Tagged by the Holy Spirit
February 9, 2020

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
Tagged by the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 1:13-14

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Tag is a game that just about everyone has played. It goes like this, the person who is “it,” runs around trying to tag someone who isn’t “it” in order to make them “it.” Everyone else, that is, everyone who isn’t “it,” tries to stay away from the one who is “it.”

And it’s interesting to see how a person changes once they’ve been tagged and are now “it.” Prior they were prey, running, and hiding, doing whatever it took to avoid being tagged.

But once they were tagged, it became evident to all. Everyone knows who is “it,” because their whole demeanor changes. Instead of being the prey, they become the predator. They now look and act differently. Instead of running away, they’re running after.

The same thing happens when someone becomes a Christian. Prior they ran away from God, hiding, and trying to avoid Him and the truth of His word. But once God tags them, their life changes, and everyone around them sees the change.

But how does the tag occur? Our text from the book of Ephesians reveals the process. First they heard the truth, that is, the good news of their salvation. They heard that Jesus Christ came to die upon the cross to be that perfect sacrifice for sin, and by the blood He shed upon the cross, their sins can be now be forgiven, and they can now become brand new creations.

Next, upon hearing the truth, they came to believe, that is, they trusted in the saving work of Jesus Christ for their lives. And by this act of faith, they received the Holy Spirit as the seal and guarantee from God.

We might say it this way, God tagged them with the Holy Spirit, and they began to transform, and the difference became evident to all. And so, being tagged with the Holy Spirit is the evidence of their salvation.

“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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NKJV)

And so, in our time together I’d like to unpack these two verses. And to do so, two questions need to be answered, and that is what we’ll be spending our time upon.
(1) What does it mean to be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise?
(2) How is the Holy Spirit our guarantee?

So, let’s take a look at our first question.

What is Meant by Being Sealed?

Actually there are three main functions and purposes of a seal, which reveals what happens when we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

1. To Authenticate as Genuine and True

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9 NKJV)

In ancient days, seals were used for a variety of purposes. A seal was a carved or engraved device that made a distinctive impression in clay or wax, or a signet ring. What you would have is a nobleman or Roman officer seal letters by pouring a dab of sealing wax on a letter then pressing his signet ring upon it indicating that he was the one who authorized it.

It would be similar to our signature at the bottom of a letter or on a document, authenticating that it was indeed from us. We could also liken it to a sales receipt where we sign the bottom line indicating that we have indeed purchased and picked up a particular product.

Being sealed with the Holy Spirit, therefore, is God’s way of authenticating the fact that we are now His. It’s His signature at the bottom of the receipt that He has indeed purchased us through the sacrifice Jesus made upon the cross.

This is what the Apostle Paul brings out in his first letter to the Corinthians church. He said, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV)

It’s the presence of the Holy Spirit in us activating His gifts and talents, producing within us the fruit of the Spirit, which are out-workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And their presence certifies and confirms to others that we are indeed Christians, that is, believers in Jesus Christ.

It isn’t about lip service, that is, saying the right words and phrases. Nor is it about religious activity and good works. Rather it’s about the witness of the Holy Spirit in our lives, transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. That is what authenticates our profession of faith.

Just because we say we are Christians doesn’t mean that we are. Only the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside authenticates, because God the Father, through Jesus Christ, has given the Holy Spirit to those who believe.

And so, being tagged by the Holy Spirit, having the Holy Spirit alive in our hearts, is then what authenticates that our conversion, that is, our decision for Jesus Christ, and that this is indeed genuine and true.

Now at this point, some begin to doubt their salvation. They wonder if they are a Christian wondering if the Holy Spirit is present. We’ll look at this in just a bit.

Now, the second thing that’s meant by being sealed is …

2. To Mark Someone’s Property

In ancient days, someone’s property was always marked or sealed in order to indicate who it belonged to. These marks were external and in plain sight. Today we might liken it to the way cattle are branded.

In the same way God has marked us with the Holy Spirit, but instead of being external, the seal of the Holy Spirit is internal. Yet even so, this internal marking should be just as evident as any external marking, and it’s evidenced by our lives changing.

