Knowing that Jesus did everything for us as our representative is imperative to our daily Christian walk. This revelation gives us the confidence to rest and abide in Him, making it possible for the fullness of His divine life to be manifested in us through the Holy Spirit.
It is impossible to live a fruitful Christian life as God has meant it to be without receiving the revelation of this truth. Although every born-again believer is in Christ, he/she may or may not abide in Him. The word “abide” means to “remain, dwell, to stay connected,” and “to be present too.” To abide in Christ is to be one with Him by faith. It is the conscious realization that we are joined in union with Christ and that all of our life is from Him and because of Him through the Holy Spirit. The essence of this abiding life in Christ is that we live in Him by faith, and Christ lives in us.
Therefore just as a branch comes from the vine and lives by the vine’s life, we too were brought into being by God through Christ to live in constant union with Him in the dynamics of His divine life. God’s word tells us in Ephesians that “…. we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has ordained that we walk therein.”(2:10)
When we are abiding in Christ, we share all that He is – His life, strength, and ability, and through Him, we bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We were created as branches to share in the life of Christ the true vine and thus manifest the fruit of His divine life. This is the key to a fruitful Christian life – that is, to abide in Christ, realizing that our lives are lived in union with God who created us (the new creation) in Christ. Our failure to abide in Christ hinders us from experiencing the abundant life of God as He intended for us, and thus leaving us in a constant state of frustration and struggle to live the Christian life.
To echo the words of Jesus, “apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”
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The word “nothing” means “not anything,” therefore, we can say that everything that we are as Christians, as well as all that we can do, is through this vital union that we have with Christ. Philippians 4:13 tells us that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV). The Amplified Bible translates this verse this way; “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” This means that we should not focus on limiting certain activities and events in our lives as bearing fruit. The correct position is to realize that all of the Christian life is the fruit of the abiding life in Christ.
All Christians are born of the Spirit – born of God and made partakers of His divine nature. Therefore we are His children, not just in name, but in truth under the new birth. God’s word tells us that we were “born again not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible by the word of God,” and thus made partakers of His divine nature. Just as a branch is begotten of the vine for the sole purpose of sharing and expressing its life and nature, we too were born of God to share in His divine life and express His love nature.
We must understand the mystery of this relationship between the branch and the vine as being the same as our relationship with Christ. Otherwise, we will labor under the false notion that we are sufficient within ourselves – having a life of our own (to produce fruit). When in reality, who we are in life and expression is Christ living in us. For just as a branch abides in the vine and expresses the vine’s life, we abide in Christ, and thus the Holy Spirit expresses Christ in every part of our lives and activities. It is, for this reason, the apostle Paul could say, “For me to live is Christ.”
Before we were born-again, we lived in the condition of death, thus having received our nature from Satan, through which he expressed and fulfilled his desires in us. The idea of us being free moral agents with the right to choose has been so ingrained into our minds that we take it for granted that God sent His son that we have the privilege to choose the god that we will serve. We sometimes forget that we were born helpless slaves of Satan – “born in sin and shaped in iniquity.” Because of this presumption, we often think little of the fact that it was through Jesus’ incarnation that God gave humanity the right to choose to be free from Satan’s dominion and to become His children.
God created man in the position of innocence and placed him in the Garden. It was there the devil deceived that man to disobey God’s command, thus resulting in the fall of all humanity. For many years, I had emphasized the fact that man disobeyed God’s commandment while overlooking a critical point. The point was that the garden was the place of choice for a man to choose to be what/who God created him to be.
Let me explain this more clearly. First, there is the fallacy that man (kind) was meant to be independent – to be free, to be in charge of his/her life, but that is not the case. An important thing to remember is that God is Love, and Love never imposes Himself on others. Therefore God placed humanity in the garden with the privilege to choose (by obeying) to receive His life (thereby He – God being everything to them). Thus, they become the dependent beings that He intended them to be. God’s desire for a man (kind) was that they eat of the Tree of life, which in essence was to receive the life of God, and in doing so, God would live and express His love, nature, and character in and through them.
