When Jesus talked about abiding, He tied three significant outcomes to the process.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —John 8:31-32
When Jesus talked about abiding, He tied three significant outcomes to the process. Abiding is what real disciples do. Abiding leads disciples to know the truth. And, abiding leads to freedom. It's clearly worth our while to understand what He meant by abide.
You may not remember the last time you used abide in a conversation. You have probably never told your kids, “If you abide in my house, you live by my rules!” And you may not say to your spouse as you celebrate your wedding anniversary, “I’m glad we've abided together all these years.” But lack of common usage makes it all the more important to understand why abide is the key in Jesus’ statement in John 8:31-32.
The word can be translated “to live within,” “to dwell,” or “to take up residence.” Jesus was saying in essence, If you live in My Word and your life is a genuine reflection of what I say, you are truly My disciples.
To abide in His Word as disciples means our thoughts and conversations are permeated with Scripture. We are living in God’s Word so much that it fills us up, guides our thoughts, and overflows from our lips. If we’re not abiding in Jesus’ words, if we’re not basing everything we believe on the Word of God, we can’t expect to know the truth or experience the freedom that comes from knowing His thoughts.
But if we are abiding disciples, the truth saturates our hearts and minds—because His Word is truth. The more we know it, the more we are sensitized to what is true. We perceive when ideas and teachings are true because they agree with the Bible, and when concepts don’t agree with God’s Word, we know they are false.
The ultimate result of abiding in Jesus’ Word is freedom. His first-century hearers were all bent out of shape, because they thought He was offending their heritage. But Jesus made it clear that abiding in Him and His Word meant freedom from sin. As David attested, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). The truth we find in God's Word steers us and clears us from sin, keeping us free to serve Him.
To be an authentic disciple of Jesus, you must abide in His Word. He wants you to know His truth, as He dwells in you and you in Him. The more you immerse yourself in Scripture, the more you will find yourself abiding in Christ and discovering the freedom He bought for your life. Abiding in the truth will set you free indeed.
Beyond reading this devotional, what other ways will you be abiding in Christ today?
Looking back over the last week, what examples of abiding in Christ come to mind? How have they affected the rest of your life?
Lord, I realize abiding with You is a two-way street—You in me and I in You. Your Son said, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” (John 15:5). I long for that kind of connection with You to be increasingly real in my life. Thank You for awakening my desire for You. Continue to show me how abiding in Your Word is crucial to Your work in me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.