Ink on Display
Do you wear any ink on your body? If you have one or more tattoos, then you understand the draw to connect your life to something bigger than yourself. Placing words, numbers or images on your flesh sends the message, “It’s not about me. There’s something/someone greater.”
Man’s desire for a mark began with the purest of intentions, because the Lord God Himself instituted it. When God called Abraham to follow Him, He created a covenant in which Abraham would mark his body to prove he belonged to the Almighty. We know this act as circumcision, and all the men in Abraham’s family took the mark. Circumcision of the flesh continues today, but Christ- followers know our spiritual marking is deeper than an altered physical appearance – our tattoo is a heart circumcised by the Holy Spirit.
“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” (Romans 2:28-29).
Once a Slave to Sin, Now a Bondservant of Christ
In his writings inspired by the Spirit, Paul turned the well-known practice of branding slaves into a beautiful truth illustrating our place in God’s heart. He states that all of us were enslaved before coming to know Jesus the Savior. Paul described the stronghold to sin’s power: “…you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2-3).
“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Now watch this! Each of us who received God’s grace has been rescued from enslavement to darkness; and although our life used to bear the markings of sin’s power at work in us, we now bear a mark of the Spirit- a “tattoo” declaring new ownership! “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession– to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14, emphasis added). God says, in essence, “You are mine. I bought you with the blood of My Son. I redeemed you, and I have marked you; you are tattooed with the Holy Spirit.”
Oswald Chambers expressed it powerfully:
“Paul’s secret joy was that God took him as a blatant rebel against Jesus Christ, and made him a captive- and that became his purpose. It was Paul’s joy to be a captive to the Lord, and he had no other interest in heaven or on earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and ‘we are more than conquerors through Him…’ (Romans 8:37).”1
Bondservant of Christ, your life is marked! You have been inked by the Holy Spirit, and it is on display! The message is clear: I am not my own! I belong to One greater whose power has overcome the world!
Can you hang with me a moment longer so that I may illustrate this truth? My friend, Frankie, doesn’t need a physical marking declaring to whom she belongs. The Spirit on display in her life says it loudly!!!! Last weekend she engaged a homeless man’s greeting and realized he needed more than a friendly hello. She knew in her heart that he wanted someone to listen to him. Frankie stopped what she was doing and gave him her attention. After he talked a bit, he paused and asked her, “Are you a Christian?” Don’t you love it? The working of the Spirit in her life to produce gentleness announced to the gentleman, “I am not my own!”
What Ink Are You Displaying?
Enslaved to the power of sin- all of us were once there. But thanks be to God who rescued us from the pit and put a new mark upon our lives- a tattoo that proclaims new ownership- to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
1 Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Updated Edition. Discovery House Publishers. Grand Rapids, MI. 1992.