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Chapter 26. Being Sealed

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

The individual's reality

When you think of "sealing", the last days of earth's history are usually brought to mind. Revelation foretells a time of great strife and tribulation at the end of time, but before allowing the full force of this tribulation (7 last plagues) to hit the earth, God's people are sealed (Rev. 7, 14). This event represents that phase of Christ's ministry when He seals His church before probation closes. It also helps us understand the sealing of individuals before the end of their lives. The determining factors of whether or not you are sealed, occur during your lifetime. Thus, it isn't just believers living at the end of time, but believers throughout all time, who have the opportunity to have the sealing process completed in them.

Comparison timeline of Jesus' Ministry and the Individual's application

The comparison between the timelines of Christ's ministry and the life of each individual is important to understand. More on this subject will be explored in the next chapter.

Grieving the Holy Spirit

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

Since the Holy Spirit is the one who accomplishes the sealing of people, then successfully being sealed would involve how a person relates to the Holy Spirit. To understand how we might "grieve" the Spirit in the above text, let's look again at the type of work the Holy Spirit does.

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove [convince, tell, rebuke] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."John 16:7-15 (KJV)

  • Leads us into truth
  • Convicts of sin
  • Convicts of Christ (1 Cor. 12:3)
  • Convinces us to repent
  • Leads to righteousness
  • Tells of judgment
  • Reveals secrets (Eph. 3:5)
Grieving the Holy Spirit would mean we don't appreciate or allow this type of work in our lives. There are many examples in the Bible of people "grieving" the Holy Spirit. Those who grieve the Holy Spirit are also called "Stiff-Necked" or "Hard-Hearted".

"But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction" (Jeremiah 17:23).

"For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest" (Psalms 95:7-11).

Visualize a person stiffening their neck or hardening their heart. This gives a picture of someone who is proud, stubborn, rebellious and determined to do something their own way.

The Unpardonable Sin

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared [to render unsensitive] with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

Persistent and determined rejection of the Holy Spirit leads to a "searing" of the conscience, making it callous and insensitive, eventually rendering a person incapable of hearing the Holy Spirit anymore.

"All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Matt. 12:31-32).

The reason a person can't be forgiven if they speak against the Holy Spirit, is because in doing so they aren't allowing Him to do His work in them. They, therefore, aren't even aware of their true condition and need of a Savior, do not learn truth, and have no conviction that they need repentance. Their heart is hard and it cannot be molded or sealed into position. The only way to be sealed is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in you to accomplish these things.

"The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not lie in any sudden word or deed; it is the firm, determined resistance of truth and evidence. It is not that God sends out a decree that man shall not be saved. He does not throw a darkness before the eyes which cannot be penetrated. But man at first resists a motion of the Spirit of God, and, having once resisted, it is less difficult to do so the second time, less the third, and far less the fourth. Then comes the harvest to be reaped from the seed of unbelief and resistance. Oh what a harvest of sinful indulgences is preparing for the sickle! On the other hand, every ray of light cherished will yield a harvest of light. Temptation once resisted will give power to more firmly resist the second time; every new victory gained over self will smooth the way for higher and nobler triumphs. Every victory is a seed sown to eternal life. God destroys no one. The sinner destroys himself by his own impenitence. No one need look upon the sin against the Holy Ghost as something mysterious and indefinable. The sin against the Holy Ghost is the sin of persistent refusal to respond to the invitation to repent. There is no . . . hope of the higher life, but through the submission of the soul to Christ" (The Faith I Live By 58.4-9).

Definition:
Being Unpardonable: The result of a firm, determined resistance of truth and persistent refusal to repent, which over time, finally results in an unshakable belief in error, a selfish degenerate character, and the permanent absence of the Holy Spirit within you.

God's patience and longsuffering

"But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full" (Genesis 15:16).

God works long and patiently with every person, nation and entity. However, the Bible speaks of a point when God stops pleading and protecting them. They "fill their cup of iniquity" to the point that they cannot hear God anymore and do not want Him in their lives.

