What It Means To Abide In Christ

(All Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the English Standard Version).

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

John 15:2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

In the passage of Scripture quoted above, the Lord Jesus compared the relationship between himself and his disciples to that of the vine and its branches. The Lord likens himself to the vine tree, with his disciples being the branches of the vine. As the branches cannot live and bear fruits on their own, except they are united with the vine, so are Christians lifeless and fruitless, outside of their union with Christ. Except we abide in Christ and draw nourishment and sustenance from his life and Spirit, we become barren and unfruitful, and will eventually dry up spiritually and die off. Such dead branches are of no spiritual value, but only fit to be cut down and cast into the fire. Such is the ultimate fate of believers who cut themselves off from Christ and don’t get reunited with him again. But, what does it mean, in practical terms, to abide in Christ? How do we remain united with Christ, in order to be fruitful and pleasing to God? We shall examine the Scriptures further to answer these questions.

1 John 2:3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

1 John 2:4 Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him:

1 John 2:6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The apostle John, in his first epistle, connects abiding in Christ to knowing Christ, keeping his words and walking (living) as Christ did. To abide in Christ then means to know Christ, to keep the commandments of Christ and to live as Christ lived while he was here on earth. To know Christ is to be born again and to have the life of Christ (eternal life) in us (united with Christ). Being born again makes one a lifelong disciple of Christ, one who must now follow Christ and obey his teachings all his life. Obeying the commandments of Christ implies following the footsteps of Christ and living as Christ did. That’s the evidence of being a disciple of Christ indeed, when we continue or abide in his word. It’s as we obey and live by the word of God that we become fruitful in our Christian walk. That’s when our life becomes pleasing and glorifying to God. That’s how our love for God is manifested—when we keep his commandments. We may profess all the love for God with our mouths and in our songs, but until we keep God’s commandments, we’re only loving God by mouth and not in deed.

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

1 John 3:24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Finally, John was emphatic in what he meant by walking as Christ did, for those abiding in Christ. We must not love the world and its lusts and passions, for whoever loves the world does not have love for God, for the world and its lusts (the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life) are at enmity with God, and we cannot be loving enemies of God and be faithful in our love relationship with God, as that amounts to spiritual adultery. Simply put, friendship with the sinful ways of the world is enmity with God. No one can claim to abide in Christ who is living in sin. Anyone who lives in sin and practises a lifestyle of sinfulness has not truly known God. For sure, no one can be perfectly sinless in this fallen world and in our mortal bodies. However, no true Christian who is abiding in Christ will be comfortable living and grovelling in sin. When he falls into sin, a true disciple of Christ quickly repents, confesses his sin and turns away from it. The Christain who abides in Christ practises a life of righteousness by default, not a life of sinfulness, which he once lived (before he was born again), but has now renounced. By our union with Christ, we become new creatures, old things in our lives having passed away, while all things have become new.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?

1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

1 John 3:6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Ephesians 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 5:7 Therefore do not associate with them;

Ephesians 5:8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),

Ephesians 5:10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Ephesians 5:12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Ephesians 5:13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,

Ephesians 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,

Ephesians 5:16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,

Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

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 (KJV).

In conclusion, a believer must abide in Christ, the same way a living and fruitful branch abides in a vine, for him to remain spiritually alive and fruitful. The moment a Christian stops abiding in Christ, he cuts himself off from Christ’s life, and automatically dies off, the same way a severed branch of a tree dies and rots away, and becomes only good for firewood. To abide in Christ means to be closely united with him in word, in spirit and in deed. It means to follow and obey the commandments of Christ, and to live as Christ did, while on earth. To abide in Christ means to live a life of righteousness, shunning sin and walking uprightly as Christ did. Thus, one cannot be said to be abiding in Christ who loves the world and its sinful ways, for friendship with the world is enmity with God. To love Christ is to hate the world and its lusts, just as to love the world is to hate Christ. No one can abide in Christ and in the world at the same time, for no one can serve two masters at the same time.

Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

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Published by Dr. Ndubuisi E. Ojo

Dr Ojo is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a student of the Word of God, who believes firmly in the original apostolic faith as the only authentic version of Christianity, and the only legitimate basis for Christian conduct, order and doctrine.

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