What does it mean, in Colossians 3:3, when it is said that our “life is hidden with Christ in God”?
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
First, lets define a couple words:
- Hidden (adjective)
- to hide, conceal, to be hid
- escape notice
- metaphorically to conceal (that it may not become known)
Thus, to be hidden is to be concealed or obscured from something else. Tumors are typically hidden until revealed by a CAT, X-Ray or MRI image. The frailty of the financial industry was hidden before it was exposed by the mortgage crisis of 2008. The true nature of the average American was hidden until hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and mass looting ensued and the local government began going from house to house and illegally seizing weapons from law abiding citizens.
Furthermore, to be hidden is only meaningful when there are at least two or more parties or two or more objects in play at any given time: two people can't play “hide-n-go-seek” when only one person knows that the game is being played.
- Life (noun)
- the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate
- every living soul
- of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical.
Thus, life in this context, refers to everything we are, both in essence and in spirit.
So, this question must be asked: hidden from what?
Hidden from the "Certificate of Debt"
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (NASB - Colossians 2:13-14)
What is the this “certificate of debt”? The greek word used for “certificate of debt” is actually a compound word “cheirographon”. It is a combination of two words: “cheir” and “grapho”.
- By the help or agency of any one, by means of any one.
- Thus, this applies to the effectual agency, efficacy and effect or affect of the object.
- To write, with reference to the content of the writing.
- Thus, this applies to the letters and words written.
- a note of hand or writing in which one acknowledges that money has either been deposited with him or lent to him by another, to be returned at the appointed time.
Thus, this “certificate of debt” is the Law written against us:
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; (NASB - Romans 3:19-22)
Paul also illustrates the accountability and debt incurred by the law:
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (KJV - Galatians 5:3)
And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. (NASB - Galatians 5:3)
Wages are Earned, Debts are Owed
Wages are a thing earned, they are a thing received. You are paid wages, you receive wages. You do not incur a debt when you sin, you are paid wages:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(KJV - Romans 6:23)
A certificate of debt, on the other hand, describes a thing owed by you to another. It is a mortgage, a bank note describing something owed. The Law describes the righteousness we owe God.
Therefore, the Law does not justify but rather it is a certificate of accountability to God, it is a certificate of debt of required righteousness.
Nailed and Paid
Jesus not only nailed the certificate of our debt to the cross and left it there, He paid our wages for our sins:
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
All of these things describe the completeness of the redemptive work of Christ, and the completeness of the state of being hidden that we enjoy. The question remains then, from what exactly are we hidden from?
Hidden from Wrath
In the Old Testament, it is clear that there were those that could be hidden from “the day of the Lord's anger” and those that were not:
Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the LORD'S anger. (Zephaniah 2:3)
Thus, if you were not “hidden in the day of the LORD's anger”, then you perished. However, if you were “hidden” from His wrath, then you survived and you and/or your children eventually returned to Jerusalem with the opportunity to rebuild His temple and your life:
"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds," declares the LORD. "Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. "I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD. "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. (NASB - Jeremiah 23:1-5)
In the New Testament, we see a similar vein of thought in reference to “children of disobedience”:
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (NASB - Ephesians 5:6)
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (NASB - Ephesians 2:3)
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (NASB - Romans 5:9-10)
Before being hidden with Christ, we were therefore:
- Dead in our transgressions
- even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:5)
- Without hope in this world and without God
- remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Our Position in Christ
Colossians 3:1-10 contains many statements regarding the position of believers in Christ:
We are dead (v.3), have taken off the old self (v.9), have put on the new self (v.10), have been raised with Christ (v.1), and we are hidden with Christ who is at the right hand of God (v.1,3)
All of these things are already true because we are already in Christ. Furthermore, we cannot do for ourself what has already been done for us. The difference between New Age philosophy (“believe it and it will be true”) is that the Christian rests on the paradigm of “it is true, therefore I believe it”.
Our Guarantees in Christ
- We are no longer bound by a Certificate of Death; it has been canceled.
- We are no longer Dead in our Transgressions
- We are no longer Children of Disobedience
- We are no longer Subject to the wrath of God
- We are no longer Separated from Christ
- We have Hope in this World and are in God
- We are no longer Condemned
- There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)