"And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years" (Genesis 6:3).

God respects free will and allows all people to make their own choices. Whoever chooses to reject the Holy Spirit's gifts, counsel, comfort, transforming power and seal, will finally be allowed to experience the full result of their choices.

"I know the danger of those who refuse to walk in the light as God gives it. They bring upon themselves the terrible crisis of being left to follow their own ways, to do after their own judgment. The conscience becomes less and less impressible. The voice of God seems to become more and more distant, and the wrongdoer is left to his own infatuation. In stubbornness he resists every appeal, despises all counsel and advice, and turns from every provision made for his salvation. . . . The Spirit of God no longer exerts a restraining power over him, and the sentence is passed, "He is joined to idols; let him alone" (see Hosea 4:17). . . . This is the process through which the soul passes that rejects the working of the Holy Spirit" (That I May Know Him 243.3).

"Saul knew that in this last act, of consulting the witch of Endor, he cut the last shred which held him to God. He knew that if he had not before wilfully separated himself from God, this act sealed that separation, and made it final. He had made an agreement with death, and a covenant with hell. The cup of his iniquity was full" (Conflict and Courage 172.4).

"It is through the agency of the Holy Spirit that God communicates with man; and those who deliberately reject this agency as satanic, have cut off the channel of communication between the soul and Heaven" (Patriarchs and Prophets 404.4).

The Opposite of the unpardonable Sin

When a person repeatedly rejects the Holy Spirit, they cut off the channel of communication between the soul and heaven. In the same way, when a person repeatedly submits fully to the Holy Spirit, they reject the influence of evil and eventually the channel of communication is cut off between the soul and evil agencies. The sealing process begins the moment you accept Christ. The completion of the sealing process, is the opposite of committing the unpardonable sin.

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

"The seal of the living God will be placed upon those only who bear a likeness to Christ in character. As wax takes the impression of the seal, so the soul is to take the impression of the Spirit of God and retain the image of Christ" (The Faith I Live By 287.2-3).

"Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads--it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved--just as soon as God's people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come" (The Faith I Live By 287.7).

"Courage, fortitude, faith, and implicit trust in God's power to save, do not come in a moment. These heavenly graces are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right, the children of God were sealing their destiny" (Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White 188.2).

Definition:
Being Sealed: The process of molding your character into a final position by the Holy Spirit, which, when tested, reveeals a firm, determined love and belief of truth, a persistent submission to correction, a loving Christlike character and a proven, demonstrated loyalty to God.

Characteristics of the sealed

The book of Revelation provides important clues as to the character of those who are sealed.

"And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel" (Revelation 7:2-4).

"1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God" (Revelation 14:1-5).

  • Servants of God (7:3) - They don't follow their own will, but the will of their master.
  • Sealed in their foreheads (7:3) - Their mind is the focus. What and how they think is the determining factor.
  • Father's name on forehead (14:1) - The way they think, or their character, is patterned after God's character.
  • Not defiled with women / Virgins (14:4) - They are true to their "husband", Christ. They reject idols and have not joined with earthly powers when they contradict Christ's commands, as has the woman called Babylon and her harlot daughters (apostate churches).
  • Follow the lamb (14:4) - They imitate Christ. They study what Christ is doing through all the various phases of His ministry and follow Him, cooperating with the process through faith. They believe He is ministering for them and they keep their eyes focused on Him.
  • No guile in mouth (14:5) - The word translated to guile means deceit, trick or decoy. They speak straighforwardly, truthfully and simply. The things they profess are the same things they actually believe and practice. They do not hide anything about their true character, and they do not misrepresent the character of Christ.
  • Without fault (14:5) - Those who are sealed are without blame or unblemished. They have stopped hiding their faults, and God has made them blameless. Their consciences are clear.
  • Firstfruits (14:5) - They have grown up spiritually and their characters have reached maturity, receiving the latter rain and becoming ready for the harvest.
These characteristics of the sealed are the very aspects achieved by a transformation of character. They are the same things that have been discussed throughout this book. The end result and the goal of transformation is to reflect Christ's character and have it sealed into place. These prophetic descriptions of those who are sealed as God's last day church/bride, reveal that successful character transformation enables the completion of the sealing process.

