The authority and name of Jesus, confirmed by the seal of the Spirit, carries the responsibility of surrendered obedience in all we say or do in His name.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)
The seal of the precious promise of God in us is, of course, the Holy Spirit. It is our absolute, eternal guarantee that we will be raised with Christ to eternity with Him. But there is another wonderful facet to our having the seal of God which carries as much responsibility as it does blessing and promise. Both the usual interpretation of guarantee and the additional one of responsibility are closely tied to the name of Jesus. Ephesians 1:13 is a verse we should all know and memorise. It’s a wonderful, unshakeable promise for the future and what we all look forward to. But today’s verse is a very practical demonstration of the issue of the name and authority of Christ in us by virtue of His seal. We can explore this new depth with a quick look at the Passover and at the seal of kings.
The seal of the Passover and the name of Jesus.
The Israelites, when God sent His angel to destroy the firstborn of the Egyptians, were essentially ‘sealed’ behind the blood of the lamb. The Israelites were under the seal – and therefore the authority – of God as figuratively portrayed by the fact that they had to enter through and under the blood-marked lintel. It was a spiritual seal that carried the full authority and denoted the full ownership of God. The Israelites belonged to God. They were His people, called by His name, and were identified as under His command and protection. Had they moved beyond the seal of the blood of the lamb, that authority and protection would have fallen away. In other words, it was only the seal given by God that the angel recognised. Christians are called by the name of Jesus, are under the protection of His blood, and carry the seal of the Spirit within.
This was an outward and visible seal, easily identified by both men and angels. Obedience to God’s commands could be readily seen in the blood and the absence of the Israelites outdoors. This first seal was a visible identification of the full authority and ownership of God. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is an ‘inside’ seal. It’s not outward and visible, a physical sign that everyone can see. For us, it’s a personal guarantee that we will receive the promise. But God also intends that it manifest. Having the seal and calling ourselves by the name of Jesus means having the ownership and authority of God in us. It’s the sign that we are set apart for and protected by God. But this seal is within us and part of us. It’s our responsibility to ensure that it is visible and easily identifiable to those around us.
The name of Jesus and the royal seal.
Way back when, a king or noble would affix a seal to correspondence – scrolls, letters, decrees, etc. This denoted two things. First, the document was not tampered with. Second, it carried the full authority of the king. These seals were individual and distinctive. One couldn’t be used by anyone else. The royal seal, in particular, carried the full weight of the crown. Usually, these seals were created by imprinting the wax with the face of the royal signet ring. This was worn by the king or, when necessity demanded, by his most trusted advisor. Anything sealed with the royal seal was considered the direct command of the king. To disregard it was tantamount to treason. The authority it carried was absolute. In essence, it was the king. It’s easy to see how the authority and name of Jesus fit within this context.
The Holy Spirit, of course, is God and is part of God. The Spirit within each of us is not separate and independent of God but is part of the dynamic of the Trinity. He works within us to fulfil God’s will and purposes. Unlike the signet ring seal which was external and separate, the Holy Spirit will never function independently of the authority of the name of Jesus. The seal within us is the confirmation and the implementation of the authority outside us – the name we carry. It is the Spirit who confirms our consecration to God and enables our obedience to God. The seal of God within us thus establishes God’s authority over us. It is our constant reminder that who we are and what we do always exists within the context of the name of Jesus. This truth highlights the importance of the message in today’s verse.
The privilege and responsibility of the name of Jesus.
We hear a lot about our ‘authority in Christ’ or the blessings attached to being able to pray in the name of Jesus. All these are good and true. Everything that Jesus was and did is now available to us who live in His name. This is confirmed by the seal of the Holy Spirit within us. We have authority in the spiritual realm, we are protected by God Himself, and we have the privilege to enter into the very presence of God. The Spirit is there to enable us to exercise this authority wisely and well. Sadly, however, many believers take the benefits and privileges of the name and authority of Jesus and ignore the obvious responsibilities. The ‘name it and claim it’ or ‘prosperity’ gospels, for example, encourage us to demand all the promises of God in Jesus’ name without any real context of responsibility.
Unless we learn to live the truth of today’s verse, we run the risk of using the name above all names as a kind of magic word to satisfy our desire for self-gratification. We cannot abuse the highest name there is as a tool to further our own agenda. Great blessings always come with great responsibility. Our verse today is a beautifully practical example of how we should live to fully honour the name of Jesus rather than simply wielding the authority it brings. Very simply, we must do and speak everything as if in the name of Jesus. To do this, we must examine the life of Christ and live as He did. Even as a man, Jesus could have grasped full access to the authority of God for His personal gain. He did not live as a master or ruler but as a suffering servant.
The name of Jesus gives authority and demands obedience.
This is why prayers remain unanswered. We use the name of Jesus, exercising the authority behind it, but ignore the obedience demanded. This is an attitude of king or master rather than suffering servant. The seal of the Spirit in us indicates that we belong to God. That implies the surrender of self in absolute obedience. Without this, we wield our own authority, no matter that we speak the name of Jesus. The powers of darkness know who really carries the real authority of Christ. To do and speak as Christ did honours Him. Thanksgiving acknowledges that He and He alone is the source of the authority. To walk in the true authority of Jesus we must leave self behind. The seal of the Spirit is contractual. We exchange self-life for the life of Christ.
The authority of the King is absolute. It extends to every area of our lives. All we do and say is subject to His sovereign will, including the tiny details of every day. The seal of the Spirit doesn’t permit us to wield the authority of Jesus. It enables us to live the authority through our attitude of honour and worship. Our lives become our living sacrifice. We give all we do and say to Jesus. Then, and only then, will the authority of the name of Jesus manifest in surrendered lives.
Lord Jesus, forgive us if we have misused Your precious name. Our desire, Lord, is to fulfil our purpose in You. We thank You for the precious seal of the Holy Spirit. Help us to manifest it to the world through obedience and thanksgiving in all we do and say. Teach us to live as You did, as suffering servants, so that Your glory and authority may be revealed through Your precious name.