“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in Me.” John 15:4
Really, this is hard stuff here, Lord. On one hand I have abiding, continuing, remaining, and love; and on the other I have being blown away by the wind, being forcefully cast away, sin, and hating. How do I put this all together? How do I make it make sense in my every day life? How do I live it out in You?
“Abide in Me, and I in you.” It’s a command and a precept and a promise. If I abide in You, I can expect a certain outcome. If I abide in You, I can expect to bear fruit. If I abide in You, I can expect some “purging” to make me more fruitful. Vines need pruning. If I abide in You, I can expect the Holy Spirit to make Your Word known to me. If I abide in You, I can know what to ask You for and see You fulfill those desires. If I abide in You, I will glorify You. If I abide in You, I will be fully loved by You and be able to fully love You and others. If I abide in You, I will know what it is to abide in full joy. If I abide in You, I will be Your friend. If I abide in You, I will be attentive to and follow Your commands. If I abide in You, You will let me know Your plans. If I abide in You, You ordain me to shine like You in the world, to go forth. If I abide in You, I will love You first and most. If I abide in You, I will testify of You.
What does it mean to abide? The Greek word is “meno.” Some contextual meanings that would be appropriate here are “not to depart,” “to continue to be present,” “to be held, kept, continually,” and “to remain as one, not to become another or different.” “Don’t depart from Me, and I won’t depart from You.” “Continue to be present always with Me, and I will continue to be present always with You.” “Hold Me, keep Me, continually, and I will hold and keep you continually.” “Remain as one with me. Become like Me, not anyone else, and I will remain as one with You, so You can become like Me, not like anyone else.”
In the Hebrew, the same idea is displayed in the word “yashab.” “[A]nd I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. I will remain with You. I will abide with You. I will continue with You. I will settle with You. I will marry You. Huh? I will marry You? That is part of the idea.
See, the Pharisees came to You asking if it was alright to divorce one’s wife over any cause. Now they were trying to see if You would disagree with the Law. But You took them deeper, to the heart of the issue and the root of where marriage came from. You go back to creation where our Heavenly Father created man and woman. And there’s that word that is so special to me, “poieo.” That’s the word that means that what flowed from You flowed into them. Your “Youness” brought them to life and was their life. On account of Your unity that formed their unity, a man “shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they both shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” This is from Matthew, but is also repeated in Mark, by Jesus, and in Ephesians by Paul.
So let’s think about this idea of marriage that God instituted and created. God created the original man and woman relationship to be a picture to express the oneness and unity of Himself. He made them to be an image of one, a reflection of Him. “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother…” Because of this purpose, a person (man here implies mankind) shall leave what they knew before and cling to the one they are unified with. The husband or wife becomes more than any one else to them. Everyone else, even Mom and Dad, become less. Back in John 15 verse 23 You say, “He that hates me hates my Father also.” That’s not our idea of hate with all these angry feelings like our modern idea. The idea of hate here means to love less. If I love You less, it’s sin. It leads to every wrong action and every wrong thought. You call me to love You most, more than mother, father, wife, husband, child, friend, or anything. To love You less is not to love You. In loving You less, I despise You. So, in the marriage relationship the husband and wife cleave like glue to one another, love each other more than any other, and leave behind, abandon all the old ways and people they used to cleave to.
Now what if one party isn’t fulfilling their purpose in this relationship? It matters in the marriage relationship and it matters to my abiding in You. I’m going back to Ephesians 5. It all starts with “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Be under obedience to one another. Submit yourself one to another. “[A]nd they two shall be one flesh” Matthew 19:5 For the cause of the glory of the Lord, the two shall be as one, just as God is One. Both of us should be submitted under our Creator. Then, each of us should be submitted to one another, just like Jesus tells us to love Him and love one another. It’s always a two way thing. God must be first in the marriage relationship and in any relationship. Then, we must place the other first, above ourself.
This is how I become a follower of God which is what Paul is trying to help us get in Ephesians 5. It’s what You, Jesus, are trying to help me get today in John. Paul says, “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Jesus submitted to God for God’s glory and for our good. And in doing so it was for His own benefit too because He was glorified through His obedience. As He submitted to God, God submitted to Him and met all His needs and desires. Jesus submitted to us while He was over us. He washed our feet and our souls, He served, and He commanded. So, He is our example.
So, wives submit to the husband as unto Christ. And husbands submit to your wives by loving them as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. Wait a minute, Scripture says, “Husbands, love your wives,” not submit. Well, how can a husband love a wife like Christ loved the church and sacrificed Himself for it if He does not first obey the earlier verse, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”? Christ submitted Himself to God and to us. He died for us. He made Himself less so He could make more of us. Do I really understand the immensity of what I just said here? You made Yourself less for me.
Biblically sin is hating God. You put Yourself in a situation where You “hated” God so I could be saved. What? That’s a little radical there! But listen. “Sin” comes from the Greek word “hamartia.” It “implies innate corruption and alienation from God (literally, erring of the mind from the rule of truth). (Bengel) A. R. Fausset reffered to it as “‘trespasses’ to the Jews who had the law, and yet revolted from it; ‘sins’ to the Gentiles who know not God.” It means “to miss the mark.” Sometimes it’s referred to as “excessive pride.” Could that be because I think I know better than God? And it has been referred to as an “intellectual or religious ‘mistake’ of reasoning.” It’s an “error in action.” In the Jewish sense it was seen as “radical sin.” It’s outright sin. In the medical world it means “defect.”
I think all these definitions put sin into it’s proper light. But I need to go a little farther. In John 15:22, Jesus, You are telling how those who would not believe Your words have sin on their accounts. And the next verse follows to define that more for me. “He that hates me hates my Father also.” This is the sin. This is sin. To hate You is sin. To love You less than anything else or anyone else. This is the root of all sin. Satan loved himself and power and position more than he loved You. These Pharisees loved something more. This is why You radically called people to be able to leave everything else and cleave like glue to You first. “Hate Your mother and father, husband and wife, sister and brother, son and daughter. Love them less than Me. Love Me first and foremost and above everything else. Cleave to Me. I’m the Mark. I’ve eliminated Your corruption and alienation from God. Think like Me. Join with Me. Know Me. Find Your reasoning in Me. Act in Me.”
How do I put it all together? You call me to be one in You and with You. You call me to leave everything else and everyone else behind to cleave to You. Only when I do that do I learn how to love others because I learn it from You. If I want to be a Godly wife, I have to love You first and foremost. Then Your love will flow from me for my husband. If I want to be a Godly husband, I have to love You first and foremost. Then Your love will flow from me for my wife. And it works like this for every relationship. Abiding in You is being married to You and cleaving to You and being one with You. I can’t walk in love unless I’m walking in You because You are Love.
What have I really sacrificed for others? How do I submit for the good of others? Does my love and sacrifice look like Yours? Or am I holding on to my own way, my own ideas, my own loves? Am I loving anything else more than You?
Lord, this is a very painful concept today. There are so many things that are battling with me to keep me from loving You most. And that sets a really high standard on my marriage because You are the Standard. I love abiding in You, even when it hurts. I want to abide in You more every day. I want to obey You and understand You and know You. I want to be a picture of You. My marriage needs help. My husband needs help. I need help. And only You can give it. And only as I surrender to You and he surrenders to You and we each surrender to You and submit to one another will we receive it. I want to submit. I want to love You most. Am I willing to leave behind everything that stands in the way of me loving You most? Not until I love You most will I be able to love others. Thank You, Lord, for Your promise that if I abide, remain, continue in You, You will abide, remain, continue in me.