The 144,000 "firstfruits"
A promise of an abundant harvest

The prophecy of the Three Angels' Messages in Revelation describes a group of 144,000 who are sealed (Rev. 7, 14). The term "firstfruits" (Rev. 14:4) is used to describe those sealed, which further emphasizes the Bible's extensive use of the harvest theme to illustrate spiritual growth. The sealing process may be better understood when likened to the process of growing up like a plant, reaching maturity, and thus being ready for harvest. When a plant matures, it's characteristics have been established. The time of deciding whether to be a potato or a tomato is certainly past. The height, shape, color, size and fruit reveal exactly what type of plant it is.

The term "firstfruit" is used in the Bible to indicate the foremost, principle, first or highest-ranked sampling of something. It is the promise of an abundant harvest to come.

For example, the Israelites would select the best of their harvest to take with them to the Feast of Firstfruits. They didn't necessarily choose the first plant to germinate or ripen, but they chose the best one. Also, Christ was the firstfruits (1 Cor. 15:23), or the primary sample of all those who sleep in Jesus and rise again (note that Moses and lazarus died and were resurrected prior to Jesus' resurrection, but Christ was the firstfruits). The apostles provide another example, having the firstfruits of the Spirit (Rom. 8:23), or were recipients of the foremost outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church in the form of the early rain. In like manner, the 144,000 are firstfruits, receiving the foremost outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the form of the latter rain and becoming mature/ripened grain.

How can you join the 144,000? God has revealed His truth for the end-times through the three angels' messages; His final message to the inhabitants of this earth just prior to the second coming. The 144,000 who are sealed and the 3 Angels' Messages are described and linked together in Revelation 14. The 144,000 are those who assimilate God's teachings in the three angels' messages and share them with others. Thus, they help build God's church in a special way, which is also shown by the use of the number 144,000, which is a multiple of twelve (12 tribes, 12 apostles, New Jerusalem).

Prerequisites to being sealed

Developing a character that is immovable in its dedication to upholding truth, instantly willing to repent of error and foresake sin, and wholly devoted to listening to the Holy Spirit's promptings takes time. God provides the tools to help you develop the needed traits of character in order to be sealed.

Prerequisite #1: Hear truth, believe it and assimilate it into your life

"That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:12-14).

In order to believe something, you must have some understanding of it, which takes time. Also, it is critical to spend the time studying the truth, not error. The Bible provides three main definitions of truth:
  • A) Jesus is truth

    "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

    One of the Holy Spirit's activities is to witness of and convict the world of Christ. The Spirit seals the knowledge, belief and acceptance of Christ into our minds.

  • B) God's law is truth

    "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live... Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever" (Psalms 119:142-152).

    The Holy Spirit also convicts the world of sin and of righteousness. As we've seen, the Bible defines sin as the transgression of the law. The Spirit seals the understanding and appreciation of the law into your mind.

  • C) God's word is truth

    "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).

    Another activity of the Holy Spirit is to lead you into all truth. He helps you to understand the Scriptures and the deep things of God. The Spirit seals an unshakable foundation of Biblical doctrine and trust in your mind.

It is also important to understand what the Bible refers to as "Present Truth".

"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth" (2 Peter 1:12).

Present truth is important because it provides instructions about current events. For example, when God sent warnings and instructions to the Israelites through a prophet, such as Jeremiah, it was often a matter of life or death. It was critical for them to understand and obey the truth that affected them specifically in their time. During our day, present truth is given the form of the three angels' messages in Revelation 14. These are the critical messages that God has sent to us today.

Prerequisite #2: Experience suffering and trials

"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect [complete thoroughly], stablish [to turn resolutely in a certain direction], strengthen [confirm], settle [ground] you" (1 Peter 5:10).

