The Hidden Life

“Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
—Colossians 3:3

IN THE APOSTLE’S LETTER to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colosse, he approaches the subject of holiness in quite an open and somewhat personal manner, but helpful to all desiring to complete their consecration to the Lord in faithfulness and in triumph. In the first verse of this chapter Paul reasons thus, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” That is, lift your thoughts and affections to things above, things which are heavenly, and seek to dwell in thought and affection where Christ is, at the right hand of God.

Similar language is used by Paul in writing to the Ephesian brethren. He [God] “raised us up together, and seated us together in the heavenlies.” (Eph. 2:6, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) In these remarks we are exhorted to appropriate to ourselves the heavenly citizenship, and by so doing enliven our heavenly or spiritual aspirations, and to set our affections on things above, not on things of the earth.

Our affections are important to us. They are a disposition of the mind which is directed to certain objects, or to persons. They are also emotions of the heart, and therefore a state of feeling, of friendship toward another, of good will, warm attachment, love, and sympathy, as the apostle again suggests, “Be kindly affectioned one to another.”—Rom. 12:10

We set our “affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:2,3) These two statements appear contradictory, but are not when properly understood. We are ‘dead’ as human beings in the sense that we have devoted our humanity to sacrifice, and it is as spirit-begotten New Creatures (II Cor. 5:17) that we are hidden with Christ in God. By faith we reckonedly ‘died’ with Christ at consecration. There we covenanted sacrificially to change our viewpoint of life from self to God, and henceforth to seek to do his will in all our ways.—Rom. 12:2; 6:11

Our viewpoint of life is now eternal. We are still the same person, but with a changed purpose in life. This change makes us a new and different individual in character, or personality. The change is toward righteousness, truth, peace, and love for God and for Christ Jesus our Lord, and for all who are of a like purpose of life. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh” with its affections and its corrupted desires.—Gal. 5:24

What, then, is our responsibility as New Creatures in Christ? First, it is to mortify—put to death—our earthly inclinations, or our “old man,” as Paul states it. (Rom. 6:6) Second, we are to nurture, cultivate, and bring to maturity the “new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”—Eph. 4:24

For the ‘new man’ only is there hope for a future life, and that hope depends upon growing up into Christ in all things. (Eph. 4:15) There can be no future life for the ‘old man.’ The Scriptures declare, ‘They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.’ The life which we now live as New Creatures in Christ, we live by faith. This new life is in God’s keeping, and only by our own unfaithfulness is there danger of its destruction.

“Wherefore, my beloved, … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12,13) We need to ‘work’ with God that we might know definitely what it is, with God’s help, that we have to accomplish. In this chapter the apostle gives us clear instructions and helpful advice for this work.

We are at war with our old man. Paul wrote, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.” (Col. 3:5) “Put off the old man with his deeds.” (vs. 9) The great favors, which God has already bestowed upon us, do not in any way relieve us of these matters—rather the reverse—and we should be careful not to allow them to lull us to sleep in vain imaginings. Paul warned, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”—I Cor. 10:12

Let us redouble our efforts to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh. (II Cor. 7:1) In so doing we will demonstrate our true heart intention and be helped in building up character. This is our personal responsibility. Therefore let us seek to do as the Apostle Paul advises; that is, to “put on the new man.” (Col. 3:10) Let us endeavor daily, as “the elect of God,” with all sincerity and dignity, to put on “bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, … And above all these things put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, … and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; … And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him.”—Col. 3:10-17

When all the elect of God so live, and so express their personality as New Creatures, what a happy and blessed family it is! It represents the joint, the participated life, we now enjoy with others of the Christ family in which there is one Head, one spirit, one hope, and one life. It is, in reality, a foretaste of the fuller life that awaits us. (I John 3:1-3) “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) Meanwhile, let us adorn the “hidden man of the heart” with what is incorruptible, “a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”—I Pet. 3:4

It is encouraging to know and realize that God, our Lord, and all the holy angels, are greatly interested in our welfare as New Creatures. Every fitting and proper assistance is rendered to help us to be successful. Yet the matter of our continued existence is our personal responsibility. It is only those who “endure unto the end,” that shall be saved.—Matt. 24:13


The hidden life is one of faith. “The just shall live by faith.” (Heb. 10:38) “Without faith it is impossible to please him [God].” (Heb. 11:6) Therefore without faith there can be no hidden life. The apostle says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”—Gal. 2:20

What was true of the Apostle Paul is equally true of us. The faith of Jesus Christ brought us justification, a condition of being made right with God. The faith of the Son of God has brought us life, the hidden life which we now enjoy, as a result of our consecration to God.—Rom. 5:1


