Jesus divides this passage into two sections—there is an activity to be done and a passivity to be acknowledged. We are to live in Him—that is active, something we do. We are also to let Him live in us—that is passive, something we allow Him to do. Both these relationships are essential.
When Jesus says, “Make your home in Me,” He’s talking about the will, the decisions we make. We must decide to do things that keep ourselves in contact with Him.
The Holy Spirit has placed us into Christ. Now we must maintain that relationship by the decisions we make, such as exposing ourselves to His Word and having a prayer relationship with Him. We remain in Him when we bear one another’s burdens and confess our faults and share in fellowship with one another. All of this is designed to relate to Him: “Live in Me.” If we do that, we are fulfilling this active, necessary decision of the will to engage in a vital relationship.
This is what Bible study and prayer are all about. They aren’t mere mechanical practices that we do in order to get favor with God! They are the means by which we know Him. If we read our Bible without the conscious expectation that it is going to tell us something about Him, we read in vain. If we pray as though it were some exercise in which we mechanically go through a list, it is a valueless experience. But if we pray because we’re talking with One whom we love and want to know more of, sharing with Him out of the fullness of our hearts, then prayer becomes a beautiful experience. That’s living in Him.
But that’s only part of it. There is also the other side—“I will make My home in you.” That has to do with empowerment and enablement. We can make choices, but we can’t fulfill them. And though we’re responsible to make choices, we don’t have the power to carry them out. There, we are to depend on Him, to let Him abide in us. We are to rest upon His ability to see us through. As we venture out on that basis, we expect Him to carry us through.
Both these activities are essential. Making decisions and then trying to do the whole thing alone is going to produce a lot of activity, but no results. On the other hand, letting Jesus take all the responsibility and making no choices at all will also produce a fruitless life. We must determine to expose ourselves to Jesus. We must seek His face in the Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with others. And then we must count on Jesus to see us through, to supply that enabling power that makes us able to love and forgive and rejoice and give thanks.
When we do both these things, we are living in Him and letting Him live in us.