Apart From Me

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Apart from Me you can do nothing. Is there any area in the Christian life where this is not true? Can the Gospel be preached, souls be won, the Bible understood, or prayers be lifted except that the Son of God is abiding in a heart that is abiding in Him? And what about overcoming sin or the pursuit of holiness? Can we suppose as the foolish Galatians did that what was begun within us by the power of Christ may now be completed through our own strength (Gal. 3:3)?

Nothing can be accomplished for the Kingdom of God except by the power of God. God never intended for it to be otherwise.

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]

Jesus Stayed Behind

“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it” (Luke 2:41-43)

Had you asked Mary and Joseph that first day as they departed from Jerusalem for home if Jesus was walking with them, they most certainly would have answered yes. Of course He was with them, why wouldn’t He be? But Jesus had stayed behind, and they were not aware of it.

What a terrible thing it is to have left Jesus behind. Worse still, to be unaware of it. To suppose that the Lord Jesus walks beside us when He does not is a tragedy, but are there not many who do just that? Some have never truly come to faith in the Lord and have never known what it was like to really walk with Him in the first place. Others walked with Him at one time but sin  has crowded in, their love has grown cold, and their steps have taken them in a different direction. And this is worth noticing: Jesus never leaves us behind, it is us who wander away.

Every one who supposes that the Lord walks beside them does well to make sure that He in fact does. And what to do should we discover that we have left Him behind? We will find Him in that very place where we left Him. Did we abandon Him when we began to neglect our prayer life? Then it is in a renewed prayer life that we will find Him. Have we stopped seeking Him through the study of His Word? Then when we dust off our Bibles and look again to the Holy Spirit to reveal the Son to us we will find Him again. Or perhaps it is some sin that we are reluctant to release. If we bring that sin to God, will He not strengthen us to be free from that sin and to walk with Him once again? Jesus can be found “about His Father’s business” (Luke 2:49 KJV), can we?

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]

The Gift Of Conviction

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

I once read an interview with a celebrity who identifies themselves as a Christian. Because some have accused this person of holding only a shallow, superficial religious belief, the interviewer began to ask probing questions about how deep their Christianity goes. Finally, they were asked if they had ever asked God for forgiveness for their sins. The answer given was no, and they added that they really didn’t feel that they needed to.

Now whether or not this person is truly a Christian is not for any of us to determine, it is between them and God. But we can safely say that it is concerning for someone to claim that they are trusting in Christ and also state that they really do not need to go to God for the forgiveness of their sins. And if this person’s answer was sincere, then we have the testimony of the Bible that the Truth is not in them.

Most religions lay out a path for their adherents to walk that brings them ever-closer to some sort of greater and greater enlightenment or perfection. And while we as Christians may be “sanctified”, that is, live a life that grows into more Christ-likeness the further along we go, we acknowledge that sin is never completely vanquished in us until we enter into Heaven. In other words, the need to confess our sins to God and ask for His forgiveness will be necessary until the day we leave this world.

For most people, apparently including the celebrity I mentioned above, the problem is not that they feel they have reached perfection, but that they have no real sense of their own sinfulness in the first place. It is human nature to excuse, justify, and mitigate our own guiltiness rather than honestly recognize our own shortcomings. We can always point to someone else who is a lot “worse” than we are.

One of the things that the Holy Spirit will do in our hearts, if we will hear Him, is to convict us of the sin we commit. This is not so that God can condemn us, but so that we may confess our sin to God and be forgiven. Conviction of sin is a great gift that makes it possible to remove the one obstacle that can stand between a person and the Lord. May we be thankful when God shows us the sin in our life that we may bring it to Him for forgiveness.

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]