"Those who hold fast their faith unto the end will come forth from the furnace of trial as fine gold seven times purified. Of this work the prophet Isaiah says, 'I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir' (Isa. 13:12). When in trouble, remember that faith tried in the furnace of affliction is more precious than gold tried with fire. Remember that there is One watching every movement, to see when the last particle of dross is taken away from your character" (The Upward Look 292.6).

There are some qualities of character that are only gained through hard times. Because of the existence of evil, there is also pain, sorrow and unimaginable troubles. This is allowed to continue, but just for a while, in order that all doubts, accusations and questions will be answered once and for all. Christ suffered greatly for us, proving to the universe that God's way is the best way. He asks His people to follow His example and help show that God's methods are right and just. This prepares us to be His witnesses throughout eternity.

Prerequisite #3: Demonstrate progress in Spiritual growth

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:4-8).

A person continues in faith by trusting, obeying and cooperating with God. There are gifts that God wants to give you... gifts that will help you survive in this world, bring others into His kingdom and bring endless joy and rewards. As you cooperate with God to work in you and accomplish these things, your character is molded. You may experience ups and downs, but there is a definite direction in the life and spiritual progress.

Prerequisite #4: Do not practice known sin

"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:26).

"Those that overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, will be the favored ones who shall receive the seal of the living God. Those whose hands are not clean, whose hearts are not pure, will not have the seal of the living God. Those who are planning sin and acting it will be passed by. Only those who, in their attitude before God, are filling the position of those who are repenting and confessing their sins in the great anti-typical day of atonement, will be recognized and marked as worthy of God's protection. The names of those who are steadfastly looking and waiting and watching for the appearing of their Saviour--more earnestly and wishfully than they who wait for the morning--will be numbered with those who are sealed" (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers 445.1).

Prerequisite #5: Pass the final test

Before your sealing can be completed, an investigation and final test is conducted. You are on probation just like Adam and Eve. They failed the test, but Christ's sacrifice is all about giving you a chance to prepare for and pass a similar test of loyalty to God. Christ had to develop character (note He didn't need character transformation) and be tested also, yet He didn't sin through it all and thus He is able to help you pass the test.

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation [a putting to proof, discipline, adversity]: for when he is tried [acceptable, approved], he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (James 1:12).

"Examine me, O LORD, and prove [test] me; try my reins and my heart" (Psalms 26:2).

"Close and unexpected tests will be brought upon believers to see who are worthy to receive the seal of the living God" (Testimonies for the Church Volume 5 382).

"...in consenting to become a substitute for man, the sins of guilty man were imputed to Him. . . . While God accepts Christ as the sinner's substitute, He gives the sinner a chance, with Christ's divine power to help him, to stand the test which Adam failed to endure" (Lift Him Up 79.2).

"He who would build up a strong, symmetrical character, he who would be a well-balanced Christian, must give all and do all for Christ; for the Redeemer will not accept divided service. Daily he must learn the meaning of self-surrender. He must study the word of God, learning its meaning and obeying its precepts. Thus he may reach the standard of Christian excellence. Day by day God works with him, perfecting the character that is to stand in the time of final test. And day by day the believer is working out before men and angels a sublime experiment, showing what the gospel can do for fallen human beings" (The Acts of the Apostles 483.1).

"Many hear the invitation of mercy, are tested and proved; but few are sealed with the seal of the living God. Few will humble themselves as a little child, that they may enter the kingdom of heaven" (Testimonies for the Church Volume Five 50.2).

"When a man is filled with the Spirit, the more severely he is tested and tried, the more clearly he proves that he is a representative of Christ" (Our High Calling 150.5).

"When men and women have formed characters which God can endorse, when their self-denial and self-sacrifice have been fully made, when they are ready for the final test, ready to be introduced into God's family..." (A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education 47.3).

