Ephesians 1:3-13. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
It’s rare for us to find someone this side of heaven that always keeps their promises. In fact, it is pretty much impossible. Relational strife, absentee parents, outstanding debts, incomplete assignments, missed appointments, forgotten anniversaries and birthdays, and unmet expectations prove that we have all failed to live up to what we have said we will do. I know I have.
But what kind of blessing would it be if we had someone in our life that never ever ever broke a promise? Someone that, no matter what, you could always count on to be there for you. If they say it they mean it. And their word is their bond (or should I say seal). That’d be pretty amazing, right?
Mike teaches Eleven about promise – “It’s something that you can’t break…ever.”
Of course we’re talking about God. Specifically, here in Ephesians 1 the promise that God has made and kept is giving us the Holy Spirit – you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
Promised is a word in this text that you may be tempted to fly right by. But it’s actually an extremely important word. Especially as relates to our union with Christ.
The Holy Spirit is no afterthought. It’s not some random add-on that we have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has always been the giver of life, biological life and spiritual life. God’s eternal divine life has always only been possible by the power of the Spirit and the presence of God. What all of scripture shows us is that we must be in God’s presence to truly live.
No Spirit. No presence.
No Spirit. No life.
When Adam and Eve sinned and spiritual death entered the world it was characterized by the removal of humanity from the presence of God. The Old Testament story from the fall in Genesis to the exile of God’s chosen people in Babylon is the story of God manifesting his presence among the people. The shekinah glory cloud. The Tabernacle. The Temple. God allowing humanity to be in his presence.
Along the way God made covenants with his people. Promises. God promised that he would be their God and they would be his people. Abraham. Moses. David. With each of these covenants God promised to always be there. To be accessible.
Mike promises Eleven his presence (and Eggos).
But these covenant promises meant that humanity could be in the presence of God, not that the presence of God would be in us.
The reality is that you can’t have the first without the second. We could never live within God’s presence without first being made holy and blameless by the indwelling presence of God. Holy and blameless in the Old Testament meant sacrificing a whole lot of animals. It meant purity rituals. Day of Atonement. Priests. Ceremonies. And doing it all over and over again because it didn’t actually make anyone holy or blameless, it just bought us time.
When God made a plan before time to save us both FROM our sin and death and TO his eternal life, that plan meant that we would need to be given the Holy Spirit. God’s presence would have to indwell us. Not just us in God’s presence. But God’s presence in us. God revealed this promise to mankind in the New Covenant. It was unlike all those previous covenants. They promised God WITH us. But the New Covenant promises God IN us.
So when Paul speaks of the blessing of the promised Holy Spirit he’s not making up a new idea. He’s talking about the New Covenant which was prophesied 700 years earlier.
Ezekiel 36:26-27. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
And then this promise was repeated by Jesus himself just before his death.
John 14:16. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.
And so let’s look again at Ephesians 1:13. The New Covenant promise of God’s presence is fulfilled in Christ. Not just Jesus living among us on earth – God with us. But union with Christ – God in us. When you believed in Christ you were placed into him and sealed with the Spirit. The same Spirit that God promised he would give us hundreds of years earlier.
But how? How can God’s presence live IN us? God can only dwell in purity right? Right.
But what does union with Christ mean? It means you are now pure. Righteous. Justified. The temple of God. Your spirit is cleansed and sanctified. And so at his ascension when Jesus became the life giving spirit, the promise was kept. We could now receive the Promise. With this promise came every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. And with this fulfilled promise of the indwelling Spirit in the present comes the fulfillment of every future promise yet to be fulfilled.
Can we trust those promises to be fulfilled?
What you’re asking is “Can we trust God?”
And what “to live is Christ,” and the Holy Spirit in you, says is that we definitely can. More than anything else that we trust (like chairs, and airplane pilots, and passwords), we can trust the living and faithful God, who has never ever ever broken a promise. And he’s not going to start now.