Last Sunday morning I shared this thought: we must not discourage God's influence in our lives. Along with several Bible statements, I called this one to your attention:

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

Consider this part of the statement: "... by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." The "sealed" Paul used illustrated the fact that Christians at Ephesus must not "grieve the Holy Spirit" whom God allows to live in His people. It referred to a well known practice in that day. Persons of position or importance possessed signet rings. These rings made imprints. An imprint declared something was a person's or from him.

For example, when such a person wanted to send a private letter to someone, he "sealed" the letter. Sealing wax was softened by heat, closed the message, and was imprinted [while soft] with his insignia. When the wax hardened, a broken "seal" was obvious.

What was the insignia's purpose? It said several things. (1) "This is from me." (2) "I intend this message for you personally." (3) "This message belongs to me. It is my property given to you." It protected a private, personal message.

Consider the contrast. A message not sealed belonged to anyone who wished to read it. They did not have our modern forms of mail service. Often a message passed from person to person before final delivery. If unsealed, everyone handling it could have it read. Ownership of the message was questionable. (A great way to start false rumors!)

I think Paul made this point to those Christians: "You are God's property, and God verifies that fact. His seal is the Holy Spirit's presence in your lives." What did God's seal verify? (1) It verified they were God's because they were in Christ. (2) It verified that their relationship with God was individual and personal. (3) It verified that their lives, their existence were God's property. They BELONGED to God!

What was their responsibility? They must understand they belonged to God. God's ownership was to be obvious in them internally -- in heart, in emotions, in dedication. God's ownership was to be obvious in them externally -- in words spoken, in behavior, in habits. No one associating with them should fail to be aware that they belonged to God!

This statement includes an extremely important encouragement. God was at work in their lives. His influence actively worked in them to move them closer and closer to God. God's influence within them must not be discouraged. They must not want to discourage His influence. Why? This influence meant THEY WERE NOT ALONE!

The person in Christ is not on his or her own! WE ARE NOT ALONE!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 15 September 2002

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