"His Heavenly Father chose this place for Him, where His character would be tested and tried in a variety of ways. The early life of Christ was subjected to severe trials, hardships, and conflicts, that He might develop the perfect character which makes Him a perfect example for children, youth, and manhood" (Messages to Young People 78.2).

"It is in a crisis that character is revealed. When the earnest voice proclaimed at midnight, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him," and the sleeping virgins were roused from their slumbers, it was seen who had made preparation for the event. Both parties were taken unawares; but one was prepared for the emergency, and the other was found without preparation. So now, a sudden and unlooked-for calamity, something that brings the soul face to face with death, will show whether there is any real faith in the promises of God. It will show whether the soul is sustained by grace. The great final test comes at the close of human probation, when it will be too late for the soul's need to be supplied. {COL 412.1}

"God's great object in the working out of His providences is to try men, to give them opportunity to develop character. Thus He proves whether they are obedient or disobedient to His commands. Good works do not purchase the love of God, but they reveal that we possess that love. ...There are only two classes in the world today, and only two classes will be recognized in the judgment--those who violate God's law and those who obey it. Christ gives the test by which to prove our loyalty or disloyalty. 'If ye love Me,' He says, 'keep My commandments. . . . He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. And he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. . . . He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings; and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's which sent Me.' 'If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.' John 14:15-24; 15:10" (Christ's Object Lessons 283.2-3).

What if I die before being sealed?

You may ask, "What if I die before these prerequisites are met? Can I be saved without the sealing process being completed before I die?" A person may not live long enough for the Holy Spirit to reveal all the truths needed for spiritual maturity. Or, a person might not have lived long enough after conversion to establish a clear history of loving the truth and persistent submission to correction.

Remember that Christ saved you in phase #2, when you first put your trust in Him and were converted. (Note: For some people who have never heard of Christ or known the truth about Him, this could be at the point they relinquish selfishness and fully submit to all of the promptings of Christ's representative, the Holy Spirit.) Thus, you are launched into the sealing process, or sealed by the Spirit. As you continue to put your faith in Him, the rest of the phases and the sealing process are completed. But, if you die before phase #3 and #4 are complete, Christ can still save you, because being saved is based on His merits, not yours. He will look at the time you did have, and what you allowed Him to do with it. Was your direction since conversion towards Him? Did you repent when He pointed out a wrong to you and submit to His way? Think of the classic story of the thief on the cross. He will be saved because He believed in Christ. There was no time to change all of his traits of character in the short time he suffered on the cross. Christ is able to save people because they have given their lives to Him and are thus considered complete in Him. If the thief survived to live out his life, he would have studied and followed Jesus' teachings. The key is to keep exercising faith, obey and continue to grow as long as you live.

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

"Jesus continues...So I will be your representative in heaven. The Father beholds not your faulty character, but He sees you as clothed in My perfection" (Desire of Ages 357.1).

"The Lord would teach man the lesson that, though united in church capacity, he is not saved until the seal of God is placed upon him" (Letter 80, 1898). [Note: The sealing process begins when you accept Christ, and it is in this sense that you must be sealed in order to be saved. The Holy Spirit moves in and begins molding you after Christ's pattern, which is the sealing process. The completion of this molding occurs later, when the full impression of the seal is formed in the wax. Growth must always occur, and growth will eventually result in the completed sealing.]

"It is all that Brother C can do, in the weakness of his nature, to guard his own soul and close every avenue whereby Satan can gain access to insinuate doubts in regard to others. He is in great danger of losing his soul by failing to perfect Christian character during probationary time. He is slow to follow Christ. His senses seem to be clouded and almost paralyzed so that he does not place a proper estimate upon sacred things. He may even now correct his errors and overcome his defects, if he will work in the strength of God" (Testimonies for the Church Volume Four 39.3).

When does the sealing occur?

The process of character molding occurs over a period of time, from the moment one accepts Christ until the human mold conforms to the pattern of Christ, and thus is ready to be sealed into place. This takes longer for some and may or may not happen in your lifetime. The exact point in time when the sealing process is completed is not apparent to humans. However, God's angels can see that it has happened. The seal provides a mark that only they can see.

