Abiding in Christ
James Smith, 1865
"No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin — has either seen Him or known Him." 1 John 3:6
The design of God in the gospel, is to make us like
Himself — to conform us to His beloved Son, who is "the image of the
invisible God." To this end — all the promises, privileges, and precepts of
His Word are directed. At this, the work of the Holy and ever blessed Spirit
aims. We must resemble Him — imperfectly here on earth. We will
resemble Him — perfectly and completely, in Heaven.
Christ-likeness is the object we should constantly keep in view — at this we
should habitually aim. Being justified by grace, we should daily seek
to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit; and that our bodies, souls, and
spirits, should be preserved blameless, unto the coming of the day of God.
This was John's object in writing this epistle, at this he aims directly or
indirectly in every part of it. "These things write we unto you," he says,
"so that you will not sin." And, "No one who abides in him keeps on
sinning." Here is,
First, A DISTINGUISHING PRIVILEGE.To be in Christ. To abide in Christ. UNION to Christ, is the most glorious privilege of a child of God. It is vital and permanent. Faith brings us to the feet of Christ, love fixes on the beauty of Christ, and the Holy Spirit becomes the bond that unites us to His person.
Being united to Christ, it becomes our imperative duty, as well as our high privilege — to ABIDE in Christ. This gives power to prayer, as Jesus says, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you — you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done for you." And this is the cause of fruitfulness. "He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit, for without me," or severed from me, "you can do nothing." No union — no power; no union — no fruit.
To abide in Christ, is to realize Him as PRESENT with us — and to act us under His eye. An ever-present Savior is one of our greatest comforts. Realizing Him as present — we exercise faith in Him, He is the object of our confidence and trust. Realizing Him as present — we daily set our love upon Him, He is the object of our affection and delight. Realizing Him as present — we thus become zealous for Him, and diligent in His cause. Realizing Him as present — we live in fellowship with Him. This fellowship is an interchange of thought, feeling, and purpose; we drink into His Spirit, become of His mind, and naturally seek His honor. We come to Him — but it is to receive from Him; and out of His fullness we receive, grace upon grace.
We are to abide with Him — as our HEAD, who influences us; as the natural head does the body.
We are to abide with Him — as our HUSBAND, supplying us with all we need, and taking our cares upon Himself.
We are to abide with Him — as our FOUNDATION, sustaining us, and bearing the entire weight of our everlasting salvation.
We are to abide with Him — as the VINE, which renews its branches by sending up the sap which produces the buds, foliage, and fruit. We must believe in Jesus for influence, supplies, supports, and constant renewals.
To abide in Christ — is having to do with Christ every
day and all the day — for all we need, desire, or hope for. As the wife
abides with her husband, as the stone abides on the foundation,
as the branch abides in the vine — so we must abide in Jesus. Thus
piety becomes our element, spiritual things become natural, and carnal
things lose their power over us. Here is,
Secondly, The RESULT of this privilege."No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning." This does not mean that they are absolutely perfect, or entirely free from sin; otherwise every believer, would be a sinless person.
But it means that abiding in Christ, they do not sin DELIBERATELY. They may be betrayed into sin. They may be overcome by temptation, as the best of men have been. But they cannot deliberately plan and execute that sin, which is prohibited by God's holy precepts.
They cannot sin HABITUALLY. Occasionally they may be overcome — but the habit of sin is broken. Every believer breaks off his sins, by righteousness.
They cannot sin FINALLY. Or having fallen, they cannot remain in that state. Grace within them will work and struggle, until it raises them out of such a condition.
He who abides in Christ, knows what sin is — in its nature, tendency, and deserts.
He knows that the nature of sin is contrary to God, turning the back upon Him, and trampling His law under foot. How can he do this while, he lives in intimate fellowship with Him?
He knows that the tendency of sin is to alienate him from God, hide his face, and expose him to His dreaded frown. How then can he indulge it?
He knows that every sin deserves hell, and that every willful sinner deserves endless banishment from God.
Therefore he does not continue to sin. His heart is set
against sin, and instead of indulging — he mortifies it; instead of
yielding to the flesh — he crucifies it, with its passions and lusts.
He thirsts for holiness, as the thirsty traveler for water! Holiness is the
ruling desire of his soul. This is the great object of his pursuit. This is
his chief delight. Often he sighs and cries out "Oh! to be holy, perfectly
and perpetually holy!" Here is,
Thirdly, the proof of a CARNAL state."No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him." His creed may be sound. Evangelical sentiments may float in his brain, like snow flakes in the air. He may be able to split hairs in doctrine. But if he sins continually — deliberately, habitually, and finally — he has never known the Savior.
A carnal state, is a state of ignorance. The
carnal man is in darkness. Christ is not truly perceived or known. Such may
be familiar with His name, and with all the leading facts of His Word — but
they do not know Him. The man who lives in any known sin, has not
discerned . . .
the glory of His person,
the nature of His work,
the tendency of His love, or
the design of His gospel.
He has no true faith! Faith is the eye of the soul; Christ is the object placed before it; and the gospel is the light by which Christ is seen. If the eye fix on Christ, the heart immediately desires a union to His person, and is willing to give up everything for this.
Faith sees that He came to put away sin, to destroy the works of the devil, and to make all those who believe on Him a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Faith feels that the tendency of the love of Christ — is to holiness; and that it constrains all who feel it, to live not unto themselves — but unto Him who died for them and rose again.
The soul that lives in sin, does not know the design of Christ's death — that it was to be the death of sin.
The soul that lives in sin, does not know the nature of His love — which is the great principle of holiness.
The soul that lives in sin, does not know the life of Jesus, as the pattern from which every believer is to copy — and the rule which every Christian is to obey.
No sin is, or can be, sanctioned by the gospel! No sinner, who lives in, and enjoys sin, can be a Christian. Such are not united to Christ, they cannot be said to be abiding in Christ.
Union to Christ, is the source of evangelical holiness. No union to Jesus — no holiness of heart and life. And if there is no holiness of heart and life — there can be no union to Jesus. As well may the branch grow without union to the vine — as a Christian be holy without union to Jesus! And as well may a living branch be united to the vine, and never put forth leaves or fruit — as a person may be united to Jesus, and not bring forth the fruits of righteousness.
Indulgence in sin — proves a person to be ignorant of Christ. Head knowledge he may have — heart knowledge he cannot have. For just in proportion to our heartfelt, experimental knowledge of Christ — will be our hatred to sin, fear of sin, and careful departure from sin.
Union to Christ, if it is real and vital — will destroy the love and power of sin within us; and if we are not delivered from the bondage and service of sin — whatever may be our creed, profession, or confidence — we are still strangers to Christ, and separate from Him. For "No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin — has either seen Him or known Him."
Living faith always . . .
leads to union with Christ,
consecrates the heart to Christ, and
devotes the life to the service of Christ!
This is the faith which distinguishes God's elect, to which the promise of salvation is made, and which invariably works by love.