By Grant Hawley
"Man's chief care, his highest virtue, and his only happiness,
now and through all eternity, is to present himself as an empty vessel in which
God can dwell and manifest His power and goodness." - Andrew Murray
The Christian life can be summed up with two phrases from the Bible, "...without Me [Jesus], you can do nothing" (John 15:5), and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13).
Believers in Christ are partakers of the Divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). We have been freed from sin as a necessary master (Rom 6:1-14). We have the Almighty God living within (Gal 2:20; Col 1:27). But that does not mean that we are unable to sin or even that we are inherently good. Christians, like everyone else, have sin indwelling their bodies (Rom 7:17) and have nothing good in their flesh (Rom 7:18).
It was to Christians, the eleven faithful disciples, that Jesus said, "...without Me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Peter, a believer in Christ and the rock upon which Jesus said He would build His church, denied Christ a total of six times on the night of His crucifixion.2 And after raising the dead and healing the sick, he effectively denied the gospel for a time by separating from the Gentile believers in Antioch (Gal 2:11-21).
The fact is, apart from dependence on Christ for His empowering, Christians are not above the description of human corruption in Rom 3:10-18:
As it is written:
"THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE;
THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD.
THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE."
"THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN TOMB;
WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY HAVE PRACTICED DECEIT";
"THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS";
"WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS."
"THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD;
DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR WAYS;
AND THE WAY OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN."
"THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES."
Because we are weak and sinful on our own, we could never live in a way that pleases God if we were left to our own strength. In fact, on our own we can't even think in a way that is pleasing to God. This is what Paul meant when he said, "Because the carnal [fleshly] mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Rom 8:7).
This presents a problem, because the life that we are called to is infinitely higher than the righteousness of the law. We are called to love one another in the way that Christ has loved us (John 13:34). How can we, who are selfish by nature, love with a selfless love? We simply don't have the strength.
The good news is that we aren't left to our own strength. In fact, God doesn't expect us to do anything in our own strength. Christ is our strength. He is our love, He is our joy, our peace, our self-control, our sound mind, and everything else we need to live this life in overwhelming victory.
Nothing is too difficult for God, and He cares deeply for you. Jesus told the disciples, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Out of context, it might seem unusual that Jesus was telling the disciples to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. How does this help them in this situation? But Jesus had just spent three chapters describing and illustrating that after His ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit, they would be united with Him. He would indwell them and empower them to live this life by His victory.
A few verses stand out:
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
Christ is the only Person who ever lived a life that was pleasing to God, and only He can do it today. It is our unity with Christ that gives us access to His unlimited holiness, righteousness, love, and power. He becomes for us everything that we need for life and godliness. In ourselves we are nothing, in Him, we lack nothing.1 Excerpt from Disciple by Grant Hawley, yet unpublished.
2 When the gospels are compared, it becomes clear that Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed once, and three more times before it crowed a second time.