By Michael E. Brooks
“In him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14 NKJV).
As nine other persons who were also preparing to put Christ on in baptism, a preacher and a few witnesses watched, Ramesh took off his “Brahmin String”, held it aloft for all to see, then dropped it in the river to wash downstream, forever given up in favor of a new status in Christ. Never again will Ramesh claim caste or social status based on his Hindu family origins or because of any physical claims to superiority. He says, as did Paul many centuries ago, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7).
The Brahmin string, worn next to the skin throughout the life of a Hindu of that caste, signifies his or her status. Though others may not see it, it continually reminds the wearer of who he is and to what he is entitled in that system. Other religions and cultures have similar symbols which convey a sense of identity to their owners.
Christians are not instructed in the New Testament to wear any physical or outward symbol of their faith. One cannot assume righteousness or salvation based upon a piece of jewelry, a kind of clothing, or any other physical emblem. That is not to say that there is no sign of a Christian’s status however. According to Scripture, God gives us his Spirit as our seal or guarantee of his promised salvation. It signifies our status, reminding us and all who see us of whose and what we are.
Some assume this is a reference to some miraculous manifestation or gift of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues or performing miracles of healing. Not every Christian in the first century had these gifts however (1 Corinthians 12-14), and we today possess none of them. Yet every Christian is given the Spirit himself as a gift, and as a witness of the gospel’s power within him (Acts 2:38; 4:32; Romans 8:9, 16). Though we cannot know every way the Spirit affects us, it is certain that one clear manifestation of his presence within a Christian is the fruit which is borne in each person’s life. This fruit includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These characteristics also constitute the spiritual nature of Jesus, of which it is said, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his” (Romans 8:9).
We need not wear a cross, a string, or a holy amulet to remind ourselves or others that we have exalted status in Christ Jesus. The Spirit of God, evidenced by our godly lives and natures, bears witness that we are Children of God (Romans 8:16) and guarantees that God’s promises will be kept. He is “The guarantee of our inheritance.” We need nothing else.