1-2-1 The Hidden Man
1 Pet. 3:4 speaks of the spiritual man within us as " the hidden
man of the heart...a meek and quiet spirit" . This confirms that
this " man" is the personification of a spirit, or attitude
of mind. Thus our real spiritual person is " hidden" . The world
therefore cannot understand us, or be truly close to the believer who
has the spiritual man utmost in their heart. The Gospel itself is a "
mystery" ('something hidden'), yet this hidden mystery is the dynamic
power in our " hidden man" of the Spirit. All that is hidden
will be openly revealed in the Kingdom (Mt. 10:26). The inward man of
Rom. 7:22 is what is so important; yet the LXX in Lev. 3:14-16 uses the
same word to describe the fat surrounding the intestines, which God appeared
to so value in the sacrifices. It was not that He wanted that fat in itself;
but rather He saw that fat as representing a man's essential spirituality,
that which is developed close to the heart, unseen by others, but revealed
The real spiritual self which we are developing now will be revealed
openly when the Lord comes, both to ourselves and also to our brethren.
It is crucial to appreciate that God will not turn us into spiritual beings
after the judgment seat. The spirituality which we now have will then
be manifested in physical, bodily terms. This is why Rom. 8:11 encourages
us that if we have this spiritual man within us, then " If the spirit
of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he...shall also
quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit that (now) dwelleth in you"
. Our life is now " hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3), and
will be made manifest at his glorious appearing. Even after we die, our
‘spirit’, our essential spiritual personality, is still actively recollected
by God (cp. Heb. 12:23). It is our spiritual man which is hidden; it is
here called " our life" because it is the guarantee of our eternal
life. What higher motivation could we require than to here and now develop
the spirit of Christ? " Greater is he that is in you (i.e. your spiritual
man, Christ Jesus), than he that is in the world" (1 Jn. 4:4). If
the spiritual man is within us, we must surely win our spiritual conflict,
Rom. 2:28 continues this theme of our real spiritual self being hidden,
by saying that the true believer will " inwardly" (same word
translated " hidden" in 1 Pet. 3:4) circumcise his heart. The
works of the flesh are " manifest" , but by inference those
of the Spirit are hidden (Gal. 5:18,19). Mt. 6:4,6,18 gives triple emphasis
to the fact that God sees in secret. He alone truly and fully appreciates
our spiritual self. This is sure comfort on the many occasions where our
spirituality is misunderstood, both in the world and in the ecclesia.
Yet it also provides an endless challenge; moment by moment, our true
spiritual being is known by the Almighty, " Thou whose eyes in darkness
see, and try the heart of man" . The spiritual man which God now
knows (" sees" ) and relates to, will be what He sees at the
day of judgment. God dwells in " secret" , i.e. in the hidden
place, as well as seeing in " secret" . God is a God who hides
Himself (Is. 57:17) due to human sinfulness. If we fail to see the spiritual
man in our brethren, this must be due to a lack of real spiritual vision
in us. It is human sin which is somehow getting in the way.
" Our secret sins..."
Those disfellowshipped by the Ephesus ecclesia had committed their sins
" in secret" (Eph. 5:11,12 cp. Rev. 2:2), i.e. in the hidden
man. This is the arena of sin; in the heart. God will therefore judge
the " secrets of men" at the last day (Rom. 2:16). It is in
this context that Rom. 2:28 stresses the importance of being spiritually
circumcised " inwardly" (same word as " secrets" ).
It is our real spirituality which will then be judged, and made open for
all to see. There is enough Biblical hint that this fact will result in
some surprises. Many that are first shall be last. That principle will
prove true in many cases at the day of judgment; not just a few odd balls
who the rest of the ecclesia misjudged. Because of the evident impossibility
of our truly knowing the spiritual state of others, we need to be so careful
of forming any opinion of others, apart from firmly believing that they
are " in Christ" if their doctrine and lifestyle live up to
this. There must be so much hidden spirituality in others which we do
not appreciate. " Therefore judge nothing before the time, until
the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness,
and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts" (1 Cor. 4:5).
There are some instructive parallels here:
|" Bring to light"
||" Make manifest"
|" The hidden things of"
||" The counsels of"
||" The hearts"
The hidden man is therefore " the counsels" of the heart. How
we speak and reason to ourselves in our self-talk, this is the indicator
of the hidden man. This will be 'made manifest' to the owners of those
hearts, the Greek implies. " All things are naked and opened"
unto God anyway; the second coming will reveal nothing to Him. The making
manifest of our hidden man will be to ourselves and to others. The purpose
of the judgment seat is therefore more for our benefit than God's; it
will be the ultimate self-revelation of ourselves. Then we will know ourselves,
just as God knows us (1 Cor. 13:12). Through a glass, darkly, we can now
see the outline of our spiritual self (1 Cor. 13:11,12), although all
too often we see this picture in the spiritual mirror of self-examination,
and then promptly forget about it (James 1:23,24).
