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Abide In Messiah: That You May Not Sin
20 January 2015
This is the fourth article in a series in which I share excerpts from the classic book Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray. If missed the first three, you can find them here: Unfortunately, Mr. Murray’s older style of English from the 1800s, as well as his quotations from the even more archaic King James Bible, can be hard to understand in the 21st century. Therefore I have taken the liberty of replacing certain words and rewriting some sentences in order to make the meaning clearer to our modern ears.

Furthermore, Mr. Murray sometimes alludes to verses from the Bible without quoting them directly. In other instances he does quote them, but neglects to give the reference. So I have tracked down each Biblical quotation and allusion, and given the reference so you can look them up yourself.

If you want to read this chapter in Mr. Murray’s original words — as well as the other 30 chapters of this book and the 31 chapters of his companion book, The True Vine — I highly recommend the edition you can find at Amazon.com by clicking on the book cover to the right.

The best thing about these books is that they are all about Yeshua. Sadly, such books seem to be quite out of style in our modern Christianity. But if we want to be true followers of Yeshua, we MUST learn to abide in Him every moment.
That You May Not Sin
In Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. 1 John 3:5b‑6a
“You know,” the apostle John had said, “that Yeshua (Jesus) appeared [on earth] to take away our sin” (1 John 3:5a), thereby indicating that salvation from sin was the great purpose for which the Son became human. The connection shows clearly that the taking away has reference not only to the atonement and freedom from guilt, but to deliverance from the power of sin, so that the believer no longer does it.

It is the personal holiness of Messiah that establishes His power to accomplish this purpose. He welcomes sinners into life-union with Himself; the result is that their life becomes like His. “In Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin.” As long as he abides, and as far as he abides, the believer does not sin. Our holiness of life has its roots in the personal holiness of Yeshua. “If the root is holy, so also are the branches” (Romans 11:16b).

The question at once arises: How is this consistent with what the Bible teaches of the persistent corruption of our human nature, or with what John himself declares, that if we say that we have no sin, that we have not sinned, then the truth is not in us? (see 1 John 1:8,10). It is just this passage which, if we look carefully at it, will teach us to understand the above verse correctly.

Note the difference in the two statements (1 John 1:8), “If we say that we have no sin,” and (1 John1:10), “If we say that we have not sinned.” The two expressions cannot be equivalent; the second would then be an unmeaning repetition of the first. Having sin in verse 8 is not the same as doing sin in verse 10.

Having sin is having a sinful nature. The holiest believer must each moment confess that he has sin within him — the flesh, namely, in which dwell no good thing (Romans 7:18a). Sinning or doing sin is something very different: it is yielding to the indwelling sinful nature, and committing actual sin.

And so we have two admissions that every true believer must make. The one is that he has still sin within him (verse 8); the second, that that sin has in former times broken out into sinful actions (verse 10). No believer can say either, “I have no sin in me,” or “I have in time past never sinned.” If we say we have no sinful nature at present, or that we have not sinned in the past, we deceive ourselves.

Though we have a sinful nature in the present, it is not required that we are doing sin in the present as well — the confession of actual sinning refers to the past. It may, as appears from 1 John 2:2, be in the present also, but it is expected not to be.

And so we see how the deepest confession of sin in the past (as Paul’s of his having been a persecutor — Acts 22:4,26:11), and the deepest consciousness of having still a vile and corrupt nature in the present, may coexist with humble but joyful praise to Him who keeps us from stumbling (Jude 1:24).

But how is it possible that a believer, having sin in him — sin of such intense vitality, and such terrible power as we know the flesh to have — that a believer having sin should yet not be doing sin? The answer is: “In Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin.”

When the abiding in Messiah becomes close and unbroken, so that the soul lives from moment to moment in the perfect union with the Master, who keeps it, Yeshua does, indeed, suppress the power of the old nature, so that it does not regain dominion over the soul.

We have seen that there are degrees of abiding. With most Christians the abiding is so feeble and intermittent, that sin continually obtains the upper hand, and brings the soul into subjection. The divine promise given to faith is: “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14). But with the promise is the command: “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (Romans 6:12).

The believer who claims the promise in full faith has the power to obey the command, and sin is kept from asserting its supremacy. Ignorance of the promise, or unbelief, or unwatchfulness, opens the door for sin to reign. And so the life of many believers is a path of continual stumbling and sinning.

But when the believer seeks full admission into, and a permanent abiding in Yeshua, the Sinless One, then the life of Messiah keeps him from actual sin. “In Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin.” Yeshua does indeed save him from his sin — not by the removal of his sinful nature, but by keeping him from yielding to it.

I have read of a young lion whom nothing could awe or keep down but the eye of his keeper. With the keeper you could come near him, and he would crouch, his savage nature all unchanged, and thirsting for blood — trembling at the keeper’s feet. You might put your foot on his neck, as long as the keeper was with you. To approach him without the keeper would be instant death.

And so it is that the believer can have sin and yet not do sin. The evil nature, the flesh, is unchanged in its hostility against God (Romans 8:7), but the abiding presence of Yeshua keeps it down. In faith the believer entrusts himself to the keeping, to the indwelling, of the Son of God; he abides in Him, and counts on Yeshua to abide in Him too. The union and fellowship is the secret of a holy life: “In Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin.”

And now another question will arise: Let’s admit that completely abiding in the Sinless One will keep us from sinning — but is such abiding possible? May we dare hope to be able so to abide in Messiah, say, even for one day, that we may be kept from actually committing sins? The question has only to be fairly stated and considered — it will suggest its own answer.

