Theology 101 — Sealing and Sanctifying

Since the adjective that attaches to “Spirit” is “holy,” the result is a quality of being different from the ordinary or sinful. So sinful attitudes and actions cause grief to the indwelling Holy Spirit, and Ephesians 4:30 admonishes, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  

A seal can serve a variety of purposes. It might convey the assurance of genuineness; hence, important documents may have an authenticating seal stamped or embossed on them. For example, graduation diplomas from an education institution usually bear the official seal of that school. It serves as a guarantee that authenticates an underlying authority for granting academic degrees. 

God’s provision

The indwelling Spirit is God’s provision of the guarantee of a believer’s authenticity as one of His children. We read of this assurance in 2 Corinthians 1:22, which tells us God “has sealed us and given us the spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” This truth is given a second time in 2 Corinthians 5:5, which says God “has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

This is a truth further established in the mouth of yet a third biblical witness, Ephesians 1:1314, which declares, “Having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

A believer’s protection 

Not only a sign of authentication, seals might also serve as a means of security or protection, which was in mind when Jesus’ tomb was ordered sealed. Not only a deterrent to theft, seals also sometimes serve as a guarantee against tampering, so containers of medication often carry the promise, “sealed for your protection,” along with the caution not to use it if the seal has been broken.

A believer’s protection against being severed from God is a comforting aspect of the Spirit’s ministry. 

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:2). The sanctifying work of the Spirit is one of making forgiven sinners increasingly more holy or Christlike in attitude, character and action, having set us apart as God’s workmanship for engaging in good works (Eph. 2:10). 

While believers are not perfect this side of Heaven, the indwelling Spirit of God seeks continuously to enable advancement in Christlikeness with increasing evidence of holy thoughts and actions. 

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