heart speaks of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Peter told them how to be saved. Repent of their sin faith in Christ.
But some respond to the Spirit's conviction differently, they resist it. This happened when Stephen preached to the Sanhedrin. Acts 7:51-54, 58 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, “who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
God convicts people so that He might save them. When people respond like those on the day of Pentecost he does a second work. Are you resisting the Holy Spirit's conviction? It is dangerous to resist the Spirit's conviction as this hardens your heart. If you continue this way the time will come when God will not convict you. Today is the accepted time today is the day of salvation.
The second work is Conversion - Regeneration
From man's perspective, Conversion is what takes place when people repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ. From God's perspective this results in being born again or regeneration. All three terms mean that the sinner has a new life. The new life is born of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told Nicodemus this when he came to Him at night. John 3:3-8 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Everyone receives physical life when they enter this world. But only those who receive the second birth obtain spiritual life. To enter God's heavenly kingdom you need to be born of His Spirit. Flesh can only produce flesh, it takes the Holy Spirit to produce spiritual life. Adam and Eve were created with both lives. Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lifes; and man became a living being.
The Hebrew word for life is plural. God gave them physical and spiritual lives when He breathed into them. The day they took of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they died. They died spiritually the same day. Adam died physically 930 years later. Spiritual death is separation from God. This is why man must be born again.
Illustration of Monkey In A Lion Skin
One of the books I love to read to the kids is monkey in a lion skin. Toto the monkey puts on a lion skin and pretends to be a lion. He growled and walked around like a lion. Twiga the giraffe and Boo Hoo the hippo try to tell him it won't work. Twiga said that the only way you can become a lion is to be born again as a new creature. But Toto doesn't listen until he nearly gets eaten by a leopard. Then he realised his foolishness. Only a new birth can give us a new nature.
Man needs the Spiritual life of God that He lost at the fall. Man needs God's life if He is going to live with God. This is what Peter promised the Jews on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enters our lives when we repent of our sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, When we believe a number of things happen simultaneously. Firstly we are born again of the Spirit. At the same time we are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. It is at this time that the Holy Spirit gives believers a spiritual gift. Everyone has at least one gift. Some spiritual gifts ceased with the apostles.
Those born once will die twice. But those born twice will die once. Have you been born again of the Spirit? Only those born again will enter heaven. If you have not yet received Jesus Christ, will you do this today? You must be born again! Once you are the Spirit will give you His peace.
The third work of the Spirit is Connection - Or baptism Of The Spirit
The Holy Spirit baptizes us into Jesus Christ and His body the Church. The word baptize means to immerse in. It also means to join to. There is only one true Church and the record is kept in heaven. The Lamb's book of life contains the name of every true believer. Every man, woman and child that has been born of the Holy Spirit is part of the church. There is much confusion today concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some Churches claim that this is a secondary experience to salvation and accompanied by speaking in tongues. What does the Bible say? All four Gospels predicted that Jesus Christ would baptize men with the Holy Spirit. We will look at Matthew's account. Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. John the Baptist prophesied this about Jesus Christ. Jesus confirmed the same promise. Acts 1:5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Church history shows that this happened ten days later on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2. The charismatic churches point out that the disciples were already believers yet they received the Holy Spirit in a secondary experience to salvation. This is true. However under the Old Covenant only a few people received the Holy Spirit for ministry. And He could leave them as in the case of Saul. In the New Covenant all believers receive the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was the beginning of the New Covenant and end of the Old. Jesus said this in John 7:37-39. On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
The day of Pentecost marked the beginning of the Church age. The disciples received the Spirit and spoke in tongues by the Holy Spirit. A great crowd heard the wonderful works of God in their own tongue. Peter preached Christ and 3000 believed receiving the Holy Spirit immediately. There was no secondary experience neither did they speak in tongues. Paul would later explain what this baptism accomplished. 1 Corinthians 12:13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. The word baptized signifies a one time action. You cannot receive Jesus Christ and then receive the Holy Spirit later. We have seen why that happened to the first disciples. The same Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ. He is the head of one body, the church. Everyone who receives Jesus Christ as Savior is baptized of the Spirit.
The fourth work is Consignment - Seal & Guarantee
Ephesians 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, This passage in Ephesians explains something else that happens to people as soon as they believe in Jesus Christ. It is important for us to note the order that takes place here. They heard the Gospel of Christ's death and resurrection, then they believed in Jesus Christ. After this they were sealed with the Holy Spirit. This sealing takes place at conversion. Steps 2 to 4 all happen simultaneously. But what is the Spirit's seal and what does it accomplish in the believers life? The word sealed means a number of things and we will look at each one in turn.
Firstly to seal means to stamp with a mark of ownership. This method of identification is still used today. On cattle stations the owners mark the animals with a brand or seal to identify their stock. If cattle rustlers steal their stock they can be easily caught. The seal identifies the legal owner. God has sealed His people to signify that He owns them. He purchased them with His own blood. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Secondly a seal speaks of a completed transaction. Today when important legal documents are processed they are stamped to signify the completion of the transaction. When someone believes in Christ the transaction is completed then and there. The Holy Spirit takes up residence sealing believers to show that they have been freed from sin and its penalty. The transaction is complete.
Thirdly a seal speaks of authenticity. In ancient Greece a craftsman would place a seal on the base of the pottery to show that it was his genuine work. It proved that the work was authentic. The Holy Spirit identifies possessors of Christ from mere professors. 2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” The word seal comes from the same word in Eph 1:13. Romans 8:9 brings out this same thought. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. God knows His own because His Spirit is in them.
