Abide in Me
T. Holliday, Ottawa, Canada
by T. Holliday, Canada</p>
READ JOHN 15. 4-7; I JOHN 2. 6, 28j 3. 6
The Lord, when imparting His last words of instruction and comfort to His disciples, again and again pressed the necessity and blessedness of abiding in Him. Later, the beloved disciple John, who heard these words from the Lord's lips, passed them on to his children when writing to them in his first Epistle, If these words set forth the blessedness of abiding in Christ, should we not pause to enquire what we are to understand by the Lord's words, "Abide in me". They convey at least three thoughts:
i. A walk in such nearness to Christ that the soul delights in
all His loveliness and moral excellencies, thus finding in
Christ its object and pattern, ii. Communion with Christ, so that the soul delights to confide
in Him, and to learn from Him. iii. Above all, abiding in Christ implies a life lived under the
influence of His presence, realized in the power of the Holy
Spirit by faith.
For example, if a saintly, Christ-like man of God were to visit our home, would not his presence have a restraining effect? We would be more careful than usual in our words and ways. If this would be the effect of the presence of a man of like passions to ourselves, what would be the effect of the realized presence of Christ Himself?
At times among the Lord's people, sad scenes have taken place in which all have more or less had their humbling part when envy and strife prevailed, when believers have thoughtlessly or maliciously wounded each other with bitter and offensive words. But what would have happened if the Lord had silently and visibly walked into the midst? Under His influence, there would have been either confession or else many a bitter and offensive word would never have been uttered.
He Hears; He Sees; He Knows. How good it would be if we could ever remember that, although the Lord is not visible, yet He hears, He sees and He knows. The psalmist may well say, "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? ... he that teacheth man knowledge, shall he not know?", Psa. 94. 9, 10. To walk, then, in the consciousness that He listens to our words, sees our acts and reads our thoughts, is to walk under the blessed influence of His Person, and thus we abide in Him.
The Scriptures that exhort us to abide in Christ, John 15. 4-7; 1 John 2. 6, 28; 3. 6, also tell us of the blessedness that we shall enjoy, by so doing.
1. We shall bear Fruit, John 15. 5. Here, fruit is not service; rather it is the result of being consciously and can stantly under the influence of the presence of Christ, so as to display in all our ways something of the loveliness of Christ with all His grace, lowliness and beauty. In the measure in which Christ is seen in us, so is there fruit for the Father's heart as well as testimony to the world. We are left here for this purpose, that we may exhibit something of the beautiful character of Christ. Living consciously in His presence, we are morally changed into His image from glory to glory. This is not something that we shall obtain only when we get to heaven, although then we shall be fully conformed to the image of Christ. God gives us an example of His great thought in the apostle Paul - a man of like passions to ourselves - who said without reserve, "to me to live is Christ", Phil. 1.21. Paul was wholly committed to God's great thought, and at the present time this is brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Thus Paul could write, "But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit", 2 Cor. 3. 18 j.n.d.
2. Our Prayers will be Answered, John 15. 7. How
blessed it is to have the conscious sense that heaven is listening to you when you are praying, and also that heaven is in accord with your requests - this is perfect freedom, with no limitation, "ye shall ask what ye will". There is also no doubt that the request shall be answered, since the Lord continued, "and it shall be done unto you". Why is this? To answer this question, we note that there are two conditions, (i) "If ye abide in me". As living under the influence of His presence, we hear His words through which He communicates to us His thoughts and desires. These are not only something nice to hear, but they are to become part of our moral being, and so the Lord added, (ii) "and my words abide in you". When this is so, His words will govern every movement in our lives, and our thoughts will be formed in line with His thoughts. Our requests will thus be according to His mind and will, and will surely come to pass.
We have an example of this in Daniel. He heard God's word, and engaged in prayer according to it; then a messenger from heaven told Daniel that his prayer had been heard, and that he was a man greatly beloved. Does this not appeal to our hearts? What a wonderful thing to be a man greatly beloved of heaven! In such a man, God's will morally is done on earth as it is in heaven.
3. We shall Walk as Christ Walked, 1 John 2. 6. These things that we are considering are very testing, because God would have us to be inwardly what we are outwardly, even as Jesus could say when on earth, "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things", Matt. 12. 35. If we know the inward thoughts and desires of a man, we know the man himself, as the proverb says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he", Prov. 23. 7. Almost everything begins with a thought, according to the saying, "Sow a thought, we reap an act; sow an act, we reap a habit; sow a habit, we reap a character; sow a character, we reap a destiny". In the Epistle to the Philippians, Paul shows us the true desires of a Christian: to know a person's desires is to know the man, and Paul's walk was fully in keeping with the desires of his heart.
With every one of us, there is the danger of assuming to be what we are not, but God will have reality, so the Spirit gives us a standard whereby we may test our profession, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked". This is God's standard, so do not let us lower it. Every movement of that lowly life from the cradle to the grave was fragrant to God; "I do always those things that please him", John 8. 29. This characterized His whole life, and it should characterize our lives also. Then it would be a walk in love as Christ has also loved us, Eph. 5. 2.
4. We shall not be Ashamed at His Coming, 1 John 2.28.
How often we say that we believe in the coming of Christ and that we are looking for Him, but what practical effect has it in our lives, our home, our business and in all our associations as we journey home? Oftentimes there is much in our walk, ways, speech and manners that proves satisfying to the natural man in the world, and even to God's people when they judge according to human standards, but if we were to judge ourselves, our words and our ways in the light of the Lord's coming, we would find much to condemn and much to confess with shame as coming short of the standard of glory. Only as we abide in Christ and remain under the influence of His presence, and thus walk in self-judgment, shall we be preserved from that which would cause shame when Christ comes.
5. We shall be Kept from Lawlessness, 1 John 3. 6.
The spirit of lawlessness is manifest all around us in these last days. In view of this, the Spirit of God provides another feature of a believer abiding in Christ, "Whoever abides in him does not sin", v. 6 j.n.d. Verse 4 of this same translation shows that "sin is lawlessness", that is, a soul engaged in doing its own will. How often is this expression heard, "I can do as I like", thereby forgetting that we are not our own, but that we have been bought with a price and are to glorify God in our bodies. With Christ, from the manger to the cross, there was not one atom of lawlessness. He came into the world, as it were, with these words on His lips, "Lo, I come ... to do thy will", Heb. 10. 7. To His mother, as a boy of twelve, He said, "wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?", Luke 2.49. Throughout His lowly life, He always did those things that pleased the Father; at the close of that wonderful life, when facing the horrors of Calvary from which His holy soul shrank, He said, "not as I will, but as thou wilt", Matt. 26. 39.
Today, we are in the last days, and the spirit of that wicked one - the spirit of lawlessness - abounds in every circle of life. Even amongst God's people, the lawless spirit is at work, and every one of us is liable to be affected by it. What will save us from it? Only as we abide in Christ, consciously and continuously moving under the influence of His presence, who said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me", John 6. 38, shall we escape the dominion of self-will, the very essence of sin.
How good then it is to abide in Christ. Let us also remember the necessity of abiding in Him, because without Christ we can do nothing. We may be gifted and even have all knowledge together with long experience, but it still remains true that without Him we can do nothing; we may even stumble at the smallest trial, or fall into great evil. If without Christ we can do nothing, let us seek to abide in Him, not taking a single step or going forward one day without Him.