By Stan Brown
I John 3:24 And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
John has previously used the word translated abide fifteen times in this epistle. Five of these refer to that which may abide in us. He has spoken of the word of God abiding in us (2:14). He has spoken of His anointing abiding in us (2:27). He has spoken of His seed abiding in us (3:9). He has spoken of eternal life not abiding in murderers (3:14). He has spoken of the love of God abiding in us (3:17). All of this has been building to the ultimate dwelling of mutual abiding in a manner which had never before been known. It is described with the words the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him and He in him. I wonder if this might have been part of what the author of Hebrews had in mind when he penned the words All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth (Heb. 11:13). Wow! Pause for just a moment and consider the awesome nature of this gift. As believers we have the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit as God moved His visible presence from the Holies of Holies to the hearts of believers on the Day of Pentecost. But this is more than just His presence in us, it is a mutual abiding with we in Him and He in us. I can barely comprehend what this might mean. It may only be completely understood by experiencing it.
How is it that we as believers may be involved in that relationship? John tells us very simply what it involves as he summarizes with the words the one who keeps His commandments. Jesus describes this same thing when He said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him (John 14:23). Ultimately, it has to do with the two central characteristics of God, holiness and love. In John 14:23 they are mentioned as love and word with the words If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.In John’s epistle he has spoken of righteousness more than once including, Children, let no one deceive you. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous (1John 3:7). He has emphasized love for one another in the immediately preceding section. Now, we reach the ultimate relationship of abiding in Him as He abides in us. John has told us how to get to this place in everything he has previously written in this letter. Here he says And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. I do not have to wait for His appearing. I may enter this relationship right now.
Just as the Holy Spirit is given to us as a down payment on the fulfillment of God’s promises, He also gives us the assurance of our mutual abiding. He provides for us the bold confidence of this relationship. Let us go for it! Without this relationship we can do nothing.
John 15:4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so 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, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.