Secret to abiding in Christ

The Secret to Abiding in Christ: Love and Obedience

What does it mean to abide in Christ? That is the key question Jesus addresses in John 15. Using everyday items as metaphors for spiritual truths, Jesus takes the image of a grapevine to illustrate the vital connection that disciples must have with Him. In a previous post, we explored Jesus as the “True Vine” and the Father as the “Vinedresser.” Today, we will tackle our responsibility as disciples — abiding in Christ.

What Is Abiding in Christ?

The term “abiding” is paramount in understanding our walk with Christ. Derived from the Greek verb “μένω,” it implies staying, dwelling, remaining, and enduring. J.C. Ryle explains that abiding in Christ means maintaining constant, close communion with Him—leaning on Him, resting in Him, and using Him as our source of life and strength.

Jesus further defines abiding in terms of His love for us and our obedience to Him. The essence of true discipleship lies in the intimate connection between relying on Christ’s boundless love and responding with unwavering obedience to His teachings.

Jesus’ Love for Us

At its core, abiding in Christ requires relying on His love for us. The same love that sent Jesus to the cross to redeem us. A Christian who abides in Christ believes in, trusts in, relies on, and rests within Christ’s love for His disciples. As we trust in Christ’s love, we find the power to follow Him wholeheartedly.

We shouldn’t be paralyzed in our spiritual lives by a fear of Jesus’ disfavor & disapproval. The love that Christ has for us, demonstrated on the cross, extends beyond mercy and compassion. Jesus actually delights in us, approves of us, and desires fellowship with us. Why? Because His love for us is like the Father’s love for Him.

The primary biblical metaphor used to illustrate Christ’s love for the church is that of a groom’s love for his bride. This metaphor emphasizes that Jesus’ love and affection for us mirrors the joy and delight a groom finds in his bride. As Isaiah 62:5 declares, “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Christ delights in us, affectionately tends to us, and has bound His life to ours in an eternal bond of love.

Our Obedience to Him

Obedience is not about earning more of Christ’s affection. He already fully and eternally loves all who put their faith in Him. Instead, obedience is the natural response for those who abide in Jesus’ love. Just as He perfectly obeyed the Father as an expression of love, we obey Jesus’ commands as evidence of our love for Him.

Abiding in Christ through loving obedience is not legalism. It is the joyful outworking of having Christ’s word permeate our minds, direct our wills, and transform our desires. As we yield more of ourselves to Jesus, obedience to Him is a delight.

The source of our willingness to submit to God’s will is our knowledge and assurance of God’s great love demonstrated in Jesus Christ. As we grow in understanding the depths of Christ’s love for us – a love that took him to the cross to secure our redemption – it instills in us a desire to respond back to God with loving obedience. Our submission is not motivated by fear or duty, but instead flows out of hearts filled with gratitude for God’s amazing grace. As the apostle John said, “We love because he first loved us.” Thus, abiding in Christ’s love fuels heartfelt devotion to following God’s will.

Abiding In Christ: Putting it All Together

Abiding in Christ boils down to love and obedience. Our defining reality is God’s love for us in Christ, and our response is to love Him and demonstrate that love through obedience.

Obedience is not a condition for Jesus to love us but evidence of our love for Him. True Christians obey Jesus, and claiming to love Jesus without obedience is spiritual insanity.

Jesus makes it clear that abiding in Him is grounded in a reliance on His sacrificial love for us, which then overflows into wholehearted obedience to His commands. As we walk in obedience, we demonstrate that we trust in and treasure Christ’s love, allowing it to shape our wills and transform our affections.

Abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections. It’s a continuous reliance on His love, proven on the cross, resulting in simple obedience to His commands. As disciples, our lives bear fruit when rooted in the love of Christ and expressed through joyful obedience.

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