In other words, the presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s mark that we are His.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16 NKJV)

Here Paul is saying that this is something we know this to be true. That is, the presence of the Holy Spirit is that witness that we are no longer strangers or children of this world; but rather we are God’s children, that is, we are His. Therefore, since we are His children, all that He has is ours, that is, it’s our inheritance.

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV)

Normally this text is referenced when we indicate that the Temple of God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit resides within everyone who believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. But Paul uses the language of it being a finished transaction saying, “You are not your own,” and “You were bought at a price.”

God’s placement of the Holy Spirit within us is His seal. It means that we are His, because He has purchased us through the price His Son, Jesus Christ, paid when He died upon the cross for our sins.

And finally, the third thing meant by being sealed is …

3. To Make Secure

We could also say to seal means not only to secure, but also to protect.

“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NKJV)

The Holy Spirit as that seal placed within us by God the Father is His guarantee of our ultimate salvation. This is what we read in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, our signature verse, in how we have been sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:17).

God the Father has given to us the Holy Spirit as His seal, sealing us, making us secure, protecting us until that day of our ultimate redemption when we’ll be with Him for all eternity. Now that’s a big “Amen,” “Hallelujah,” “Whaoo.”

What can we conclude from being sealed with the Holy Spirit? It authenticates our belief in Jesus Christ, that our faith is genuine and true, that we’re God’s very own possessions, and that we are secure under His protection until that day of our ultimate redemption when we will be with Him in heaven.

Now let’s take a look at our second question

How is the Holy Spirit a Guarantee?

The Greek word Paul uses is actually a Hebrew term that had been assimilated into the Greek language. It was used in commercial transactions signifying “A first installment, a deposit, or a pledge.”

It was that part of the purchase price paid in advance securing legal claim, and making the transaction valid. Today we call it an “earnest money deposit,” or a “down payment.” It secures the transaction with a promise that more would come.

So as that guarantee of our inheritance and that more will come, God gave the Holy Spirit as down payment, that first installment if you would, where this present life in the Spirit is God’s promise of something more, something greater when we will be glorified with Him in heaven.

Now, let’s take a look at Romans 8:23.

“Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23 NKJV)

The firstfruits were a part of the harvest. They were a guarantee of what was to come. Kind of like when our mothers let us lick the spoon after mixing the cake or cookie dough. It was a foretaste of what was to come.

That which we have experienced of the Holy Spirit, that which we have seen and heard of His power and blessing is only a foretaste, it is the tip of the tongue upon that spoon. It is a foretaste of what we can expect when we get to heaven.

• Remember what it felt like, the release we felt when we first experienced the forgiveness of our sins?
• Remember when we were worshipping and praising God and we felt lifted beyond ourselves, filled with wonder and awe of God.
• Remember how we followed the Spirit’s leading even though it made no sense, and the blessing that followed by that simple act of obedience?
• Remember that feeling as the fruit of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed us and we were filled and knew what it was like to respond, as Jesus would have responded?

Now multiply all of that a million times over, and that is what God has in store for those who believe?

And that is what I believe Paul was so desperately trying to convey.

“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV)

Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, even if it is just a foretaste, we can know the beauty, blessing, and wonder that awaits us in heaven.

There is also another use of this word, “guarantee.” It’s found in the Modern Greek language meaning an engagement ring. It brings with it the idea of assurance, that is, the promise of marriage would be kept.

Jesus is our bridegroom, and we, His church, are His bride. And He has given to us the Holy Spirit as that engagement ring, that promise that He will come again and take us unto Himself.

What greater assurance than this could we want or need?

As we’ve gone through this study, maybe some of us remember seeing and tasting the fruit of this heavenly gift, but not so much lately.
• Maybe we’re feeling a little dry and empty?
• Maybe we’re sensing that God’s presence isn’t moving in our lives as He once did?
• Or maybe we don’t understand what it’s like. Maybe it’s where we’ve never experienced, even in the slightest, the presence of the Holy Spirit? (We’ll get to this in a moment)

But for now, I’d like to address that first group of people who desire to experience once again the fullness of the Holy Spirit. But, there are certain things that we as individuals, and as a church, must avoid.

