What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ?
In order for the Father to conform us to the image of His Son (see Romans 8:29), we must abide in Christ
. What does it mean to abide? It means to remain, rest, stay, wait, and continue
. Abiding in Christ, then, involves waiting upon the Lord and entering into His peace. "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint"
Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without [separately, apart from] me ye can do nothing"
(John 15:5). Just as a branch draws its life-source from the vine, believers must stay connected to Christ for His life to flow through them and produce spiritual fruit. Branches "live and move and have their being" (Acts 17:28) only by the life of the vine.
Abiding in Christ
is a patient expectancy; it is neither wasteful idleness nor anxious striving. "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him"
(Psalm 62:5). Abiding in Christ, therefore, means to draw supernatural strength from the presence of the Lord and walk moment by moment in the leading of His Spirit.
Abiding in Christ means the following:
The Fruit of Abiding
- Bearing spiritual fruit — "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ ... Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (II Peter 1:8-10).
- Hearing the Word and keeping it in your heart — "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15).
- Loving Jesus and doing what He says — "Jesus answered and said unto him, 'If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him'" (John 14:23). "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (I John 2:6).
- Loving others — "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes" (I John 2:10-11).
- Trusting God and making Him your refuge — "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust" (Psalm 91:1-2).
- Hating the world's system — "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:15-17).
- Remaining steadfast in the faith of the Gospel — "Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God" (I Corinthians 7:24). "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father" (I John 2:24).
God looks for the evidence of our abiding in Christ, which is good fruit
. James wrote, "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman [Gardener] waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain"
(James 5:7). What is the good fruit the Gardener seeks? It is the fruit which His Spirit produces. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance"
(Galatians 5:22-23). The fruit of the Spirit
comes only out of an abiding relationship with Jesus. It is not brought about by our own strength, nor by the works of the flesh, but only by abiding in Christ (see Matthew 7:19-20).
Jesus said to His disciples, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue [abide] ye in my love. 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. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain [abide] in you, and that your joy might be full"
(John 15:7-11). When we abide in Christ and His words abide in us, we bear the fruit of the Spirit
and the Father is
glorified. This, in fact, is our divine calling: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye
should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you"
Those who bear fruit will encounter seasons of purging
(which means pruning
) in their lives. Jesus said, "Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit"
(John 15:2). Such seasons can be uncomfortable and even painful, yet pruning is a necessary part of growing in our relationship with the Lord. "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you"
(I Peter 5:10).
The fruit of abiding in Christ will become apparent in your life: Do you love your brother? Do you also love your enemy? Do you enjoy spending time with Jesus in the quiet place and searching out His Word for hidden treasures? Do you have inner peace and joy in chaotic circumstances? These are all evidences of abiding in Christ, "whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls"
(I Peter 1:8-9).
The Tragedy of Not Abiding
Those who do not abide in Christ will be ashamed before Him when He appears. "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming"
(I John 2:28). Truly, abiding in Christ is the only way to not be ashamed before Him at His coming. The Bible says, "thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me"
(Isaiah 49:23). And elsewhere, "Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed"
What happens if a branch does not abide in the vine? Well, Jesus warns us: "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he [the Gardener] taketh away ... If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned"
(John 15:2, 6). Those who fall away in unbelief
and do not continue in Christ will be cut off like a withered branch to face God's wrath. Paul confirmed this hard truth: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off"
(Romans 11:22; also see Luke 12:46). Furthermore, Hebrews 6:8 says, "But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto
cursing; whose end is to be burned."
The parable of the ten virgins
is a fitting illustration of those who abide in Christ and those who do not. The maidens in this parable awaited the bridegroom's arrival for his wedding. Five of them brought oil in their lamps and five did not. At midnight, the bridegroom arrived suddenly! The wise virgins went out to meet him, but the foolish virgins were delayed because they had to go buy oil. However, by the time the foolish virgins returned with oil, they were too late; the wedding had begun and they were not admitted through the door.
The warning to us is this: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh"
(Matthew 25:1-13). Sadly, even some who call Jesus their Lord and do many wonderful works in His name will hear Him say, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity"
(Matthew 7:23). Why? Because Jesus did not know
them; their works did not come out of an abiding relationship with Christ. When Jesus the Bridegroom returns, it will be too late to fill our lamps with spiritual oil. Now is the time!
The indwelling Holy Spirit is the oil for our spiritual lamps: "But the anointing [Holy Spirit] which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him"
(I John 2:27). Thus, when we abide in Christ and He abides in us (Ephesians 3:17), the oil of the Holy Spirit
remains in our hearts. This same oil will cause our faith to stand firm; for Paul said that our "faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God [Holy Spirit]"
(I Corinthians 2:5).
Many Christians do not know the joy of abiding in Christ. Instead, they succumb to a perilous "survival mode" and live discouraged, defeated lives. Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly by abiding in Him (John 10:10), especially in the midst of life's trials.