The Anointing, Seal, Earnest and Quickening of the Spirit

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
In 2 Corinthians 1:2122, the Spirit of God is brought before us under three striking figures. “Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” The Apostle is setting forth the settled place of blessing into which God has introduced every believer in Jesus. We are no longer in Adam, exposed to death and condemnation, but in Christ, and in Him we find every purposed blessing made everlastingly good. But so abounding is the grace of our God that over and above all this, He has given us the Holy Spirit as the anointing, the seal and the earnest. He dwells within us.
The Anointing
The Lord Jesus received the Spirit in this way when walking as a man on earth, as we read, “Thy holy child [servant] Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed.” “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 4:27; 10:3827For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, (Acts 4:27)
38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
). This was an expression of divine delight and complacency in Him personally. The Father saw in Him perfect dependence and faultless obedience; the Spirit was sent upon Him in token of His full approval and complete satisfaction. He was the true meal offering, “anointed with oil” (Lev. 2:44And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. (Leviticus 2:4)). Believers are anointed with the Holy Spirit on an entirely different principle. It is not because of what God sees in us, but because of what His eye sees and what His heart has found in the risen and exalted Christ.
One grand result of the anointing is that we have fellowship with the mind of God. The Holy Spirit introduces us into the circle of the thoughts of God, as revealed in His Word. It is not enough that we should be born again: The Spirit must be possessed before any advance can be made in the things of God. Hence when the beloved Apostle warned the babes against the many antichrists that were even then abroad in the world, he refers them to two things as safeguards. (1) Apostolic teaching: “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning” (1 John 2:2424But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, (John 2:24)). (2) The anointing: “The unction which ye have received of Him abideth in you” (1 John 2:27). Souls who avail themselves thus and abide in the circle of the Spirit’s instruction are preserved from all the many efforts of the enemy. Our hearts are then in the enjoyment of what the Spirit imparts and thus are in a position to reject the devil’s counterfeit. There may not be ability to expose the error that is presented, but it is known to be not the truth, and that is sufficient for the simple soul.
The Seal
“Now He which stablisheth us  .  .  .  who hath also sealed us.” The Lord Jesus could say of Himself, “Him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:2727Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27)). The same is true of all who believe, through His death and resurrection. Sealing follows faith. This is quite plain in Ephesians 1:1313In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13). “In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” It was the seal of faith. It is faith in Christ’s work which is sealed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Believers are thus marked out as belonging to God. Our connection with the world has been broken; the fetters which once Satan bound upon us have been severed, and we are now the possession of our God. Do all our hearts respond to this? Are we yielded up, body and soul and spirit, to Him for His service and glory? Let each one of us own more thoroughly His gracious claims and surrender ourselves entirely to Him.
What immense comfort that this Divine Seal will never be removed from any, even the feeblest believer. Many fear that the Holy Spirit will really be withdrawn, because of their faulty ways and walk. Not so. God gave me His Holy Spirit well knowing what I should turn out to be, and He gave Him, not because of what He saw in me, but because of what He saw in Christ. This will never change. But a careful holy walk is, nevertheless, due from us. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:3030And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)).
The Earnest
“The earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” This is in view of the future inheritance. God intends to give everything in heaven and in earth to His beloved Son. The usurper may hold at present part of His dominions, but divine power will shortly wrest them from him and give them over to the Lord Jesus. He will share this universal inheritance with us, such is the purpose of His heart. But it cannot be given to us yet. There are purposes yet to be accomplished and enemies to be put down. The Spirit of God dwells therefore within us as the earnest (or pledge) of all that is to come. He is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession (Eph. 1:1414Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14); 2 Cor. 5:5).
The quickening work of the Holy Spirit in the soul in producing new life towards God, where once sin and death reigned, is unfolded very simply in John 3. Nicodemus came to the Lord by night. He had been outwardly convinced by the miracles which the Lord was performing, as were many others in Jerusalem at that time (John 2:2323Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. (John 2:23)). He opened by saying, “Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.” The Lord met him instantly with the solemn statement, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
How deeply humbling! We learn here the solemn fact that man in his natural condition cannot perceive or understand the things of God. Privileges or advantages make no real difference. Nicodemus had many. He was a Jew of high position as a teacher among his fellows, acquainted with the letter of scripture, and, we have no reason to doubt, moral and religious. What fairer specimen of humanity can be supposed!
All must learn sooner or later that man’s nature is altogether antagonistic to God — altogether bad and corrupt before Him. It is not only that men have done bad things, but the very nature is bad beyond repair. Few accept this. If they did but bow to it, they would be thankful to be objects of God’s sovereign grace and love. A man must be born again, or he can never see or enter the kingdom of God.
Born of Water and Born of the Spirit
But how is this brought about! Nicodemus could not tell, nor can many in this day, but the Lord Jesus explains. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.” Here we have it in a few words. It is the direct work of the Spirit of God, acting by means of the Word of God upon the soul.
The water is a symbol of the Word of God, which the Jewish teacher should have understood from such Old Testament passages as Ezekiel 36:2525Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. (Ezekiel 36:25) and Psalm 119:99BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9). Christians have the thought confirmed in Ephesians 5:2626That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (Ephesians 5:26) and John 15:33Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (John 15:3). The Spirit of God brings the Word to bear upon the soul, convincing it of sin and revealing the Saviour dead and risen. To this the soul believingly bows, and thus a positive new life and nature is imparted. As we read in 1 Peter 1, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.”
This is not peculiar to Christianity. Ever since sin came into the world, men have been thus graciously wrought upon by the Holy Spirit. What is peculiar to this period is the Spirit’s indwelling, but His quickening operation in the soul is true at all times, irrespective of dispensational differences. But the life was not made known in its full and heavenly character until the only begotten Son came forth from the Father into the world.
Adapted from W. W. Fereday