John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
The believer’s life if one of abiding, i.e., it is a fixed life, an enduring life, a steadfast life, an unwavering life. But what does this abiding refer to? Many things – but really the same thing, for they are all coequal. For example – abiding in Christ means to abide in His Word, in service to Him, in obedience to His commands, and in relationship to His church. It means to endure loving Him and our neighbor, no matter what, day after day, and year after year. By contrast, the unbeliever may appear to be all-in with Jesus for a time, and obedient to the Word occasionally, but there is no commitment, no endurance, no state of being fixed.
It is when our beliefs and relationships are challenged that the truth is exposed about us. So, what kinds of challenges or “tests” might these be? Jesus summarized them in the parable of the sower as recorded in Mark 4 as follows:
- Distractions that are sown by the enemy of our souls. Anything to keep our mind off the Word of God that we’ve just heard from another person or read ourselves. It can be an argument we had the night before, curiosity about how our favorite baseball team is doing, some jingle from a TV commercial, or other distractions much too numerous to list. And it can be false teaching, the world’s philosophies, or other ideas to divert us from God’s Truth.
- Affliction or persecution for the Word’s sake – i.e., giving up on God because of suffering of some type. Or caving to the pressure of the world to accept that which is evil according to God’s Word. Not willing to resist or speak out against sin – as the God’s Word has defined it – and not as man’s ever-changing opinions define “right” and “wrong.” Not willing to talk about Christ and our relationship with him to others in such instances. Being ashamed of Him.
- The deceitfulness of the love of money and other lusts – ungodly desires, willing to compromise the love of God by cheating on our taxes or stinginess with our money. And things that the world calls “love,” like adultery or fornication, but which God hates.
Abiding means to endure when the “squeeze” of life is upon us. Jesus says over and over – “Abide in Me.” It’s only by such abiding that our lives will bear fruit to the glory of God.