“The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” I John 3:24 NASB
John said in the verse just before this, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” John said the commandment is to believe in Jesus and love one another. Jesus said the commandment was to love God with our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Is John contradicting Jesus? Of course not. In fact, John is affirming Jesus. Truth be told, we cannot love God or our neighbor apart from faith in Christ. Once we keep the commandment of believing in Jesus, we enter into a relationship with God, abide in Christ, and are able to love God and one another.
In the fifteenth chapter of John Jesus described Himself as the vine and us as the branches. He said in the fourth verse, “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.” Jesus said the word abide ten times in this section of scripture emphasizing the importance of this truth. By abiding in Christ, we can bear fruit, but when we don’t abide in Christ, we can do nothing. Abiding in Christ is the evidence that you are in Him and He in you. John said, “We know by this that He abides in us.” By what? By the fact that we have kept His commandment and believed in Him.
To abide in Christ means our identity is found in Christ. If our identity is found in Christ, the fruit we bear will represent Him and not ourselves. He is after all the vine and we are only the branches. The vine can survive apart from the branches but the branches will die apart from the vine. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Paul stated that he has died to himself and come alive to Jesus. He said the life He now lives is a life of faith in Jesus Christ thus his identity is no longer found in himself, it is found in the person of Jesus. He found the source of life, the vine, and allowed God, by faith, to graft him into the vine where the true source of life is found. In order to do this he had to lose his identity and receive a new identity in Christ. Now, the life he lives abides in Christ.
Jesus said to Nicodemus in the third chapter of John that unless one is born again he cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God. To be born again means that we must die to ourselves and come alive to Christ. Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” The consistency of scripture is that we die to self and come alive to Christ. In other words, we no longer live for self, we live for Jesus.
Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” First of all, Jesus said you must. In other words, this is non-optional. He said you must first deny yourself. We must stop living for us. Secondly, He told us to pick up our cross and follow Him. The cross is an instrument of death signifying we must die to self, deny self, and follow Him. This is true faith in Christ.
The one who abides in Christ has his identity in Christ. He doesn’t live for self, promote self, or glorify self. He has died to self. He lives for, promotes, and glorifies Jesus Christ. By this, he has kept the commandment of God to love God with all His heart, soul, and mind through his faith in the person of Jesus Christ. By this, we know, if we abide in Christ.