6 Ways to Abide in God
To abide in God, to take Him as our dwelling, is one of the highest truths in the Bible. Many know that it is revealed by Christ in John 17, but did you know that Moses spoke of it as well? Yes, in his last prayer in Deuteronomy 33:27, repeated in Psalm 90:1, he says “O Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.”
Isn’t it amazing that an Old Testament saint could see this high truth? He even saw that it is a corporate matter, a matter for a body of saints, not just for one individual, as indicated by his use of the plural “our.” And it is a present perfect continuous tense, “You have been,” indicating an action in the past continuing up to now, such that during our entire life here on earth, we should be those continually living in God.
In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus used the word “abide” (John 15:4-5)—“abide in Me.” Other words in the New Testament point to this truth: the preposition “in” (John 14:20 and many places), the word dwell (Gk. oikeo, taken from the noun for house) (1 Cor. 3:16), and to deeply dwell (Gk. katoikeo, with a prefix meaning to an excessive degree) (Eph. 3:17). May we all progress from merely occasionally being in God, to more often abiding in God, to dwelling in God for longer periods, to deeply dwelling in God for our whole life!
How can we practice this? The following are six ways:
First, eat Christ as the hidden manna.
The first way to abide in God is to eat Christ as the hidden manna. The hidden manna is first mentioned in Exodus 16:32-34, which according to Hebrews 9:4 was placed in a golden pot, which was placed in the ark, which was in the Holy of Holies within the tabernacle of God. This special portion of manna, the children of Israel’s daily food, was kept aside as a memorial, and lasts forever. In Revelation 2:17 it is mentioned as the promise to the overcomers. Only those who overcome have such a special, hidden enjoyment of God, not the common kind that all people enjoyed together.
How can we have such a hidden enjoyment of Christ as our food? By spending personal, intimate, private time with Him every day. Our enjoyment of God must be more than in the meetings of the church. It is the private prayer and fellowship with God that cements the word we have heard into an eternal memorial within our being, and even more as a treasure within the house of God.
Second, abide in His word.
The second way to abide in God is to abide in His Word (John 8:31). We have His constant word in the Scriptures, and His present word from the Spirit in our spirit. We must not come to the Bible without also coming to Christ (John 5:39-40). The more we come to His word, the more the Word should become His instant speaking to us day by day, guiding us to live in Him.
The best way to learn to abide in His Word is to pray-read the Word of God, that is, to use the Bible as the inspiration and source of our prayer (Eph. 6:17-18). This practice helps us to use our spirit to touch the Spirit in the word. Don’t live a day without pray-reading the Word, even just two verses.
Third, speak in Him.
If we allow His word to abide in us, we will have something to speak to others unto the building of His house (1 Cor. 14:4). The apostle Paul declared in 2 Cor. 2:17 that “we speak in Christ.” In my experience, the more I speak for Him, in Him, the deeper I myself move into God.
Fourth, always rejoice, unceasingly pray, and in everything give thanks.
This fourth practice to abide in God is from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
“Always rejoice, Unceasingly pray, In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
It’s one thing for God to say His will for us is to rejoice, pray, and give thanks; it’s so much more for Him to say always rejoice, unceasingly pray, and in everything give thanks. It’s easy to rejoice, pray, and give thanks once a week at a church meeting, but the modifiers in these verses refer to a practice that involves our entire human living, all day, every day.
[A good way to remember to do this is to sing these verses. You can find one tune at Hymnal.net and click the link: Tune (Midi)]
This is the most practical way, I’ve found, to remind me to abide in God. It means even to rejoice when things seem bleak (for we always have God with us), to pray at all times, even while we are driving or studying a textbook, and to give thanks for everything, even when we are poor, hungry, or imprisoned (cf. Acts 16:23-25). We should look at all circumstances, environments, and even all persons as set by God for us to learn to dwell in Him. This is the “good” that all things work for as mentioned in Romans 8:28.
Fifth, bear much fruit.
This fifth way to abide in God is both a method and a result. The more we bear spiritual fruit (John 15:8), the deeper is our abiding in God; the more we abide in God, the more we bear fruit. This fruit is both the virtues and characteristics of God expressed by us (see Gal 5:22 and note) and also those whom we bring to salvation and offer to God (see John 15:16 and note). Helping those whom we bring to the Lord to remain is a long-lasting labor that requires that we abide in God.
Sixth, care for His presence.
The last way to abide in God that I’ll present here is to care for His presence. After the Lord’s death, when he appeared and disappeared to His disciples, He was training them to care for His invisible presence, the presence of His Spirit within them (John 20:26; Acts 1:3, 26 and notes). Since He breathed the Spirit into us when we believed in Him (John 20:22), He is with us all the time. It’s just that we too often forget He is within us, and live as if God is far away.
Sometimes we want Him to go away; other times we just live by our habits and not by His guiding from within. What He wants is that we would not ignore Him, but rather, consult Him in everything, caring for the One who is inside of us. By doing so, we deepen our dwelling in Him, from just paying attention to Him during meetings to all the time, in everything.
You may have noticed that most of these practices on how to abide in God have to do with His abiding in us. That’s right, for the abiding is a mutual abiding: “Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4). We need to allow Christ’s abiding in us to move from a fact that we know to our practice of allowing Him to live out of us, which is our abiding in Him.
“Lord, teach me to abide in You. I want to progress from having You in me, to having me live in You. To do this, Lord, keep me contacting You. Don’t let me slip away from spending private time with You. Keep me in Your Word every day, even pray-reading it. Lord, increase my speaking for You; may I say as Paul did, ‘I speak in Christ.’ Lord, I want to bear much fruit, and I want to care for Your presence, even for the smiling of Your face. Lastly Lord, remind me to call on Your name, to always rejoice, to unceasingly pray, and to give thanks in everything. May everything remind me to abide in You.”
References and Recommended Reading:
- This post was contributed by Phil Watson. You can also read more from Phil in his previous guest post The Tree of Life.
- The six ways to abide in God as presented above were taken from message 4 of the Crystallization Study of Psalms (2).
About Tom Smith
Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!