When Messiah commanded us to abide in Him, and promised us such rich fruit-bearing to the glory of the Father, and such mighty power in our intercessions (John 15:7‑8), can He have meant anything but the healthy, vigorous, complete union of the branch with the vine? When He promised that as we abide in Him He would abide in us, could He mean anything but that His dwelling in us would be a reality of divine power and love?

Is not this way of saving from sin just that which will glorify Him? To keep us daily humble and helpless in the consciousness of the evil nature, watchful and active in the knowledge of its terrible power, dependent and trustful in the remembrance that only His presence can keep the lion down?

Oh let us believe that when Yeshua said, “Abide in Me, and I in you” (John 15:4a), He did indeed mean it! Even though we were not to be freed from the world and its troubles (John 16:33), from the sinful nature and its temptations, we were at least to have this blessing fully secured to us — grace to abide wholly, only, even in our Master. Abiding in Yeshua makes it possible to keep from actual sinning; and Yeshua Himself makes it possible to abide in Him.

Beloved Christian! I do not wonder if the promise appears almost too high. Do not, I beg you, let your attention be diverted by the question as to whether it would be possible to be kept for your whole life, or for so many years, without sinning. Faith has ever only to deal with the present moment. Ask this: Can Yeshua at the present moment, as I abide in Him, keep me from those actual sins which have been the stain and the weariness of my daily life? You cannot but say: Surely He can.

Take Him then at this present moment, and say, “Yeshua keeps me now, Yeshua saves me now.” Yield yourself to Him in an earnest and believing prayer to be kept abiding, by His own abiding in you — and go into the next moment, and the succeeding hours, with this trust continually renewed.

As often as the opportunity occurs in the moments between your occupations, renew your faith in an act of devotion: Yeshua keeps me now, Yeshua saves me now. Let failure and sin, instead of discouraging you, only urge you still more to seek your safety in abiding in the Sinless One. Abiding is a grace in which you can grow wonderfully, if you will but make at once the complete surrender, and then persevere with ever larger expectations.

Regard it as His work to keep you abiding in Him, and His work to keep you from sinning. It is indeed your work to abide in Him; but it is that, only because it is His work as the Vine to bear and hold the branch.

Gaze upon His holy human nature as what He prepared for you to be partaker of with Himself, and you will see that there is something even higher and better than being kept from sin — that is only the restraining from evil. There is the positive and larger blessing of being now a container purified and cleansed, of being filled with His fulness, and made the channel of showing forth His power, His blessing, and His glory.
Note from Andrew Murray: The following extract is from Christ and the Church — sermons by Adolph Saphir. The italics are not in the original.
Is daily sinning an inevitable necessity?
Why is it that, when we have a Savior whose love and power are infinite, we are so often filled with fear and despondency? We are wearied and faint in our minds, because we do not look steadfastly “unto Yeshua, the author and finisher of faith, who has sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 12:2) — unto Him whose infinite power embraces both heaven and earth, who is strong and mighty in His feeble followers.

While we remember our weakness, we forget His all-sufficient power. While we acknowledge that apart from Messiah we can do nothing (John 15:5b), we do not rise to the height or depth of Christian humility: “I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

While we trust in the power of the death of Yeshua to cancel the guilt of sin, we do not take our faith to the next step of relying on and taking unto ourselves the infinite power of the living Savior to deliver us from the bondage and power of sin in our daily life. We forget that Messiah works in us mightily (Colossians 1:29), and that, one with Him, we possess strength sufficient to overcome every temptation.

We are inclined either to forget our nothingness, and imagine that in our daily life we can live without sin, that the duties and trials of our everyday life can be performed and borne in our own strength. Or else we do not make use of the infinite power of Yeshua, who is able to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:21), and to keep us from the daily weaknesses and falls which we are prone to imagine an inevitable necessity.

If we really depended in all things and at all times on Messiah, we would in all things and at all times gain the victory through Him whose power is infinite, and who is appointed by the Father to be the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Then all our deeds would be done, not merely for, but in God. We would then do all things to the glory of the Father, in the all-powerful name of Yeshua, who is our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Remember that unto Him all power is given in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and therefore live by the constant exercise of faith in His power. Let us most fully believe that we have, and are, nothing, that humanly speaking it is impossible, that in ourselves we have no life which can bring forth fruit (John 15:4‑5); but that Messiah is all — that abiding in Him, and His word abiding in us, we can bring forth fruit to the glory of the Father (John 15:7‑8).
For more by Adolph Saphir, see his books available on Amazon.com. You can also browse Amazon for their many Andrew Murray books.

You can read more excerpts from this book in the final article in this series: Abide In Messiah: And Not In Self.
This article is 32nd a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
19  Sep  2013
1  Oct  2013
7  Oct  2013
12  Oct  2013
15  Oct  2013
16  Oct  2013
30  Oct  2013
13  Nov  2013
28  Dec  2013
8  Jan  2014
15  Jan  2014
16  Jan  2014
21  Jul  2014
26  Jul  2014
27  Jul  2014
31  Jul  2014
5  Aug  2014
10  Aug  2014
11  Aug  2014
24  Aug  2014
25  Aug  2014
27  Aug  2014
16  Sep  2014
17  Oct  2014
18  Oct  2014
21  Oct  2014
28  Oct  2014
8  Nov  2014
13  Dec  2014
24  Dec  2014
11  Jan  2015
Abide In Messiah: That You May Not Sin
20  Jan  2015
21  Jan  2015
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