Marked By God
Almost everyone has heard of the mark of the Beast, which is commonly understood as a physical marking offered by the future antichrist as a pledge of allegiance to Satan. But did you know that as a believer in Christ you also have taken a mark?
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Eph 1:13-14 NASB
The word sealed in the passage above is the Greek σφραγίζω (sphragizō), which is a verb meaning to ‘set a seal upon’, like a king using his signet ring to seal a document with his authentic mark. It is a sign of ownership, typically placed by someone in authority, and cannot be opened without permission (cf: Rev 5:2-5).
From this passage in Ephesians, we can gather that this seal or mark appears to be put upon us at the time we repent and believe in Christ. This is a mysterious and rather marvelous concept to consider. God is at work in us and authoring our salvation before we believe (cf: Eph 1:4, 1 John 4:10), but at the time in our life when we finally believe the Gospel and turn from our sins, putting our faith in Christ, the LORD God Almighty sets His seal upon us with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus even spoke of His own seal when He taught the crowds: Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal (sphragizō).”John 6:27
It’s worth noting that this seal is unlike the mark of the beast mentioned in Revelation 13:16. The Greek word there is χάραγμα (charagma) which means a ‘stamp or image’ and Scripture always uses it in the context of idolatry. The seal God gives His people is different.
In the Old Testament God similarly used a mark (a ‘tav’, which is the final letter in the Hebrew Aleph-Bet) as a seal placed on the righteous. One example of this is when the Lord commanded Ezekiel to put a mark [tav] on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed throughout Jerusalem (Ez 9:4). The amazing thing about this mark or seal goes back to the ancient Hebrew pictographic language. In the original Hebrew, the tav is two crossed sticks in the shape of a ‘t’… quite literally a CROSS.
Consider the magnitude of this for just a moment: When we believe, we are sealed or marked by God Himself with the Holy Spirit. And I think it is entirely probable, based on both OT and NT references and the earliest Hebrew language, that this seal also includes an invisible, heavenly mark… and that mark is in the shape of a cross.
Here again we see God’s plan of salvation from the very beginning of time being carried out through history by the counsel and kind intentions of His perfect, sovereign will (Eph 1:9,11).
I hope you’ll agree that knowing we are marked by God, through the Holy Spirit, brings a lot of comfort and relief when we look at the chaos and depravity of the world around us. Personally, it gives me assurance of my place with God, my salvation, and my eternal destiny. It gives me rest knowing I do not need to work for or earn my standing with God because I already have it – I am sealed in Him. And I can now also see, and I hope you can too, just why Paul wrote the following in Romans 8:38-39:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.