Fourthly a seal provided protection and security. Pilate set a seal upon Christ's tomb so that people would not break into it to steal Jesus' body. He had guards there to back this up. Pilate could not stop Christ's resurrection. But When God seals His people they are safe and secure. God's 144,000 witnesses in the great tribulation are sealed on their foreheads. This identifies them as servants of God and provides protection for them. John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
Guarantee Ephesians 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. What does the word earnest or guarantee mean? In ancient Greece it meant a deposit paid to secure property for later possession. We practice the same thing today when we purchase a block of land or house. The purchaser is required to put down a deposit of usually 5 % to show that they are a genuine buyer. God has given us a guarantee that He will indeed finish His good work in us. Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The day of redemption is the day that God will complete our redemption. The Holy Spirit is the down payment signifying that we are saved and belong to God. We were redeemed from sins penalty at conversion. We are being redeemed from sins power as the Holy Spirit conforms us into the image of Christ. But when Jesus Christ returns He will complete our redemption by removing sins presence, clothing us with immortality. Romans 8:21-23 Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
After a couple has been dating for a while they may decide they have found the right person and want to get married. But before this happens they announce their intention to everyone. They get engaged to signify this. The young man purchases an engagement ring and gives this to his fiancé' to show his sincerity. The ring indicates their commitment to each other. The day is set and then they patiently wait for its arrival and the completion of their union. The Holy Spirit is like our engagement ring identifying us as the Bride of Christ. The Father has already set the time for the marriage supper of the Lamb. Soon the Bridegroom will return for His bride.
The fifth work is Control - Filling
What then should be our present relationship to the Holy Spirit? The Bible does not tell us to pray to the Holy Spirit or exalt Him above the other members of the Godhead. In John 16:13 Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would glorify Christ, even as Christ glorified the Father. He would not speak for Himself but pass on Christ's words to the disciples. This then was how the New Testament was written. What should be our relationship to the Holy Spirit? There are only three commands given to men concerning the Holy Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit [Eph 5:18], Quench not the Holy Spirit [Eph 4:30], and Grieve not the Spirit [1 Thess 5:19].
The second two commands are really a negative way of saying the first one. Through out the book of Acts you will read that the disciples were filled with the Spirit. Stephen one of the seven deacons chosen in Acts 6: was said to be full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Ephesians commands us to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
The word filled means to be filled to the brim, full. The idea that comes out of this is control. Someone who is full of wrath is controlled by it. A person filled with jealousy is likewise controlled by it. The command is in the passive voice, signifying that we are to allow ourselves to be filled with the Spirit. It is in the present tense and means that we are to be continually filled with or controlled by the Spirit. To be controlled by the Spirit means that he has access to every part of our lives. He has total sway over our lives. He guides our decisions and lives through us.
Paul uses an illustration to bring this home. Have you ever watched someone that is drunk walking across the street. They stagger along in a crooked line. They stumble and often fall over. This is because they are under the influence of the wine. Our authorities recognize the danger of driving under the influence and they rightly apply severe penalties. Paul says don't be under the control of alcohol but rather be under the control of the Holy Spirit. We can easily tell when someone is under the control of alcohol. But how do we know when someone is under the control of the Holy Spirit? By their behavior. Paul describes the influence of the Holy Spirit in a persons life in verses 19-21. Sharing God's word in song with joy, always giving thanks to God for all things, submitting to one another in the fear of God. To continually practice these things is impossible without the Spirit's control.
Galatians chapter 5 has much to say about life in the Spirit. Paul gives this same command in a number of different ways. Each emphasizing some finer point. Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. The word walk in this verse means to walk in line with, it is a military term. When we observe these commands the result is the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Watching The Instrument Gauges On The Car
When you drive your car it is always wise to keep an eye on the instrument gauges. They keep you informed about your car. They let you know if the motor runs hot. They inform you how much fuel have left. In the same way the fruit of the Spirit lets us know how we are going spiritually. If we are getting angry then self control is absent. If we display bitterness then our joy has gone. The fruit of the Spirit is a good gauge of discerning our spiritual condition at any time. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit you won't quench or limit His work in you. Neither will you grieve Him. We grieve the Spirit when we deliberately sin. We grieve Him when we resist His prompting to confess our sin. The Holy Spirit will never leave us as He did in the Old Testament. But we can prevent Him from blessing us and using us. Today we have seen five ministries that the Holy Spirit performs in people.
I. Conviction The Holy Spirit convicts us that we might come to repentance. God desires that none should perish. Have you received the Spirit's conviction and repented of your sin? Or are you resisting Him? It's dangerous to resist the Spirit's conviction since this hardens our heart. If you continue this way the time will come when you will not be convicted. O Don't allow this. Today is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation. Don't put it off.
II. Conversion Those born once will die twice. But those born twice will die once. Have you been born again of the Spirit? Only those born again will enter heaven. If you have not yet received Jesus Christ, will you do this today? You must be born again!
III. Connection Every person who receives Jesus Christ as Savior is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Church, Christ's body. He gives us a spiritual gift at this time. There is no further experience that you need. You have received all that God wants you to have. But how much of you does the Spirit have? He wants to fill you and use you for God's glory.
IV. Consignment The Holy Spirit is God's seal upon every believer that he belongs to God. It is a mark of ownership and authenticity. The Spirit also keeps us safe until Christ claims us for His own. God will complete His good work by giving us new bodies..
V. Control Are you filled with the Spirit? Does the fruit of the Spirit indicate that you are controlled by Him right now? Is sin in your life grieving the Holy Spirit? Are you quenching the Spirit and preventing Him from working through you? When God prompts you to witness to a friend or neighbour do you disobey His leading? I pray that you will allow Him to fill you and use you.
Benediction 2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.