Subscribe Where You Listen the Most
No More Roller-Coaster Living
When it comes to spiritual disciplines like surrender or yielding our life to the Lord, the hardest part is not the act of initial surrender, but the journey of remaining surrendered to Him in the days and months ahead. For most believers, this journey can be discouraging, filled with success and failure, ups and downs, and sometimes, you may even feel like giving up. But that should never be the case. After all, it is the Holy Spirit living in you that seals you in Him and is the deposit, the guarantee of the promise of your future inheritance to come (Eph. 1:14). And this is more than going to heaven when you die— far more. The indwelling Holy Spirit also guarantees your sanctification, which is you becoming more like Christ each and every day (1 Cor. 1:30).
But the one question still remains, how? How do we experience the process of becoming more like our Lord in the chaos of everyday living? And how do we make sure, at least on our end, that we remain surrendered and submitted to Him?
In Christian circles, we hear much about the word abide or abiding regarding our relationship with Christ. Jesus actually made that term the centerpiece of His teaching on the nature of our relationship with Him in John 15. You would do well to study this teaching. In it, Jesus said:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” – John 15:4-5.
Abiding in Christ is the key to remaining surrendered and walking in obedience under His authority. But what does it mean to abide in Him? And how is it done?
The word “abide” in Greek is menó, and means to “remain or stay, live, and dwell with someone in an intimate, close relationship by being united with them, or being made one with them, in heart, mind, and will.”¹ It is more than a casual acquaintance but rather a deep, enduring connection. And it is only when we remain connected to Him, that we allow His life to flow through us, producing spiritual fruit that brings glory to the Father (John 15:8).
The principle is simple: When we abide, we flourish and live. When we detach from the vine and try to go it alone, we flounder and die. And the choice is always ours to make.
Remaining Connected (Surrendered) to the True Vine
Why is abiding so important? Because it leads to spiritual fruitfulness in our lives. Jesus said, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As we stay attached or surrendered to the Vine (Christ), His life flows through us, and this supernaturally enables us to bear His good fruit— the fruit of righteousness, godly character, and the expansion of God’s kingdom, all for the glory of the Father. It is an amazing dependent relationship. Remember, as a branch, we don’t produce any fruit. That’s the job of the Vine, Christ. But as long as we remain attached and surrendered to Him, we get the joy of bearing His fruit since all He is, as the Vine, flows through us and, as His branches, gives our life purpose. And all we have to do is remain surrendered, attached, and submitted to the source of everything that gives our life value. He produces all the fruit, and we get to bear His handiwork for the world to see. Let that sink in for a moment.
The Scriptures reveal we were created for good works (Eph. 2:10), but we can only fulfill these works if we rely wholly on Jesus’ power working in us. If we detach from the Vine, our best efforts become futile, and we quickly discover we can “do nothing” (John 15:5). But when we remain connected or surrendered to Him by abiding in Him, we partner with Him as He allows us to bear His lasting spiritual fruit. Abiding places us in the channel of God’s wonderous grace and enables us to experience the joy of vibrant Christian living. It is truly the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10).
The Fruit of Obedience
Abiding also produces obedience. Jesus said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). It seems that obedience and love are intrinsically intertwined. So when we love Christ, obedience to His Word flows naturally. And as we follow His commands, our love for Him grows deeper still.
Our culture exalts self-will and independence, but Jesus calls us to a life of voluntary surrender and submission— recognizing His wisdom exceeds our own, on every level. Therefore, as branches abiding in the Vine, obeying Christ’s commands allows His life and power to flow unhindered through us, which is the entire point of being conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29).
Some may view obedience as restrictive, but in reality, it leads to great peace and freedom. Sin and pride trap us in bitterness, resentment, anxiety, and emptiness. But obeying Christ frees us from sin’s grip, no matter how strong the grip is. His commands are given as a blessing, not to stifle, but to protect, guide, and bless. And as we surrender to the Vine, we find true purpose in bearing His righteous fruit that will last, and not mindlessly spending our life chasing the trinkets and toys of this world that will inevitably perish.
But how can we grow in abiding obedience?
It starts by cultivating a heart that longs to honor Christ. Before rushing into any activity, we must take a moment to stop and listen to Jesus, focusing on His voice among the fray. Remember what He said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). This is a promise and a condition. If we rest in Him and allow His words to permeate our hearts, He will give us the power and, most importantly, the desire to obey. Abiding flows out of a satisfied heart resting in Christ’s love.
Finally, understand that abiding obedience is a journey. We will make missteps, count on it, but the Father graciously prunes us to grow sweeter fruit within each season of our lives (John 15:2). So do not let past failures, no matter how many or how often, sever you from the Vine. Repent and rely on Christ’s forgiveness and power to help you take the next step in faith and obedience to Him.
