Are You Hiding?

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Psalm 31:19 [Oh] how great [is] thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; [which] thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! 20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. 21 Blessed [be] the LORD: for he hath showed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.

Childhood Innocence

Think back when you were a little child. As you look upon the innocent little face of a 1-2 year old, they have their eyes all opened, they are just receiving everything into their little brain. They are innocent, they don’t know much. They don’t understand much. All that they are doing is learning. They are as a white page, open to receive the messages that come to them through their eyes and ears. They have become conscious in the early moments of childhood, and as their parents look after them, they trust them. They are easily made happy, they are unsuspecting. They are cared for, so that they have no cares.

Can you remember your early childhood? I can remember mine back to a very early age. I once described certain things to my mother and she said, You were only 1 year old then. I even remember her changing my nappies. I remember lying in the hospital when the nurses were fixing up my umbilical cord. That was very early in my childhood. As I gaze back I remember distinctly how trusting and dependent I was.

Jesus Himself said to the people in His time, and so also to us now, Suffer little children to come unto Me; why? For of such is the kingdom of heaven. On another occasion He took a little child upon His knees, in front of the disciples, and said,

Matthew 18:3 … Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Imagine an adult with such a childlike nature. But we don’t have to imagine long because in the Bible we see Adam and Eve. They were exactly like that; big strong people – Adam around 12 foot tall, a big muscular man; Eve just a little shorter than him – and here were these large-to-life human beings untouched by corruption, a white page, soft, loving, meek, childlike, gentle, created in God’s image. When God looked at everything that He had done, He said it was very good. Adam and Eve were very good.

When Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. “God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image–the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator. {Ed 15.1}

This childlike characteristic was to strengthen in the life of these untouched human beings, Adam and Eve. Consider those words, “For of such is the kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven, the image of God, is of a childlike softness, a loving, meek, gentle, innocent nature. But as we know, this beautiful childlike nature becomes marred by evil that comes in. Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan into disobeying their Father who created them. As they fell into that sin, by Eve giving heed to the deception, and then Adam taking the fruit in his turn, can you imagine the experience they made, the bewilderment? Can you picture a little child that is suddenly jarred by something? It shakes itself in bewilderment, and it begins to weep. The image of innocence has just been marred. It has just been rattled, and the childlike nature feels cheated. It feels that someone has done it some harm. It feels condemned. Have I done something wrong? I can still picture in my mind the little children: when something rattles them they are shocked, and the expression of the look in their faces says, What’s happened? what have I done?? The innocence with its simplicity has been affected; it’s been played a trick upon. And with the hurt, the guilt, and the embarrassment, there is, like with Adam and Eve, a sense of shame, What now? Its peace has been disturbed.

What happened in Adam and Eve’s experience? This beautiful trusting relationship had been marred by someone who had shaken that innocent attribute:

Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked;

What a discovery. They were rattled, confused. And what did they do?

Genesis 3:7 …and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:

At first they always looked forward to Him coming, but now their system has been jarred, their innocence has been marred, and they feel guilty and ashamed. So they run.

Genesis 3:8 …and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. 

Are you hiding? They went and hid. They were hiding from God. What a pitiful sight. Hiding from an all-seeing God. Have you ever seen a little child trying to hide from its parents? Especially the really little ones, they put their hands on their faces, I can’t see you, you can’t see me. It’s that kind of innocence where you think you are hiding from someone who knows where you are. The child can hear the parent’s voice. The parent knows exactly where the child is. This was the condition of Adam and Eve – they were hiding from God who knew exactly where they were. Watch them and what they are hiding behind. Not only in the trees.

Genesis 3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where [art] thou?

God does the childlike thing. They’re still children really, but all marred. What does Adam say in response?

Genesis 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I [was] naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou [wast] naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

The Blame Game

What does Adam now say?

Genesis 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest [to be] with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

What was he just doing? Hiding behind the woman.

Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What [is] this [that] thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Where was she hiding? Behind the serpent. What a sad story – hiding, hiding, hiding all the time. What are we to understand here? To hide does not just mean to hide your person somewhere; it is something that we do inside of ourselves. Hiding behind someone, behind something.