Without holiness, we read, “no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14) Jesus said the pure in heart “shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8) The Apostle John says, “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (I John 3:3) And those enjoying the hidden life are not of the world. (John 17:16) Consequently they avoid all unnecessary contact with it, particularly everything calculated to hinder their life of faith. Paul exhorted, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate.”—II Cor. 6:17,18

We have sympathy for the world, and look forward to the appointed time when we will have the privilege of dispensing God’s blessings to suffering humanity. Meanwhile, we are striving to qualify for this honor by seeking truth in the inward parts—righteousness, godliness, holiness. Our ambition is to glorify God in all things and to become conformed to the image of his dear Son.—Rom. 8:29

We seek to practice love, sympathy, patience, faith, and all those traits of character represented in the Lord. Those virtues, Peter said, will make us to “neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. … For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (II Pet. 1:6-11) All who would nurture the hidden life, all who seek to walk with God and hold communion with him and with his dear Son, as friend converses with friend, will find that they do so only on condition of holiness of heart.

So long as one would cherish any unworthy thing, or voluntarily indulge in any known sin, he erects a wall of separation between himself and his Father to whom he has become attached. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” (Hab. 1:13) The hidden life can prosper only by complete surrender to God, in harmony with our consecration vows.


It is inconceivable to think that we might enjoy to the full those precious truths we have considered, except through prayer. Have we noticed how the promises attached to prayer are so definite? “Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) “Let your requests be made known unto God.” (Phil. 4:6) These words should encourage us to be “instant in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12) Indeed our whole life should be one of prayer. “Pray without ceasing,” says the apostle, in I Thessalonians 5:17.

There are, as we are aware, certain conditions to be observed regarding prayer. It must be a prayer of faith. It must be offered in God’s appointed way, in the name of Jesus. (John 16:24) It must be subject to God’s will, and it is noticeable that God seems specially to favor secret prayer. “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father … and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee.” (Matt. 6:6) God’s children have a right to pray and are promised beforehand that the answer is assured. Just as our faith is true and constant, even so our prayers should be fervent and continuous to be acceptable.


The hidden life of the New Creature is also one of implicit trust. God’s children endeavor to persevere along an even tenor of their way, undismayed by things around them, undisturbed by the events of life, exercising a constant trust in their Heavenly Father’s overruling providence, realizing that of themselves they can do nothing. (John 15:5) At the same time, knowing that all things are possible to the Lord, they are a childlike, trustful folk, “Simply trusting every day; trusting through a stormy way; even when my store is small—trusting Jesus, that is all.”—Hymns of Dawn, no. 263

‘Simply trusting’ is only possible to God’s dear children because of his revelation of himself to them through the knowledge of his Word. They know him whom they have believed and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which they have committed to him against that day. Hence they implicitly trust him.—II Tim. 1:12


The hidden life is based on love. It must be love of the right kind. If our love for God is based merely upon what we may hope to receive from him in return, it shows quite clearly that our love is, after all, a love of self and not a love of God. Whereas, if we love him without measure because he is God, then it will be our delight to know him, to do his will, and to glorify him. Such love will lead one to eternal life; whereas, a love of self may, or can, lead to death. Thus the truest love for self is expressed in supreme love for God.—I John 4:19; 3:16

Our life is hid with Christ in God because God loves us. Our life already is where God would have us—hid with Christ. Even now we know something of the effect of the hidden life which leads to joy and pleasures otherwise unknown. We find elevating, ennobling, purifying experiences of peace, joy, and happiness of which the world can know nothing.—John 17:13; 14:27


Folded and protected in the arms of boundless love and infinite power, we give our all to God and take all from him, as dear children, willing to let our Heavenly Father guide us in everything; willing to have little or much as he sees fit; willing to know and not to know; willing to go or to stay; willing to sit down or rise up; to be silent or to speak; willing to be honored or dishonored; to be on the mount of joy or in the valley of sorrow; to be anything or nothing, just as God wills. Our heart’s song is “I love thy will, O God, Thy blessed perfect will, In which this once rebellious heart lies satisfied and still.”—Hymns of Dawn, no. 114


The apostle exhorts those enjoying the hidden life to “put on the whole armour of God” that they “may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:11,12) Everything connected with our old nature is opposed to the hidden life. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other.”—Gal. 5:17

What a constant warfare it is as we strive to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling! (Phil. 2:12) Not only have we the desires of the flesh to contend with, but additionally the attractions of the world, which at times seem to impose themselves upon us the more we seek to escape them.