Adam and Eve could freely eat of every tree in the garden except one, and that was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The man stood as it were, neutral – in the state of innocence as an empty vessel at the fountain of choice with the need to be filled with the drink that would be his life and thus determine his destiny. To obey God meant that man was choosing to receive His (God’s) life and be dependent on Him and thus becoming who he was created to be the -a vessel of righteousness – a dependent child of God. On the other hand, for the man to disobey God was to declare his independence from God under the illusion of becoming like God, which in essence meant to be self-sufficient.
The problem with the latter half of this scenario was that it was a “deception.” In fact, God’s word calls it in Romans chapter one, “the lie,” and the real truth is that man was never created to be an independent creature; that is to say to be self-sufficient within himself. Man (kind) was created to be filled with the life and nature of God – to share God’s (love) life, and thus to be an expression of His life and character through the Holy Spirit. Instead of trusting God, man chose to believe the lie rather than the truth and was filled with the life and nature of Satan.
The tragedy of the deception in Adam and Eve declaring their independence from God in the garden was that we all (humanity) became the slaves of Satan, who himself forever lives under the same illusion and is the father (source) of it. As a result of their sin, all of humanity came under the dominion of Satan, and thus we expressed his life and character in our humanity. God’s word tells us: “[But] he who sins [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done]” (I John 3:8 AMP).
This verse is not only speaking of the people who commit all sorts of vile and wicked crimes but all the children of fallen men. Jesus said in John 8, “You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and did not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Therefore, when he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false” (St. John 8:44 AMP).
The truth is that humans were never in charge of their lives, never are in charge of their lives, and never will be in charge of their lives. Just as Jesus compared our relationship with Himself to that of a branch and a vine because we are one with Him abiding, we must also recognize that we shared the same relationship with Satan because we were one with him. Branches are dependent parts of the vine through which the vine expresses its life.
Jesus said that we are branches, and branches have no life or nature of their own. The branch is and bears (good or bad) because of the vine it abides in. Jesus said, “I am the true Vine,” this lets us know that there is also a false vine. The vine, which we abide in, determines the fruit, which we bear. Jesus also said that “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits, you will know them” (Matthew 7:16-20 KJV).
So we can see that the fruit (good or bad) is not determined by the branches but by the tree in which the branches abide. Since Jesus said that we are His (the true vine) branches, then all the good (fruit) that is manifested in us is really from Jesus in whom we abide. This point brings us to two particular trees in the Garden of Eden; there was the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, many Christians callously neglect the importance of the fact that the tree that Adam and Eve ate of was of the knowledge of good and evil, and in doing so, place themselves at a great disadvantage. Thus Satan takes the opportunity to his advantage. So we must always remember that as long as a person is separated from God (unsaved), he/she is a branch of Satan (the false vine) regardless of how much “good” they do, their righteousness in the sight of God is as filthy rags.
God is so gracious; He can see through the smoke screens of our empty lives and know just what we need. Unfortunately, many well-meaning Christians think that they can get things from God based on what they for Him. They have no idea that no amount of work, good intentions, or money could earn one iota of grace from God. Every aspect of God in His dealing with us from the beginning to the end is according to His loving grace, which in essence means that He does everything.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, we read, “For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [you’re] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself] (Amplified).
You may ask, “what about witnessing for the Lord? What about working for God? What about praising and worshipping God?” My friend, we cannot do anything for God apart from His grace at work within us. For you see, the source of all our frustrations is that we think that we can. So many Christians like this man think that they are sufficient within themselves to do what is necessary to live, find true happiness, and/or please God.
They unknowingly see themselves as having a life of their own, which in essence is as ridiculous as a branch having a life without the vine. Just as Jesus told the young man to give to the poor and to follow Him – the source of all true riches, He is saying to you and I, “Abide in me – for I am your life.” For all that we do in life is simply the fruit and the out-working of the Holy Spirit within us.