As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,
Unless it abides in the Vine, neither can you,
Unless you abide in Me.
I am the Vine; you are the branches.
He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit;
For without Me, you can do nothing (John 15:4-5).
I had read the above scripture many times but never considered the deeper significance of the word abide until this week, when it flashed like a neon sign, capturing my attention. To my amazement, the definition of that small five-letter word holds more substance than we might have imagined.
“ABIDE” means to acknowledge, to live or dwell, to comply with, obey, observe, follow, hold to, conform to, adhere to, accept, respect, and defer to. For a greater understanding of what it means to abide in the Lord, I have taken the definition and defined each highlighted word as it applies to God’s Word.
ACKNOWLEDGE – to confess, admit, and accept. If you acknowledge and “…confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NKJV).
DWELL – to live as a resident; to reside. His Spirit leads us when we dwell (abide) in Him and He in us (John 15:4). Then our heart is glad and our flesh dwells securely (Psalm 16:8-9).
COMPLY – to conform, abide by, or act in accordance with a command or request. According to God’s Word, obedience is better than sacrifice. He is much more interested in our listening and obeying Him rather than what we can offer Him (I Samuel 15:22).
OBEY – to carry out or fulfill a command, order, or instruction. “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful” (Proverbs 16:20 NLT). Jesus said, “…if you love Me, you will obey My commands” (John 14:15 ESV).
OBSERVE – to watch attentively; to pay close attention. The Word tells us to “Keep watch and pray, so that we will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matthew 26:41)
FOLLOW – to go behind; to go after in pursuit. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross (proclaim your faith) and follow Me (Matthew 16:24-25). Jesus had previously said, ” If you refuse to take up your cross (proclaim the Good News) and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine (Matthew 10:38).
HOLD TO – to uphold or maintain; sustain. We can only maintain and sustain our faith by trusting God and obeying Him as we run, with perseverance, the race marked for us, while fixing our eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-3).
CONFORM – to submit; yield; surrender. Since man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been faced with choices. Do we surrender to the will of God or follow after our own inclinations and desires. When we became a Christian, we initially surrendered our heart with our verbal confession and profession of faith in Jesus Christ. However, that initial act of surrendering our will to God is to be repeated daily in our decisions, choices, attitudes, and behaviors. “…Give yourselves completely to God—every part of you—for you are back from death and you want to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for His good purposes” (Romans 6:13 LB).
ADHERE TO – to follow a belief system. We must ask ourselves, “What do I really believe?” If we don’t believe that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” then it will be very difficult to abide in Him. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV).
ACCEPT – to welcome and embrace. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). We must embrace God’s Word in order to know and accept the truth of His Word. And it is that truth that literally sets us free.
RESPECT – reverence; esteem, honor. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom, which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe…” (Hebrews 12:28) For we who fear (reverence) and trust in the LORD, He is [our] help and [our] shield (Psalm 115:11).
DEFER TO – to submit or to yield to someone or something. King David said, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). Total submission to God requires the complete surrendering of our will to His will.
Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this, My Father is glorified that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:7-8). This scripture begins with the conditional “if.” If we first abide in Him and His Words live within us, then we can ask and receive.
We live in dangerous and troubling times and for that reason, God has been impressing upon me the importance of His Word being firmly fixed and working in my heart and the hearts of His people. The level to which we abide in Him will determine how we weather the storms of life, the timing of answered prayers, where He uses our talents, and whether those gifts and talents will bear fruit for His kingdom. Without abiding in Him, all efforts and accomplishments are in vain (John 15:5).
Now is the “season” for us to abide in Him that we may produce fruits worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8). Our responsibility is to love and serve God in such a way that our lives reflect His goodness, so that those who are groping for answers in a world of increasing darkness and rebellion against God, can find hope. Therefore, you and I are left to examine our own heart to see if we, each day, are truly abiding in Him in every sense of the word.
Father, help me to abide in You, in every context of its meaning. I surrender my will and my life to You and ask that You show me anything that could hinder Your plans for my life. Teach and guide me each day, so that Your purposes are fulfilled in and through me. In Jesus’ name, amen.