2 Corinthians 1:22
Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
The three metaphors in this and ver. 21 — "anointing," "sealing," and "giving the earnest" —
1. All refer to the same subject — the Divine Spirit.
2. All refer to one and the same act. They are three aspects of one thing, just as a sunbeam might be regarded either as the source of warmth, or of light, or of chemical action.
3. All declare a universal prerogative of Christians. Every man that loves Christ has the Spirit in the measure of his faith. Note: —
I. THE "SEAL" OF THE SPIRIT. A seal is impressed upon a recipient material, made soft by warmth, in order to leave there a copy of itself.
1. The effect of the Divine indwelling is to mould the recipient into the image of the Divine inhabitant. There is in the human spirit a capacity of receiving the image of God. His Spirit, entering into a heart, will there make that heart wise with its own wisdom, strong with its own strength, gentle with its own gentleness, holy with some purity of its own.
2. There are, however, characteristics which are not so much copies as correspondences — i.e., just as what is convex in the seal is concave in the impression, and vice versa, so, when that Spirit comes into our spirits, its promises will excite faith, its gifts will breed desire; yearning love will correspond to the love that longs to dispense, emptiness to abundance, prayers to promises; the cry, "Abba! Father!" to the word, "Thou art My Son,"
3. Then, mark, the material is made capable of receiving the stamp, because it is warmed and softened — i.e., my faith must prepare my heart for the sanctifying indwelling of that Divine Spirit. God does not do with man as the coiner does with his blanks — put them cold into a press, and by violence from without stamp an image upon them; but He does as men do with a seal — warms the wax first, and then, with a gentle, firm touch, leaves the likeness there.
4. This aggregate of Christian character is the true sign that we belong to God, as the seal is the mark of ownership. I believe that Christian people ought to have a consciousness that they are God's children, for their own peace and rest and joy. But you cannot use that in demonstration to other people. The two things must go together. Be very sure that your happy consciousness that you are Christ's is verified to yourself and to others by a plain outward life of righteousness like the Lord's. Have you got that seal stamped upon your lives like the hall-mark that says, "This is genuine silver, and no plated Brummagem stuff"? And is it woven into the whole length of your being like the scarlet thread that is spun into every Admiralty cable as a sign that it is Crown property?
5. This sealing, which is thus the token of God's ownership, is also the pledge of security. A seal is stamped in order that there may be no tampering with what it seals — that it may be kept safe from thieves and violence. And our true guarantee that we shall come at last to heaven is present likeness to the indwelling Spirit. The seal is the pledge of security just because it is the mark of ownership. When, by God's Spirit dwelling in us, we are led to love the things that be fair, and to long after more, that is like God's hoisting His flag upon a newly-annexed territory. And is He going to be so careless in the preservation of His property as that He will allow it to slip away from Him? But no man has a right to rest on the assurance of God's saving him into the heavenly kingdom unless He is saving him at this moment from the devil and his own evil heart.
II. THE EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT.
1. It is the guarantee of the inheritance.
(1) The experiences of the Christian life here are plainly immortal. The resurrection of Christ is the external proof; the facts of the Christian life are the inward proofs of a future life. Howsoever much we may say we believe in a future life and in a heaven, we really grasp it in the proportion in which here we are living in direct contact with God. What have faith, love, fellowship with God, to do with death? They cannot be cut through with the stroke that destroys physical life, any more than you can divide a sunbeam with a sword.
(2) All the results of the Divine Spirit's sealing of the soul manifestly tend towards completeness. The engine is clearly working only half-speed. Those powers in the Christian man can plainly do a great deal more than they ever have done here, and are meant to do a great deal more. The road evidently leads upwards, and round that sharp corner, where the black rocks come so near each other and our eyesight cannot travel, we may be sure it goes steadily up still to the top of the pass, until it reaches "the shining tablelands whereof our God Himself is Sun and Moon," and brings us all to the city set on a hill.
2. It is part of the whole. The truest and loftiest conception that we can form of heaven is the perfecting of the religious experience of earth. The shilling or two given to the servant of old when he was hired is of the same currency as the balance that he is to get when the year's work is done. You have but to take from the faith, love, obedience, communion of the highest of moments of the Christian life all their imperfections, multiply them to their superlative possibility, and stretch them out to absolute eternity, and you get heaven. So here is a gift offered for us all, a gift which our feebleness sorely needs, the offer of a reinforcement as real and as sure to bring victory as when, at Waterloo, the Prussian bugles blew, and the English commander knew that victory was sure.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.