“To live is Christ” is to “abide in Christ.” Because of our union with Christ we do abide in Christ and Christ abides in us. We live in him and he lives in us. This happens by the life giving Spirit of God.
It can be easy to see Jesus’ statement “abide in me” as something that we have to manage and maintain. “It is up to us to abide,” we think. Or, “Some days I am abiding and some days I am not.”
But we have to see abiding in Christ as both a positional truth (who we are) and a conditional (what we do or how we feel) truth.
The Source of Life
Jesus is the source of our life; he is vine, we are branch. Therefore our position is one of dependence. The branch depends on the vine, just as Jesus depended on the Father. The branch doesn’t maintain or manage life, it simply receives it. And this receiving life is not an “on again, off again” proposition. It is a one time “born again” experience, whereby we receive a new nature. So, if you are saved or born again, then you are abiding in Christ and Christ is abiding in you.
Do you remember John 14:23? Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Remember, “keeping Jesus’ word” is equal to having faith in him. When we place our trust in Christ, he comes with the Father to us and makes his home with us. That is a positional, unchanging truth. Or as John puts it in 1 John 4:15 – Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
So abiding is first about being before it can be about doing. We CAN abide in Christ because Christ abides in us. When we turn abiding into something that we have to figure out, we make the Christian life about knowing good and evil for ourselves rather than about faith in Christ’s life given to us as a free gift.
The Signs of Life
So abiding is a positional truth, but it is also a conditional truth. Now, our spiritual condition must always follow our spiritual position. What we do and how we feel, must follow the truth of who we are in Christ. In this way the Christian life is faith. If our condition determined our position then our religion would be one of works. But if our condition flows from our position then our religion is one of faith and dependence.
Because we abide in Christ and Christ in us positionally, we must then abide in Christ conditionally. This means that each and every day our faith is renewed as we trust in our abiding life with Christ. Abiding therefore, means that I appropriate Christ’s life in each and every situation that I face. I recall, and remember my abiding. In fact, that is why this blog exists- not to cause your positional abiding (only the Spirit can do that), but to help you in your conditional abiding day by day (which of course is also an act of the Spirit as he prayerfully uses this blog).
Here’s positional and conditional abiding in Colossians:
Colossians 1:27. Christ in you the hope of glory (POSITION)
Colossians 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (CONDITION)
Here’s positional and conditional abiding in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (POSITION)
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (CONDITION)
Here’s positional and conditional abiding in Ephesians 3:16-17:
[I am praying] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being (POSITION),
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith… (CONDITION)
As we move forward we will continue to explore these positional and conditional truths. “To live is Christ” means that we abide by having faith in our position, and we abide by faith as we allow our position in Christ to affect our condition day by day.