Our Abiding in God by Obedience
1 John 3:24
And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us…

1. In the keeping of God's commandments there is this great reward, that he that doeth so "dwelleth in God, and God in him." If this mutual indwelling is not to be mere absorption, which some dreamers in John's day held it to be; if it is not to be the swallowing up of our conscious individual personality in the infinite mind or intelligence of God; if it is to conserve the distinct relationship of God to man, the Creator to the creature, the Ruler to the subject, the Father to the child; it must be realised and must develop itself, or act itself out, through the means of authority or law on the one side, and obedience or the keeping of the commandments on the other. It is, in fact, the very consummation and crown of man's old, original relation to God — as that relation is not only restored, but perfected and gloriously fulfilled, in the new economy of grace.

2. The manner of God's abiding in us, or at least the way in which we may know that He abides in us, is specified: — "Hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us." We are to distinguish here between our dwelling in God and His dwelling in us. Our dwelling in God is to be known by our "keeping His commandments"; God's dwelling in us, by "the Spirit which He giveth us." And yet, the two means of knowledge are not far apart. They are not only strictly consistent with one another; they really come together in one point. For the Spirit is here said to be given to us — not in order to our knowing that God abideth in us, in the sense of His opening our spiritual eye and quickening our spiritual apprehension — but rather as the medium of our knowing it, the evidence or proof by which we know it. And how are we to recognise the Spirit as given to us? How otherwise than by recognising the fruit of the gift? The Spirit given to us is, as to His movement or operation, unseen and unfelt. But the fruit of the Spirit is palpable and patent. "It is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." For "against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22, 23).

3. From all this it follows that the counsel or warning, "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God" (1 John 4:1), is as needful for us as it was for those to whom John wrote. We may think that it is the Spirit of God whom we are receiving into our hearts and cherishing there, when it may really be another spirit altogether — one of the many spirits inspiring the "many false prophets that are gone out into the world." Therefore we must "try the spirits."

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

WEB: He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us.

Of the Manner and Importance of the Spirit's Indwelling
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