"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.John 15:4(NASB)
Remaining in Christ or abiding in Him, was a theme that the Lord Jesus introduced to His disciples just before His death and Resurrection, and it is a subject that is picked up by Paul and is evident within each of his letters. Christ is fully God and fully Man, uniting holy deity with perfect humanity; and fruitfulness in the life of a believer results from the very life of the Son being reproduced within the life of the Christian.
Throughout His earthly life, Jesus did not rely on His attributes of deity nor His human abilities to live His life, but He set an example of how every born-again child of God must live if his life is to be fruitful and glorify the Father. Just as Christ lived and walked and prayed in the Spirit, we too must also live our lives in spirit and in truth. Just as Christ only did those things which He heard from the Father, we too are to do only those things that we see and hear from Him. Just as Jesus rested in His Father so we are to rest in Him - to abide in Him - and He in us.
The abiding about which Jesus speaks is not a one-sided relationship. The abiding He speaks of is a reciprocal relationship - it is engaging in a mutual abiding: "Abide in Me, and I in you," and the result of this beautiful affinity is a fruitful life which will produce an abundance of fruit that will endure through life and into eternity. When we abide in Christ and He abides in us, the fruit of the Spirit is the product that will flow through us - and the fruit that Christ produces through us will be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Abiding in Christ, or remaining in Him, is a lifestyle that God requires from all maturing Christian. A life that is fruitful is the direct result of a life that abides in Christ, and Christ in him. It is a life that is lived for the glory of Christ and not for the promotion of self. Such a life is a denial of one's own wants and wishes and one that is surrendered to God in all things. It is a sacrificial life that is separated unto God; a living sacrifice that is holy unto Him. It is a life that is lived in loving obedience and trusting dependence.
The Lord Jesus shared the glorious picture of mutual abiding as the time for His crucifixion drew ever closer. His disciples had heard that Jesus was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that He was going away to prepare a place for them in His Father's house. He gave them a glimpse into the future where the Holy Spirit of Christ would be with them and dwell in them and that the fruit they produced would be from HIM and glorify HIM - just as the fruit that Jesus produced was from His Father and glorified His Father in heaven.
Christ is beautifully portrayed as the true Vine and believers are pictured as branches that are attached to the Vine, supported by the Vine, nourished by the Vine, and through Him, much fruit is produced. The source of all strength, support, and supply for the branch comes exclusively from the Vine. The unseen life that feeds, nourishes, and produces abundant fruit on each of the branches comes only from the roots and central stem of the growing Vine - the true and heavenly Vine without which, each weak little branch would quickly wither into barren unfruitfulness.
The fruit that Christ's life will produce are the many sons that He is bringing to glory – the Church which is His Body. And each member – each branch that remains in Him is enabled to bring forth fruit, more fruit, much fruit, simply by remaining in Christ and living their lives as He did – living and walking and praying in the spirit. But note - while the command to 'abide' is given to every branch, it is a choice of the will that has to be made if abundant fruit is to be the result: "Abide in Me, and I in you. For just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you produce spiritual fruit unless you abide in Me."
Day by day, we are to remain in Him and He in us; we are to abide in Him and He in us; we are to rest in Him and He in us. And it is as we walk in spirit and truth, as we live our lives in faith and love, as we remain in Him and abide in Him, we are able to say, "It is not I that live, but CHRIST that lives and abides in ME, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." When we are able to submit to Christ, as He commanded, then we will produce the fruit of righteousness that gives glory to our Father in heaven through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Loving Father, more and more I see that when I try to do things in my own strength I will fail and not produce the fruit that glorifies You. I long that my life is lived as Christ lived, in total reliance in the Spirit of God so that I only do those things that are prompted by You. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.