THOUGHTS FROM JOHN’S LETTERS

A MUTUAL INDWELLING

In 1John 3:24 John wrote: ‘Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.’

In a previous  previous meditation we looked at the concept of abiding (remaining, continuing, staying, living) in Christ, which John mentions earlier in his letter, and as Jesus taught:

‘See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father’ – 1John 2:24.

‘And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming’ – 1John 2:28.

‘No one who lives in him keeps on sinning’ – 1John 3:6.

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’ – John 15:5.

Now in 3:24 John teaches us that those who believe in Christ, with genuine faith that is validated by love, are participants in a mutual indwelling: they ‘live in him, and he in them’. The word translated ‘live’ is meno which we have noted previously is variously translated ‘live’, ‘continue’, ‘remain’. Previously, using this word, John has referred to believers living ‘in him’ (2:6; 3:6), living ‘in the light’ (2:10), remaining ‘in the Son and in the Father’ (2:24), continuing ‘in him’ (2:28).

John has already alluded to the additional amazing truth that God lives in us, in his references to the ‘anointing’ which those who believe in Christ have received (2:20, 27). Now, having stated it clearly, he confirms it by saying ‘And this is how we know that he lives (meno) in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us’ (3:24).

Jesus also taught this concept of God dwelling in those who believe in him:

The coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell the believer is the coming of both the Father and the Son. Having promised to send his Spirit (John 14:15 – 22), Jesus then said: ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’ (verse 23).

Using the analogy of a vine and its branches (John 15:1 – 10), Jesus taught that not only does the believer remain (live) in Jesus Christ, but he remains (lives) in the believer (verses 4, 5, 7).

The same unity and mutual indwelling that exists between God the Father and God the Son, is God’s plan for believers – a unity that also consists of a mutual indwelling: ‘may they also be in us’, ‘I in them’, ‘that I myself may be in them’ - John 17:20 – 26.

And it is this truth that God lives in those who believe in his Son which is the assurance and guarantee of all that God has promised and accomplished through Jesus the Son:

Romans 8:14 – 16: ‘Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.’ See also Galatians 4:4 – 7.

1Corinthians 2:10 – 16: We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. ... The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God ...’

2Corinthians 1:21 – 22: God ‘set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.’

2Corinthians 5:5: ‘Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.’

Ephesians 1:13, 14: ‘Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession ...’

God has made us his dwelling place (1Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Ephesians 1:22), and he is our dwelling place. He lives in us, and we live in him. This is true of every person who has, in truth, believed in the name of God’s Son. This is, or should be, the confidence of every believer.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2022