That was a very refreshing round of praise and worship we enjoyed last week, as we basked in God's goodness and the salvation He prepared in Jesus Christ. There is now no more condemnation (Rom 8:1)! We know that whatever happens now, we are not alone, for Christ said He would never leave nor forsake us (Matt 28:20). Even this our salvation, He is the one who is working in us to WILL and to DO to His good pleasure (Phil 2:13), and we are assured that:
"He which hath begun a good work in [us] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ..." (Phil 1:6).
Now, the next thing you need to do upon receiving God's grace and rejoicing in your redeemed status is to ABIDE in Jesus. That's what the Lord told me when He delivered me from condemnation over my failed marriage. He reminded me that without Him, I can do nothing...and all that was needed for me to succeed and bear fruit was to abide in Him...
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 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 me ye can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).
Many people will try to instill doubt, fear, shame and guilt in you again over your past. Yes, among them will be fellow well-meaning Christians. But these do not understand what the Lord means by "I desire mercy not sacrifice" (Matt 9:13), otherwise, they would not have condemned the guiltless (Matt 12:7), which you are now - hidden in Christ!
Don't exchange your grace in Christ for their approval and validation. Their approval will not grant you entry into Heaven, only the blood of Jesus will. Abide in His GRACE.
Even Jesus was reliant on God to accomplish His work of Salvation, so must we be reliant on Jesus to do any good work, and bear fruit.
So, what does it mean to abide? To abide simply means to stay, to rest, to be grounded, to be reliant on God. We have seen that even Jesus was reliant on God to accomplish His work of Salvation, so must we be reliant on Jesus to do any good work, and bear fruit. When we are restless, distrusting and/or self-reliant, we will become proud and will not receive what we ought from God to accomplish His will. We will be deceived and fall into error.
When we abide in Christ we will:
1. Receive nourishment from the Vine. All we need to grow and thrive is in Jesus. For good reason, the Bible says, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt 4:4).
2. Draw strength from Him. The Word of God has life-giving power. By His word, we receive faith and courage to face all that life throws at us. And the Prophet testifies that "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" (Isa 40:31).
3. Listen to and fellowship with God. We will seek out AND enjoy His presence. Not because of anything we might gain in this life, but just because His presence gives us life and joy (Psa 16:11). God wants to have an intimate communion with us, as He does with Jesus.
4. Respond in obedience as we mature in understanding. James tell us that no sensible nor sincere person will learn the truth, and go on and ignore it (Jam 1:22-25). When you abide in God's presence, He will teach you and instruct you, and show you many things... You cannot continue in ignorance as though you don't know better. A good branch will begin to bear fruit from being connected to the Vine. A bad branch will not, and will be cast away (John 15:1-2).
5. Grow in grace and wisdom. Your growth will be natural (meaning not forced by you), but spiritual (may not be visibly apparent initially). As someone who is trained up to University cannot continue to think and talk like someone who only completed Primary school, so you shall be, as one who is grafted in the Vine. You will begin to not only think and talk like Jesus, but look and do as He does. However, your growth won't come without tests and trials, as we know even Jesus grew by what He suffered (Heb 5:8).
When you do these things, you will DO the will of God and fulfil this Scripture:
"LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved." (Psalm 15)
For we know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-11), yet by observing the Law, no man can be justified (Gal 2:16). Only by abiding in Christ and walking in His light are we sanctified. He is the One who gives us a new heart, and puts His own Spirit in us (Eze 36:26-27). When we submit to His work in us, we will walk uprightly, work righteousness and speak the truth always. So,
"...if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin..." (1 John 1:7).
In the next parts of this series, we will also look at the snare of unforgiveness, which causes us to be an offence to God and His grace.