AbideTurn with me today to John chapter 15.  We’re going to take a field trip this week from Hosea, and we’ll come back to Hosea next week.

Here in John 15:4 and 5, we’re given the instruction from Christ, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Meditating on this text, working on this message, I began to think about this fact that we try to hide sin because we play the victim.  We pretend that it’s God fault, just like Adam blamed God.  Adam didn’t blame Eve, he blamed God.  “The woman You gave me.”  He blamed God for his sin.  And we think, “The audacity of Adam to blame God for his sin!”

But we do the very same thing.  We sin, and we begin to reap the consequences in our lives.  Just like Hosea and Israel, like we’re seeing played out before us in this pageant, there are repercussions for sin.  There are consequences for sin.  Gomer ended up being sold at auction because of her sinfulness.

And yet when we do that, we try to hide the sin.  We pretend it’s not a big deal.  We pretend it’s not our fault.  We try to blame physiology, or our emotional state.  We try to find anything that we can do to put off the responsibility of sin being ours, so that we have to own it and repent and confess.  The people that Hosea was preaching to refused to do what God told them to do.  God said, “Say these words.”  And they said, “No.”  We’ll look at that more next week.

But then you think about, “Why is it that we play the victim?”  And meditating on the fact that this is a command: “Abide in Me,”  we see that Jesus gives His disciples a command, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”  You see, the problem with producing the works of the flesh, which we’ll get to in a later this week in Galatians—the problem with living in disobedience, the problem with trying to cover our sin, means that we are not bearing the fruit of the Spirit that we have been commanded to bear.

How do we bear the fruit of the Spirit?  How do we obey that command?  We abide in Him.  And then I thought, You know, that “abide” is a command.  So let’s dig in.  Click open Bible Works, and I go to John chapter 15, verse 4; and I click on the Greek word for “abide,” and look at the phrase, “abide in Me.”  And you’re all going to get a Greek lesson, a grammar lesson now.  I know you wanted to come to church for grammar.

When He says, “Make your dwelling in Me,” “Abide in Me,” that is an imperative aorist active second person plural.  And some of you are working that out in your head, right?  Okay, what does that mean—“imperative”?  What is an imperative.  An imperative is a command.  We’ll get to aorist in a minute; that’s the tense.  Active is the voice.  So the voice is—I want the subject to perform the action of the verb.  So who is the subject?  Second person plural.  Jesus’ southern roots are showing in John 15.  He grew up in the north in Galilee, but he was born in the south in Bethlehem.  And Jesus just said, “Y’all” in Aramaic—second person plural: “you all.”  It’s an implied “you”; it’s an understood “you.”  The command in the imperative is to “you.”  To whom?  You disciples, whom He is addressing—“You all.”  Jesus says, “Y’all abide in Me.”

If we just take that as a command, as an imperative, then what Jesus is saying to the disciples is, “Y’all need to stay where you are.  You’re in Me.  I’m in you.  Remain.”  And that’s what the word literally means—“remain.”  Maintain the relationship that now exists.

But what’s significant is when you throw the word “aorist” in there—the aorist tense usually refers to something in the past.  Here’s what the aorist tense means when you apply it to an active imperative.  It changes the tense to mean this command refers to a specific act of the will, to a conscious decision to dwell, or to make a home in one’s present relationship with Jesus.

This is what Jesus is saying: “You need to, right now, decide to remain in Me.”  Now here’s the question.  Can we escape from Him?  He is holding us, and His Father’s holding Him.  We can’t get away.  Our names are engraved in His palm.  He can’t shake us off, He can’t wash us off, He can’t rub us off.  We’re there.  We’re His.  He’s bought us.  So we’re secure.  Now many will take John 15 and look at this and say, “He’s saying, ‘Abide in Me,’ so really, you don’t have to worry about that, you just have to rest in Jesus because He’s got you, He’s in you, you’re in Him.  So there’s nothing really for you to do but just maintain.”  But that’s not what the word means here.  The tense that’s used is so specific that Jesus is telling the disciples, “I want you, as an act of your will, as a conscious decision, to strive to maintain this dwelling.”

Now what does that mean?  That word “abiding” means more than just resting.  It’s more than just maintaining the status quo.  Jesus is telling the disciples here, “I want you to make a conscious effort to remain.”  Not that there’s any danger of not remaining, but what kind of a Christian are you if you just float?

Listen, the Christian life, the Jordan River is not a lazy river.  You don’t just sit in the tube and float.  Paul talks about striving, and running, and sprinting, and stretching.  Hebrews talks about taking off the weight and every sin—all the encumbrances so that we can run without any hindrance the race that’s set before us.  This is something where we consciously need to be pushing to abide.  Why?  Because while we are in Him, abiding to this level of communion with Him in this relationship with Him takes work on our part.  It takes pursuing that relationship with Christ.

“Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”  Here’s the point.  We would confess that we are in Christ, Christ is in us, that can never be split asunder, we are joined to Him.  What God’s joined together, no man can put asunder.  But when it comes to bearing fruit, if we are not actively abiding, can we go through a time, through a season, through a moment, through a day where we are not bearing spiritual fruit?

We’ve been there, haven’t we?  We’ve been through the drought.  We’ve prayed for revival, for restoration, for God to bring us out through the other side, not realizing He’s right there with us in it so that we can bear fruit there.  Do you understand what we do?  We seek the mountaintop experience because we don’t like the heat and humidity and the dampness and the darkness of the valley.  But guess what—where does the fruit grow?  It doesn’t grow on the barren mountaintop, it grows in the valley.  That’s where the fertilizer and the water are.  That’s where all the conditions are right.

You see, it’s when we’re walking through the trial of this life, in a fallen world, it’s when we’re walking in this life in this fallen world, when we think we’re alone when we’re not, that we need at that point to be striving to abide.  And it’s usually when we think the abiding’s at the hilltop that we think God has abandoned and left me here in the valley.

We need to see that we need to strive, we need to work now, to continually daily repent, to return, to come back, to confess, to abide in Him.  We can’t bear fruit on our own.  We have to be abiding to bear fruit.  If we’re not bearing fruit, it’s because we’re not abiding.  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”