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How to Abide

July 12, 2012
In the previous article we briefly considered the relationship of abiding in Christ, filling of the Spirit and letting the Word dwell in you richly. To summarize the previous article in a few words, those three Biblical phrases refer to essentially the same thing. This conclusion brings us a very long way to understanding what the Christ dependent, Spirit filled Christian life looks like. One noteworthy fact to consider is that the discussion of abiding in Christ in John 15:1-16 comes as part of Christ’s instructions to His disciples regarding the Holy Spirit. Beginning in John 14:16 and ending in John 16:15, Christ teaches His disciples of the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 15 seems to be an interlude preparing the disciples for how to live in the Spirit after Christ has gone. John 15 indicates that abiding in Christ is closely connected with the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
To move forward we need to understand how one abides in Christ. John 15:10 needs to be considered.
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”
Christ is not threatening a removal from His love if the disciples fail in their obedience (Romans 8:35-39 clearly forbids such an interpretation of John 15:10). Christ is giving to His disciples the answer to the question of how one abides in Christ. Abiding in Christ is keeping His commandments. No subjective, mystical uncertainty about abiding in Christ should exist in the life of the believer. One can know with certainty that he is abiding. Abiding is obedience. Some will object that the ministry of Holy Spirit is an internal ministry, leading and guiding us. While this is true, the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the believer is expressed through the Word of God (James 2:9; Rev. 2:11, 17, 29). Abiding in Christ and being filled with the Spirit have nothing to do with a series of internal impressions, they are the total submission of the believers life to the commands of Christ revealed through His Word. The growing Christian abides in Christ by absolute obedience to the commands given to believers in the Bible. The growing Christian is filled with the Spirit by absolute obedience to the commands given to believers in the Bible. There should not be any great mystery or uncertainty here. The Spirit filled, Christ dependent life is a life committed to absolute, uncompromising obedience to the Bible.
A quick word of caution. None of the preceding has been to suggest that we can live the Christian life by our own ability. We absolutely cannot. However, the realization of our total inability in the flesh should not result in a denial of personal discipline or Christian duty. Abiding in Christ does not imply the believer waits until he really feels like obeying and then goes out to obey. Abiding in Christ demands obedience, no matter what the flesh or emotions desire. This life of obedience is dependent on Christ, realizing it’s own inability and refusing to live for personal gain or glory. The Christ dependent, Spirit filled life is lived for God’s pleasure, trusting and obeying His Word completely.
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