Undoubtedly this is a reference to the ancient practice of sealing letters or other objects with sealing wax and impressing the wax with a seal worn on a ring and bearing an identifying image. The use of the seal always involved two specific ideas:.
The first was ownership: It marked to whom the letter belonged. It was possessed by the individual who owned the seal. This is what Paul is saying here. When God sent the Holy Spirit into your life, it was the mark that you belong to him. The presence of the Spirit is your witness that you belong to him. And furthermore, the joy and the peace and the love which he gives to you are a witness to others. As that joy and love and peace begin to flow out through you and overspill into the lives of others and begin to shine forth in love when you don't feel like loving, in joy when your circumstances are unhappy, in peace when everything around you is troubled, it is a witness, an unmistakable mark to the world around, that you belong to God.
There is something about you that is different. You have the mark of his ownership upon you. The second idea involved in the use of the seal was that of preservation. You remember that the tomb of Jesus was sealed with the seal of the Roman Emperor. That seal was intended to keep the tomb inviolate. No one dared break the seal of the emperor upon pain of death. Thus it was to preserve the tomb intact, without intrusion or destruction.
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This is the idea of the Spirit's presence in our life. It means that God is going to keep us, that, as Paul puts it here, he guarantees our inheritance, that something more is to come and it is the Spirit himself who is the guarantee. In Greek, the word for "guarantee" is arrhabon and it means "a down payment. You sign a paper and pay a down payment and that is the arrhabon , the guarantee that there is more to come.
The presence of the Spirit in your life -- the joy and the peace that he gives -- is the guarantee that there is more yet to come, much more, much better, in fuller quantity, in greater quality even, than what you have experienced so far. Just as the satisfied smile on your banker's face when you pay the down payment and sign the paper means that he knows there is more to come, so the presence of the Spirit in your life is an indication that there is far more yet to come -- great and glorious as this is, it is not the end. But here we need slightly to correct the translation in the Revised Standard Version.
It isn't really " When you walked around it, you made it yours. That was the sign to everybody else that you had paid the down payment and that this was now your piece of property. That is what Paul says that God has done with us. It is not we who are acquiring possession; it is God. It is he who has walked around us, has marked us out ,and given us the down payment, the earnest, the arrhabon , that he is going to come again and claim his purchased possession.
That possession is our body. So Paul is referring here to the resurrection of the body, and in that day, he says, God completes the transaction. He comes to claim the whole thing, all for himself. What he has begun, he will accomplish. And the guarantee is the presence of the Spirit in your life and mine. It is interesting that, in modern Greek, this term arrhabon is used for an engagement ring.
When a boy gives a girl an engagement ring, he is giving her a guarantee that one day she is going to be his bride. Last night many of us attended the wedding of Jack and Jody Crabtree. What a beautiful ceremony it was!
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There was a time when Jack gave Jody an engagement ring, an arrhabon , and this was the sign to her that, though he was going to be gone this past summer, she could depend upon the fact that he was coming back in the fall to claim her as his bride. And last night it happened -- we were here and saw it. It was a most interesting service because many of the vows, which normally are couched in a sort of "King James" English, were brought up to contemporary language.
So if you were here you remember that Jack promised Jody two things.
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He said, first, "I will not split," and second, "I will not cop out on my responsibilities. I was interested by that because that is exactly what the coming of the Holy Spirit means in our life. He is saying to us, by his presence in us, "Don't worry, I will never split. But if you want it in contemporary terms this is exactly what the Holy Spirit is saying: "I will never split, and furthermore, I will never cop out on my responsibilities to you. I will complete what I have begun.
I will finish what I have started. All this is in fulfillment of a promise once made to Abraham. Paul calls this the "promised" Holy Spirit. And 4, years ago, 2, years before Paul's day, God had said to Abraham, "I will bless you, and make you a blessing, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed through you," Genesis That was the promise that God made. It meant that those who exercised the faith of Abraham would receive the Holy Spirit. That is the way you receive the Holy Spirit -- by faith.
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If you want to see that, just turn to the previous book, Galatians. Thus Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith[not just the Jews, all the nations of earth], preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In thee shall all the nations be blessed. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, "Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree" -- that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles,[what blessing?
Galatians RSV. Now that is how you receive the Holy Spirit. It isn't by pleading. It isn't by waiting upon God and expecting a second experience after salvation. It is impossible to have salvation apart from the indwelling Spirit. And that Spirit is received by faith in the Lord Jesus. The minute you believe in him, the minute you commit yourself to him in response to his invitation and he enters your life, in that very moment you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit himself is God's seal. He marks you out, he identifies you as his, he guarantees you that he will perform every word that he has promised -- until you stand in his presence absolutely overwhelmed by all that God has done for you, so completely caught up by the marvelous fulfillment of every word of God's promise that you are almost speechless -- but not quite, because you notice how this passage ends: " This is the third time that Paul has used this phrase in the passage.
