For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.…
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S DEATH. "Ye are dead." Is not this a paradox? Did not Christ come that we might have life abundantly. And yet when we enter His service we are told to die. Who can solve the enigma? Scripture only.
1. "She that liveth in pleasure," etc. (1 Timothy 5:6) — dead to spiritual things. In that heart there beats no pulse for God; in that spirit there is no desire of heaven; pleasures of sense engross it. Just the reverse of this will explain the text. Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is an enemy to God. Impiety has entered into an unholy compact to amalgamate the two; but it is a covenant with death, and shall be disannulled. The Christian regards the world as though it were not, although the difference may not be apparent to a superficial observer. Try him. Let his duty be set before him, and however difficult he will not shirk it. Mark him in sorrow sustained by an energy of which the world wotteth not. He is risen with Christ.
2. The Christian is crucified with Christ, and is so dead to sin. As by the Saviour's dying, the power of death was destroyed, so by the sinner's dying it is dethroned, and he becomes a new creature in Christ.
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S LIFE. It is hid with Christ in God.
1. In the sense of secrecy.
(1) Revelation has not been minute in new discoveries of the better world. Just enough is known to increase faith and confirm hope. This is necessary to the idea of probation, for perfect knowledge would leave no room for faith. Hence we only know in part. Our senses can give no information, for it is out of their province; it baffles reason; imagination may plume her tireless pinions, and revel in the ideal magnificence she can call into being, but still it hath not entered into the heart of man. None of those who have travelled the road have returned.
(2) This is a secrecy of mercy. The eye of the mind, like the eye of the body, is injured by excess of light; and the office of faith would be prematurely gone.
2. In the sense of security. We are continually reminded of the instability of all around us. Fair buds of promise are blighted by the wintry blast. Friends twine themselves round our affections, and then die. The world is rapidly decaying. But the life to come abideth. Time affects not them who live for ever. Death is destroyed for them, and so they are safe. Where is it hidden? With Christ. Where He is — in that land where "there shall in nowise enter anything that can hurt or destroy." "In God," in His great heart — who is never faithless to His promise, and whose perfections are pledged to confer it. How can we be distrustful?
III. THE CHRISTIAN'S PROSPECTS (ver. 4). These words imply —
1. Enjoyment. Scanty as is our knowledge of the future, enough is revealed to exalt our highest hopes. It is brought before us as an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled; as a paradise amongst whose trees of life there lurks no serpent; a country every fresh revelation of whose beauties shall augment our knowledge and joy; a city whose every gate is of jewellery, whose every street is a suntrack; as a temple, and above all as our Father's house where our elder Brother dwells. Yet these are but emblems.
2. Manifestation. The irreligious world perceives a difference between it and the children of God which it cannot understand. It thinks not that that man whom it charges with hypocrisy or fanaticism is among the favoured ones of heaven, and that beneath a beggar's robes there throbs a prince's soul. Bide your time. With what different feelings will they be regarded when they appear with Him in the glory of the Father and with the holy angels.
IV. THE CHRISTIAN'S DUTY (ver. 2). If all this be the case, how can we resist the conclusion? For a Christian to be absorbed in the gainfulness of the world is at once an infatuation and a sin. It is as though a prince were to revel with beggars. What have you, of the blood royal of heaven, to do with this vain fleeting show? Call faith to your aid — "the evidence of things not seen."
(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.