Cheated by Sin

Ever since that sad scene of the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind is hiding, because from innocence of infancy sin has cheated every human being. Every child, as it grows up, can see sin and corruption around it, and it feels cheated. It feels depressed and sad because of what is going on. If mother and father are arguing, if the child is tempted by something and it does something wrong and is treated roughly, the child is jarred within and it starts to hide. Have you ever seen children hiding behind something because they’ve done something wrong, hiding what they have done wrong?

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

All have sinned, and all have marred their childlike innocence.

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,

Their children were affected. The adults affect the children, and it is passed on and on; and the children are forever hiding because they don’t enjoy this experience.

Christ is the “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. {Ed 29.1}

The innocence, the beauty of Christ can be seen inside of a child. It is Christ that lights every man that comes into the world.

As through Christ every human being has life, so also through Him every soul receives some ray of divine light. {Ibid.}

That is the image of God in the child. That’s why Jesus said, Unless you become converted and become as a little child, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven; because the little child has something in it that comes from Christ.

Not only intellectual but spiritual power, a perception of right, a desire for goodness, exists in every heart. {Ibid.}

The child wants goodness. This desire exists in every heart.

But against these principles there is struggling an antagonistic power. The result of the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is manifest in every man’s experience. There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist. {Ibid.}

The little child is bewildered; that goodness inside of the child, which is the light given by Christ, that light, that innocence, meekness, gentleness, loveliness, is confused inside of the child, because there is also inside of the child a bent to evil. And the evil around that child plays a role in all this. Can you see what actually jars the system?

Sooner or later every human being discovers his childhood innocence as smudged by that bent to evil and the evil that surrounds them. There is this shocked system that asks, What’s happened?? Why has my peace been destroyed? It is the sense of being cheated, the hurt, the vulnerable sensation, the shame. Every person has that child inside of them, a child that is still suffering under what it has been subjected to. And it hides itself from further hurt. The child inside of us doesn’t want to get hurt anymore, so it puts a crust of protection around it behind which it can hide, so it doesn’t get hurt. It tries to anyway, just like Adam and Eve tried to hide themselves. We erect hiding places. We weave a covering of our own around us.

Isaiah 59:6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works [are] works of iniquity, and the act of violence [is] in their hands.

We try to cover ourselves, like Adam and Eve were trying to cover themselves with fig leaves. Those fig leaves are a symbol of what we try to cover ourselves with by weaving a protective layer around the little child inside of us.

It is true that there may be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing power of Christ. {SC 58.1}

What is it that we put around us to protect us? Many people do this:

The love of influence and the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well-ordered life. Self-respect may lead us to avoid the appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions. {Ibid.}

We cover ourselves with outward correctness, doing everything right to perfection. We cover ourselves with this, we make ourselves feel better by that, to hide away those inward corruptions, because we want to have an influence and we desire the esteem of others. You see this with a child. It wants to receive approval, the esteem of others. We cover ourselves with doing good – our own righteousness.

No man can of himself understand his errors. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. The lips may express a poverty of soul that the heart does not acknowledge. {COL 159.1}

We cover ourselves with good statements; we say things that a Christian should express. I’m a Christian because look how humble I am. We hide behind that.

While speaking to God of poverty of spirit, the heart may be swelling with the conceit of its own superior humility and exalted righteousness. {Ibid.}

These are the things that we can hide behind, plus other things as well. Many religious people are sinners trying to hide behind their interpretation of faith, behind their erection of high standards. They will hide behind that by then seeing other people who aren’t living up to the high standards; and they make themselves feel better that way.

Although we do not acknowledge that the object of defaming another is to exalt self, self-exaltation is behind the practise of noting the shortcomings of others. {RH, May 12, 1896 par. 2}

What are we hiding behind? What did Adam hide behind? The shortcomings of Eve. Eve hid behind the serpent. We hide behind the shortcomings of others and we defame others so that we can make ourselves feel better. Although we do not acknowledge this, yet if you carefully examine under the guidance of the Spirit of God, this is the reason why we defame others – it makes us feel better. We don’t acknowledge it, but that’s what is behind the defaming of another. This is as a consequence of sin.

