A Puritan Meditation - I was dead in iniquities, having no eyes to see thee, no ears to hear thee, no taste to relish thy joys, no intelligence to know thee; But thy Spirit has quickened me, has brought me into a new world as a new creature, has given me spiritual perception, has opened to me thy Word as light, guide, source, solace, joy. Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace.
"Apart from me you can do nothing." - Jesus (John 15:5). If apart from Jesus we can do nothing, then abiding in Jesus must be our primary concern. Only in union with Jesus can we 'bear much fruit' and live lives pleasing to God and transformed according to His image and will. But how do we abide in Christ and what role does the gospel play in this?
Thankfully, being united with Christ isn't something we do, but something God does in us. We couldn't do this ourselves because the Bible describes us before knowing Christ as being dead in sins, by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2: 1-3). We're united with Christ when we hear and believe the gospel and are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1: 13). The gospel is all about being united with Christ. Union with Christ is what it means to be saved. Union with Christ is what it means to be made alive. Being united with Christ is the only way we can abide in Him.
So, the gospel has this amazing power of new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has past away; behold, the new has come." We're new creatures because of the gospel, because we're united to Jesus in His death and resurrection. As new creatures we must know and consider our old nature to be dead, as dead as Jesus on the cross, not something we do ourselves but something Jesus has already done for us (Romans 6: 6-11).
As we live out our new life in Christ, we grow in and discover all that it means to abide in Him and as we do that, the power of our union with Jesus transforms our lives and our affections. No longer should we chase after or conform to the desires of this world. We no longer live for things like power, wealth, status, lust or greed; rather the gospel union we have with Jesus so transforms our thoughts, desires, motives, goals, behaviour and attitudes that we're compelled to become the person God intends us to be. As new creatures, we're transformed to live and act in His love and in His service (Ephesians 2: 10; Romans 12: 2).
That's why, for a Christian, sin is no longer as fun as it used to be. What we once thought would bring meaning, fulfilment and joy, no longer satisfies. If we keep acting according to our old nature we will feel misery, shame and guilt because we're acting contrary to our new status in Christ. Now, we live as His disciples and as we follow Jesus we discover that it's in Christ that we find joy, satisfaction and fulfilment. This comes as part of the fruit of living and abiding in Him and bringing Him glory (John 15: 8-11).
Perhaps the most outrageous claim the Bible makes in relation to our union with Christ and the fruit that proceeds from this is found in 2 Peter 1: 3 - 8. It says:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Did you catch that? Through the power and promises of the gospel, we are partakers of the divine nature. This knowledge and its reality in our actual union with Christ should blow us away! It motivates us to want to escape from the corruption of sinful desires and grow in our lives the affections and good qualities that come from our faith; excellence, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness and love. This is the fruit of a life lived united to God, in prayer, devotion and worship; and lived out in service to God and God's people. Abide in Jesus, because apart from Him you can do nothing. Abide in Jesus, because apart from Him there is no fruit.