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Faith Alive! | Commandments of Christ 5

5. Abide in him: do not let him slip from your memory and affactions

From issue 81 (May 2005)

FACES I can remember – it’s the artistic instinct in me. However, the crucial things like names, dates, birthdays etc. I haven’t a hope of remembering. I’ve often been accused of having a memory like a sieve. I’ve tried the suggested memory aids of associating objects with colours, sounds or smells, but the only way is the old-fashioned repetition method!

The children of Israel were instructed by God to remember His works and laws, but without a pocket-sized Bible as a ready reference they had to use their memories or memory aids. It is clearly not a new phenomenon:

“Ye shall lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: that your days may be multiplied …” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

God through Moses repeatedly commanded the Children of Israel to remember and not forget His teachings, all throughout the early chapters of the book of Deuteronomy (4:9,23; 5:15; 6:12; 8:2; 8:18,19; 9:7 etc.). If they did forget and omitted to walk in His laws, God promised they would “surely perish” (Deuteronomy 8:19). However, if they remained faithful they would inherit the land and so much more.

Jesus commands the same:

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

The word “abide” means to stay, to dwell, to endure, to be present or remain in a given place or in relation to something – as branches secured onto the vine. Jesus teaches us that we are to be constant and unmovable in our love to our friends and to him (verses 12-14). The way in which we are to do this is through the persistent reading and meditation of the word which would grow unto good works. David understood the clear need to abide in God’s word in this way:

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands” (Psalm 143:5).

Perhaps this was also pointed at the Jews, who recited the law but the truth was far from them. They listened to Jesus’ teachings but did not “hear his word” (John 8:43). They had an academic understanding but were closed to the spiritual dimension behind the words, so the word of God did not abide in them; they were as branches not bearing fruit.

We are in a most privileged position. God has provided us with the greatest memory aid. We no longer have to write these words on the doorposts of our house (although this isn’t to be discouraged!), but we have the Bible:

“God … hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son … Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 1:1,2; 2:1).

The word ‘slip’ engenders the idea of running water as from a leaking vessel, through carelessness. If we neglect (2:3) this great salvation through letting the Truth drain away out of our hearts and minds we are in danger of being like “wells without water”. If we let the word slowly trickle and drain away, we no longer abide in him. We need to be constant, without leaks in our relationship to our Father and His Son. The same warning given to the children of Israel is given by Jesus to us:

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).

It may be all right to have a sieve-like memory in regard to worldly matters, but we have no excuse for letting the things of God slip.

Sally Whittaker

 

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