Those who are working for God should put away all unkind criticism, and draw together in unity. {UL 366.3}

Facades

And those who reject religion are ever ready to point this out to the religious people: Look at them! They are arguing among themselves, they are vying with each other. The unbelievers pinpoint these things; they pinpoint Christians as being hypocrites, because they can see what they are hiding behind. But those unbelievers, atheists, who reject God and His truth, what are they hiding behind? Human beings pick out everybody else’s faults so that they can hide behind something. The child inside of them is hiding. Some of these people have great capabilities; they have intelligent minds. Have you heard these intelligent scientists who reject the biblical account of creation? They are very intelligent, they have good arguments, they have capabilities, they have successes, they have achieved things, and they become workaholics, because they are hiding their little self behind these great facades of success.

There is many a sensitive soul who ducks behind a boisterous front. Have you seen these macho men, these boisterous men on their motorbikes, on their Harley Davidsons? It gives them a sense of power, and they can hide their sensitive little child inside of this boisterous show. The Australians, for example, they really hide behind that Aussie occa image; or the British stiff upper lip, they are so correct in everything; or the German arrogance, this is where unbelievers hide.

The comedian, where is he hiding? Under the teasing, joking, quick-witted exterior. What is behind it? An inward softness, a shyness, a tense spirit that is always trembling inside. Like a little child, it is upset inside of it, so I’ve got to make some jokes to make myself feel better. A jokey spirit covers the little child inside. It is hiding behind that.

There are also some very honest people out there, extremely intelligent people. They can see everything I have just described, but they are looking for a hiding place that they can’t find very easily, so where do they hide? Behind substance abuse – alcohol, drugs. They don’t feel comfortable hiding behind all these facades, so they hide themselves behind alcohol; because they know how inadequate all these other things are. They are too intelligent. So they drown their intelligence in alcoholism.

Now in the light of everything we have covered, Where are you hiding? How well are you feeling covered hiding somewhere? Like Adam and Eve, like the child hiding its face in its hands, saying, You can’t see me, Mommy. Isn’t that what we are hiding behind? We can’t really hide, but we think we are.

In this world of sin, of the threats that every individual is subject to, we require some place to hide. We need to hide somewhere so that we can be protected, so that the little child inside of us can be protected. We need to hide somewhere that is a secure hiding place. Having covered the different places behind which people hide, our intelligent mind says, “Nah, this is insufficient; this is inadequate to hide behind all these things. I know it. It’s not doing a proper job. It is not giving me peace inside.”

A Real Hiding Place

Is there a real hiding place, a legitimate covering that we can have, something better than what we usually hide behind? Let us return to Adam and Eve’s story and see what God did for them when they were trying to cover themselves with their own webs, their own fabrication of fig leaves. What did God do to help them hide their nakedness? Here is a wonderful provision which God gave and which has many connotations of truth connected with it:

Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

If you are a person who has been uncovered and you just try to cover yourself with some flimsy webs, you still feel like hiding the rest, don’t you? Adam and Eve had just fig leaves garments; but what did God provide? Coats, garments that covered them completely, just like the light that used to cover them. Their nakedness was covered, and they could hide behind that garment which was provided for them. What did that garment represent? An animal had to be slain, which was the sacrifice that pointed to Christ, so that we could be covered and hidden in Christ. We don’t need those other hiding places anymore when we have found the right one.

This is now a legitimate hiding place that we so desperately need. That little child, of which Jesus spoke when He said that we needed to be born again and become as little children, needs to find a hiding place in this world of sin:

Psalm 32:7 Thou [art] my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.

He is talking about God: Thou art my hiding place.

Psalm 31:19 [Oh] how great [is] thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; [which] thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! 20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. 21 Blessed [be] the LORD: for he hath showed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.

He is our hiding place, His presence is. If I want to release myself from all those childlike bewilderments, from the trembling of my soul inside of me, I can safely hide myself in the presence of God; that is where my hiding place is. That is legitimate and adequate. God has provided that protection. In the Old Testament, among the Hebrews, when a person was found who had broken the law and who was condemned to die, he could run away from the one who would condemn him to the cities of refuge.

