Sealed with the Spirit! Indwelling?
Holy Spirit Indwelling Series – Part 4
As this series has progressed the indwelling of the Holy Spirit has been presented as representative and not the same as the “gift of the Holy Spirit” or being “filled with the Spirit”. This article will focus on the idea of being sealed with the spirit, what it means, and whether or not it is an indwelling as some suppose. In conjunction with examining the terms “seal” or “sealed”, the terms “earnest” and “anointed” will also be discussed.
The terms “seal” or “sealed” in the Old and New Testament are seen approximately 50 times. It is represented in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Indeed, there are three different words for these in the O.T and three for them in the N.T. The terms can signify a mark of identification often associated with a level of authority, a closing up, a protecting, an attachment, and a witnessing or attesting, all depending upon context. As for the extent of context involving the Holy Spirit and these terms, there are relatively few verses to examine.
John 6:26-27 – Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled. Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed.
In this text, Jesus had the night before fed a multitude of 5000. After He crossed the sea at night, the multitude sought him again. Asking when he had crossed the sea (He had walked on water part way during the night and then went in a boat with his disciples). Christ’s answer to them was the verses 26-27. He tells them they had a miracle performed in their midst, but were focused on seeking more physical food. Instead, the miracle should have caused them to seek Christ for spiritual nutrition. It was this for which he was sealed/marked. The term sealed here is reference to His ability to perform the miraculous. The miraculous was a mark or sign identifying He was of God. His seal was obvious for all to see, this is important when contemplating the seal and its relationship to the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – Now he that establisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; who also sealed us, and gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
This verse not only displays the term sealed, but the other terms of interest: earnest and anointed. Paul starts out his writing to the Corinthians discussing the hardships he and the other disciples had gone through to preach the gospel and even bring it to them. In the verses 21-22, Paul tells the Corinthians he, the disciples with him, and the Corinthians had been established/confirmed in Christ. How had they been confirmed? Mark 16:20 shows the disciples confirmed the word they were sharing by signs (miracles). Hebrews 2:3-4 shows God confirmed the teachings of His Word through miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Even Christ identified his miraculous works as that which gave witness to Him (John 5:36, 10:38). That the Corinthians had the miraculous is obvious throughout both letters to them. Next Paul tells the Corinthians God anointed them all. I John 2:27 clearly identifies the anointing of the Holy Spirit as miraculous, for the Christians had inspired truth no one needed to teach them. Finally Paul notes they were sealed with the Spirit – this was just as Christ. They were able to do the miraculous. This gave them a pledge, security, guarantee, earnest in their hearts knowing God will keep His promises (vs. 20).
Ephesians 1:13-14 – In Him you also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, – in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God’s own possession, unto the praise of his glory.
The apostle Paul writes this letter to the Church at Ephesus. Like the Corinthians they too had miraculous gifts. In verses 3-6, He tells them the blessing they had because of God’s predetermine plan of adoption for them, ultimately glorified God. In verses 7-12, he establishes the “wisdom and insight” enabling knowledge of their redemption (riddance of sin, deliverance from sin, liberation from sin) by Christ and the sharing of the gospel. All of which came by the hand of God. It was indeed miraculous revelation through the Holy Spirit. Again, this was God’s predetermined plan and glorified Him. Verses 13-14, discuss the conversion of the Ephesians. They heard the gospel, believed it, and following were sealed with the Holy Spirit. To have a greater understanding of this, we must recall what occurred in Acts 2 as studied in the second article in this series. The Jews heard, believed, and based upon that belief repented and were baptized. Following their baptism, hands were laid upon them and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit – the miraculous. They were sealed. This same situation was displayed in Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:5-6. Acts 19 is very important because that was when the Ephesians received the Holy Spirit. They were sealed with it by the laying on of hands. Here in Ephesians Paul equates receiving the miraculous of the Holy Spirit to being sealed. The visible manifestations marked them as followers of God.
In verse 14 the term earnest is used as in 2 Corinthians 1:22. The promise of the Holy Spirit as prophesied from Joel and seen by all was a guarantee of the inheritance of eternal life. It validated the faithfulness of God that man would be heirs to an eternal kingdom. It was a view forward to the redemption of a possession/acquisition. That possession was the miraculous. The Ephesians, all of mankind, would be ridded or liberated from the miraculous. To be clear, the miraculous was given as a guarantee of the inheritance of God until which time it would be removed. This would be done to the glory of God. How so? The miraculous would cease in order to make room for the perfect, the unity of the faith, the Word of God (I Corinthians 13:8-11; Ephesians 4:11-16). The removal of the miraculous replaced with only the Word of God would enable men to grow into mature men on their own (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Ephesians 4:30 – And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption.
Simply put, the Holy Spirit went to great lengths, in demonstrating the power of God. Through His Miraculous works the Word was confirmed, the Church edified, and God was glorified. The seal of the Spirit was evident among the first century Church. Yet, this was all done in bringing man to the written Word of God. To turn away from the Christian walk to the things of the World would certainly grieve the Spirit of God.
From the 4 verses above discussing the seal of the Spirit, we again arrive at the miraculous as we did with the “gift of the Spirit” and the “filling of the Spirit”. Since the approach has been taken that the miraculous is no longer present today, these certainly could not be the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Again, in our final lesson we will expand upon when the miraculous ended. Before closing this article, there remains a question about sealing which many people tie to the Holy Spirit and indwelling. Consider the following verses:
2 Timothy 2:19 – But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Revelation 7:4 – And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
Revelation 14:1 – Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
The question is: What about Revelation and those who have been sealed that the Lord knows? First off, understand there is a great deal of figurative language in the book of Revelation. How does the lord know a person? In his address to the 7 churches of Asia at the start of the book of Revelation, what does the Lord continually say? “I know your works”. Jesus said:
Mat 10:32-33 – “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven”.
God doesn’t need a forehead barcode system to figure out who the faithful are. A man’s works say it all (John 14:15). Second, in regard to numbers and the book of Revelation, be assured, God’s cutoff line isn’t 144,000. In fact, it can be recalled that Abraham’s descendants (Christians) would be as innumerable as sand on the seashore. Revelation 7:9 confirms as much. The seal of a Christian in this modern time is his deeds, works, or wedding clothes. We dress ourselves for success or failure and that is a seal that will be evident for all to see.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 – For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
The next article in this series will assume man has a literal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In that case, what exactly would be its purpose?