The Seal and the Earnest of the Spirit

Ephesians 1:13‑14  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The Holy Spirit has not only sealed us, but is the earnest of our inheritance. He is the source of our strength, and of our communion. This chapter shows us, first, what we possess already as redeemed; secondly, the hope of the glory; thirdly, the Holy Spirit given us here below in the absence of Christ as the pledge of our inheritance whilst waiting for the redemption of all things. The Holy Spirit is given to those who already believed. From the time of the apostle this was by the extraordinary gifts or signs. The fact of the presence of the Comforter is today too much misunderstood and forgotten. In fact we do not see the children of God relying on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to direct them. It is not the subject of our habitual thoughts. It is thus that in fact we do not consider Satan as governing the world and being its prince. If Satan governs the world, the Holy Spirit was to guide the church. The word never speaks of the influence of the Spirit, as a person, as God. He acts.
The Spirit communicates to us life. This however is distinct from the presence of the Spirit who ought to guide us, and the church too. No more are the gifts (χαρόσματα) His presence. There may be in fact those who had the power of working miracles whom Jesus will deny that He knew. The Holy Spirit should act in us and be the link between Jesus and us. The Lord said that when He went away He would send an Advocate or Comforter who should abide forever with His own. Jesus having accomplished all is seated on the right hand of God. The Spirit was to be sent not to the world, but to the disciples only. He is the immediate agent of God in our hearts, as in the creation of God. (Gen. 1:22And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)) He produces life in us. (John 3:55Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)) We receive the Spirit for communion and worship. (John 4) But it is not only a fountain of living water springing up; it is also as rivers flowing out of us. (John 7) The gifts must be distinguished from the Spirit in person, even His presence. Balsam prophesied of old (as there might be a like gift now); nevertheless he was a wicked man. Judas wrought miracles without being converted. Saul prophesied; yet he fell under the judgment of God. Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit is God, He acts as God in His sovereignty, without regard to the state of the heart. In the church He distributes the gift as He will, but this is not the Spirit as Comforter or Advocate. The life which the Spirit has communicated to us is the principle of all good; but the Holy Spirit acts on this life to make it grow and produce all its effects. It is thus that He becomes the pledge of all that belongs to us.
All that the child of God does ought to proceed from the Spirit. It is by the efficacy of the Holy Spirit that we are begotten of God. He convinces us of sin and troubles us for a moment by the sight of our evil and weakness. One is still a little child which then begins to catch a glimpse of the difficulties of the career. We arrive thus at the sense of an entire powerlessness which has for object to bring us into the sense of a direct responsibility to God that flows from grace and is not under law. One can listen to the gospel with grace without entering into the sense of this responsibility. One can enjoy the effects of the gospel without enjoying communion with God which puts us in responsibility as regards Him. When the Spirit acts in producing life, He gives rise to the sense of this responsibility; afterward He sets us free and produces joy. (Gal. 4:6.) At the beginning of the work in our souls the Spirit communicates life; but when one is a child, one receives the Holy Spirit as a spirit of adoption and cries, Abba Father. (2 Cor. 1:20-2220For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 21Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:20‑22).) John 7:3737In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (John 7:37) shows the Spirit is given to the believer. In believing they have life eternal; the Holy Spirit becomes the power of this life. First, the believers are saved; the righteousness of God is applied to them; secondly, their position before God is not to be servants, but to be sons of God. (Gal. 4) We are the sons of His house. The Holy Spirit is the seal of our salvation, and spring of emancipation. (Rom. 8:1515For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:15).) This gift is the consequence of the accomplishment of the salvation; He could not be given before the accomplishment of this salvation, before that Jesus was glorified. he was formerly the Spirit of prophecy; whilst He is now necessarily for believers the seal of what is accomplished, the seal of their salvation. In our hearts He bears witness to the thoughts of God. He cannot be in us a spirit of fear. He does not put us under law. He reveals to us the thoughts of God; and these thoughts are that God considers us not as servants, but as sons. The word we, us, is found since Pentecost in speaking of the church. Christ loveth us; He washed us; He made us kings and priests. God raised us up together with Him. It is no more a Spirit of prophecy who makes him that speaks a stranger to the events predicted. He is a Spirit of accomplishment, of communion, the source of my adoption, of my salvation, of my glory. It is not humility that says, I do not know if I have the Holy Spirit. The testimony of the Spirit cannot be doubtful; it is the knowledge alone of Christ that sets us free: the Holy Spirit is the pledge of all that.
One may be joyful without being converted. But the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of liberty, of joy, of power. The fruits manifest themselves and make us see if this joy is true or false. There is always in the heart of him who is converted, spite of his joy, a conscience quickened by the introduction into the presence of God. The joy of Christ was to do the will of God. If we do it not, we are sorrowful. Privileges always make us more responsible before God; our conscience is so much the more jealous as it is nearer God. The child of God hates sin and not the consequences of sin. He does not hate it to escape hell, but in love to his Father. The child of God is grateful for his pardon, and rejoiced to do the will of his Father. He who would rejoice at being pardoned and would not fear to sin, who would not hate sin if with sin he were permitted to enter heaven, that man could not be a child of God. The joy of him who is not converted is not a joy in the presence and the communion of God Himself; it is excited by the presence of the children of God or by a good preaching: A delicate conscience, joyful in the presence of God, more joyful than out of that presence, cannot be found, save with a true child of God. He feels himself ill at ease in the world, he can find himself altogether free in the presence of God. The effect of a false joy is to harden the conscience. Such is that which distinguishes the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the child of God who is delivered.
Another characteristic of the Holy Spirit is the knowledge and intelligence of the things of God. The unction of the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of understanding which makes all things known. (1 John 2) it is the anointing from the Holy One, it is not said from the wise one. If we are guilty of sin and grieve the Spirit, we cannot have this knowledge in large measure. It is in full power with God that we understand and know the thoughts of God. In a friend we know intimately his thoughts. If one is habituated to see in Christ the counsels, the thoughts, the promises of God, one comprehends His mind. This does not reveal itself to him who does not live in fellowship with God. These things are hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed to the babes. When we feel ourselves little, we feel the power of the riches of God. Sin obscures to us the word of God, but the unction from the Holy One makes us know all. The Holy Spirit in revealing to us the accomplishment of salvation is the seal of our adoption. He is a Spirit of joy, of deliverance, and of liberty.
He is a Spirit of power. (2 Tim. 1.) The new man is not power. The Holy Spirit strengthens those who have life. He communicates to us the things of Christ with the sense that they are ours—what distinguishes it from the Spirit of prophecy. If I pass through this defiled world, the heart turned toward God, the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of power, because He pre-occupies us with Christ, with heaven, with God, and He makes us enjoy Christ's things as ours. He gives us in full power with God the assurance that God is for us. The eye is single, the body full of light; we are on God's side in the world. If all that is true, the church of God bears testimony by its state that it has grieved, and that we have grieved, the Spirit of God. It is feeble, deprived of knowledge, certainty, and power. It is not distinguished in the world's eyes by the effects of full power with God. It is a humiliating state. Let us content ourselves with little things; retrace the way; humble ourselves before God, pray for one another, and intercede for the church.