A city of refuge – for he hath showed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city/a fenced city (as the margin says) – a fence behind which you can hide. Those cities of refuge represented Jesus Christ, the presence of God.

How effective and adequate is Jesus as a hiding place and a covering for me? When I feel endangered, and I am searching for somewhere to hide because I have a feeling of insecurity, this feeling of condemnation, of guilt and bewilderment, the impression that I can’t find my way out of all this feeling, I need to feel enclosed and secure. What is it that seeks a hiding place? The part of me that feels condemnation and guilt, that feels punishment threatening me. This is what Adam and Eve were running away from; that is what children run away from. This is what adults hide themselves away from behind these facades. But does God provide a secure hiding place from those feelings of inadequacy and bewilderment, of feeling hurt and shredded of all security? Is there a secure place in what God provides?

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God talks about people who hide in darkness and who don’t like the light. But when the light of Jesus does come, it is a place where we can hide. Yet unfortunately the people don’t quite understand it.

John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

I am hiding myself from condemnation; Adam hid himself behind the trees. But then God provided Jesus Christ for them.

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

When someone has done something wrong, they hide in the darkness; they like darkness. Because if the light were to shine upon their doing, they would feel even more unprotected.

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

If you know that you are right, you don’t have to run. If you know that you are under God’s wonderful counsel, you don’t have to hide; you are secure. But people need to believe in Jesus, and those who believe must first of all come to the light that shows them that they are hiding behind something that is not secure. But of course it makes them uncomfortable, and they want to get back to what they feel might be security for them; but it’s never secure. They don’t want the light, I don’t want to know; I don’t want to know the pure light. I have seen this in certain people I have studied with. I’ll never forget one person in particular with whom I studied – I went through the processes of discovery of the light, and this person said, No, I don’t want to study anymore now, because I know where this is leading. I don’t really want this anymore. These are the sad realities, that men loved darkness rather than the light. They would rather be in a path of error that protects them in a way that they don’t have to own up to their wrongs, because they want to hide themselves from that.

John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

The light might come, but not to condemn you. The light is not to condemn you. When a light shines upon us and illuminates our nakedness, our wrong, and makes us shudder and we want to run and hide, God says to us, Don’t run and hide, the light that I am giving you is to save you. Here is the light the saves me. The very thing that condemns me, the light that shines upon me and condemns me so that I want to run away from the light, is the light that will hide me:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin;

Why? The sin that condemns you is illuminated now to show you that Jesus was made that sin,

2 Corinthians 5:21 …that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

We are to hide in Him, and in Christ my sin became His. Now by careful reading we can see that this is a hiding place that is amazingly profound.

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

This is an extension of the previous scripture. Jesus was made to be sin for us; He bore our sins in His body, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He nailed it to the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. If I am with Jesus, together with Him I die, and the past is beautifully removed. I can hide in that. My past is no longer to be exposed; it is covered by Christ’s blood. God says, I will place your sins into the depth of the sea; I will cover it under a thick cloud. Your sins are covered; you don’t have to hide anywhere else but in Christ. This is what it means to believe in Jesus.

The fact that Jesus was on this earth as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that in order to save fallen man from eternal ruin, He left His heavenly home, should lay in the dust all our pride, put to shame all our vanity, and reveal to us the sin of self-sufficiency. Behold Him making the wants, the trials, the griefs and sufferings of sinful men His own. Can we not take home the lesson that God endured these sufferings and bruises of soul in consequence of sin? {1SM 253.3}

I need somewhere to hide; I need an intelligent hiding place. Not alcoholism, not my own feelings of achievement (because it always leaves you half empty anyway), but somewhere where there is absolute release from all kinds of burdens. I need to believe in Jesus.

