What it Really Means to Abide in Christ (and How!)

Jesus said that in order to bear fruit we must abide in Him.

On our own, we can do nothing (John 15:4) but abiding in Jesus is not something we do just because we desire to bear good fruit. Rather, our God desires to have a relationship with us! That’s exciting!

This fellowship is what we were designed for, and it is through this close communion that we achieve ultimate fulfillment (John 15:11).

But let’s face it, the concept of abiding in Christ can be difficult to get our minds around. What does it mean to abide in Christ? How do we abide in the Vine? Are there practical things we can do to make abiding in Christ a reality?

Below, we’ll discuss some ways we can abide in Christ. 

What it Really Means to Abide in Christ

What it Really Means to Abide in Christ (and How) 

Dwell in the Word

John 15 verses 1-11 describe abiding in Christ in detail, and in verse 7, it speaks about Jesus’ words abiding in us. In order to do this, on a practical basis, we can take time each and every day to be consistently in the Word of God. For some people, the morning hours are the best time for this, and for others,  their studying can be in the afternoon or in the evening.

You can also listen to sermons online, and it is important to attend church services to be regularly fed. There are many devotional books available for your quiet times, and you can purchase in-depth study books to dig deeper into particular themes or entire books of the Bible.

There are so many wonderful resources to help us study the Bible. These are some of what I consider to be the best Bible study tools

Love Others

Love is a little hard to check off a list yet we find it in verse 9 of the passage about abiding in Christ. The Bible says elsewhere in Scripture that God is love, and we also know that we love only because He first loved us. God loved while we were sinners, and others will know we are God’s children by the way we love those who are Christian.

Love is really that important.

We could ask ourselves whether we are doing all things in love, not in a legalistic sense, but as a matter of the heart. Is our tone loving with our children? Are we showing love to other people the way Jesus would have us to, or do we need to continue to work on how not to be a negative person?

Do we deny ourselves in order to love and serve others or refrain from speaking in anger out of love? By no means will we be perfect, and that is not the goal, but when we allow God’s love to flow through us toward other people, we can be sure that we are abiding in God. Developing grace goals is a powerful way to help us move closer to aligning our heart with the Lord’s heart. 

Prayer

Verse 7 of John chapter 15 speaks about asking God for whatever you wish and it being done for you. Speaking to God on a regular basis is part of abiding in Jesus, as communication is a vital part of any relationship.

1 John 5:14 speaks of being given anything we ask according to His will, and knowing the will of God becomes easier the more we spend time in His word and in prayer. Keep a prayer journal and write down the things you feel led to pray for. Be patient as you witness God’s response to your prayers, understanding they may not be answered in the ways we expect and that God’s timing is always perfect.

Obedience

Be sure, like James says, to be doers of the Word and not hearers only, so that the Word can find ready application in our lives. Jesus says in verse 10 of the passage in John 15 that we must keep His commandments to abide in His love. This parallels what is said in Luke 6:46 and John 15:14.

A great way to do this is to ask yourself this question after reading a passage of Scripture: what are some ways I can apply these verses to my life? You can add follow up questions if you want, like how might my life look if I did what the passage of Scripture said, and what does it look like now in this area? Always be sure to rely on God’s might, as following His commandments cannot be accomplished solely in the flesh. 

Endure pruning

Letting go of things is never easy. It can hurt losing friends, activities, and things we used to enjoy. Even though it is beneficial, we usually resist it, because it can be painful. The first 2 verses of John chapter 15 discuss the fact that we are the branches, and Jesus is the vine. All those that bear fruit, He prunes so they may be more and more fruitful.

From time to time, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and take stock of things that appear to be dead or dying, letting Jesus prune them away. Excess fruit and leaves take nutrition away from a plant, and the organism (you) will be healthier after a purge. Be mindful of what God is leading you away from and be willing to cut things back at His behest. This will ultimately help to fill your glory hunger and keep your eyes fixed on what God has for you. 

Joy

The end of the passage speaks of joy. Isn’t that great news?! He has spoken all of this to us so that our joy may be made full, abiding in Jesus and Him abiding in us. It’s not part of the five steps listed in this post but is the beautiful result of making Jesus, His words, love, prayer, commandments, and His pruning a priority in our lives.

Let this be our motivation when we are tired or are finding it hard to abide in Christ: our joy is right there waiting for us!

Be sure to grab our Spiritual Formation Assessment packet to help you practice your habit of abiding in Christ. 

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6 Comments

  1. I haven’t finished reading this post, but I have a burning question: you wrote “it is important to attend church services to be regularly fed”
    We recently moved back from the Middle East where a church service was much less accessible than the Bible study group we were a part of. Consequently, now looking at where to spend our time in this new season, I am full of questions about what the Bible says vs cultural expectations and norms. WHY is going to a church service important? What if that “being fed” aspect can be met through podcasts or another means? What do you mean “being fed”?
    I am not here to pick on you! But if you have a post on this topic or can point me to another one, or something, I’d appreciate it. :)

    1. Hi Sarah! I think it’s very wise to question what things we do out of cultural traditions and which we do out of biblical commands. Honestly, I think your questions are extremely important because more and more people aren’t seeing the relevance of church. However, you need to come to your own answer on this, by searching His word for it and finding where you land on the issue. Doing a personal Bible study on the local church would be really insightful for you! To get you started, here are a few verses that have helped me come to my conclusion: Hebrews 10:19-25, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 3:20-21 (notice the WHERE in this passage) and Ephesians 4:11-16.

      As for being fed, sure, we can be fed by many means, but none is specifically defined and favored in Scripture like the local church body, working in unity and full expression of spiritual gifts, not to mention fellowship, exhortation, etc. There is also historical precedence for the local church (see such places as Acts 13:1) and it’s also the best place for US to serve, give, go, and use our giftings, thus growing through the spiritual discipline of service. As our culture gets further away from a Biblical understanding of “church,” we see less of it’s relevancy. It’s very sad :(

      1. Thanks for the scripture references to get me started! I’m looking into them and enjoying it. I will say that I TOTALLY get and approve of and agree with the Body of Christ being connected with each other deeply, as much as possible – bearing one another’s burden’s, encouraging and exhorting one another, working together for the advancement of the kingdom… YES! My big question seems to revolve around how these things are met in attending a weekly service/teaching, you know?
        But like I said, I am continuing to look into the Word on this matter and I would welcome any other input you have!

    2. Yes yes thank you for the powerful word
      Prayer and meditating is the closest way we can stay close to God
      Because the moment you start meditating on his word you are applying what it says in your life
      God loves you
      He really does
      You may be finding it difficult to talk to him because you are scared that he won’t forgive me
      Tell you what his waiting for you to offer your knees and surrender your heart ❤he will control your life
      I believe we are all humans we make mistakes but God wants us to learn from those mistakes which will eventually lead us yo him
      Pray pray pray pray about it!!!his always got his ears open to hear what you have to say🙌🏿🙌🏿

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