by J. D. Watson
Concluding our examination of the Sealing of the Holy Spirit (which occurs when we receive Christ as Savior and Lord) in Ephesians 1:13-14, we now look at the remaining three pictures that ancient and modern customs of Sealing paint.
Second, sealing pictures absolute ownership. The ancients would put their seal on animals and even slaves to prove ownership. In fact, the branding of animals is thought to have begun as early as 2000 BC. Of course, branding cattle and horses is still done today. A brand is registered with the particular state in which the owner lives and that brand shows legal ownership. The same concept is embodied in copyrights. The words, "All rights reserved" mean that only the copyright holder is entitled to the benefits of the sale of the published material.
There is a precise spiritual parallel. The indwelling Holy Spirit shows that we belong to Christ. "All rights are reserved" to Him; only He is entitled to the benefits of ownership. As 2 Timothy 2:19 declares, "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." We do not belong to ourselves. Man today wants to "pull his own strings," "be his own boss," and "do his own thing." But the believer belongs to the Lord, for He purchased us with His own blood.
Third, sealing pictures authenticity. A seal attests to the authenticity of a signature as a signature proves the genuineness of a letter.
Graphology, the scientific study of handwriting, is a fascinating subject. While some argue about whether handwriting reveals personality traits, "forensic graphology," the technical study of handwriting, is considered to be reliable. It is often used, in fact, in judicial proceedings to determine the authenticity of a signature or document. Though someone might be able to copy your signature accurately, it's highly improbable that they can copy the lines exactly or press on the paper with the same amount of pressure you do.
The spiritual parallel is obvious. The indwelling Holy Spirit proves that the believer is genuine. Think of it! The Spirit's presence within us proves we are true Christians. Romans 8:9 is so very clear: "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." The words "Spirit of Christ" refer without question to the Holy Spirit whom Christ sent (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7). This is the Holy Spirit of promise spoken of in our text. How many professing Christians today are merely "close copies" instead of the "genuine article?" If they are genuine, people will be able to see the seal. They will be able to see the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22-23).
Fourth, sealing pictures assurance. By "assurance" we mean that sealing pictures security. Matthew 27:62-66 tells us of the Roman seal that was placed on Jesus' tomb. No one in that day would have dared to break that seal, as that would have resulted in certain death. So that seal protected the contents; it made the contents secure by order of Rome. The same was true of the seals of King Darius and his nobles which they put on the stone placed over the entrance to lions' den after Daniel was thrown in (Dan. 6:17).
Today there are "registered letters." The addressee and the sender of the letter are recorded in a book. On the back of the letter is a "return receipt" which is removed, signed by the addressee, and returned to the sender. The letter is also hand delivered and signed for by the addressee. All this protects and secures the contents of the letter.
The spiritual application is clear; we are sealed eternally in Christ by the Holy Spirit. One of the most important aspects of sealing is this one concerning assurance. All three New Testament references to sealing are aorist tense, that once-for-all past tense. As Ephesians 4:30 indicates, we are "sealed [once for all] unto the day of redemption."