We want to hide in darkness without Jesus, but Jesus gently sheds His light upon us and exposes our sins; and while He does so He simultaneously reveals them in His own body. Can you see what this story is? As I look at Jesus I see my sins (that I want to hide away from people) revealed to me, and they are in the body of Christ, on the cross. So Jesus takes us out of hiding, lets the light shine upon us, and takes us into hiding in Himself. He takes us out of hiding, from behind our false coverings, and into His hiding place. My sins are taken into Him and taken to the cross; and there, together with me, they are nailed to the cross. Do you believe this? I emphasize this question because I know that the majority of Christians do not fully believe this. They are still in this covering of themselves by their own garments of self-righteousness; they still don’t feel perfectly released unless they can do something to make themselves feel better. But if I will believe what Jesus has done, all my painful, guilty sinfulness, with all its hurts and shame, will be hidden away in Him. I must believe that.

So whatever comes up in your mind that would make you feel nervous, that would make you want to try and protect yourself and justify yourself with something, think on these things. What was the apostle doing because he believed?

2 Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

In the body of Jesus there was my sin. Now as I believe that Jesus died and rose again, I am bearing about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus, so that His righteousness and His life will be manifest. I am hiding behind His righteousness; I am hiding behind Jesus’ life.

2 Corinthians 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness,

Do you like to be weak?

2 Corinthians 13:4 …yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

Can you see something fascinating here? The Holy Spirit wants to illuminate our minds to believe that what I feel uncomfortable about inside of myself, I can see there in Jesus, that what I am uncomfortable with, He met and experienced, and that He surrendered Himself to God. And I transfer myself completely into Him because He took me anyway already. All I need to do is to believe it and enter into Him, so that in Him the power of God may be made manifest in me (because I am in Him together with Him). We shall live with Him under the protection of this hiding place. Nobody can condemn me. That is what it says somewhere else, Who shall condemn you when you are in this situation? There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. None whatsoever.

Galatians 2:20 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.

While Adam was hiding behind Eve and Eve was hiding behind the serpent, Paul said, I am hiding behind Christ. I am crucified with Christ, yet while I’m still alive, it is not I, but Christ that liveth in me. I am hiding behind Christ, His perfection, His merits, His righteousness. I am hiding behind that and I am always bearing in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus because there are all these ugly things that are in my flesh; but I can hide behind Christ in that, because He took all that into His body. And now I die together with Jesus, always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in me. Can you see the real, intelligent hiding place? Nothing to be stressed about anymore. I can have perfect peace.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

If I am in Christ, if I believe all this, it is a safe hiding place. All things are new now. And in the face of everything that comes up inside of me that could make me want to run and hide, I run and hide in Christ, by believing what He has done for me.

Colossians 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

With Christ in God – This is a profound statement in the light of all this. I am hiding in Christ in God! And me, with all my ugly little self that I’ve been trying to shield myself from ever being exposed before the people, I am dead. That doesn’t have any more activity inside of me. Jesus said it all in John 17 – to be in Christ in God – not forgetting that Jesus took in His body all our sins:

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Where are we to find our hiding place? In His presence. As Jesus, with my sins, was embraced by the Father, and the Father let Him die and rise again, so it may be with all of us. We may be in Christ in the arms of God, safely protected in His presence from the strife of tongues. Who is he that condemneth? If God justifies us, is there anyone that condemns us? I have perfect freedom, a perfect hiding place.

We see here one extra benefit for us as a combined company. The hiding place is so adequate that only the serenity and purity and nobility of Jesus is there, and He prays “that they may be one in us.” So that further benefit of hiding in Him is that we have precious fellowship with all the others that are doing the same thing. As we meet with each other and we see each other’s differences of human battles that we are all fighting, we are hiding in Christ together. Why do we need to pick up any of the faults and criticise the faults of others? We are hiding in Christ, we are learning from Him to die to all those thoughts. And as we all wait for each other to hide ourselves fully and most perfectly in Christ, we hold no barriers between us. We are hiding in Christ, we are protected.

Can you see how much we need to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? We need to believe these things, because unless we do we keep on letting these things disturb our peace. The power of Jesus Christ will be seen in our life when we hide truly, believingly, in Him. We are invited to come right out of our personal hiding places and to flee into the city of refuge, where there is security and perfect safety – Jesus Christ, that city of refuge, that Rock.

With these thoughts, may God help us to act upon them, and no longer to go the old path of hiding ourselves anywhere else but in Jesus.

Amen.

Posted on March 23, 2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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