The Abiding Witness
1 John 3:24
And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us…

Some persons crave for Christian assurance under a mistaken apprehension of its nature. They seem to regard it as something over and above the ordinary processes of grace. The assurance of faith is simply an exalted and confirmed faith, and rests therefore on the promises which are the common foundation of all faith. There are persons, on the other hand, who shrink from the name of assurance, and repudiate the thing as if it were arrogant and presumptuous. If our salvation were our own work, or if it were half our own work and half God's work; if our own wisdom, strength, or righteousness had anything whatever to do with the meritorious grounds of our acceptance, the scruple would be a just one. But the work is altogether God's work. Hence to doubt the full completion of the work is to doubt God, not ourselves.

I. THE DIGNITY, NOT ONLY OF THE STATE OF THE SAINT, BUT ALSO OF THE EVIDENCE BY WHICH HE IS ASSURED OF IT. This state consists in the abiding presence of God; and this not only above us and around us, but in us. He who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent — the Creator who called this world into being — the Preserver, who maintains it in being — the King who rules and governs us — the Judge before whose tremendous throne we shall hereafter stand to give an account of the things we have done in the body — that God who is Indivisible, but is everywhere at once, the whole Deity with power and wisdom, majesty and truth, with every attribute and glory complete — He, He Himself, dwells within the saints. He dwells — not flashing a ray of His glory now and then, breaking the natural darkness of the soul for a moment, and then leaving it again darker than before, but abiding there, dwelling — like the sun in the heavens, with His beams hidden, it may be, sometimes with earthly clouds and mists, but like the sun behind the clouds filling the soul, as in ancient times He filled the material temple, with the glory of His presence. Yet let us take care not to mistake this matter. The cleansing blood of Christ must be sprinkled upon us, and in that fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness must we be washed from the guilt of sin; the quickening power of the Holy Ghost must have descended upon us, dispelled the darkness, broken down the strength and taken away the love of sin, before this state can be ours. But even when this is done, the motions of sin still remain. Sanctification is so imperfect here below, our strongest faith so feeble, our brightest hope so dim, our most fervent love so cold and selfish, our waywardnesses and inconsistencies so many, that it is wonderful that God should dwell within such hearts. Yet, child of God, it is the sober, literal fact.

II. WITH THIS DIGNITY WE MUST COMBINE THE DEFINITE CLEARNESS OF THE TEST, WHICH PROVES OUR POSSESSION OF IT, FOR WE MIGHT OTHERWISE FIND GREAT DIFFICULTY. "Hereby we know" — by what? The word "hereby" is not to be thrown forward as a mere synonym for the words "by the Spirit whom He hath given us"; but it is to be thrown back to the words, "He that keepeth His commandments." Hereby — namely, by keeping His commandments — we know. We have great cause to bless God for thus resting our hopes on our obedience, which every honest mind can see and recognise. The lesson draws close and indissoluble the connection between faith and holiness, the heart and the life, the religion and the character and conduct. It makes Christianity to be a real practical working power. Step by step, link by link, assurance of faith and hope is inseparably united to practical holiness of life. Yet there are one or two cautions to be borne in mind. The obedience which is the proof of the Spirit's presence is not a holiness finished or perfect; otherwise it would belong to none of us on this side heaven; it would be a hope of the future, not a blessing of the present. It is not a finished holiness, but only a holiness begun. The will is like a river which here and there beneath an overhanging bank may seem to stand still, and here and there in some narrow bay may seem to retrograde, but which in its main current still sets slowly, but surely, towards the ocean. It is, further, a holiness not complete, but progressive. Every day brings its struggle, but brings likewise its victory. Further yet, this Christian obedience is not partial. Christian obedience accepts and follows the whole law.

III. THE INFINITE BLESSEDNESS BOTH OF THE STATE AND OF THE EVIDENCE. If Christian obedience were an outward and compulsory thing, bringing by mere force the unwilling heart into subjection to the letter of a law, it would be painful. But it is not this. It is a willing, loving, generous thing. It is a law working from within the soul itself, not a compulsion from the outside. It is not like a stream of water thrown from without upon us, but like a living fountain springing up within us — "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." And why is it this, but because it is the Spirit's work, and because God abideth in us? Is there not always joy in life? Is there not joy in nature's life, as, bursting the chains of death-like winter, happy creation breaks into beauty, and flowers and fruits and trees and birds sing together? Is there not joy in human life when, fresh and sweet as a spring flower, the buoyant child laughs, and sings, and plays? Is there not joy in the sense of life, and only so far pain in it as the mortality of a fallen nature interrupts it with the seeds of decay, and clouds it with the shadows of death? And is there not joy in the life of the soul, since it is the very life of God fresh from the indwelling Deity, as if He became a part of ourselves and filled us with His glory?

(Canon Garbett.).

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

WEB: He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.

Our Abiding in God by Obedience
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