Abide in Me
by Mark Heatherly
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Many, many have undertaken the task of explaining what our Lord meant when He said to "abide in Me & I in you". I am saddened to say that I have yet to hear this grand truth explained properly today so that His children might even begin to enter in through the narrow gate & follow along the constricted path that leads to life.
This abiding is generally passed off as either simply being a Christian or else perhaps that we put God first or that we somehow rely on Christ to give us a power to "help" us out along the way.
First of all it must be noted that we must meet His requirement for this abiding to become a reality in our experience. It is certainly not automatic based simply upon our believing in Him.
I believe one real difficulty in understanding this word is that the word abide is too general of a word to accurately convey the true implication because this is a truly spiritual word to which nothing on earth can compare. We must rely upon the anointing & other scriptures to gain insight as to it's true meaning & application. One such scripture would be His words that "anyone who wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross & follow Me". One should take special notice of the word "must" here. It shows us that this is a fundamental & foundational thing without which we have no beginning. Anyone who wishes to be His disciple must therefore follow Him in both His example & His experience of suffering the cross, death, burial, resurrection, & glorification. Having believed in Him, God Himself placed us "in" Christ so that positionally & factually we experienced what He did 2000 years ago. We must however make this a reality in our experience today as we walk through this world. I would not want you to be deceived, this is neither an easy nor a simple thing but for now I wish to put the emphasis on one critical aspect which is the denying of self, or losing your (soul) life, or dying to self. I have written elsewhere in more detail concerning the soul-life & the self & the necessary division of soul & spirit so I will not go into detail here except to say that this is the point upon which our spiritual progress, maturity & usefulness hinges. If we do not die to self & stop living by our soul-life we cannot live & walk in spirit in unity with our Lord. This is impossible, we cannot do both a the same time because they are polar opposites.
When we are born again we are organically united with Christ in our spirit. By God taking on humanity or becoming a human being just like us & then becoming a life-giving Spirit He was thus able to mingle Himself with us as this life-giving Spirit being of the exact same constitution as we. Again, I must point out that though this is a done deal & was accomplished before the foundation of the world yet in the dimension of time that we find ourselves in , we must work this out to be ours in experience.
So then, this applies to our "abiding" in Christ. To abide in Him requires that we first make the choice of no longer abiding or living in our "self". One cannot abide in two places at the same time. We must therefore lose our soul-life in order to gain it (the divine life of Christ). What does this mean? It should be obvious that one must take place in order for the other to happen. It is somewhat of a cause & effect scenario.
Another scripture reference : "Whoever does not carry his own cross & come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you , when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down & calculate the COST to see if he has enough to complete it ? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation & is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, "This man began to build & was not able to finish." So what does this "cost" refer to ? This cost is a high price for it is the life you now know & possess. In verse 33 He goes on to say "So then, none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions". In practical terms we know this does not mean everyone has to give up all their material & monetary things so what could it mean. Note : ( In reverence, I must say that the Lord is somewhat sneaky in His meanings in that the riches of Christ are not to be cheapened by what one might call openly common knowledge. This means to understand we must have light & to have light we must meet His conditions. Again, this correlates to the point of this message & that is that with the Lord there are conditions that must be met just as He says "He gives grace to the humble". This humility is an example of His wise conditions. ) So then, what does it mean in giving up all your possessions ? It is in reference to your soulish, self-life. It is only the self life that holds onto & possesses things. It is most difficult for one to know what the self life is & how it is thus distinguished from the divine life without revelation but suffice to say that it is a life only & always about self. This "self" is all pervasive in your being & no matter what you think, you cannot escape it's presence nor it's influence in your soul life. As long as you live out the soul life, it is there. Everything one thinks, says, does & hopes or dreams always has something to do with self. As you might expect, this in vary stark contrast to the divine life of Christ, so it is thus easy to see why one must give this up & opt for the better. When our Lord says to give up all your possessions, what He's really saying is give up your self life as that's the part of you that would hold onto things & if you are in that self life you cannot help but to hold onto things for that is your very nature & constitution. You can do no other with this life. Therefore, to even be able to give up all your possessions requires that you first have died to self & it is no longer you who live but Christ Jesus. Also of note, is that being in the self life & holding onto things we are told that this is where our heart will be "for where your treasure is there your heart will be also". We know that earthly treasures are very much of the world whereas Christ is the heavenly. Can one abide in both ? Many people do not understand this word on abiding because they do not have revelation concerning the division of spirit & soul. Many even deny that this is even possible,. though in Hebrews it says "the word of God is living & active & sharper than any two-edged sword & piercing even to the division of spirit & soul". Not to mention the fact that we are told numerous times to walk in the spirit & not in the flesh. This could not be possible either if it were not possible for the spirit & soul to be divided. For those who do not know, the flesh referred to here means the totality of fallen man which indeed includes his soul life. Pryor to the fall the soul of man was good but afterwards it was contaminated & transformed into the "self".