A. Quenching the Holy Spirit

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 NKJV)

To “quench” means to dampen, to fight against, and to discourage. The word was used of extinguishing lights or fires. If we were to literally translate this word in our passage it would read, “Do not put out the Holy Spirit’s fire.”

One way we quench the Holy Spirit is by not allowing Him to work within us and amongst us as He desires.

Some question whether the Holy Spirit is moving if they don’t see the gifts of tongues, prophesies, or other overt manifestations of the Holy Spirit. This sort of requirement quenches the Spirit, because people begin to force the Spirit and act out in the flesh, where literally the flesh is fighting against the Spirit.

And who says the Spirit isn’t moving? How about when He opens up the truth of God’s word within our hearts, or when we experience the wonder and majesty of God in worship. And then there is the greatest move of the Holy Spirit, and that is the conviction of sin, and those who are lost are saved.

And the other side of this equation is that we quench the Holy Spirit when we don’t allow Him to move in the power gifts. It’s where we exclude Him and prevent Him from moving in the miraculous.

Another way we quench the Holy Spirit is by not testing all things, as Paul tells us to. There are those who think that we must put our intellect on hold and stop thinking and examining. That we just let ourselves go and be carried away.

But that’s not Scriptural, and it has produced some bad fruit within the church. People just start doing whatever they want with absolutely no basis in Scripture for what they are doing, and what they are saying. Paul tells us to put all these things to the test, and that which is good, hold onto. But that which is bad, that is, that which doesn’t match with Scripture, reject.

We must be careful not to quench the Spirit by going beyond the teaching of the Scriptures, or ignoring what the Bible says, the teachings of the Scriptures, because it goes against our sensibilities.

The second thing we much avoid is …

B. Grieving the Holy Spirit

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30 NKJV)

To “grieve” means to cause sorrow or sadness, so how do we grieve the Holy Spirit?

• The most obvious way is to continue in our sins. It causes Him deep distress and sorrow.
• Another way we grieve the Holy Spirit is not to do what He clearly tells us in the Scripture.
• And then there’s where we become more interested in experiences than having a relationship.
Nothing is more insulting than being more interested in what you can get out of a person than in the person.And when all we want is to see and experience The Holy Spirit’s power and not His presence, this grieves the Holy Spirit.

And there are plenty of other ways.
• Like forgetting or ignoring Him.
• Neglecting His word.
• Gossip and causing discord within the church
• Doubting, not believing His purposes and desire for us.
• Our wanting control of our life, and not giving control over to God.
• But the most serious is not having Jesus Christ at the center of our lives.

Not being obedient to God’s word. Failing to forgive others as God has forgiven us, and promoting disunity, this all grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit.

However, many think that if they quench or grieve the Holy Spirit it removes God’s seal and guarantee. But that is not the case. Yes we lose the joy of our salvation, and the fullness of the Spirit’s blessing, but we don’t lose our salvation.


How then can we get back to the fullness?

It begins with repentance and stopping those things that quench and grieve the Holy Spirit. But it is also allowing the fullness of the Holy Spirit to overtake us through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then allowing ourselves to be continually filled.

We see this throughout the book of Acts, as the elders of the faith prayed and laid hands upon the people, and they were filled to overflowing and went out and made a difference, which is the Holy Spirit’s seal of approval evident for all to see.

And so if you want to experience that foretaste of heaven, secure in the knowledge that you are sealed by God for that day of redemption, then admit you haven’t put God first, believe that Jesus paid the full penalty for your sins, and accept God’s free gift of salvation by accepting Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

And if you’ve done that, and still feel like your not “it,” that is, if God hasn’t tagged you, understand that He has tagged you, tagged you with the Holy Spirit when you came to faith in Jesus Christ. But maybe you need that extra power promised by God through the Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit. Then right now, invite the Holy Spirit to come in and fill you to overflowing.

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