“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” ~ 1 John 2:28
Explanation of the Text: Once again, John structures his teaching on one common key word…..’abide.’ This word is crucial to the Christian life. To abide in Him is to know Him in a personal way. It means to know His very character. It is connected to knowing His glory. Ultimately abiding leads to a basic understanding of God’s workings. It is a relationship in which God showcases who He is to those abiding in Him and only through that intimacy can a genuine relationship be achieved.
John does something very important in this verse. He connects abiding to not only this moment, but also to the future. In order to abide with Christ eternally, there is a tremendous call on the believer’s life to abide with Him now. If one is in constant refusal to dwell with Christ now (both in the low and difficult times as well as the high and good times) it should be expected that they will be refused the opportunity in the future. Abiding in Him now indicates that in the future judgment, we will have no reason to hang our head in shame. Instead, we can have confidence in our standing by the evidence put forth in one’s abiding in Him. “The word ‘confidence’ basically means ‘freedom of speech’ and was used in the secular Greek to express the freedom which was characteristic of a Greek democracy” (1). Often times the word is associated with boldness in declaring the truth of the Gospel. What can be said is that we have freedom in Christ, and thus we can have confidence in our defense because it is rooted in Christ. There is no need to fear that which is coming because God has given us freedom through His Son.
Examination & Application of the Text: How is it that two people can build a solid relationship? By abiding with one another. To abide in Him is to be consumed by Him. It is allowing our lives to be taken captive by our Lord and Savior. It is only in this way that we can build a solid relationship with our God. It must be to turn our lives over to Him so that we abide in Him…….and He abides in us.
Abiding allows you to know that indeed, you can be called a child of God. John writes a series of tests in 1 John that mark the Christian life. In this way then, by passing the tests, one can know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13). John wants to make certain that people are not mislead and that they can no for sure if they are eternally saved. As I repeatedly say, it is not a salvation by works but a salvation that works. Because of this then, there is no need to fear the future. Instead, you can have confidence of your position in Christ and there is no need to shrink away from Him.
There is something else important here. If you are abiding in Christ, it allows us to understand and accept the circumstances of our lives. If to abide in Him is to be consumed by Him and His will, then when things don’t go our way, we can readily accept that. Why? Because it is not about our way, but God’s way. As we are consumed by Him, our will is also taken away and replaced by the will of God. Our focus, our desire, and our intentions all become aligned with the will of God ad the priority. Thus, it makes it easier to accept changes or difficult circumstances because there is a recognition that it is not all about me.
Questions to Consider:
- How is your relationship with the Lord? Be truthful in this evaluation.
- On a daily basis, what consumes you? God’s will or yours? Again be truthful.
- List some ways that you are abiding with God and ways you are not abiding with God. Why is it easier to abide in God in some ways and not others? Look at your list of ways you are abiding in God and see if there is a pattern there (what makes it so easy to abide in God for those areas?).
- To abide in God means to fully give your life over to Him. What needs to change to transfer those areas over to God in which you are not abiding? Using some of your answers from #3 for this question. Of those areas that are easier, is there something from those that you can implement into the other areas that would help you to completely transfer everything over to Him?
(1) Donald Burdick, Epistles of John, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1970), 48.