A few years ago, my sons and I purchased a TR6 automobile. In 1972, it came into the world as a fine new roadster.
Over the years, its previous owner had abused it, reducing it to a dented, rotting, unloved hulk. The accompanying photo shows its condition when we bought it.
When we became the new owners, the old owner lost all rights to the car.
We took that metal carcass apart, then rebuilt it piece-by-piece. We cut out the rust, knocked out the dents, repainted the body, rebuilt the engine and the drivetrain, installed new upholstery, new tires, and lots of other parts. Don’t ask how many hours and how much expense we spent on the transformation. It was worth it.
Now it is the car it was originally designed to be.
Gradually, as I grew in my experience of Christ and my knowledge of the Bible, I became more aware of what happened—and was happening—in my life. Yes, my sins had been forgiven, yet there was far more.
God had become the new owner, and he was making me more and more like Jesus Christ.
And so it is with every person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. God is making us the person we were originally designed to be.
Take a moment to read these three texts (and their contexts):
In the context of 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, we learn the Jesus is God’s “yes” toward each of us. Then in verses 21-22 we read:
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership [sphragizō] on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing [arrabōn] what is to come.
Let me summarize the two highlighted words, which were introduced in a previous post.
Sphragizō is the affixing of a seal. This “sealing” is backed by the full power and authority of the official affixing the seal, signifying the security and permanence of the decree or contract. In this case, God Himself declares “ownership” of an individual who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jeremiah 32:9-12 illustrates the use of a seal in the change of ownership of a piece of land.
When you receive Jesus Christ, God takes ownership of you by putting his Spirit in your heart.
Connected with God’s sealing is His arrabōn. This Greek word, arrabōn, is rendered in English as a guarantee, pledge, deposit, or down payment. It is the guarantee of the future completion of the transaction.
Paul’s introductory eulogy to Ephesians (1:3-14) is structured around the Triune God. The similar phrases, “to the praise of his glory” (1:6, 12, 14), mark the transitions from Father to Son to Spirit.
Here’s what we hear in 1:13-14:
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal [sphragizō], the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing [arrabōn] our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
God’s ownership is neither conditional nor temporary. He maintains ownership “until the redemption”—that is when the Lord returns and claims us as his own.
At Ephesians 4:25-5:2, we read Paul’s exhortations about the old life and the new life. Here is what he writes in 4:30:
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed [sphragizō] for the day of redemption.
Again, we have the combination of ownership and guarantee. Gordon Fee puts it well when he writes,
“the Spirit is the sign of ownership and authentication and the empowering presence of God for living to the glory of God until we finally arrive at the promised glory which is our own inheritance (Rom 8:17).”
Please take a few moments to reflect upon the texts we have been exploring. What are you learning? How are you being encouraged? How are you being challenged?
Here are five issues that come to mind:
1. New ownership: The Holy Spirit is God’s seal attesting/confirming/proving that the person who has received Jesus Christ is under new ownership—God’s ownership (1 Timothy 1:12-17).
Do you belong to Him? If so, be thankful.
2. Old ownership: the previous owner no longer has any rights over you unless you allow it. The conflict between new and old owners is described in terms of the “Spirit” and the “flesh” in such biblical texts as Romans 5-8.
Do you belong to Him? If so, submit to the Spirit, not the flesh.
3. New motive: God’s seal is motivation for us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Paul sets out examples of grieving the Spirit in Ephesians 4:25-29, including such actions and attitudes as anger, unwholesome speech, and laziness.
Do you belong to Him? If so, live your life in a way that pleases rather than grieves Him.
4. New change: God’s new ownership sets in motion that process in which the follower of Jesus is transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus (e.g., 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Do you belong to Him? If so, cooperate with the Spirit in His transforming work.
5. New hope: God’s seal is His guarantee that the believer in Christ Jesus is kept until the “day of redemption”—that future day when the Lord Jesus returns for His people.
Do you belong to Him? If so, be assured that God is keeping you.
If you are not sure whether you belong to God, take time to read the “4 Spiritual Laws” prayerfully.
If you have any questions or anything to add, click here and let me know.
Photo credit: John B. MacDonald
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