How Do We Abide in Christ?
Receiving flowers as a gift is uplifting. The colors, scent, and the thought that went into giving them is a wonderful gesture. The stems are cut, a vase is filled with water and these blooms are carefully arranged as a bright, fragrant display for everyone to enjoy. However, after a few days, the flowers are past their best; they may start to change appearance, lose their coloring and eventually wilt before being discarded. As well-meaning as a gift of flowers is, it is short-lived as the flowers have been cut from their life source. The bouquet of beauty arrived already dead.
Like flowers that need to remain attached to the life-giving plant to flourish, followers of Jesus are meant to remain in Him or “abide.” In John 15:5-6, Jesus says:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
Christians are to remain in Jesus like the branches remain attached to the vine. He gives us all that we need to sustain us in this life and for all eternity.
Being saved means we are “in Christ.” It is our status and we are now united in Christ by faith and all His riches have become our own. In Colossians 2:13, it says, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.” God has given us new life in Him.
When Jesus was crucified, we were also crucified with Him; we no longer live but it is Christ in us (Galatians 2:20). We joined with Him in His death as He took our sin upon Himself. Now we are risen with Him, and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Being in Christ means we have a communion with Him that is rooted in His death and resurrection, and Jesus calls us to remain or “abide” in His love (John 15:9).
So what does abiding in Christ look like in the Christian life?
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Remaining or abiding in Jesus means that we will produce fruit. Not physical fruit like apples, pineapples and grapes, but spiritual fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” That is quite the variety of fruit that God works in us as we abide in Him. His Spirit remains with us and produces this fruit which we cannot produce in our own effort; we must remain in Him (John 15:4). As we spend time with Him, walking closely with Him by the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatian 5:16). As we bear fruit, it is proof that we are disciples of Jesus and it glorifies Him (John 15:8).
Those who have tried their hand at gardening will know that pruning is when plants are cut off or cut back to encourage more growth. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, and the Father is the vinedresser or the gardener. He is the one who cuts back the branches that do not produce any fruit. For those branches that do produce fruit, He prunes back further so that they will be even more fruitful (John 15:1-2).
This means that believers will experience painful times in their life. However, the Lord can use it to remove anything that is hindering our spiritual growth. It will result in greater flourishing for us as we walk with Him.
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The life of the plant occurs when it is attached to its source. The branches are dependent on remaining in the conditions to best encourage its growth. Psalm 1 illustrates this point by describing a person who delights in God’s Word as being “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” Jesus, the Word of God, is the vine who is also described as “light of the world.” He gives us “living water” by His Spirit (John 7:37-39), and He gives the “breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). He is the one for whom all things were created and everything is sustained by the word of His power (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:3).
Just like plants need light, water and air to grow, we need all of these too, and they are found in Christ for the abundant life that God made us for (John 10:10). When we abide in Jesus, we can live life to the full.
The branches are completely dependent on the vine, not the other way around. We are also completely dependent on God. If we go our own way and choose to not abide in Jesus, we cannot do anything apart from Him (John 15:5). We are effectively lifeless without Christ. We are dead men and women walking. We need Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). We are completely dependent on Him for our salvation. There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves.
Some may try to live amongst Christians and keep up an appearance of being a believer. However, if they are not truly abiding in Jesus, sooner or later they will end up withered and lifeless, like the flowers cut from their source of life. Followers of Jesus are wholeheartedly dependent on Him alone.
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How Can We Abide in Christ?
With the truth of all that it means to abide in Jesus, what does this practically look like in our life? We must remember that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). It is not up to us to earn salvation. Jesus said: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
Jesus saved us once and for all time on the cross. However, here are a few reminders which can help ensure that we stay connected to and nourished in our relationship with Him in our daily life:
- Come before God in prayer. Have a conversation by listening to what His Word says and what He may be saying to you as you speak with Him. Quiet yourself and withdraw to a place to be alone with Him. May the Holy Spirit quicken you to know the truth and drink of it deeply.
- Spend time with the Father by reading the Bible. Let His word dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16). This will help you to know your Father’s voice above all others.
- Trust and depend on the Lord every day for everything. He knows all you needs. He will provide. Receive all that He has done for you. May it bless your heart and encourage you in your inmost being to praise Him.
- Remember it is His grace that sustains you and He is the one who causes your spiritual growth as you come to Him in trust and yield to Him. Salvation is His idea, His initiative, His grace, and His power.
- When you earnestly seek to be obedient to Jesus, you will abide in His love (John 15:9-10). Put off the old self, and put on the new self by crucifying sin and worldliness so you can keep your eyes on Jesus (Ephesians 4:22-24). As it says in 1 John 2:5–6: “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
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Ruth Clemence is a wife, mom, writer and award-winning blogger based in Cardiff, Wales. Read more at: ruthclemence.com.