The Hidden Man of the Heart

There is a verse in the Proverbs which reads, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter”, 25. 2. In general, this is a feature of the Old Testament, and though in the New the whole truth is revealed, it requires on our part much searching out, described in this verse as honourable. Indeed, much of the truth in the Word of God is not spread out on the surface or broadcast, with the exception of the way of salvation for the sinner. By the grace of God, His eternal power and Godhead are tcybe seen in His creation, leaving man /without excuse, Rom. 1. 20. So clear in this way (“The way of holiness”) that in the “gospel according to Isaiah” the prophet declares that “the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein”, Isa. 35. 8. This principle of hiding what is valuable is a feature with God, and runs through the Scriptures; it is thus seen to be unseemly to cast “pearls before swine”, Matt. 7. 6.

In the parabolic ministry of the Lord Jesus this is seen extensively, especially in the Gospel by Matthew, ch. 13. There the disciples ask Him, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?”, v.10. He replied, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given”. Beautifully, in the same Gospel Matthew records, “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes”, 11. 25. The truth of God is exceedingly precious, and is to be so guarded by us to whom it is confided as a trust. Again this Gospel speaks of the hidden treasure, “one pearl of great price” (His church), and of the merchant man (Christ, the Connoisseur) who sold “all that he had, and bought it”, 13. 44-46. What a price did He pay to gain His Bride! It takes a Paul to have any true estimate and heart-appreciation of the value of that sacrifice, and he writes of the One who was rich and for our sakes became poor, 2 Cor. 8. 9.

When we speak of being “here for Christ”, very often what is uppermost in our mind is that of rendering service for Him: very good, but His heart predominently is looking for affections which are as a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, exclusively for Him. He would say to us, as He did to Israel, “I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies”, Hos. 2. 19. Paul, in the same vein, says to the Corinthians, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”, 2 Cor. 11. 2. Simplicity of affection for Christ is everything, transcending in His estimation the most devoted service. In this aspect, the occasion for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, when the heart is strangely moved, may have a more profound and lasting effect than the most able and enlightening ministry. The reason, of course, is that the Holy Spirit is Himself ministering directly to the soul (and not through another), the enthralling and captivating love of Christ in all its strength.

Remarkably enough, in the Colossian Epistle there is but one passing reference to the Spirit, 1. 8; the idea of what is hidden, however, is prominent.

  1. “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”, 1. 26, 27. A mystery in Scripture is not something incapable of being understood, but rather what was hidden in the sovereignty of God and made known to the initiated (His saints). From them is expected an appreciation of the richness of its glory, commensurate with that which constitutes that glory, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. (“Hope” in Scripture denotes what is assured, with no uncertainty).
  2. Again in this Epistle Paul writes, “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, 2. 2, 3. Before speaking of what is so precious and to be treasured, Paul refers to a state in the saints, “knit together in love”, which ensures a true valuation of that which God delights to make known, the mystery.
  3. Further, he writes, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God”, 3. 2, 3. Do any lack full assurance of salvation? The apostle states here the security of the life of the believer hidden where sin and death eternally can never come or touch.

Peter’s writing is, in general, what we speak of as “kingdom truth”, of moral character and of righteousness. He rises, however, to sublime heights of beauty when he says, “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price”, 1 Pet. 3. 4. This is the man to be cultivated in secret communion with God and the Lord Jesus, hidden from our brethren’s sight and even from those nearest to us, yet in the sight of God of great price. Our service will thus be much richer and more fruitful. The end of all service is to be for the glory and pleasure of God. The divine estimate of the value of this hidden man is “of great price”.

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