"What is the seal of the living God, which is placed in the foreheads of His people? It is a mark which angels, but not human eyes, can read; for the destroying angel must see this mark of redemption" (Letter 126, 1898).

Since being sealed is based on choices made during your lifetime, such as whether to cooperate and accept Christ's work, embrace truth and seek character transformation, it makes sense that the sealing process would be determined prior to your death. The following quotes provide some additional insight into the possibility of it being fixed before death.

"All who cherish the Lord as their portion in this life will be under His control, and will receive the sign, the mark of God, which shows them to be God's special possession. Christ's righteousness will go before them, and the glory of the Lord will be their rereward. The Lord protects every human being who bears His sign" (Maranatha 246.2).

"I saw that she [Mrs. Hastings] was sealed and would come up at the voice of God and stand upon the earth, and would be with the 144,000. I saw we need not mourn for her; she would rest in the time of trouble.--2SM 263 (1850). There are living upon our earth men who have passed the age of fourscore and ten. The natural results of old age are seen in their feebleness. But they believe God, and God loves them. The seal of God is upon them, and they will be among the number of whom the Lord has said, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord" (Last Day Events 222.4-223.1).

"The precious graces of the Holy Spirit are not developed in a moment. Courage, fortitude, meekness, faith, unwavering trust in God's power to save, are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God are to seal their destiny" (Reflecting Christ 312.6).

"Just as we go into the grave we will come up, as far as the character is concerned.... Now is the time for washing and ironing" (In Heavenly Places 369.2).

"Our loved ones die. Their accounts with God are sealed up. But while we consider it a serious, solemn thing to die, we must consider it a much more solemn thing to live" (Selected Messages Book 2 264).

"Are we striving with all our God-given powers to reach the measure of the stature of men and women in Christ? Are we seeking for His fullness, ever reaching higher and higher, trying to attain to the perfection of His character? When God's servants reach this point, they will be sealed in their foreheads. The recording angel will declare, "It is done." They will be complete in Him whose they are by creation and by redemption" (Selected Messages Book 3 427.2).

"The necessity of the Holy Spirit's working should be realized by all. Unless this Spirit is accepted and cherished as the representative of Christ, whose work it is to renew and sanctify the entire being, the momentous truths that have been entrusted to human beings will lose their power on the mind. It is not enough for us to have a knowledge of the truth. We are to walk and work in love, conforming our will to the will of God. Of those who do this the Lord declares, "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts" (Heb. 8:10). . . . Thus divine relationship is renewed between God and man. "'I will be to them a God,'" He says, "'and they shall be to me a people.' There is no attribute of My nature that I will not freely give in order that man may reveal My image. Are we seeking for His fullness, ever pressing toward the mark set before us--the perfection of His character? When the Lord's people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads. Filled with the Spirit, they will be complete in Christ, and the recording angel will declare, 'It is finished.'" (In Heavenly Places 335.5).

"Man may grow up into Christ, his living head. It is not the work of a moment, but that of a lifetime. By growing daily in the divine life, he will not attain to the full stature of a perfect man in Christ until his probation ceases. The growing is a continuous work. Men with fiery passions have a constant conflict with self; but the harder the battle, the more glorious will be the victory and the eternal reward" (Testimonies for the Church Volume 4, 366.3). [This life is the time to prove loyalty to Christ. So, it is a life-long event.]

"Every day the probation of some is closing. Every hour some are passing beyond the reach of mercy" (Patriarchs and Prophets 140.1).

"We are to form habits of thought that will enable us to resist temptation... The precious graces of the Holy Spirit are not developed in a moment. Courage, fortitude, meekness, faith, unwavering trust in God's power to save, are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God are to seal their destiny" (Testimonies for the Church Volume Eight 314.1-2).

