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How do you abide in Christ?

Quick Answer: How do you abide in Christ? Some teach the decision to abide (live) in Christ is ongoing for Christians. They say we must work or try to abide in Christ every day. However, Scripture is clear that believers always abide in Christ (1 John 2:24; 2:27; 3:6, 9). Sure, we are learning and growing in our understanding, but we don’t have to try to abide (live) more in Christ. We live in Him forever!

Diving Deeper: The idea that Christians need to make daily decisions to try to abide in Christ is common in Christian teaching. But this is not the message of Scripture.

The passage often quoted to support the idea is John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” Here, Jesus is not prescribing an action for Christians to take daily. He is simply inviting the Jews of His day to live in Him. He is stressing the importance of spiritual union with Him, because apart from that saving union, they “can do nothing.”

Note that those who do not abide in Christ are “thrown away like a branch and burned” (John 15:6). These are not believers. They abide in Adam, not in Christ. When we believed the Gospel, we were placed in union with Jesus Christ – Him in us and us in Him (1 Corinthians 6:17; John 17:21). The Apostle John gives three indicators that we believers do abide (live) in Christ (1 John 2:24, 27; 3:6,9):

  1. the Gospel message abides in us;
  2. the Holy Spirit is teaching us;
  3. and we know God.

If we have believed the Gospel, and if the Holy Spirit lives within us, and if we know God, then we do abide in Christ. So, why did Jesus command His disciples to abide in Him (John 15:4)? It’s important to recognize this command was an invitation prior to the His death, burial, and resurrection; and it was prior to Pentecost. It would not be until Pentecost that they would be born again, receive power from on high, and truly live (abide) in Jesus Christ forever. Essentially, Jesus’s instruction to abide in Him was an evangelistic appeal. Each of us responded to that appeal at salvation, so now we abide in Christ.

In conclusion, to abide simply means “to live.” For example, if we live in the United States of America, we abide there. We do not wake up every morning and try to live there. Similarly, Christians should not wake up every morning and try to abide in Christ. We permanently abide in Christ, just as He permanently abides in us (John 17:21).

Let’s Make it a Conversation!
1. React to this statement: As believers, we are learning and growing, but Christ always abides (lives) in us.
Have you heard “abiding in Christ” taught as an ongoing work or decision? What has been your experience with it?
3. Why is the concept of an on-again, off-again abiding problematic? How does the definition of abide (“to live”) help?
4. React to this statement: Christ is not trying to abide (live) in you. Likewise, you don’t need to try to abide (live) in Him.


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