The Problem is Me

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John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Jesus gives the solution to living a fruitful and overcoming life. It is His Life in us, and the word Jesus uses is "abide" which is a verb and it means to stay in our assigned place or state of being. It means to continue, dwell, endure, remain, or stand in that place where God has placed you. To abide in Christ means to live in a way that allows His Life to live in and through us. This is never easy to do.

The problem is me. Even though a born-again Christian, I have a life independent of Christ. I have a name, a personality, values, past memories, desires, dreams, and there is a part of me that wants to be all I can be. And I find this part of me, the part that is independent of Christ, is the part that listens to the Spirit of this World. The Devil is not really my problem, my problem is he, the Devil, knows how to exploit my fleshly independence. He searches for my ear, it is my fleshly buttons that get pushed, it is my fleshly mind that opens the door. My fleshly independence is really the problem.

This is why Jesus said that to be fruitful we had to abide in Him. He knows our frame, our old nature, and He knows the Tempter of our souls. My natural way is to abide in myself, to do those things that are comfortable, to avoid stress, and to have the final say at all times. I like choosing my own way. But this is not abiding in Christ, this is abiding in me, and if I abide in who I am then I will be a fruitless branch, good for nothing, cast out and burned. This is what Jesus said.

Jesus gives an example of the branch and its relationship to the vine. We all understand that for the branch to produce fruit it must be organically connected to the vine. The branch cannot produce fruit if connected to itself, fruit is the result of having the same life that is in the vine.

Jesus says to His followers, John 15:7, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." My automatic response is "I would like to love others as Jesus loves me but I cannot because I'm not Jesus." So, to me, this command seems impossible. But then I understand - the impossibility lies not in what Jesus commands, but in my independence of Christ. If I throw away my independence and allow Jesus to live His life in and through me then I can do what He commands.

If I asked Jesus, "how do I abide in you"? He would say - "if you abide in me and my Words abide in you........, ie, if you allow my Words to form your worldview, your values, your thinking, your behavior, and your New Identity, then you are abiding in me! He would tell me that His Words are Spirit and they are Life, and to abide in Him I must take His Words and eat them. Once I eat and digest His Words they change me more and more into His likeness. Apart from living by (consuming and digesting) His Word there is no abiding in Christ.

Jesus does not suggest but commands His followers to "abide" in who is. The Word says He is God, and that in Him is the fullness of the Godhead (God) bodily and that we are complete in Him. 2Pet 1:4 tells us that through Christ we become a "partaker" of the very Nature of God. What all this means is that Jesus brings His fullness to His people which then becomes the foundation of our who we are, ie, our New Identity; His indwelling Life being the source of the fruitfulness He demands.

We are not powerless, for in Christ, we are made powerful. We have been given the Word of God, and as it becomes our Daily Bread, it produces the fruit of the Life of Christ. Abiding in Christ is a process. It's like planting seed and then harvesting the crop. We plant the Word, it grows, and the Life of Christ is produced.

Jesus is not looking for better people, but deader people. He is not looking for those who boast in outward reformation, but those made New inwardly by His Spirit and His Word. He is not looking for those who want to do their religious stuff using His Name. He is looking for those who consider forgiveness of sins and the gift of righteousness to be the greatest riches of all.

Every born-again Christian is given the inward Treasure of the Life of Christ. But what is also true is that every Christian struggles with their independence from Christ and the garbage it produces. Abiding in Christ is learning to value real Treasure more than we value fleshly independence. One would think every sane person would automatically keep the Treasure while discarding the garbage, but that's not the way our lives work. If, for whatever reason, we are not abiding in Christ then we are not discarding the garbage, but living in it. It is Christ who opens the eyes of our heart so that we can recognize garbage. Apart from the Light of His Word, we love our garbage, we like it's aroma, we like it's taste, and we really don't see it as garbage; after all we're just making our own decisions and being all we can be.

We also have an Enemy who daily temps us to live in the garbage of this world. Even though saved, the old garbage continues to have a certain appeal and an independent spirit puts a happy face on garbage. Sin beguiles the soul and if we listen we will build our home in the dump. Sin promises to make me happy, important, secure, satisfied, and most of all, promises to give me what I want, all while hiding sins ultimate consequences.

But there is a greater Truth, whispering in my ear, warning of impending danger. It says turn, flee, do no listen, it is fantasy, a lie, and the end is Destruction. And then the words, "Abide in Christ" rise within my heart and in a moment of time I understand the value and power of the Word of God. God's Word brings Light to my soul and as I eat and swallow the Word of God. Fleshly garbage loses its appeal; Darkness cannot seduce me. Just as Jesus, by the Word, withstood the temptations of Satan, I also, by the Word, stand against Satan's lying temptations. Overcoming Dark lies is abiding in Christ.

Thank you Jesus,
Jim

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