I had been closely walking with the Lord for a few years when I began to feel extremely overwhelmed spiritually. Living out the Christian life began to feel tremendously burdensome, and worse than that, I began to despair and feel as if my ability to live out the Bible was hopeless. As I read more Scripture and what’s expected of Christians, I was drowning in the difficulty and seeming impossibility of it all! I cried out to God in my anguish, “Father, how is this new covenant any better than the old law? There are just as many rules, and they are equally as impossible to keep!” The Lord graciously answered my cry with Matthew 11:28-30.
ALL WHO ARE WEARY
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.
As I read and meditated on these verses that I had heard so many times before, I began to see it in a new light because this time I was living it. I thanked God for His answer and responded with another question. “How? God, I believe what you are telling me is true, but HOW is it true?!? HOW is Your yoke easy and Your burden light? Then He responded to me with two simple phrases: “by abiding in Me” and “by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
ABIDE IN ME
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 (emphasis mine)
I spent the next several months mediating on John 15 and came to understand what Jesus was telling us before He left. My job, our job, is to abide in Him. He Himself, through His Spirit within us, gives us the power and strength and ability to live out all that He commands of us. See Isaiah 41:10, Colossians 1:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, 1 Peter 5:10, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20, John 14:15-18, John 14:25-26, Philippians 2:13.
The next logical question we must ask ourselves is HOW do we abide in Christ? The answer to that is BY DISCIPLINE.
By discipline, we spend time in Christ by being in His Word each and every day. Christ is the Word and the Word is Christ.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
By reading the Scriptures we abide in Christ, and by abiding in Christ we become able to bear His fruit, but apart from Christ we can do NOTHING. John 15:10 goes on to say that as we abide in Christ, we will abide in His love, and, as we love Christ, we will obey His commands.
FRUIT FULFILLS THE LAW
As we saw earlier in John 15:5, abiding in Christ results in our bearing His fruit. This fruit is explained in Galatians:
. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.
Did you catch that phrase “against such there is no law?” What the Holy Spirit is able to produce in us fulfills the law. However, when we try to live for Christ with our own efforts, when we try to observe His commands on our own, when we try to uphold the law by our own strength, we will fail. As Jesus told us, apart from Him we can do nothing. This idea of fulfilling the law appears again in Romans:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-13 (emphasis mine)
Specifically mentioned is the fruit of love. When we love, we do what is right; but we must remember that this love first comes from abiding in Christ and in His love.
So how do we live out our Christian lives in a way that fulfills the law, glorifies God, bears His fruit, and testifies Jesus to others? By abiding in Christ.
And how do we Abide in Christ? BY DISCIPLINE.
- Make time for God each and every day.
- Ensure that this time includes reading, meditating on, and studying Scripture, as well as praying. This will take discipline because life will threaten to take away this time. You will be tired, busy, distracted, and maybe even discouraged. Cultivate discipline in your life by committing that you will spend time abiding in Christ each and every day regardless of the circumstances.
- Discipline by nature requires training and sacrifice. It is difficult and must be worked at repeatedly to attain the desired new behavior.
- I use an acronym to help me live my life each day, one day at a time: “EACH”
- E= Empty myself of myself. Start with surrender.
- A= Abide in Christ. Refuel/refill myself with Christ, His Word, the Holy Spirit, and His power.
- CH= CHoose love. As I make decisions, interact with people, talk, respond, and think, I am to do so in love; for love fulfills the law.
About the Writer:
Ashley is a Tennessee transplant in Dallas and mother to a young daughter. Ashley has been a member of FBD since 2014. In 2018, the Lord called her to serve full-time with the church where she works in the Finance & Accounting office. When Ashley is not at the church, you can find her and her daughter out in nature somewhere, hiking or camping, enjoying the beauty and splendor of the Lord’s creation.