I’m continuing the series on: How God Sees Us, which commenced here.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
In older versions of this verse, instead of “stand firm,” it says, “He who establishes us.” This isn’t something we do, but something God does for us. He is the One who establishes us, makes us stand firm and anoints us. Our relationship with God is not maintained by our ability to hang on to him. God holds on to us, and he has the power to keep us safe and secure. We can relax, knowing that God holds us and we can rest in his grip. It is God who makes us stand firm in Christ. Our future is assured, we are part of his kingdom. We are not hanging onto his kingdom by our finger tips. We are standing firm in Christ.
The second thing this verse tells us is God anoints us. In the Old Testament, kings, priests and prophets were anointed symbolizing that God had empowered them for a particular task. Often in the circles I move in, we tend to use the words, God’s enabling or God’s empowering when we talk about anointing. When I first started attending church as a teenager in an Anglican church they talked about the unction of the Holy Spirit. I had no idea what ‘unction’ meant, but I loved how it sounded, unction. I’ve since learnt it’s just another word for anointing.
It doesn’t matter which word we use, God enables us, empowers us, anoints us. Some people talk about feeling God’s anointing, which is another way of saying you are physically aware of God’s presence.
I’ve been in meetings where the worship leader has said something to the effect that God’s presence is very strong today and I haven’t felt a thing. But I’ve also been in meetings where I have been aware of the presence of God but when I’ve commented to others they hadn’t noticed. Sensing God’s presence is a subjective experience. We can’t expect others to feel what we do.
When we moved back to Victoria in 1996 and my husband took up a new pastoral position, the church wasn’t what I expected and it took me a while to adjust. During that time, nearly every time I went to church I felt the presence of God which was great. It made me want to go to church, however, it was only for a season and it didn’t last. God gives us what we need at the time, but he doesn’t want us relying on our feelings to know that he is with us. He is with us whether we feel it or not. He works through us whether we sense it or not. He enables and empowers whether we sense it or not.
God has also set his seal upon us and claimed us as his own. There is a similar passage in Ephesians 1: “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
God has given us the Holy Spirit as a seal so we know our inheritance is guaranteed. God has done so much for us, but this isn’t an excuse for us to sit around and wait for heaven. In the meantime, God wants to change our thinking so that it is in line with his word. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).
We are to set our hearts and set our minds on Christ. We are to change our thoughts and our attitudes so they line up with his Word. Just because “we died to sin,” doesn’t mean that sin is dead and we will never sin again. Death ends a relationship, in this case it is our relationship with sin that is dead. Unfortunately, this does not destroy sin itself. Not until, God establishes his kingdom will sin be destroyed. In the meantime, sin is still appealing which is why we are tempted. However, we overcome temptation by setting our hearts and minds on Christ. We overcome by remembering how God sees us and by keeping our thoughts in line with his truth.