“Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.” 1 John 2:24–25

I have a big “bugaboo” that lives in my backyard. It is an overgrown wild grape vine that has its roots deep in the woods but it has found its way through the shadows to the sunny top of a dogwood tree standing at the edge. The vine is good for nothing in my book. There may be the occasional fox grapes hanging down in spindly bunches but I can think of no reason to let it continue to shade out the happy dogwood. It bothers me each summer when I notice its darker leaves overhanging the tree. When winter comes along I forget it is there, but as long as it is attached to the roots it will continue to be my bugaboo. One day, when I can fight through the bramble patch in the winter to sever the living connection between the vine and its roots, it will cease to trouble me forever.

Our Lord uses the imagery of the vine and the branches in John 15 to illustrate the vital importance of the believer’s living connection to Jesus Christ. It is imperative to the branches that they abide in the vine or they shrivel, die, and are fruitless. Later, in his epistles, Paul augments the idea of abiding by consistently reminding the saints that we were united with Christ at salvation and are to live “in Christ” forevermore. It is easy to grasp the general idea of abiding, but making a conscious effort of applying the idea to life can be a spotty endeavor for many believers.

Our text from 1 John is found in the context of describing the general bent of the unsaved world standing in opposition to God, His children, and His truth. John is tackling the task of describing the Antichrist and all the little “antichrists” who will parrot his evil thinking before the actual Antichrist arrives on the Tribulation scene. The Antichrist, in turn, will parrot the evil and lies that Satan dictates to him. The lie of the world system is the reason believers are not to love the world (v. 15) and the things in it. Satan is the leading “great deceiver,” the energizer of the coming Antichrist, and all other antichrists extant in the world to this day. Even nominal Christians can fall prey to their lies and leave the fold of doctrinal truth (v. 19). Apostates visibly display their disconnectedness from the true vine by leaving.

Genuine believers are different in that they are anointed by the Holy Spirit (v. 20), who is personally active within each and every one of them. His work is in concert with doctrinal truth, the Word of God (v. 21). The anointing of the Holy Spirit is similar to the other ministries the Bible reveals concerning Him. He seals each saint until the Day of Redemption, He indwells and is ever present as the Comforter, Encourager, Prompter, Enabler, Convicter, and Instructor, and He illumines the perception and understanding of God’s Word. No true believer needs to ask God to anoint him or anoint his words for some mystical power. Rather he is anointed at salvation and his words are “anointed” as they are faithful to the Word of God. Verse 27 teaches, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” The Holy Spirit preserves you from alluring lies by causing you to love and remain in the truth.

God’s truth is everything to the saint. It is the air you are to breathe, the ground upon which you are to walk, the root and branch of every thought, the life you are to live, and the faith that you are to keep. No wonder Jesus told us “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit does nothing outside of the sphere of truth.

For this reason verses 24 and 25 command you to abide in truth—the truth given once to the saints, the truth you heard when you got saved, and the truth you grow in every time you open up the Bible. Follow no deceptive voice that would rob you of the simplicity found in Jesus Christ. It is glorious to read verse 25, “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life!” That is the great hope of the saint as underscored in verse 28, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 4:17).

Remaining in Christ is the antidote to false belief and unchristian behavior. Walk in truth all day long, persevere in faithfulness and in sound doctrine. John tells us how to abide as the vine and the branches. Do the will of God (v. 17), know the truth (v. 21), abide in His doctrine lived out in life (v. 24), and cling to the hope of eternal life (v. 25). 2 John 4 and 3 John 4 express how important this is. Let nothing cut you off from your roots in Christ! Trust and obey.