“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth…As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in Him,” 1 John 2:20-21, 27.
The interplay of abiding permeates John’s letter. In 2:6 the one who abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. This makes sense, if we’re living in Christ we ought to live as Christ. In John Chapter 15 Jesus says Abide in Me and I in you, if we don’t abide in Him we will not bear fruit – this is basic and yet it eludes us for we are impatient and we will not rest, we insist on making things happen – what should be a way of life is often considered an esoteric ideal for the impractical person.
In 2:10: The one who loves his brother abides in the light; abiding in Christ does not mean inaction, rather it means that we engage in the greatest action – loving our brothers and sisters – he who would abide in Christ must learn to love in Christ.
In 2:14: I have written to you, young men, because…the word of God abides in you… Does the Word of God abide in us? Has it taken deep root? Peter writes (1 Peter 1:23): for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. Do we allow that Seed to take root? Do we work the soil of our hearts and minds? Do we weed out all that competes with God’s Word? Do we water the Word with prayer, mediation, and obedience?
In 2:17: …the one who does the will of God abides forever. The way we live is the way we will die and the way we will live eternally – if we abide in Christ today we will die in Christ today and we will live in Christ forever. Just as we abide in the light as we love one another, we abide forever as we do the will of God. Abiding in Christ is enigmatic from the outside looking in for it entails rest on the one hand and simultaneous action on the other; rest strengthens action and action strengthens rest. No action of mine is fruitful unless I am abiding in Christ; abiding in Christ is a result of obedience to His will. His will works in me and through me while my will submits to His and says a continuous “yes” to Him.
In 2:19: …if they had been of us, they would have abided [remained] with us… Christ is the line of demarcation in humanity, there are those in Him and there are those outside of Him. Regarding professing Christians and others who attach themselves to Christianity in one form or another, there are those who display the outward garb of religion and spirituality but who do not abide in Christ and who therefore end up moving away from those who abide in Him – this is particularly seen in relation to God’s Word and obedience to His Word; as John reiterates throughout this letter we cannot live in light and darkness, in truth and error, in love and hate, in confession of Christ and denial of Christ – there are many antichrists out and about and we must be aware of the marks of the Christian and of the antichristian – one abides in Christ and we know the fruit of that abiding, the other may profess to abide but we know better when we see practical and theological desecration of God’s Word, exhortation to disobedience of the Word, and a denial that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
In 2:24: As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. That which we heard from the beginning is the message of the Incarnation (1:1) and that we are to love one another (2:7-11; 3:11). God’s love is manifested in the Incarnation and we are to continue the incarnation of His love – the expression of God’s love for the world is to be seamless, from Jesus Christ through His people to the world until the final day of history unfolds according to the will of God.
We’ll continue this survey of the word abide in the next 1 John post, in the meantime I encourage you to read and reread and reread John’s letter; note the tightly woven themes, the interplay of words and images, the imperatives to obedience in Christ. Can you taste the flavor of this letter? Are you living in this facet of God’s Word? Is it more than second nature to you? Is it becoming your nature? Is 1 John abiding in you as you abide in Christ?
[Consider printing 1 John from a computer and using colored pencils to highlight words and themes. Use one color for love, another color for abide, another for light, etc.].