A particular way of thinking has plagued me for several years. I’ve fought it, tried to think like Jesus about it, knew it was hindering my spiritual life, wanted it to go away, but nothing worked.
Several times I have prayed, “Lord, You are my Savior. Save me from this.” My pleading seemed to bounce off the ceiling. Nothing changed. One thing that seemed good is that the battle with one thing brought out a lot of lesser problems and God cleansed them from my life.
However, this morning, I woke up and immediately realized I had been delivered from this ornery thing. It was gone, replaced by a better way and exactly what I’d wanted for a long time. While my relationship with Jesus seemed unbroken during this battle, leaning on Him seems fresh and easier today.
“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.” (John 15:4)
This illustration of the vine and the branch is a rich one. It shows the importance of relying on Jesus for everything. I cannot bear spiritual fruit without Him, but as verse five says, apart from Him I can do nothing. I’ve learned that is true, often the hard way.
So I am surprised by Chambers’ take on it. He says, “The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by the Atonement, then I have to construct with patience the way of thinking that is exactly in accordance with my Lord. God will not make me think like Jesus, I have to do it myself; I have to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. ‘Abide in Me’—in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is.”
I agree that obedience is vital in Christian living, but do not agree that I have to do it, or anything else, all by myself. If I could, then I would not need Him. If I could, then I could also take the credit and the glory for being such a nice, abiding Christian. Blah!
I can hinder God from working in my life. I can persist in wanting my own way and neglect all spiritual disciplines. But I cannot purify my life, no matter how hard I try or how many firm dedications I make. He tells me to confess my sin and He will cleanse me. He removes the junk and replaces it with new life and joy. I cannot do that.
Chambers does say that circumstances cannot hinder abiding. Whether in a prayer meeting or in a difficult and stressful situation, it is possible to abide in Christ. I agree and give Christ the credit for that. He came to live in me and promised to never leave me. Nothing can separate me from His love. The more I know about His amazing grace, the easier abiding becomes.
However, I know from experience that I cannot even abide without Him. I cannot separate the working of God in me from the responses He produces in me. Without Him, there is no way I can bring my thoughts into captivity to obey Him. Some issues might be easier than others, yet for me the battle to do it was won only because Jesus saves!