Then there are the snares of the Adversary so subtly set to entangle us. At times they seem to bewilder us. Yet God, who is greater than all our enemies, loves us. He has given us great and precious promises for our encouragement to offset all the allurements around us. (I Pet. 3:4) “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.”—Ps. 62:5


We must cooperate with the Lord and with his people, or our service will not be acceptable. It is not for us to determine the station of our service, or the work we do, but all must be done to the glory of God our Father. Our attitude should ever be of silent, sincere waiting, that we might learn to know what he would have us do, in what manner, and the time when it is to be done. Jesus was our great example in this, for he always sought to please his Father in what he said, what he did, and the hour for it to be accomplished.—John 2:4; 12:33

Only in this way can we hope to avoid all bias and all thought of self in our service. Let us freely acknowledge and bear in mind the fact that of ourselves we can do nothing. (John 15:5) It is necessary that we be but empty vessels to be filled with his Spirit, for only in this way can we hope to render acceptable cooperation with God. “What hast thou that thou didst not receive?”—I Cor. 4:7

It is well to remind ourselves of these things from time to time, and so keep ourselves wholehearted for all that God has for us to do in serving his purposes and each other. All who are thus united to God in Christ Jesus should expect to have evidences of being under the influence of the Holy Spirit and realize that their life is hid with Christ in God. “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.”—Ps. 144:15

Let us see this in another figure. It is necessary to our happiness and success in our service to the Lord that our service to others now, or in the future, be in accordance with what we absorb from our great Master. Jesus revealed this to his disciples when describing the fruitfulness of the vine, the true vine, and the branches, under the care of the husbandman. It is that which we receive from God, and not what we provide, that counts. Let us not forget this principle of true life from God. But what of our future life and hope? It is this, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”—Col. 3:4


One manifestation of the hidden life is evidenced in a profound love for the Bible as the source of spiritual life, inspiration, and repose. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”—John 6:63; Matt. 4:4

Another is to be seen in a fervent love for the brethren. (I Pet. 1:22; I John 3:16) If any one lacks in this, he should realize that he falls short in one very important element. “He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”—I John 4:20

Another manifestation might be seen in our sufferings for righteousness’ sake. Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:33) No truly devoted child of God escapes from some form of tribulation. All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (II Tim. 3:12) There are sorrows of mind, as well as sufferings of body, for each one to endure, made necessary that the naturally corrupted heart become purified and acceptable to God.

It is when all human supports are removed that faith is tested and tried, and valuable lessons are learned. Certainly those possessing the hidden life have their peculiar trials and temptations, and like all temptations, the attack is first made upon the intellect, by thought or perception. Our Lord’s noble example in the wilderness should assist us to see the importance of resisting at this point. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) How much pain of heart, of grief, and sorrow we would save ourselves if we but followed the Lord’s example!

When the apostle says, ‘Ye are dead,’ he does not mean that we are literally, actually, in such a state that we cannot sin. It is the overcoming of temptation that will gain the crown—“He that overcometh.”—Rev. 3:21

It has been suggested that the more holy the life, the more violent the temptations. Satan will make us sin if he can. Let us bear in mind that the Lord is with us, and we will not turn to him in vain. God is faithful! He will not suffer us to be “tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13) Prayer to him brings instant relief, if not entire escape. Very few, if any, have become strong in faith who have not passed through severe trials.

Another manifestation or evidence of possessing the hidden life will be the desire always to avoid unnecessary familiarities with the world. We should be pursuing a lowly, retired course, following the precepts and example of our Savior. Our life is a sealed book except to those who share it with us. God knows those who are his, which is all that is necessary.

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23) To experience this is a human thrill known only to those who are dead and their life is hid with Christ in God. And then, “Christ in you,” says the apostle is “the hope of glory.”—Col. 1:27

The joy and peace and rest of faith are such valuable treasures that even martyrdom becomes insignificant in comparison with being with the Lord, sharing his glory and honor and service; the thought of when he shall appear has been the incentive and delight of our entire walk of faith. The exceeding great and precious promises, their sustaining power, the Heavenly Father’s graciousness, and the supervision of all our affairs, will complete the triumph. ‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’

The birth of the hidden life will eventually be accomplished. Then, in “thy presence” will be “fulness of joy; at thy right hand” there will be pleasures (delightfulness) evermore. (Ps. 16:11) It will be the end of any human warfare, the consummation of all our hopes, and the receiving of that ‘new name.’ It will mean the fulfillment of that delightful love song of the Song of Songs. It will be the revealing of that hidden treasure, for which one sold his all to secure, buying the field in which it was hid. It will be the completion of the desired habitation of God himself. It will bring the greatest thrill of all prospective brides—“the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9), and the crown of life, with that great assurance that presently everything that hath breath shall praise Jehovah!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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