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 Vol. 4, No. 2 


February, 2002


~ Page 9 ~


By Whom Were You Sealed?

By D. Gene West

D. Gene West "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).

The antecedent of the pronoun "whom" in Ephesians 4:30 is "the Holy Spirit of God." Paul told the Ephesian Christians that they had been sealed for the day of redemption.

Down through the years various men have made a great deal of "to do" about what it means for the Christian to be "sealed" by the Holy Spirit. One example, which I read some years back, is that the Holy Spirit seals us up as in a quart jar so that sin cannot touch our lives, and that in that sealed state we live a sanctified life perfectly free from sin in every way. One writer said that we cannot sin, and we do not want to sin, because God has, through the Holy Spirit, sealed us up as if we were sealed in a fruit jar. Nothing can get in to tempt us or cause us to sin because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Let us begin by investigating the word "sealed" as it is used in this text to see just what the meaning is. The word translated "sealed" in this passage comes from the Greek word "sphragizo" which means a mark that is made by a seal or a signet ring which shows genuineness, and it brings security or preserves. The word by implication means to keep secret. Hence, the meaning of the word is not to seal something in a jar, but to mark something in such a way as to show ownership or identification. In the ancient world, it was very common for slaves to be sealed (marked) so that it was easy for any man to tell to whom the slaves belonged. The "sealed" of Ephesians 4:30 refers to a mark worn by the Christian!

Since Christians do not wear a physical mark from the Holy Spirit of God, just what kind of mark do we have so that Christians may know one another, so that God knows who is his and so that the world recognizes us as being different from others? This mark is sometimes metaphorically spoken of in the New Testament as a "mark on the forehead" or "the hand" and it was worn by both the disciples of Christ, and those who were disciples of the beast, according to the Book of Revelation. Since the "seal" or "mark" worn by the Christian is not literally one that appears on the literal forehead or hand, the seal of the Holy Spirit must refer to characteristics in the life of the Christian, which are peculiar to him/her. While all this is true, we must still ask the question "what is the mark of the Holy Spirit of God?" In other words, we are asking, "What is the mark that the Holy Spirit of God puts upon the Christian which can be called the seal?"

If we return to the passage from which we have drawn our text, and look at the context, we learn that there are several things that the Christian is to "put on," or acquire in his life after he has removed, or is in the process of removing, certain sinful things in his life. There is quite a list of evil characteristics which we are, by the help of the Almighty, to remove from our lives. These are: lying, anger, stealing, corrupt communication out of the mouth, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and malice. Just because we put these things away in our lives, or remove them from our lives, does not necessarily mean that we are wearing the seal of the Holy Spirit because something must be added in the place of those things which are removed.  

In this same context, Paul told Christians to be kind to one another, tenderhearted and to forgive one another in love as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us. This kindness, compassion and forgiveness is at least a part of the mark of the Holy Spirit of God, because these characteristics can easily be seen by those who observe our lives.

In Galatians 5:16-26, Paul, by inspiration, draws a contrast between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit." After listing a horrific group of sins by which those of the world can be identified, he said that the "fruit of the Spirit" was: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If one were to put all these characteristics of the Christian life into his life, as God defines these characteristics, along with others found in such places as Colossians 3:12-13, then he could say that he bore the seal of the Holy Spirit of God. The bearing of the seal would cause him to be recognized by both the world and other Christians. Are we wearing the mark of the Holy Spirit as we should? If we are, then the world will have no trouble telling that we are "sealed" by the Holy Spirit of God for the day of redemption.

Image Death and Dying
by Dickie Hill
paperback, 160 pages
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What Makes Us Tick?

What Makes Us Tick?
A Look at Personality & the Bible
by Rebecca Rushmore
paperback, 100 pages, 13 chapters
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