But then we will experience self-knowledge of a kind quite beyond our
present possibilities. Then we will appreciate the seriousness of sin,
and also the significance of the spirituality we have developed. The Lord
must have had this in mind when He told the parable of the virgins. The
faithful grab their lamps, their spiritual selves, and see for the first
time during their lives of waiting the real state of their oil. They can
see for themselves whether they are fit to meet their Lord or not. The
fact that we can examine ourselves now, and know whether we are in Christ
(2 Cor. 13:5), shows that we can have a foretaste of the judgment seat
even now. But is that what our all too hasty and ad lib self-examination
sessions are like? Paul rebuked Corinth for their inability to know whether
they had the Christ-man developed within them: " Know ye not...that
the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). We must reckon
ourselves dead to sin (Rom. 6:11). The Greek for " reckon" is
that translated " impute" or " count" , and which
often appears in the surrounding chapters in Romans, speaking of how God
" counts" us to be perfect. We must reckon ourselves as God
The Christ-man is first born at baptism, but it is quite possible for
it to lie dormant or even die unless it is nurtured. Almost all of us
have discovered the presence of our real spiritual man some time after
baptism. The spiritual self is begotten by the word, leading to the birth
at baptism (2 Cor. 5:17; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23); yet it is the word
which makes the " man of God" perfect or mature (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
Note that the " man of God" here probably refers to our inner
spiritual self, rather than just being an epithet for a believer. In this
case, 1 Tim. 6:11 records Paul speaking to Timothy's spiritual man: "
Thou, O man of God, flee these things" . " Man of God"
was a term used to describe the Old Testament prophets; it is as if Paul
is addressing himself to the word-developed man within Timothy. We must
likewise relate to the spiritual man within our brethren.
" That which is not corruptible"
We must not look at the outward man, either in ourselves or in others,
" but at the things which are not seen (which) are eternal"
(2 Cor. 4:18). These are parallel with the things of the " inward
man" which will not perish as our body does, but which are eternal
(2 Cor. 4:16). Here again we have encouragement that our spiritual character
is eternal; in some way it is preserved in God's mind/Spirit beyond our
death. " The hidden man...a meek and quiet spirit" is not corruptible
(1 Pet. 3:4), surely alluding to the description of our spiritual treasures
as eternally lasting in Heaven, where there is no corruption (Mt. 6:19,20).
Our future inheritance is described by Peter as " incorruptible"
(1 Pet. 1:4), yet he also speaks of God's word which creates the new man,
as also being " incorruptible" (1 Pet. 1:23), as is the hidden
man which it develops (1 Pet. 3:4). This teaches us that the new man created
within us here and now by the action of the word, is in fact strongly
related to the future " incorruptible" inheritance we will receive
at the second coming.
" The spirits of just men..."
It is this sense that having a spiritual mind now associates us with
the spirits / spiritual characters of just men of the past (Heb. 12:23).
Where our treasure is, there our heart, our spiritual man, is also; and
that treasure of a spiritual character is reserved in Heaven, to be physically
manifested at Christ's return. That inheritance in Heaven is incorruptible;
that spiritual man cannot be destroyed (1 Pet. 1:4); this is our spiritual
house in the Heavens which will remain when our earthly house of this
mortal body returns to dust (2 Cor. 5:1,2). Hence the persecuted believers
of the first century, faced with death, committed their souls (their spiritual
being) to God, to be kept by Him (1 Pet. 4:19). Paul uses similar language
in his swansong (2 Tim. 1:12). Perhaps this is the solution to Rev. 6:9,10,
which speaks of the souls of the faithful under the Christ altar, continuing
to exist in some sense after their physical death. This is perhaps one
of many allusions in the Apocalypse back to the Gospels; this time to
Mt. 10:28: " Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able
to kill the soul" . These persecuted souls appear again in Rev. 20:4,
where the " souls of them that were beheaded...lived and reigned
with Christ a thousand years" .
The point is being made that the spiritual man within us in this life
is still recognized by God after our death, and in the Kingdom this spiritual
man will be given a glorified bodily form. Of course it is evident that
we personally are not conscious after death. It is God who is conscious
of us, not the other way round. In this same sense 1 Tim. 6:19 speaks
of our good works being stored up until the judgment day. It was
a spiritually discerning hymn writer who penned: " Those characters
shall firm remain / their everlasting trust...when (all other things)
have mouldered into dust" . Because of this, the fact we have the
spiritual man within us now is a sure guarantee that we will be in the
Kingdom (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5). It is the spiritual aspect of our characters
which will continue to know and relate to each other in the Kingdom age.
The spiritual aspects of our friendships within the ecclesia are eternal.
No wonder there is such joy of fellowship possible for us now! The closeness
of spirit after a moving Bible study or exhortation, the intense unity
of fervent collective prayer, these are expressions of that interlocking
of spiritual character which will continue eternally. By contrast, if
our relationships are based around human similarity, these will "
perish" along with the outward man. The same is true of marital and