The Israelites were instructed to bind God's law on their hand and in their forehead (Deut. 6:8), which echoes the command in Revelation to seal God's people in their forehead (Rev. 7:2) instead of receiving the mark of the beast in the hand or the forehead (Rev. 13:16). This indicates that Israelites could be sealed in their day.

The Sealing Finalizes an Imprint

The Greek word for "sealed" means to stamp, seal up or stop, such as with a signet or private mark for security or preservation. When God's people are sealed, the stamp or imprint of Christ's character in the mind is set, which is a sign of God's approval and protection from the influence of Satan. This imprint is also the completion of the engraving of the law on the heart as promised in the new covenant. Christ's character is revealed in His law. Those who are sealed and reflect Christ's character must, by definition, also be upholding His law.

"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:14-18 ).

"Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written [engraved] not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart" (2 Corinthians 3:3).

"If we would become like Christ and receive His fashion of character, we must in little things train the soul to daily progressive sanctification. We have no time to lose. Would you impress the seal to obtain a clear impression upon the wax, you do not dash it on by a violent action, but you place the seal carefully and firmly and press it down until the wax receives the mold. Just so the Lord is dealing with our souls. . . . Not now and then, but constantly the new life is implanted by the Holy Spirit after Christ's likeness" (In Heavenly Places 66.4).

The old covenant had the law engraved on stone, and this symbolized the law being engraved on our hearts in the new covenant. We studied how this engraving is the molding of our character in a previous chapter. Notice also that the law was contained in the Ark in the Most Holy Place of the earthly sanctuary. The Most Holy Place symbolizes phase #4 of the plan of salvation during which the writing of the law on the heart is completed and sealed into place.

Revelation reveals a struggle between a beast from the sea and God's people. Those who worship the beast receive the mark of the beast in their hand or forehead and those who follow God receive the seal of God in their forehead.

"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads" (Revelation 13:16).

"Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads" (Revelation 7:3).

In the same way, the Israelites were instructed to bind God's laws on their hand and between their eyes (Deut. 11:18). This meant that God wanted His people to obey and do them (hand) and believe and think them (forehead). This is only possible because He writes the law in the heart.

"Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes" (Deuteronomy 11:18).

"Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples" (Isaiah 8:16).

The mark of the beast is not a tatoo or computer chip, but rather it is the Sea Beast's character and law that a person chooses to follow even though it contradicts God's law (Dan. 7:25). Likewise, the seal of God is the imprint of His law and character in those who worship Him.

"After the warning against the worship of the beast and his image the prophecy declares: "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Since those who keep God's commandments are thus placed in contrast with those that worship the beast and his image and receive his mark, it follows that the keeping of God's law, on the one hand, and its violation, on the other, will make the distinction between the worshipers of God and the worshipers of the beast" (The Great Controversy 445.3).

"What are you doing, brethren, in the great work of preparation? Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast. Those who are distrustful of self, who are humbling themselves before God and purifying their souls by obeying the truth--these are receiving the heavenly mold and preparing for the seal of God in their foreheads. When the decree goes forth and the stamp is impressed, their character will remain pure and spotless for eternity" (Maranatha 240.5).

Remember, whether or not you are sealed is determined during your lifetime. The submission to the Holy Spirit and obedience to God's law must be shown while here on earth. This is the time to build character, be molded and sealed into place.

A Complete Seal Includes the Complete Law

Because God's law of 10 commandments is written on your heart as character is developed, and whole-heartedly following God's law is part of being sealed, it makes sense that no part of the law can be left out. A complete seal includes the entire law.

It is easy to see that the last six commandments have everything to do with character development. They regulate your relationship with other people, such as loving and caring about them so you do not steal, murder, commit adultery, etc. The first four commandments, on the other hand, have everything to do with your relationship with God. However, this makes them even more critical to successful character development, because keeping a solid connection to God allows everything else to follow.

Of particular interest to the new creature is the Sabbath commandment, because it is a sign of God's creative power in creating and restoring you, the very sum and substance upon which your transformation depends. It represents everything we've been discussing in this book regarding the role of self versus God.
  • A. The Sabbath is a sign that you trust in the Lord to sanctify you, rather than in yourself...

