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Eternal Security?
Sealed by the Spirit
Copyright © Tim Warner - 03/2003

The doctrine of Eternal Security is sometimes supported using passages that speak of our being "sealed by the Spirit."

Eph 4:30
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Some believe that once a person is "sealed" he can never be lost. But they fail to understand "sealing" in its historical context. Today, "sealing" might give the impression of something that is permanent. But, in Paul's day, "sealing" was a legal term. When a document was sealed, it meant it was authentic. The official would roll up the legal document, place a peice of wax to hold the loose end, then press the insignia of his seal into the wax. This was similar to a notary stamp. As long as the document remained closed, and the seal intact, it was considered legally valid. This was to insure that the document was not altered. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes later church bishops adopting the use of the seal from the Roman government.

"At first they were only used for securing the document from impertinent curiosity and the seal was commonly attached to the ties with which it was fastened. When the letter was opened by the addressee the seal was necessarily broken. Later the seal served as an authentication and was attached to the face of the document. The deed was thus only held to be valid so long as the seal remained intact. It soon came to follow from this point of view that not only real persons like kings and bishops, but also every kind of body corporate, cathedral chapters, municipalities, monasteries, etc., also required a common seal to validate the acts which were executed in their name."
Suppose a person received a promise of an inheritance in a legal will, properly witnessed and sealed in a scroll by a representitive of the Roman government. When the time came for the recipient to redeem his inheritance, he would present the legal document to the official with the seal unbroken. The first thing the official would do is inspect the seal to make sure it had not been broken. If the seal had been broken, the official would know the document had been tampered with, and it would be considered void. The inheritance would be denied.

This is the analogy that Paul was using when he spoke of being "sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption." The "day of redemption" is the day we present our covenant with God, sealed by the Holy Spirit, to redeem our inheritance in the Kingdom of God. We must protect that covenant, and not tamper with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

Eph 1:13-14
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

The Holy Spirit has sealed us UNTIL the time of redemption comes, when we receive our inheritance. Was it possible for a Roman citizen to break the wax seal and tamper with the document? Sure it was. But this would certainly void the document. This is also true of one who breaks the seal of the Holy Spirit. That's why "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" is the only sin that cannot be forgiven. In passages that speak of falling away, we see that this sin against the Holy Spirit is definately involved with apostasy.

Heb 6:4-6
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.

Heb 10:29 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

This is why Paul warned us not to tamper with our seal.

Eph 4:30
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

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