I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)
To ABIDE in Christ as a branch is possible only if I am first IN HIM. But once that is so, I have to live FROM HIM – I have to live drawing upon His life. Of course this is done by faith. But it also requires that I lose my life. Christ cannot be my life if I am still alive in myself.
Jesus said that if we would abide in Him in that way – as a branch abides in the Vine — that we would bear much fruit. Now let’s ask: What effort does a branch have to put forth to bear fruit? None at all. Does a branch have to grunt real hard, or become all self-conscious as to whether it is bearing fruit. The answer is No. All of that has to come to an end.
To bear fruit, the branch need only abide in the Vine. But if it does, then the fruit is not the fruit of the branch, but OF the Vine.
Christian people cry out to God, “Oh, Lord, change me. Make me like Jesus.” God will never answer such a prayer because it runs counter to the Truth. And so when God is silent, we then embark on religious attempts to build character, bear fruit, and to hasten the process of sanctification. It is all doomed to failure — indeed, it is God’s will that we fail. Rather than build us up into the spiritual giants that we want to be, God will be doing a work to expose us as empty — so that we might be reduced to those who finally confess with Christ, “Without Christ, we can do nothing.”
If we have the life of Christ within, then all the fruit that is OF that life is HIS fruit. Spiritual fruit, and even spiritual gifts, are all of the same spirit of Christ within — these are not from another source. They are not of another spirit, another experience, or another life. They are of Christ. Indeed, sanctification is Christ being made manifest — it is not US being changed to, “look like Jesus.”
Thus, we need not cry out for God to add something to us, or to do something to us — what we need to do is exactly what Jesus said to do: ABIDE IN ME.
The way to bear Godly fruit is by living in the Vine by faith. But this is not through human effort or through self-occupation. Someone once said that those who bear the most spiritual fruit are those who are the least conscious of it. This is a fact because abiding in Christ comes out of a realization that we can do nothing of ourselves — and are more and more becoming preoccupied with HIM. We will leave ourselves alone in Him and the fruit will come. But it won’t be our fruit. It will be HIS. Our life will, “be hid with Christ in God.”