    "Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you" (Exodus 31:13).

    "Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them" (Ezekiel 20:12).

  • B. The Sabbath is a sign that you are resting in Jesus' righteousness instead of relying on your own works...

    "For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works...There remaineth therefore a rest [sabbatismos] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his" (Hebrews 4:4-10).

    "Rest is found when all self-justification, all reasoning from a selfish standpoint, is put away. Entire self-surrender, an acceptance of His ways, is the secret of perfect rest in His love. . . . Do just what He has told you to do and be assured that God will do all that He has said He would do." (Mind, Character, and Personality Volume Two 803.2).

  • C. The Sabbath is a sign that you have entered into a covenant with God...

    "Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant" (Isaiah 56:6).

  • D. The Sabbath is a sign that you follow Jesus Christ, the Lord who created it for you...

    "And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath" (Mark 2:27-28).

Following such a meaningful commandment as this, makes a solid statement that you love and obey the Creator of the Sabbath, who is also the one who created a new heart within you and is sanctifying you. It points all who come in contact with you directly towards the Creator.

As you grow as a new creature you keep the Sabbath because you love the Lord of the Sabbath and it is a special time to get to know Him better. The new creature greatly values this designated time on the seventh day of each week to rest from all ordinary labor, learn more about God and celebrate a relationship with Him.

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" (Genesis 2:1-3).

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8-11).

The seventh day Sabbath...

  • a) Was established at creation (prior to sin) (Gen. 2:1-3)
  • b) Was reaffirmed to the Israelites (Ex. 16:22-31)
  • c) Was spoken and written by God at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 20:8-11)
  • d) Was kept by Jesus (Luke 4:16,31, Matt. 12:8,12, Mark 2:27-28, Mark 16:1-2)
  • e) Was taught by the apostles (Acts 13:42-44, 17:2, 18:4, Heb. 4:4-10)
  • f) Was wrongfully changed/obscured during the middle ages (Daniel 7:25, 2 Thes. 2:3)
  • g) Is observed during the last days (Matt. 24:3-31, Rev. 12:17, 14:12)
  • h) Will be kept in the new earth (Is. 66:23, Rev. 22:14)
Many people who are experiencing justification and sanctification have not yet encountered the significance of the Sabbath. The full meaning of it hasn't yet been understood. Many throughout history have died, having never heard about it, and yet will be saved according to Jesus' grace. However, in these end times, knowledge is being increased, technology has made communication flourish, and everyone is hearing about it. If the fourth commandment is the one remaining commandment a person hasn't accepted in her life, then it would make sense that his or her final test, in order to be sealed, could come down to this very issue...keeping the seventh-day as the Sabbath.

"By hearing the message of truth, men and women are led to accept the Sabbath and to unite with the church by baptism. They are to bear God's sign by observing the Sabbath of creation. They are to know for themselves that obedience to God's commandments means eternal life" (Counsels on Health 355.4).

"The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God's law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God" (Great Controversy 605.2).

"Many will not receive the seal of God because they do not keep His commandments or bear the fruits of righteousness" (Letter 76, 1900).

"This is the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed. All who prove their loyalty to God by observing His law, and refusing to accept a spurious sabbath, will rank under the banner of the Lord God Jehovah, and will receive the seal of the living God. Those who yield the truth of heavenly origin, and accept the Sunday sabbath, will receive the mark of the beast" (Maranatha 164.3).

It is of critical importance to accept and submit to the Holy Spirit in ALL areas in which one is convicted and the Bible teaches. Given time, the Holy Spirit brings all believers into an understanding of the truth, a keeping of the whole law, and a unity of faith. In the meantime, if you are Christ's, you are saved in His hands, and as you continue to put your faith in Him, He will keep working in you.

Additional information about being sealed: What Sealing Is Not

Next: Completing the Restoration
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