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Rainbow Divider

THE SEAL OF THE SPIRIT

by C. Parker Thomas

Rainbow Divider

Photo of  Bro. Thomas

This modern so-called soul-winning that presses men for a decision without a deep work of repentance is an abomination to God. It’s the product of an apostate church without the power, that must make a show in the flesh.

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“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard 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.” Eph. 1:13.

The sealing of the Spirit is also referred to in Eph. 4:30 and II Cor. 1:22. In all three instances it is evident that this sealing is effected through the Holy Spirit. According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word “sphragizo” means “to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation.” Used in the literal sense, the seal was a mark of authority placed upon official documents by men of note, such as kings, judges and rulers. It validated important transactions affecting persons, places and things.

Likewise today, official documents and papers are usually stamped with a seal by some public official authorized to do so.

The seal of the Holy Spirit is the divine official stamp, or mark, that sets us apart as the redeemed property of Almighty God.

MORE THAN MARK

However, it is far more than an external brand or mark that makes a document official and valid. It is literally the climax of a work of grace in our life that results in the Holy Spirit coming into our hearts and taking up his permanent and eternal abode.

Though the Holy Spirit can be grieved, or quenched, his indwelling presence forever remains a seal and witness to our own hearts that the work of redemption is done and we are no longer our own but have been bought out of the slave market of sin by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

It means we have repented of our sins and utterly cast ourselves upon the mercy of God who has forgiven us and bestowed the Spirit as a witness and seal that the work is done and the transaction is complete.

FINAL AND COMPLETE

So far as justification and remission of sins is concerned, this is a complete and eternal work. Though the new convert may be as immature as a new born babe, he is completely and forever in Christ. And though there may be many and varied experiences on the road to full maturity, he is on his way to ultimate glorification.

Our great, sovereign God who counts those things that be not as though they were sees it in the past tense as already having taken place. This is certainly the meaning of Romans 8:30. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

If the work of growth and development were left up to us, there would be no hope. But, praise God, it is not! “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6.

A STUMBLING BLOCK

Realizing this is such a grand and glorious truth, the enemy has confused the issue and made it a great stumbling block to the unwary. This is the very reason Paul warned us thusly in Col. 2:8-10: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” “...Ye are complete in him...” What can be added to something that is complete? Oh! that men could see this great truth.

PERFECTED FOREVER

The one sacrifice of Calvary fully satisfied the broken law and makes future and eternal provision for the penitent. Though there is a process and means that shouldn’t be ignored or neglected, this is a perfect and complete work that must reach its climax in the elect being conformed to the image of his glory. That one and all sufficient sacrifice reaches to the lowest depth of the fall and lifts us all the way to the glory which Christ shared with the Father before the world was.

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; for after that he said before, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” Heb. 10:10-18.

By this one offering we have been perfected forever and the Holy Ghost is the witness, or seal, that the work is complete. This is why the apostle says in Eph. 4:30, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” For how long is this seal to last? Unto the day of redemption. The day of redemption spoken of here is that final act of God when our sinful, vile bodies shall be redeemed from the curse and made like unto the glorious body of our risen Lord.

According to Eph. 1:13-14, the seal of the Spirit is the earnest, the pledge or the down payment given to us as a binder or witness until this complete and final phase of redemption takes place.

This is also what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:22-23, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

A seal is only as strong and enduring as the one behind it. In Rev. 20, we read where Satan is cast into the bottomless pit and bound for a thousand years. Verse three says that after Satan is shut up, a seal is set upon him that he should not deceive the nations anymore till the thousand years are fulfilled.

Every believer of the Bible will agree that this seal absolutely holds Satan fast until the thousand year period is up. Yet, some cannot see that the seal of the Holy Spirit is unto the day of redemption. Our almighty, eternal and all wise God makes no mistakes and when he seals us, we are his property forever. A seal that did not protect and preserve would be meaningless.

TEMPORAL AND ETERNAL

The contrast between the two covenants, law and grace, is beautifully set forth in the books of Hebrews and Galatians. It is also a picture of contrasts between the temporal, imperfect covenant - the law - and the perfect, eternal, covenant of grace.

