“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. John 15:4-5 NAS
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:7-11 NAS
What does it mean to abide in Christ?
One way is clear in these verses. Abide in His love, the love we see in his death on the cross. To abide in His love, we keep and fulfill Jesus commands just as Jesus kept and fulfilled His Fathers commands. This means we walk like Jesus, who lived and died bringing life, fulfilling the Spirit of all of God’s laws – love – Rom 13:8-10. It does not mean we walk like the Pharisee’s who enforced the letter of the law bringing condemnation and death while ignoring the Spirit of God’s law. We are qualified to minister the Spirit of God’s law that serves up life, not the letter that brings condemnation and death.
Who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6 NAS
Jesus commands love. We love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves - Matt 22:37-40, as Jesus has loved us - John 13:34. While this may sound easier than keeping the letter of the law, it is not easier; it is impossible unless we abide in Christ. It was impossible to love our neighbor as ourselves and became beyond impossible with Jesus new command in John 13:34, love our neighbor as Jesus loves us. Jesus died on the cross for our neighbor and us. In Matthew 5:38-48, He told us to, die for those who hate us, love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, if anyone sues you for your coat give them your shirt too, lend without expecting repayment, forgive those who hate us, etc. In the natural, we are not able to love as God loves us. Therefore, we are told to abide in Christ so we can bear fruit. Because apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.
Abiding in Christ begins when we know how much God loves us. When we establish our minds and thoughts in His love for us, we are filled up to all the fullness of God.
And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Eph 3:19 NAS
When we love like Jesus, we do not need the Ten Commandments or any of God’s law. Loving like Jesus, by default, fulfills all of God’s law – Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14. Love is the one and only thing that fulfills the authors intent for writing the law.
The Bible says we are complete in Christ; it is finished.
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; Col 2: 9-10 NAS
We have been made a new creature in our born-again perfected Spirit.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor 5:17 NAS
It is ludicrous to think God would still see and judge us in the old creation when He has made us a completely new creation in Christ!
God no longer recognizes us in the old creation and he commands us to do the same. The old creation has passed away, is dead to God. We are commanded to recognize Jesus, ourselves and other believers, alive in the Spirit, in the new creation God has made us.
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor 5:16-17 NAS
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 1 Peter 3:18 NAS
The new creation God has made us in Christ is born of the Spirit and is Spirit.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6 NAS
God sees us as Christ is, in the perfection of the Spirit, so are we in this world, in the Spirit.
As He is, so also are we in this world. 1 John 4:17b NAS
Abiding in Christ Cannot Be Done in the Flesh
This reveals to us that abiding in Christ cannot be done in the flesh, it can only be done in the Spirit where Jesus lives. We are called to worship God in Spirit and truth. The truth of who we are in the Spirit, a new creation of God. This is our identity for all eternity.
"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:24 NAS
As followers of Christ, from habit, we walk in the flesh, in the old creation. But God calls us to renew our minds and by faith agree with Him that the old creation is crucified and dead on the cross with Christ and we have been born-again as His new creation. We were born-again in the Spirit.
When two agree, they can walk together, Amos 3:3.
If we do not renew our minds to the truth, we walk in the flesh. This leaves us wide open for attacks from the enemy and where we encounter the lusts and the works of the flesh that lead to outward acts of sin, along with great strife and struggle in this world. Obviously, Satan wants us walking in the flesh and constantly tempts us, trying to draw us into the flesh through people, places, things and situations. Whenever we catch ourselves in impatience, jealousy, bitterness, selfishness, pride, self-righterousness, worry, fear, doubt, etc, we know we are in the flesh.
We know all of the faults, failures and sins of our flesh and the enemy loves to keep this at the forefront of our thoughts and minds, to keep our focus on the old creation. We intimately know our identity in the flesh, the old creation. Satan wants us to believe the lie that the old creation, the sinful flesh, is still our identity before God. Satan battles for our thoughts and minds, the spiritual battle the Bible talks about. To abide in Christ, we must reject Satan’s lie and believe God, we are a new creation in Christ. First, we must believe God that the old creation has passed away.
Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; Rom 6:6 NAS
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Gal 6:14-15 NAS
The truth is, God did not perfect or redeem our flesh, nor can we. God condemned sin in all flesh and saw our flesh, the old creation, die on the cross with Christ before we were born again. Immersion in baptism, is a picture of the death of the flesh. God calls us to walk in the Spirit, the new eternally living creation we are in Christ, believing by faith who God has made us in the Spirit.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. Rom 7:18 NAS
In opposition to God, Satan will do all he can to keep our thoughts and minds out of the Spirit and in the flesh, the old creation. One of his main attacks is to get us to try to perfect the flesh by the flesh as though we must get the crucified and dead flesh ready for God’s approval to get into heaven. This is a lie, as discussed, God sees the old creation as passed away, dead. And trying to get the flesh to defeat itself, will never happen. All it does is to bring out our self-righteousness and boasting in the flesh. Paul tells us we cannot perfect ourselves by the flesh.
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Gal 3: 1-6 ESV
Trying to force the flesh by the flesh to obey laws, rules and regulations, is of no value against fleshly indulgence. Any temporary victory, just brings out boasting and self-righteousness by the flesh.
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. Col 2:20-23 NAS
God asks us to believe Him. The only way to win this Spiritual battle is to renew our mind to the truth. We are to walk by faith, agreeing with God, see the old creation as crucified and dead and our identity in the new creation. We have victory when we take our eyes totally off of the old and focus permanently on the perfection of who we are in the new creation, in Christ.
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor 4:18 NAS
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7 NAS
When we walk in the Spirit like this, the fruits of the Spirit are naturally produced and overcome and replace the lusts and works of the flesh in our life.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Gal 5:16-24 NAS
In the flesh, we have anger, bitterness, jealousy, unforgiveness, conditional love and turmoil to name a few. These bring dis-ease and destruction to our body. On the other hand, when we walk in the Spirit, another benefit is that His peace also transfers life to our bodies. The fruits of the Spirit are not based on circumstances; they overcome all circumstances. The flesh only holds death; the Spirit is eternal and abundant life.
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. John 6:63 NAS
We agree with God that our identity is the new creation, born-again Spirit, that God has made righteous, holy, sanctified, complete and perfected in Christ. We do not conform to this world, living as though we are the old creation. Heb 10:10, Heb 2:11, Acts 20:32, Acts 26:18, Heb 10:14, 1 Cor 1:2, Rom 3:21-22, Rom 5:19
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:3 NAS
When we renew our minds, our lives are transformed into the image of Christ, by the power of God. Before we came to Christ, we looked in the mirror we call the word of God and saw how far our flesh fell short of God’s standard. Being born-again, God calls us to see Jesus perfection in the Spirit in that mirror now, as the reflection of the new creation He has made us.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Cor 3: 17-18 NAS
Abide in Christ, abide in His love and truth and His fullness and power will abide in you.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a Spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our Spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Rom 8:1-17 NASMore New Covenant Bible Studies that Apply:I Am Holy, I Am Sanctified, I Am PerfectedGod Said a Believer Can Never be Considered UnholyI Am a New Creation IN CHRIST Why Don't I look Like a New Creation in Christ in the Mirror?How to Walk in the Spirit Instead of the Flesh
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20