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Abiding In Christ
by Susan Budensiek
1/04/2018 / Christian Living
The key to overcoming problems is to practice ABIDING IN CHRIST and DENYING SELF, neither of which can be simply dictated legalistically and presto---everything is right. (II Peter 3:8-9) No one can lay down a formula that we can follow like a recipe and then after baking the required amount of time, we suddenly abide in Christ and automatically deny ourselves without giving it another thought. It just doesn’t work that way. In other words, no one can just beat you over the head once and for all and then you can move on. I’ll try to explain it.
In the Scofield KJV there is a note that says: “To abide in Christ is, on the one hand, to have no known sin unjudged and unconfessed, no interest into which He is not brought, no life which He cannot share. On the other hand, the abiding one takes all burdens to Him, and draws all wisdom, life and strength from Him. It is not unceasing consciousness of these things, and of Him, but that nothing is allowed in the life which separates from Him.”
ABIDE (Greek) to stay, (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy); abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain. (John 15:10-17; I John 2:24)
ABIDE (Webster) to take up one’s abode, dwell, stay, not to depart. THEREFORE, TO ABIDE=to dwell=to live somewhere, such as your home.
HOW do we abide in Him? I John 3:24 (NAS) “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....” In order to keep His commandments, we have to know them, to learn what they are, so we need to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NAS) The purpose of studying anything is to learn---permanently. We learned to walk, to speak, to ride a bicycle, to add and subtract, and do these things without even thinking very hard at all. But how many ordinary people can give an example of a dangling participle or give the complete conjugation of a verb as easily? We learned the more elementary things because we use them often. Do we study and then put into practice God’s commandments as diligently? When we were learning the basics, like walking, talking, etc., we kept trying, putting effort into accomplishing the task at hand, over and over again. In time, it became very natural for us. The same principle holds true for learning to abide in Christ, which includes self-denial.
Granted, it is easy enough to say, ‘study, learn God’s commandments,’ but it is definitely harder to put what we so easily read into practice. It takes conscious effort to walk out the front door and remind ourselves to bring Jesus with us, so to speak. He lives within the heart of a Christian, but many times we leave our spiritual heart at home when we go somewhere. And many times we hear people say they are going to church to get near God. Both are a result of not abiding in Christ and He in us. Maybe an example would help explain it better. As a person walks out the door to go to work, he or she is probably thinking about their job, what they have to do that day, and the like.
What we need to do is train ourselves to think of Christ and His indwelling presence, ask Him to come with us and help us react to all we encounter as He wants us to. Too many people think we do not have a responsibility in a Christian walk, but we do, and this is it. It isn’t the same as praying in the morning when we wake up and say something like, ‘Be with me today, Lord,’ and then not think of Him or His ways again until we get home. It involves the commandment of God found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NAS): “Pray without ceasing,” and Colossians 4:2 (NAS) “Devote yourselves to prayer,...” and
Ephesians 6:18: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times ... ”
That doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything else except pray like we do during a devotional time or during prayer time in church, it means that we are to acknowledge the ways of God in all things and at all times. He is a friend that stays by your side all the time. (Hebrews 13:5-6) He can be shared with others and He can talk to you while you are concentrating on things at work that sometimes consume all your thoughts. There are dozens of opportunities in any given day to communicate with our Savior---it is our job to take advantage of those opportunities. Bringing our situations to Him is part of abiding in Him. Asking His guidance does not necessarily mean we need to kneel down on the floor beside our desk at work for an hour-long prayer session. The more we work at this as we did walking and talking, the easier and more naturally it comes to us. Expending this effort and thereby really learning is how Philippians 2:5 is accomplished; “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus."
So often we hear Matthew 11:28 quoted, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” and verse 30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Precious promises made ineffective because the verse in between is skipped over and ignored. How like human nature to neglect our duty as Christians and concentrate on what good things we are supposed to receive. The message Jesus is giving us in Matthew 11:28-30 is that abiding in Christ, discipleship, true Christianity, having the mind of Christ, or whatever a person wants to label it, is a two-way street that requires spiritual discipline and effort. The complete thought from the New American Standard Bible reads, (verse 28)"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (29--Our duty) "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Denying oneself/self denial is not a totally separate thing from abiding in Christ. It is something that is expected of us as Christians and is something we get better at when we practice it more. Romans 12:1-2 (NAS) says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
In essence, to practice self-denial is when we have a thought to do something in particular, or have a thought about a situation, compare that thought with God’s ways before jumping in and doing whatever, or judging a situation.
We learn by doing, so the more we do practice denying ourselves and abiding in Christ, the better we learn the concept and it too can become like a ‘habit’ for us. Unfortunately, human nature often reacts in anger instead of humility. We have seen this many times. The answer is to put the old man, the human nature, under subjection. (Isaiah 57:15)
Psalm 51:17 (NAS) says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
The bottom line is this: none of this can be accomplished without prayer, but neither are we to pray and expect it to happen with no more action than that on our part.
I was raised in church but always felt like I was missing something. Now the Word of God excites me! My curiosity enhances pursuance of discernment. I have often felt discouraged, but not totally defeated knowing that in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
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Read more articles by Susan Budensiek
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