The covenant of perfection, the promise of the Father and the mystery hid in God all have reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit, the seal of God, to indwell his people. This is the mystery revealed, God inhabiting his people by the Spirit, Christ in you the hope of glory. Heb. 7:19-28, Gal. 4:22-31, Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, 2:33-39, Gal. 3:14-22, Eph. 1:13, 3:1-10, 4:32, and Col. 1:26-27.

Until Christ came in the fullness of time, there was no eternal redemption. He, the forerunner, pattern Son and head of the church, was the first to be sealed. Heb. 9:11-12. John 6:27.

The law was merely a type and shadow of good things to come. The sacrifices offered under the law could not take away sin or make the comers perfect. They had to be offered over and over again as a constant reminder that pointed to the perfect sacrifice of Christ which was to come. Heb. 10:1-4. Heb. 7:19 says, “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” Neither was life nor change of heart given under the law. This is why they had to be diligently taught and constantly reminded of the law lest they sin and perish. Heb. 8:6-11.

Under the new covenant in which life (Holy Spirit) and change of heart is given the constant and diligent pressing of the claims of the law is not necessary. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Heb. 8:10-12

STILL UNDER LAW

When a repentant sinner is granted faith and joined to Christ, you don’t have to tell him over and over again “Know the Lord” as they did under the law. The very reason today we have so much trouble in getting church people to go through the motions of serving the Lord is because they do not know Him, neither is His law written in their hearts. This is why we have to constantly remind them of their religious duties and try to provoke them to do good works.

They are like the people under the law who had not experienced the change of heart that results in a new nature. This is also the reason today religious people bitterly rebel against truth that would expose and change their wicked hearts. They are also the persecutors of those born of the Spirit. Gal. 4:29.

The only religion they will embrace is that which permits them to go on in their sins and salve their conscience. Unless the fallow ground of men’s hearts is plowed deep and all the hard clods are broken up, the seed of the word will do them no good. The plan of salvation with God’s gift of mercy and grace was never intended to be offered to unrepentant man. The Holy Ghost will not reveal Christ to an unprepared heart.

A PROPHET NEEDED

A John the Baptist with a bold, uncompromising message of repentance must prepare men’s hearts before they are ready for Christ.

A Jeremiah that will root out, pull down, destroy and throw down must come on the scene. “...break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns,” Jeremiah says in 1:9-10; 4:3.

This modern so-called soul-winning that presses men for a decision without a deep work of repentance is an abomination to God. It’s the product of an apostate church without the power, that must make a show in the flesh. Like Sarah who would not wait for the son of promise, she must have children at any cost to take away her reproach. The result is Ishmaelites, children of the flesh that can never inherit the promise. Gal. 4:22-30.

This is a generation of lost church members that have never really heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, much less experienced repentance unto life. They know nothing about being sealed by the Holy Spirit. Like Sarah, the church in her vain eagerness to have children, rushes them through to a decision without waiting for the promise of the Spirit. With little or no effort being made to produce genuine repentance in the average church, most of the professed believers do not even reform. They continue their life of worldliness, sin and pleasure and do not let their religion interfere with their way of life in the least.

SOME REFORM

However, there are some who experience temporary deliverance and manifest a new way of life for a while only to fall back and end up in a worse condition than in the beginning. It has always been a great mystery as well as heartache to observe these people who seemingly run so well for a while and then fall away. But the word of God does not leave us in the dark concerning their true condition.

Jesus says the evil spirit goes out of them for a while but finally comes back and brings seven other devils more wicked than himself. This person actually experiences deliverance for a while with his house being swept and garnished. He is not only cleaned up with the evil spirit gone out of him, but he takes on a new way of life. The garnishing, no doubt, represents external religion. Though the work is produced as a result of exposure to religious influences, it stops short of faith in Christ. Christ never really comes in and possesses the vessel. There is no seal of the Spirit. Matt. 12:43-45. According to the parable of the sower, he may even experience joy at the time of hearing the word, but later falls away because there is no root to sustain him. Matt. 13:20-21.

