Summary: Standing Firm, Anointing, Ownership, The Holy Spirit
The Comfort Zone…Where We Are Really Uncomfortable
A Seal of Ownership
2 Corinthians 1:21-24 (p. 803) October 9, 2016
For the Jews and all those who were under Roman rule “A Seal” would have a powerful meaning…both the Jews and the Romans had a history with seals…If a letter was sealed it was sealed with wax and then embedded with the King’s or Caesar’s crest…most of the time a ring was used to make the mark.
This seal was always used to guarantee security and to identify ownership…it usually looked something like this:
SHOW PICTURE OF SEALED LETTER
There would be no doubt about who the letter belonged to because the seal would clearly identify the owner.
Remember once again why the Apostle Paul is writing these words…it’s about his integrity…He is answering the criticisms of those who have accused him of not being trustworthy because he changed his plans about visiting him on his way back from Macedonia.
He even calls for God to be his witness in this trial over his trustworthiness… “I did not return to Corinth in order to spare you…I stake my life on this promise!”
But Paul does more than just to ask them to take him at his word…He gets “spiritual” in a big time way.
In this very uncomfortable place of being judged falsely by worldly wisdom…He simply says…“Judge me by the Holy Spirit’s seal on my life…because that’s how I’ll judge you.” We learn something really important here about what faith really looks and acts like when we’re really uncomfortable.
I. IT TAKES SOFT MATERIAL TO RECEIVE GOD’S SEAL
Paul could have said, “You bunch of ungrateful idjits (my dad’s word that combines idiot and jack). I’m an Apostle…I’ve encountered the risen Lord…I’ve studied more scripture than you’ll see in your lifetime…shut up and straighten up…Come on!
He could have said, “You all only heard about Jesus and the good news because of me, Timothy and Silas… I AM YOUR FATHAH (Darth Vader Voice).”
He had the right…but his humble heart chose a different approach.
“It is God who makes both us and you stand firm…not that we Lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your Joy.” (v. 21, 24)
You can’t seal hard wax…the Signet Ring is hard…strong…and makes a deep impression but only on wax that is soft and receptive. It will not leave its mark on stone…and the Holy Spirit will only leave the seal of God on a humble heart…receptive to His pressing…it will not seal a hard proud heart.
No wonder God’s Word warns us…“Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
The human heart reacts in one or two ways when God presses it toward repentance: softening and surrender…or rebellion and hardening…It’s why the writer to the Hebrews says:
HEBREWS 3:12-15 (p. 839)
Because you’ve heard the good news and received it at one time in your life doesn’t mean you won’t let your heart be hardened later. If you allow the Holy Spirit’s leading and pressing to stop guarding your heart…I promise you…God’s Word promises that the Evil One will help you form a callous around it.
No wonder Paul wrote to the oldest most prominent church in Ephesus and said,
EPHESIANS 5:8-16 (p. 816)
The alarm clock of the Holy Spirit is ringing in our lives, but many believers just keep hitting the snooze button!”
When Paul tells the Corinthians “We work with you for your joy” in verse 24…He’s focusing on what happens when we reject the Holy Spirit’s pressing…Satan is a joy stealer…and joy is one of the greatest characteristics of a soft moldable Spirit filled heart. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” When we’ve lost our joy, we’ve lost our strength.
Joy isn’t determined by outward circumstances, it’s determined by an inward presence…joy is present whether tears flood from your eyes or laughter from your mouth. It’s the Holy Spirit anointing…It’s his seal…it’s His guarantee.
It’s the proof that the seal isn’t a forgery.
II. THIS SEAL IS THE PROOF OF GOD’S OWNERSHIP
“He anointed us…Set His seal of ownership on us.”
Did you know it was illegal to destroy United States currency? I’m not sure why you’d want to…but it’s against the law…Do you know why?
According to Title 18, Chapter 17 of the U.S. Code, which sets out crimes related to coins and currency, anyone who “alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens” coins can face fines or prison time. The same goes for debasing - that is, decreasing the proportion of precious metals - in gold or silver coins struck or coined at an American mint.
Similarly, anyone who “mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued,” can be fined or imprisoned as well.