Set Apart with the Seal of the Spirit | April 10th, 2020
Life is not easy right now. The world feels like it has been turned upside down and inside out. The coronavirus crisis has affected every person on the planet in some way. Many have lost their jobs, lost loved ones, lost their health, lost their financial security, and lost their freedoms.
Some will tell you they feel like they have lost their sense of peace as well, wondering if they will ever get it back. Life just seems so uncertain because we cannot plan anything a month from now or even next week.
We do know that this weekend is Easter Sunday and we will be celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. Not in a church building of course, as we are all sheltering in place, but in our hearts from our homes. Through technology, we can even choose to celebrate this special holiday by digitally connecting to Easter services online with many others.
Why We Celebrate
Jesus, God’s Son, left the glory, beauty, and perfection of heaven to spend 33 years here on earth, ministering to people just like you and me. He led the example of how we should live our lives. He taught the Truth, performed amazing miracles, healed people inside and out, and demonstrated His deep love for us by sacrificing His life through an excruciating death as He was crucified on the cross to atone for our sins.
The word excruciating originates from the Latin cruciare, to crucify, which literally means “the pain of crucifixion.” He went through intense suffering and died in our place, making us righteous so that we could spend eternity with Him if we simply believe in Jesus as our Savior.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead, victoriously conquering sin and death. He did not immediately ascend into heaven. Instead, He stayed on earth for 40 days to demonstrate to His followers that He truly was alive and to teach them about the kingdom of God.
When Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection, their lives were changed. The greatest miracle in all of history had just taken place. After being crucified, Jesus Christ was alive! This is our whole reason for celebrating on Easter Sunday!
The Gift of the Holy Spirit
Jesus knew that once we made the decision to be His follower, it would be a constant battle between our desire for sinful things (our old nature), and living a life that is pleasing to Him (our new nature). So after He ascended into heaven, He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. John 14:16-17a
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity which also includes God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit is a unique person with emotions and not simply a power, force, or influence in our lives. He indwells us as our Guide, Comforter, Encourager, Helper, and Advocate. He gives us His power. He transforms us. He teaches us the Truth, steering us toward living a godly life. There is no area in which we do not need the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives!
When you give your life to Jesus, the Holy Spirit becomes a permanent part of you. He will never, ever leave you. The Holy Spirit is your mark of adoption as a child of God.
The Maker’s Mark
I’ve been a collector of vintage costume jewelry for over a decade. I have learned from experience that the first thing I need to do when I see a piece to which I’m drawn is flip it over. Often, it will be marked on the back with a stamp of the designer who created it.
Here is an example of a marked Hollycraft clip earring from 1955 which I repurposed into a sparkly, colorful ring:
Because I have studied the history of costume jewelry designers from the Golden Era (1940s and ’50s), I know the value of a piece when it has been stamped with the maker’s mark.
God stamped you permanently with His signature as the Master Artist when He created you. You are so valuable that He gave His life for you!
Marked with a Seal
In addition to the Master Artist’s signature, you are immediately marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit once you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, securing your salvation.
The Greek word that is translated as “seal” is shragizo meaning “to mark with a seal.” Back in biblical times, a seal was used to guarantee a document. The Holy Spirit is your seal, guaranteeing that the moment you accept Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as payment for your sin, you are promised an eternal inheritance with Him!
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13b-14
There are so many benefits that come with this seal when you have the Holy Spirit, your Helper, dwelling within you:
He Gives You New Life
When you choose to follow Jesus, you are made new. The Holy Spirit gives you new desires that were not in you before such as the desire for glorifying God, to live righteously, to have a relationship with Him, to surrender your will to Him, and to have affection for the things that please God.
It takes your own effort to make that choice to follow Him as it is your personal decision, but the effort it takes to follow Him is dependent on God. You need the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen your will to endure and not give up during this challenging process of transformation from your old nature to your new nature.
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:21-24
He Helps You Produce Fruit
The Holy Spirit gives you the power to produce the fruit of the Spirit so you can reflect the character of God in your life. It’s a daily process that takes time – a journey – but progress is accomplished with the help of the Holy Spirit. The fruit is the result of the Spirit’s presence in your life. It is described in Galatians 5:22-25:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
You no longer have to live according to your old, sin nature (pride, jealousy, selfishness, lack of self-control) but you now have power available to help you live a life that honors God in your new nature as you exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. Romans 8:9a
He Intercedes for You
Have you ever found it difficult to express your thoughts and feelings to God? Perhaps the pain, stress, fear, or anxiety inside of you is overwhelming. Thankfully, you don’t have to know what to say. The Holy Spirit knows and will intercede for you, expressing everything you are thinking and feeling while keeping your prayers on track with God’s will.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26
He Gives You Insight
When you open God’s Word, the Holy Spirit helps you comprehend what you are reading. He gives you the knowledge and understanding necessary for applying it to your life so you can obey His teachings to stay on His perfect path.
He also reminds you of what you have read in the past when you need it in the present. I often have Bible verses I have memorized long ago, even as a young child, that pop back into my mind just when I need them. I could never do that on my own so I know it’s because of the Holy Spirit!
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
He Identifies You as His Own
When you belong to Christ, you are able to enjoy fellowship with the Holy Spirit. The way you live your life can either help or hinder your relationship.
Choosing to live a life that brings glory and honor to God increases the sweetness of your relationship and your ability to be sensitive to Him so you can hear His still, small voice speaking to you. However, if you choose to live a life of sin and disobedience, there will be consequences, quenching the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. Over time, the fire that He has kindled inside of you, producing enthusiasm for living a godly life, will be extinguished.
Oswald Chambers, in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest, describes the quenching of the Spirit this way…
The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze— so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it. The sense of warning and restraint that the Spirit gives comes to us in the most amazingly gentle ways. And if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice, you will quench it, and your spiritual life will be impaired. This sense of restraint will always come as a “still small voice” so faint that no one except a saint of God will notice it.
A saint of God is someone who is set apart for God’s special purposes, living in a righteous way that reflects Christ. All who accept Jesus as their Savior are given the status of a saint – holy before God because of what He has done for them. If you have made a decision to follow Christ, you are a saint!
Because you belong to Him, you can also grieve the Holy Spirit within you. He expresses His feelings toward us, feeling passionate sorrow when we grieve Him by our behavior because of His love for us.
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:30-32
John Calvin explains it this way:
“No language can adequately express this solemn truth, that the Holy Spirit rejoices and is glad on our account when we are obedient to Him in all things, and neither think nor speak anything, but what is pure and holy; and, on the other hand, is grieved when we admit anything into our minds that is unworthy of our calling.”
When we live a life submitted to God and completely obedient to Him, we can experience God’s gracious gift of the Holy Spirit to the fullest.
One More Gift
After Jesus’ resurrection, just before leaving this earth, He had one more gift for us…
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again.” John 14:27-28a
This uncertain, troublesome life is not the end of the story. Jesus will be coming back once again to take us Home to be with Him for eternity. But while we patiently wait for that day as we live in this upside down, inside out world, we can experience perfect peace of mind and heart. We have been given the perfect Helper, the Holy Spirit, to remind us of that.
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Ask God to keep you sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice so you will live a life that is honoring and glorifying God.
Sparkler #2: Action
Submit your life to God as you have been set apart and sealed for His special purposes so you can experience God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to the fullest.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Stay equipped for living righteously by spending time in God’s Word each day, relying on the Holy Spirit for comprehension, knowledge, and understanding so you can apply what you learn and then obey Him.
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