Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Living in the Spirit: What it means to Abide

By Benjamin H. Liles

          I know from time to time I tend to go over this verse, but I believe it's time to fully understand what's being said here. Paul, in addressing the people at Galatia, talks to them as to why we ought, as people of Jesus the Messiah ought to be united. At the time of his authorship of Galatians the people there were falling into their former ways, and why Paul said to them, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9, New King James). 

          The point being here is that if any of those who had been united to the Messiah to begin with, need to remain fully committed and fully devoted to the idea of what it means to be a "Christian." Many use that term as a blanket these days to either excuse their actions, their behaviors, or to prove as to whom they actually belong to. In fact, Jesus was previously telling the disciples, "There will be some who look as though they are harmless in their teachings, but in their own spirit, their soul, they are evil. They bring harm and disaster on those they teach. You will be able to know and discern them. Does fruit come from briars, or pears from poison oak? Every tree bears either good fruit or bad fruit. Subsequently, every tree that does not bear fruit bearing my image is cut down and burned in a fire. So then, you shall know them by their fruit" (paraphrase of Matthew 7:15-20). 

           Therefore knowing this we can see what verses I'm pointing to in Galatians: "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery...But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (5:19-24, Paul is specifically talking about identifying marks of authentic Christianity). 

Heart of the Matter

          Really, that's the fullness of what this message is about. There are a great number of people claiming they have Jesus, but do they truthfully mean the words or are they charming enough to make-believe a version of what they claim is the truth? If we remain in Jesus, as the word "abide" means where He says, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me" (John 15:4). We are to remain in the Messiah, for apart from Him no good fruit can be produced.

          In fact, when John starts his gospel narrative he talks of the Messiah, Jesus, saying, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). In fact Jesus, when talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, tells her specifically, "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). 

          Therefore, if a vine or a branch is cut off from the root of the vine, or from the tree, none of the life-giving material goes to that cut off branch; it is dead. Life cannot come from something dead. And that also gets into part of the answer of "Something comes from nothing." If life cannot proceed from death, then production cannot come out of destruction or even nothing (Follow me on that logic).

           So then when we look at the camp of people who claim they are filled with God's Spirit, but the fruit they seem to show either is a display of hatred, unkindness, uncontrollable traits (like violent shaking, speaking utterances that aren't a known language, frothing at the mouth, etc., and so forth) these are not Christian activities. We have seen from the myriad of Biblical sources what consists of an actual Christ-like pattern we are to have.

Remaining in Christ means Life: Like a Branch remaining with a Tree

          When we remain in the body of Jesus the Messiah, we have a genuine concern for others, that agape love, which is a brotherly love. Consequently we have other fruit similar to that. We show a joy for our Lord and Savior. There is a peace that surpasses all understanding, even in the midst and turmoil of trouble. We are patient toward others and with one another. We are kind and good, knowing that being a benefit for and to others is a mark of the cross we proudly and daily take upon ourselves.Our of all of this people end up seeing a rich and vibrant faith that is gentle and self-controlled. Paul says of these traits, which all belong to the Spirit of God and of Jesus, "Against such things there is no law."

          To conclude then, it bears worth saying that for those of us who are truthfully and authentically blood-bought by Jesus, we are the ones who have the fruit of the Spirit manifest in our lives. We are in control of what goes on, not by our own strength and power, but because we have given our lives to the One who pardoned our sins at the cross. And that's something I have always done my best to talk about. God's wrath remains on those who are dead in their wickedness. 

          Yes, we all are born into a life of being law-breakers, but it's God's grace -- not on our own doing -- but on His loving kindness to provide a way out of His wrath. It comes from seeing ourselves in the light of His revelation: He is holy and just; we are not. We need cleansing, we need life. Only Jesus offers that to us, but we have to see our need for Him before we can receive Him as our life-source. After that we can then receive the gift of the Spirit in us and in our lives. But that means we need to remain in Him. Constantly. For the rest of our lives. May this bless and enrich you.

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