By Stan Brown
I John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
This verse is nearly a repetition of the second half of 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 is not speaking of an indication that we are saved (although if we are abiding, we are saved but just because we are saved does not mean we are abiding) but rather John speaks of that which is so close to his heart. That is the mutually abiding condition of we in Him and He in us.
In I John 3:24 he writes of one who keeps God’s commandments. The current verse is immediately preceded by a description of those who love. Love and obedience are intertwined perfectly as it is true that the one who loves is also obedient and the one who obeys is also loving. Being obedient to God’s commands displays itself in the fact that we love one another. The loving believer is always obedient to God’ Word.
Previously he has said that the one who abides will walk as Jesus walked. The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked (I John 2:6). He has said that the one who abides will be living in the light. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father (I John 2:24). He has said that the one who abides will be taught by the Holy Spirit As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things (I John 2:27). It is the one who abides who enters God’s presence with bold confidence both now and at His coming. Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming(I John 2:28). The abiding presence of God is where we want to live.
The Greek word translated Spirit here has a couple of meanings in Scripture. It can mean an attitude such as described in 2Tim. 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. It can also refer to the person of the Holy Spirit. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit Who gives to us the spirit of love and obedience to His commandments. So how do we know that we are abiding in Him and He in us? It is because the Spirit who indwells us has given us a spirit of love and living out of God’s commandments, indeed, the Spirit has given to us His own spirit that the world may know who God is.
In effect, we demonstrate the central characteristics of God as we abide in Him and He in us. We demonstrate His holiness as we obey God and His love as we love. Just as these are never separate, but perfectly displayed together in our God, they are intertwined together in us as we abide in Him and He in us. Praise God for this relationship to which He calls us right now.