Each of the members of the Godhead -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit -- accomplishes his work so perfectly that it always ends up " And it begins now, as the Spirit does his work within us, to the praise of his glory, so that we can't help but sing and glorify God for all that he has done. This is what the apostle wants us to learn. This is where you get your identity. As a Christian you ought to remind yourself every morning that this is true of you.
This is where you can find yourself. This is where you gain a sense of acceptance of yourself, and it is where you gain the power and the resources to cope with the problems that come to you through the day.
The Word of God: The Sword of the Holy Spirit
This is why the apostle sets these facts out so plainly. It is because they are of practical help in handling the difficulties, the pressures, the problems, the stresses, the uncertainties, and the disappointments that life throws at you. Do you ever wake in the morning and say to yourself, "I am a child of God. I have been forgiven of my sins. I am accepted in God's family. He has marked me out as his own. He has put his Spirit within me, releasing to me the full life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every power that Jesus himself had to perform his life upon earth, I have in him.
Therefore I am equipped to handle whatever comes today. I can take whatever life throws at me because I have him and all the fullness of his life. There is no other ground. That is what enables you to handle whatever may come in your life. Let us praise his glory. Our Heavenly Father, how much we thank you for this revelation of truth. This is the way life really is. This is the way you see things, and what you see is reality. And Lord, we pray that we may see it not just at this moment but repeatedly, again and again, and that we may not look at ourselves as we so frequently do -- as being worthless, useless, and compelled to do evil.
You have freed us, Lord Jesus. These practices, such as prayer and meditation, bring us into contact with the Spirit and facilitate our communion with God. Through prayer and meditation, we experience the truth we read in the Word firsthand. These practices will correspond to the Word from the previous section. When the Spirit and the Word work together, they draw us into the Living Word and allow us to commune with and worship the Father. As you pray during the week, be guided by what you read in the Word and how the Spirit speaks presently to you. May your prayers be an personal expression of the living Word abiding within you.
Meditate on the Word and allow it to move through your soul, listening as the Spirit whispers words of grace and love into your mind. Take time to write reflections in a journal, reminding you how the Word has taken root within you in the past and how the Spirit might move you into a new experience of God in the days to come. May you give witness to how the presence and activity of Living Word has written your personal story.
And finally, throughout your week, as you find yourself in moments of challenge, need, or reflection, breathe in the truth of the Word and the presence of the Spirit, and breathe out the simple phrase of trusting petition found in the breath prayer. May the Living Word connect you at all times with the mercy and compassion of God. These Word and Spirit guides are designed as weekly guides and not daily guides. They can be used daily, of course. However, the theme lasts for the whole week. Too often we use daily devotional guides that change themes daily. We rush through the Scripture, through the practice, through the theme, and end up consuming our devotional life instead of intentionally practicing communion with God.
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The weekly guide gives us the latitude to sit with one passage and theme for a whole week, so that the Word and Spirit might work through our whole selves, like the yeast from the gospel parable of Jesus. In this way, we are more thoroughly transformed than when we rush into and out of scattered daily devotions. This also allows us to space out what can be very meaningful spiritual practices. For instance, Tuesday might be your day for meditation; Wednesday might be your day for reflecting on the image included with the Word; Thursday might be your day for extended prayer centered on the Scripture; and so on.
This also prepares us to come to Sunday morning worship with a deeper yearning for and understanding of the Scripture. Thus, we learn to abide in God through the Word and Spirit, rather than simply utilizing Scripture and spiritual practices to check off another day of devotion. However, we are encouraged to continue with daily Scripture reading above and beyond the Word and Spirit Guide, and so a daily schedule of Scripture readings is included in the Word section of each guide. Each new weekly Word and Spirit Guide will be uploaded on Tuesday and will cover Tuesday through the following Monday.
Monday is considered a sabbath day for the purpose of the Word and Spirit Guides, a day to rest from worship preparation after coming together on Sunday morning. Of course, though, even in our times of sabbath God is willing and desiring to commune with us in grace and joy. Thus, there will still be a Monday Scripture reading and we are always encouraged to continue praying on Monday. New International Version The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.
The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life. New Living Translation The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. English Standard Version It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. Berean Study Bible The Spirit gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
Berean Literal Bible It is the Spirit giving life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life. New American Standard Bible "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. King James Bible It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. Christian Standard Bible The Spirit is the one who gives life.
The Word of God: The Sword of the Holy Spirit
The flesh doesn't help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. Contemporary English Version The Spirit is the one who gives life! Human strength can do nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are from that life-giving Spirit. The words I have spoken to you bring God's life-giving Spirit.
Related Words From the Spirit for the Spirit
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