When our grandson was an infant, he was fascinated by light. He would stare at a lighted lamp, in fact, you could entertain him by turning the lights on and off! That fascination continued through his toddler age when his goal, multiple times daily, was to push the button or flip the switch to turn on the lights BY HIMSELF.
What parent has not heard the words “I can do it!” They usually are stated in rather loud tones, often with a toss of the head as they refuse assistance even though there is little time to accomplish the task.
After significant effort, often the child can do the task and there is the feeling of success!
Children aren’t the only ones who say this. Adults utter these words as well, for example, consider these words in the context of following the instructions in the set up guide for some electronic gadget. “I can do it!”
But there are some things that I cannot do on my own.
How often has this scenario unfolded in your life? We see something that we believe God would have us do and we run into it, arms open (sometimes mouths open as well) but we fail, it is not successful, and we are worn out with the effort. The problem is that we have not bathed the project in prayer. We have not asked Him for His guidance. We have not requested His Holy Spirit to be in control of this project.
In short, we have not recognized that we CANNOT do it ourselves!
Jesus was quite firm in this regard.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:1-5 ESV
Did you see that? How much of eternal consequence can we do on our own? NOTHING! To state the obvious, the word “nothing” is the combination of two words – “NO THING”. We can do “no thing” for Him, no thing of eternal consequence, unless we abide in Him.
He is the One who gives us the ability; He is the One who provides the power; He is the One who gives direction for His work.
The words “I can do it” are the death knell for any effort on our part to be productive in the Kingdom of God, especially if you mean that you can do it by yourself. Paul noted that God could use him when he was weak, because then the power of God is made manifest. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. God may well use us, but it is always at His direction, through His power, and in His providence, and for His glory!
More spiritually fundamental is the fact that we cannot even save ourselves from our sin. The very act of salvation is all God’s work, not ours. Indeed, Scripture is totally clear on this point – no one can do anything to accomplish his/her salvation because we are dead in our sins. Colossians 2:13-14. It is foolish to think that a corpse can take any action on its own – it is dead. So too, we cannot resolve our sin issue on our own because our sin, our intentional disobedience to God’s commands, renders us spiritually dead.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– … For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9 ESV
“But God” – words that are music to the Christian’s ears. But God … made us alive … by grace you have been saved through faith … it is the gift of God.
Beloved, the words “I can do it” simply do not apply to the resolution of our problem with sin. We cannot save ourselves from our sin and we cannot approach a holy God while we are still in sin. Absent God’s Grace and Mercy, we are doomed. “But God”, salvation is all about Faith and Providence. Our salvation is a gift and we cannot do it absent God’s grace.
And, we must be abiding in the Vine before we can do anything of eternal consequence.
Next time you are about to run off on your own … stop and seek His guidance and His power. You can do all things as long as you are abiding in the Vine!
Father, thank You for Your great grace and mercy in providing salvation through Jesus Christ, Your Son. May I give You honor and thanksgiving each day as I live through the power of the Holy Spirit, and may these words be glorifying to You, My God and my Savior.