"Apart from Me... Nothing."
- Austin Pryor Sound Mind Investing
- 2009 9 Mar
Jesus was man as God intended. He not only showed us what God is like, but what man is supposed to be like. He showed us the kind of life God had in mind for us when He created man — a life of worshipful dependence.
In John 5, Jesus said He was hard at work: "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working" (v. 17). But it turned out that His working was quite unlike the self-sufficient, self-motivated kind with which we are familiar in ourselves and others.
He went on to explain the secret of His working: "Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does'" (v. 19). "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear..." (v. 30). "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me" (8:28a). (Emphasis has been added in Bible quotations throughout.)
The key to understanding Christ's sinless perfection, then, is not to focus primarily on the way He avoided doing what was wrong, but rather on His positively accomplishing what was right — He lived a life of total dependence on the Father.
And then he made us this stunning promise: If you will depend on me the way I've depended on the Father, then I will be to you what my Father has been to me. Your power source. Your wisdom. Your holiness. Your motivation for self-sacrifice. "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13).
This is wonderful news! It means we don't have to keep trying (and failing) to make ourselves "good" Christians. We can't do it. He never said we could. But He can. The God who invited you into the Christian life is also the God who wants to live it out through you. "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it" (1 Thess. 5:24).
And so Jesus could say in John 15: "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (vv. 4-5).
Fruit-bearing is the result of being filled with the Spirit, yielding to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to empower you with the adequacy of Christ.
How adequate is He, anyway? Would Christ be adequate as a spouse? A parent? As an employee? Or, turning to the financial realm, how about as a household money manager? Would He be able to live within a budget, save for the future, and give generously? Yes, of course! He would be without peer in all of these roles and thousands of others.
So, as you consider how to maximize your family life, your work life, your financial life, and your ministry life this year, ask yourself these questions: How much can I do apart from Christ? Nothing of value. But how much can Christ do through me? Everything of value. He is limited only by the measure of our being available to His Spirit.
In The Saving Life of Christ, Major Ian Thomas expressed it this way:
The Lord Jesus Christ claims the use of your body, your whole being, your complete personality, so that as you give yourself to Him through the eternal Spirit, He may give Himself to you through the eternal Spirit, that all your activity as a human being on earth may be His activity in and through you; that every step you take, every word you speak, everything you do, everything you are, may be an expression of Christ, in you as man....
That is what Paul meant when he said 'For me to live is Christ.'... It is for you to be — it is for Him to do. Restfully available to the Saving Life of Christ, enjoying the richest measure of the Divine Presence, a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself, instantly obedient to the heavenly impulse — this is your vocation, and this is your victory!"
"I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father. And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son (John 14:12-13, Amplified).
Published March 4, 2009
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Published since 1990, Sound Mind Investing is America's best-selling financial newsletter written from a biblical perspective.