As we continue to study the book of 1 John, let’s take a moment this weekend to review the marvelous truths God has revealed to us in His Word. Being humans, we easily forget lessons and golden nuggets God gives us in Scripture. We need to constantly review and remember. Re-read 1 John this weekend and this time, write down every instance the see the word “abide” and write down how it is described. Abiding is the central theme of this letter. Let’s learn what this truly means. (Grab your reading guide here if you are just beginning: 1 John Reading Guide)
There is a fruit and berry patch near where we live that I love to visit each season. In the springtime there are delicious strawberries, in the summer is an abundance of blueberries and blackberries and in the fall the most delicious crisp apples you will ever taste! Each season produces a different fruit. It is impossible to pick berries in the dead of winter or to pick apples in the spring. The season determines the fruit. And so does the vine determine what fruit is produced. I will never pick an apple from a blueberry tree or vice versa. The farmer plans exactly what fruit he wants to to bear and proceeds to plant the seeds and water them to grow each year. Fruit would never exist were it not for the vine that did all the hard work to grow from a seed, drink the water from the sky and supply the nutrients that make the fruit. This is the fruit that I get to pick right off the tree and eat and enjoy. There is beauty in seeing the process of picking fruit firsthand, because as believers, our lives should bear fruit in the same fashion.
evaluate your attachment
One of the beautiful things about the book of 1 John is that it is directly related to the Gospel of John (written by the same apostle). Up to this point, John has mentioned the word “abide” 12 times in his book (and we aren’t finished yet). This word is mentioned more than any other word and is, thus, the theme this book revolves around. In order to understand what it means to abide, we need to go back to the source in John 15. Turn with me there if you have your Bible.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we must be attached to Him. He is the True Vine, the source of all our hope, joy, freedom, salvation, peace and fruit. Verse five reminds us that apart from Him, we can do nothing. It is vital to the life of a believer to be attached to the Vine, which is Jesus Christ. The problem is that unconfessed sin and our own sinful waywardness can cause us to try to attach to the things of this world that suck the life from us, rather supply us with life as Christ does. Anytime you have attached yourself to some worldly desire or hope that will fail, you will feel life crumbling in on you. We were never meant to be attached to the world because the world is passing away. 1 John 2:17 reminds us that whoever does the will of God abides in him forever (and to do God’s will is to know and live His Word). Abiding in Christ is a gift, a joy and the avenue to having true life.
evaluate your fruit
You are the fruit that you bear. What I mean by this is that whatever you have attached yourself to in life will have a direct affect on what comes out of you and what you spend your time, thoughts, energy and money on. If you are attached to success, you will spend everything in your power to make your name great and accumulate wealth (no matter the cost). If you are attached to comfort, you will not be willing to take the risks Christ calls you to in order to spread the Gospel. If you are attached to your reputation, you will live in a constant state of jealousy and discontentment. BUT if you are attached to Christ, you will bear the most impossible fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the fruits of the Spirit that only come through attaching yourself to the True Vine, Jesus Christ, and receiving all your nutrients from Him.
Abiding in Christ is your lifeline. 1 John 3:6 shows us that if we abide in Christ we will not keep sinning. Here is a simple way to understand what this text is saying:
sin = lawlessness
Jesus = sinless = He fulfilled the law
righteousness (to be right-standng before God because of Jesus) = you will practice righteousness
abide in Christ = produce the fruit of righteousness
“of the devil” (verse 8) = keep on sinning
The fruit you bear is directly related to Who you are attached to and where you receive your nutrients. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to abide (or remain, make our dwelling place) in Christ. What does that truly look like? It looks like eating His Word everyday for our nutrients, praying for the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in us, glorifying God in all things and bearing the fruit of righteousness. What fruit are you bearing?
If you are abiding in Christ and drinking of His grace each day, you will product fruit that points back to Him (these fruits were found in my Pawpaw’s Bible):
- Converts – when we are abiding in Christ, others around us will want to know Him. One of the main things we shy away from is sharing our faith. Why? Fear. Doubt. Because we don’t know what to do. Proverbs 11:30 says that the one who wins souls is wise. If we truly believe Jesus is everything we need and everything the world needs, we will share. How can you share the Gospel with those around you?
- Character– when we are abiding in Christ, our actions and words will produce the fruit of the Spirit. Read Galatians 5:22-23 and write down the fruit of the Spirit. Notice where the fruit comes from. It is of the Spirit...not of Gretchen or of ___________. We will only bear this fruit by abiding in the Holy Spirit of God.
- Conduct– when we are abiding in Christ, what we say and do will look different from the world. We will produce the fruit of righteousness which only comes from God changing us into the likeness of Christ (Philippians 1:11).
What fruit is your life bearing today? Are you making much of Christ through your life? A branch on a tree isn’t made to make much of itself but much of the tree. It produces fruit by receiving nutrients from the source, shade and shelter for those beneath and even oxygen for those around to breathe. A branch is the product of the tree and only has life by staying attached. How is your life sharing the Gospel, providing joy and hope for those around and pointing to Jesus Christ, your Source of life? May we live like branches that do our jobs and make much of Jesus!
living like a branch,