So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31, esv).
You probably can’t remember the last time you used the word abide in a conversation. Most of us don’t tell our kids, “If you abide in my house, you live by my rules!” We don’t usually say to our spouses during our wedding anniversary celebrations, “I’m glad we’ve abided together all these years!”
But abide is a time-honored word I like because it makes me stop and think. I’m also drawn to it because Jesus used this word on some significant occasions with His followers. In fact, Jesus said abiding is the test of whether or not we are truly His disciples.
“Jesus said abiding is the test of whether or not we are truly His disciples.”
The word abide can be translated “to live within,” “to dwell,” or “to take up residence.” Jesus was basically saying, “If you live in my Word,” or, “If your life is a genuine reflection of what I say, you are truly My disciples.” This means that our conversations, illustrations, and meditations ought to be permeated with Scripture. We should live so much in God’s Word that it fills us up and overflows constantly from our lips. The beginning of knowing what God wants you to do is knowing what God wants you to know!
Conversely, if we’re not abiding in Jesus’ words—if we’re not basing everything we believe on the book God wrote—we can’t expect to know the truth or experience His freedom. And we can’t honestly claim to be His disciples. When Jesus spoke of the importance of abiding “to the Jews who had believed in him,” He made it clear that recognizing who He is isn’t quite the same thing as surrendering to Him and living for Him.
Abiding in Jesus’ words involves more than saying we believe certain things about Him and about the Bible. It’s about how our lives represent His life and His words. At the practical level, it’s about becoming increasingly familiar with God’s Word over the course of a lifetime. And it’s also about our lives becoming a more and more authentic reflection of the Author.
Abiding means His words are persistently changing us. We’re discovering through practice what David described when he said, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). He knew how to abide.
There’s a lot about your life today that will be ordinary: driving, working, talking, shopping, listening, and a thousand other things. They can all be done without thinking about God and His glory. But they can also be done while abiding in Jesus’ words, letting His presence and instruction guide your life. The choice you make is an indicator of whether or not you are really one of His disciples.
Lord, it’s painfully obvious to me how easily I go about my daily routine without thinking of You. I don’t want to live that way. I want to walk with You and abide in Your words. I want my life to be a disciple’s life. Yet it’s so easy to get sidetracked with my failures rather than rest in the truth that You want to abide in me and live Your life through mine. Please help me sense today that You long to abide in me so I can abide in Your words. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.