My life verse is John 15. It’s literally tattooed on my arm. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (5).”

Apart from Him I can do nothing. I need that constant reminder.

Recently I read an article breaking down John 15. And while most of it was solid advice on Christian living, I really felt like the author used it to focus on spiriutal growth rather than dependency on the Vine. Which in essence— turned the message into a works-based salvation rather than Christ-based salvation. I know, this gets tricky because faith without works is dead according to James 2.

But hear me out.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (2).” The author of this article told the reader they needed to change their habits and they needed to surround themselves with people who hold them accountable. This is really good advice, but we cannot prune ourselves. In John 15, the Gardener is the one doing the pruning.

We are the branches. Jesus is the Vine. God is the Gardener/Vineyard dresser. Apart from the Vine-Jesus- we can do nothing!

Yes, the Lord is going to prune us by removing people, habits, and blatant sins from our lives. And YES, that is going to hurt. Yes, we have a role to play in it. Our role- as the branch- is to be obedient and work with God. Let Him prune you. Follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit— which probably will be to remove stumbling blocks in your life. But if you try to prune yourself, you will fail.

There are probably areas in your life, you know need some pruning. You cannot do that in your own strength. You need strength from the Lord. Be in prayer. Seek godly counsel. Make sure you are doing it WITH the Lord.

This might sound like a semantics argument. But here’s the difference— who is doing the pruning? If I work to fix myself, I will fail because I am the one working to clean up my own mess… I end up just creating a bigger mess.

But when God initiates it, I am following Him. He is my Support. He is my Strength. He is my Leader. The difference is when God leads and we follow, we can overcome and succeed. When we lead oursleves, we eat a forbidden fruit.

Because the truth is- we all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

And there is a punishment for that sin. Remember the Gardener/Vineyard dresser cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit, because it is dead. “The wage of sin is death (Romans 6:23).”  Pruning is way better than death… being cut off… separated from the Vine forever.

But the rest of that verse says, “the gift of God is eternal life through Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23.”

Jesus has been there. He understands! He was tempted in every way. And He did not sin. Yet, He willingly took the punishment of death we all deserve to give us LIFE!

If we remain connected to the Vine, Jesus, we have eternal life. The Vine gives us life. The Vine provides for all we need. The Vine allows us to produce fruit.

Remember fruit grows in seasons! And God wants that fruit to grow! He will have to cut back the yuck (sin, temptations, strongholds) to provide fruit. He does not want us to continue life in sin; He wants you to produce fruit and prove to be his disciple.

Apart from the Vine, you can do nothing. But with Him, you can flourish!

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (8).”