I feel like I must make mention of the fact that I can speak of these things with certainty only because of the light which the Lord has graciously given me. This is not merely my own thoughts nor that of someone else even though I have learned much from other enlightened ones.
I have to say that there is a great reluctance on my part to share this because it may seem that I am trying to set myself above others but that is simply not true. My only motive is so that all might see & know something of what I have come to know & will be thus built up & enriched. I love you with the love of Christ & Him be praised.
So here goes. One day having just woke up I began to think, as I had all my life about what I needed & wanted to do that day & to prioritize them, but this time I told my self that I would instead turn my heart & thoughts to Him. ( Note: this is something we must continually practice as it says in scripture " My soul be thou silent unto the Lord". ) Immediately, upon doing this simple thing I was caught up in the spirit in a trance. I was sitting upright & fully awake & yet it was as if I were in a different dimension no longer in my body. I immediately felt something coming down from above & it went into my head & permeated my whole body down to my feet. I had a knowing that I cannot explain, but I knew this was Him. It was the life of Christ becoming organically fused into every molecule of my being. I was instantly transformed into conformity with Christ. Actually it was as if He & I were one. It was a life I cannot even communicate properly. One thing I noticed about it though was that there was absolutely no SELF & it was a very beautiful & liberating experience. I was given the privilege of experiencing what it is like to live without this polluted & perverted "self" consciousness. I remember that I experienced a love for others which made Jesus' words ring so loud & true that "it is more blessed to give than to receive". Unfortunately this experience was short lived & I was deeply grieved to find myself back in the experience of my old man.
After this experience I knew by experience however, the distinction or the discernment of the division of this part of the soul, being the self, apart from the spirit. Being purely in spirit without any of the self or flesh made me keenly aware of just what the self is. It's similar to where the expert at recognizing counterfeit currency is the one who is an expert on the real currency. So too, to know the wretchedness of the flesh & the self life is to know by real experience the purity of the spirit. That's why it says "to the pure all things are pure".
So then, this abiding is more than what it appears to be on the surface of things. Most all who try to teach this abiding word only have eyes to see the surface & not the deeper content. It is truly in reference to, from what source you derive your life & living. It is a living out from & a living for, either from the spirit for God or from the selfish soul life & of course for itself alone. Do not be deceived, one can even live out from the self soul life while thinking it is for God. God Himself must accomplish this dividing work in you for your deliverance from self. All you have to do is look at the religious people at the time of Christ. From all appearances they lived for God but in reality is was the self practicing religion. Religious people have the form but not the life. The difference being, that the latter was done by the outer man (the soul life) in an outward way while the true worshipers do so in spirit & truth & there's a huge difference. Again, this is why it is imperative that one die to self & lose his soul life so that he may begin to live. Where you live is also the place wherein you abide. Do you live according to the soul life's self or are you one who "presents himself to God as one alive from the dead " ? The only way to abide in Christ is to have died & to maintain that death daily as Paul said " I die daily". Then & only then are you qualified to abide in Him, partaking of His divine resurrection life. Does not death proceed resurrection ?