It really amounts to a premature or incomplete work that stops short of faith and union with Christ. This is what Paul is warning the Hebrews of in chapter 4:1-11 where he calls it the rest of faith which is so real and genuine the convert no longer is in doubt about his relationship to God.

Though the religionists have great illumination and show many evidences of salvation while actually experiencing varying degrees of deliverance, they are never sealed with the Holy Spirit resulting in this blessed rest of faith. Peter calls them wells without water to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. Jude uses similar language in calling them clouds without water, trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead and plucked up by the roots. Some of this language, however, has reference to the religionist who has been overcome and entered the state of reprobation. Verse 19 of Jude says they are “sensual, having not the Spirit.”

REPROBATION

The latter state of those who are again overcome by the enemy after having such great illumination and actually experiencing deliverance from the power of Satan is reprobation for which there is no hope of repentance. Though this is a horrible thing to consider, it is part of the scriptures and must be used to warn the careless and indifferent. There is a terrible price to pay for men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Consider the following scriptures: Matt. 12:43-45; Heb. 2:1-3, 3:7-12, 4:1-11, 6:1-6, 10:26-31, 12:17; II Peter 2:20-21; Romans 1:18,21,26 and 28; II Cor. 13:5 and II Thess. 2:10-12.

In almost every case, these are people who tasted the goodness of God, experiencing great light and, for a while, escaped the pollutions that are in the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. However, their true condition is summed up by the apostle in II Peter 2:22. “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb. The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” The language is very plain. A dog returns to his vomit (sin) because that is his nature, and a sow does not cease to be a sow because you wash the mud off of her. You can wash her, put an ermine wrap around her girth, saturate her with exotic perfume and give her the run of a marble palace but she is still a slop loving, mud wallowing pig.

Unless and until men are joined to Jesus Christ and partake of his divine nature, they are rebellious, hell bound sinners, regardless of their cloak of religion.

DESPERATE NEED

I might add that religious sinners are the most difficult of all to awaken to their desperate need of Christ. In the first place, their preachers have deceived and lulled them to sleep with proof-text salvation. At best their wounds are only slightly healed. They complacently think they are saved because they believe in Jesus and the church assures them they are all right.

Secondly, they cannot be awakened because it is well nigh impossible to get into the church with a message that would disturb them and unless they are deeply disturbed and alarmed, they are going to perish even as the generation did that lived during the days of Noah.

I don’t think we have ever really understood just how hopeless and helpless the condition of a sinner is. He is a rebel at heart with no desire or inclination to know and serve God. His very nature is completely adverse to the will and purpose of a holy God. The scriptures declare there is none that seeketh after God. They are completely dead so far as spiritual life is concerned. Their plans, thoughts and works are all for this life with religion simply a side issue.

MUST BE APPREHENDED

With or without religion, man not joined to Christ is a lawless rebel that must be apprehended and forced to seek the Lord. Only a miracle of God’s grace to arrest and bring him to the great judge and law giver where he must be sentenced to death can show him his need.

He must be slain by the sword of the Spirit before he can hope to receive life. Jesus said, “For whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and gospel’s, the same shall save it.” Mark 8:35.

After one is mortally wounded by the sword of the Spirit, we must be careful that he does not stop short of union with Christ. Proof-text salvation will not take the place of heart searching repentance that gives the seeker no rest until he finds the peace that passeth all understanding. Total and unconditional surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ alone will do this. Christ must be Lord of all or he is not Lord at all.

When the transaction is complete, you won’t have to tell the seeker he is saved for he will know it.

WITNESS WITHIN

I John 5:10 says, “He that believeth on the son of God hath the witness in himself...” I John 4:13 says, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his spirit.” Galatians 4:6 says, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Do you have the witness of the Spirit within your heart? Romans 8:9 says, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

This is the seal of the Spirit that assures us we have passed from death unto life.

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