The Fruit of Dependent Surrender
Abiding in Christ requires full dependence on Him. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We must recognize that apart from Him, we are helpless and fruitless.
When we try to live the Christian life in our own effort and strength, we end up exhausted, frustrated, and often burned out. You’ve probably experienced that at some point in your life. But when we fully surrender control to Jesus, trusting in His inner working more than our striving, then His divine life, power, and joy flow through us. Surrender means ceasing from our labors and completely relying on Him (which is a great definition of abiding).
This surrender is not passive or apathetic, but rather one of active dependence. As we abide in Christ, we gain wisdom to know what He desires us to do each step of the way. We then act in alignment with His will but rely, not on our own meager and finite resources, but on His inner strength to accomplish it. As Paul said, “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Col. 1:29). The life of Christ within empowers us beyond human capability. The joy of experiencing being complete in Him (Col. 2:10), comes from abiding as His branch and letting the Vine do all the stuff only the Vine can do. And then we do what we can do, which is simply to remain connected to Him.
The Fruit of a Life That Matters
Jesus promised that abiding in Him would produce spiritual fruit that remains. He said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16). When we minister in human strength and wisdom, the impact is often limited and temporary. But drawing life from the Vine produces eternal fruit that matters and remains.
This fruit comes from our conscious effort to remain surrendered to Him in everything. As we listen to the Spirit’s promptings through an abiding relationship, He leads us to act in ways that bless others. It may involve speaking a word of encouragement, showing compassion, serving a practical need, or doing something that moves us out of what feels comfortable and stretches our faith. When we follow His lead rather than our own agenda, the fruit always brings glory to the Father. And since the fruit is from the Spirit and not our own human efforts, it will always remain.
Scripture describes the fruit that naturally grows from abiding in Him as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). These fruits of the Spirit emerge in our character as we stay connected to the Vine and become more like Jesus.
The Overflow of Joy
One primary fruit Jesus mentions is fullness of joy. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). As we abide in God’s love, His joy naturally overflows in our hearts. And the joy of Christ, the joy He experiences Himself, will remain in us. It really doesn’t get any better than that.
This joy is much deeper than temporary human happiness based on circumstances. This kind of joy flows from a surrendered relationship in Christ, trusting Him amidst any situation, good or bad. Even in great trials and heartwrenching tribulations, we can experience His supernatural joy as we rely on His presence by remaining surrendered to Him. And, as Paul and Silas discovered when chained in a dungeon in Philippi, we can now view all troubles as opportunities to experience more of Him (Acts 16:25).
This abiding joy comes from recognizing and embracing that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:38-39). So now, life’s pressures only drive us closer to the God who sustains us. And when we abide in the Vine, joy remains even in the midst of suffering, because we now know that pain, with purpose, produces great joy.
Launching into Jesus’ Harvest
Finally, abiding readies us for Kingdom impact. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit. I have said these things to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:16, 11). Abiding fills us with contagious joy and propels us into Jesus’ harvest fields.
When our roots grow deep into the Vine, we gain a passion to share Christ’s love with the world. We yearn for others to know this soul-satisfying relationship we have in Him, and therefore, we long to see others grafted into the True Vine with us as fellow branches.
So we follow the Spirit’s leading to invest in the work of His kingdom. We freely leverage our gifts and resources to make disciples, meet needs, and proclaim the Gospel in any way possible. We spend and are spent for the cause of Christ, fueled by our joy in Him. This is what an overflowing life looks like abiding in the True Vine. And it fills us with overabounding gratitude for His choice of us in Him (Eph. 1:4).
His Final Plea: Remain in Me
On the night of His betrayal, Jesus pleaded with His disciples to remain in close fellowship with Him when He said, “Stay here and watch with Me” (Matt. 26:38). He knew great trials would soon come that would shake their faith to the core. But He also knew that if they clung to the Vine, drawing life and strength from Him that day and daily thereafter, they would bear eternal fruit, and their lives would have a lasting impact on others.
Centuries later, His same plea echoes in our own hearts. Jesus says, “Abide in Me. Stay vitally connected to Me. For apart from Me, you can do nothing. A branch detached withers quickly. But if you stay united to Me in abiding surrender, My life will flow through you with supernatural power. Abide in My love and joy. Seek My heart above all else. Remain in Me, and your life will overflow with righteous fruit that endures forever.”
This is the way to live fully surrendered to the Lord, no matter what— come what may. Are you ready to live a life abiding in Him? Good. Then let’s get started today.
1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). In The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). AMG Publishers.