Lou: Changing the subject a little, will we know if and when we have been sealed?
Graham: Well, if we understand that we are sealed by the Spirit, we can look for the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). One of these fruits is a great concern for truth (Eph 5:9). Another fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal 5:22). And love does not insist on its own way. 1 Cor 13:5, ESV, RSV. All the fruits enter into the reckoning. The more I am perceiving and liking the truth, the more I’m willing to stake my life on this conviction about God. Then I realize the Spirit is having His way in my life. However, I must check my convictions by Scripture, where I got them from in the first place. I must continually submit my convictions to the correction of the Scriptures that were inspired by the Spirit.
The key is to be more and more settled into this picture of God, not just as an opinion but as something we would stake our lives on. Over time we will see that it is really affecting the way we behave and treat other people. Then one could say, “God, I thank You for the Spirit. He’s evidently having some success with me.”
Lou: When you talk about the seal of God, that reminds me of another phrase that you commented on. What really is the “mark of the beast?”
Graham: In Revelation the sealing is mentioned first, then the mark of the beast. If the seal is a symbol of loyalty to God, then the mark of the beast is a symbol of loyalty to the opposition. To receive the seal of God is to be so settled into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, that one cannot be moved. Conversely, to receive the mark of the beast is to be so settled into the lie, that you’ve completely substituted Satan’s lies for the truth. To receive the mark of the beast is to be so settled into Satan’s false picture of God that not even the Spirit of God could move us. So in essence, both the seal and the mark represent an inner commitment for eternity with respect to the truth about God.
Lou: For many of us Seventh-day Adventists, the seal of God has been tied very closely to the Sabbath. In fact, I myself have said that the seal of God is the Sabbath. But I hear you making a distinction between the Sabbath and the seal.
Graham: One has to stop and realize that the people who crucified Christ kept the seventh-day Sabbath scrupulously. Did they have the seal of God? They certainly were not settled into the truth about God. When Jesus brought the truth about God, they said He had a devil (John 7:20; 8:48), and they killed Him to silence His witness. On the other hand, the Sabbath reminds us of the things God has done. Knowing, intelligent, thoughtful observance of the seventh day is a reminder of all these great demonstrations of the truth about God. So in that sense, the Sabbath could be an outward expression of one’s settling into this truth about our God.
Lou: So the Sabbath has something to do with very deep understanding and experience.
Graham: Yes. When the issues in the Great Controversy are clearly seen, the preference for a substitute Sabbath could suggest preference for, even faith in, the one who wants to “be like the Most High” (Satan– 2 Thess 2:4). But not until then.