My friend, if you have not experienced this blessed reality to some degree of the division of spirit & soul then I dare say you have no clue what it means to abide in Him. I do not say this in arrogance, I say it because I must & because of sorrowful conviction. Those who miss this miss out on the abundant life Jesus spoke of. There are two very distinct ways of living on two separate planes of life & just because you are a Christian & just because you sincerely seek God & go to church & pray & read & study & even teach or preach, this does not mean that you have traversed the path which leads to life. This path is through the narrow gate upon which you must walk the difficult & constricted path that leads to life. Walking through this gate is to go against your very self & all that is in & of this world. This is a most difficult thing. In fact, it is quite impossible & could not be done except that Christ Himself has already done it & His life is yours to experience & abide in. This is hard to explain but there is a sense in which we can do nothing & should do nothing but also there is a travail in which we must take a step of faith before His life may manifest in our experience. How can self give up self for it's very nature is only & always for self ? This is indeed a great mystery.
This is a truth which the enemy has concealed from mainstream Christianity but as God is faithful & true, there has always been a remnant who remained in the truth in Him. Not that I have already arrived in glory but I do know of this truth of which I speak & any who truly desire this, I will do my best to help you know this "way" also. By the grace of God & Him in me, I will make every effort to help all who are the true seekers to know Him in this living way. Be encouraged, as this is not something beyond anyone's reach because He himself is the way & the truth & the life & He will bring you into it if you are but willing to sacrifice your selfish soul-life. In a sense, our part is just the willingness where as His part is to cause it to be so, so that He may impart His glorious plane of life in you. You might say that the gate has to do with your losing your soul life. To enter one must check it in or put it to the side & then to traverse the path it must remain left behind at the gate. One example of this can be found in the old testament which serves as a pattern for all who wish to serve the Lord & reign with Him as priests in His kingdom now & forever. It is the account of Aaron where the Israelites complained that someone else could do his service instead of he. God showed through the rod that budded what qualifies a man to serve Him. The broken off dead branch or rod represents one who has died to himself, that He may impart the miraculous resurrection life into it that it may produce fruit unto God. The rod was left overnight in the tabernacle of witness which also signifies that this death must go through a period of time to become complete in a man & it is done while the man sleeps or is at rest meaning he is not actively involved in making it happen. All we can do in a sense is to be willing & present ourselves before Him in faith affording Him the opportunity to perform His wonderful work. Make no mistake about it, this is not a pleasant thing. It is a necessary negative working out that the Lord must first accomplish within us so that He may then have a pure vessel in which He Himself may abide. This is why He says "abide in Me & I in you". It is of two aspects. Us in Him in which we die to self & remaining in that state & then He in us. God is a most jealous God in that He wants our whole being without any of the corrupted old man to pollute His divine nature & life.
Jesus was the ultimate example of this as His wilderness journey was to demonstrate His living a life apart from the soul life but remaining & walking entirely in spirit . This is why He told Satan that "man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God". This is a living in which one loses his soul life & must be nourished & exist by the food of God which is His very life. Even in the natural we understand what it is to eat food in order to live & it is even more so in the spirit that we must eat the Lord as represented by the fruit of the tree of life. One must eat in order to live ! Jesus could truly say "I can do nothing apart from My Father but I do only as I see what He Himself is doing". This is a complete living in the spirit by the life supply of God. The natural life is not only different but it is opposed to the life of God. Like it or not, we have derived our natural life, the living out from the soul & it's corruption through Satan by the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. We should know that to really know something means to experience it so that in knowing evil makes one evil. It would be much better to have no knowledge of evil at all , would it not ? Unfortunately we all do have this knowledge of good & evil so that our life & being are corrupted & the only remedy is for one to die. Jesus provided a picture of this when He said "unless a grain of wheat fall into the earth & dies it remains by itself alone but if it dies it bears much fruit". Jesus was referring primarily to Himself in what He was about to accomplish on the cross but by His saying anyone who wishes to follow Me must also take up his cross it is clear that means you & I. One might say that the cross cancels or crosses out all that is unacceptable to God so that only through our subjective cross, death & burial may we come into the newness of life through the resurrection life & glorification. The cross is a sort of filter by which God nullifies all that is of Satan & it's consequential death that has permeated all that is in us & the world. Praise the Lord for He has done a mighty work that no man can begin to comprehend in it's scope.
Jeremiah 33:3 "Call unto Me, & I will answer you, & show you great & mighty things , which you do not know."
God's grace & peace to you.
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