– Watchman Nee
Nothing Without Christ
Jesus tells us just how much we can do without Him: nothing! In John 15:5, He says, “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.” Nothing is not a little something but a lot of nothing! If you think you can do anything without Christ, well, yes, you can. It‘s called sin. If you’re not attached to Christ, then know this: “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4). All you’ll get is wax fruit that melts in the heat. No abiding in the vine means no bearing fruit.
All Things Through Christ
You can do all things but not outside of abiding in Christ, as we have read. Paul surely needed the strength of Christ to do anything, which was why he wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). The opposite of this is also true. You can do nothing without Him because He can’t strengthen you. Paul understood Who his source of strength was, as he wrote, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10), meaning that in His weakness, Christ shows Himself strong since He is the true source of our strength.
Strengthened With Christ
Paul knew that the church at Colossae was “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that [they] may have great endurance and patience” (Col. 1:11). For the church at Ephesus, he prayed, “… that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph. 3:16). That’s exactly the reason Paul told Timothy, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength” (1 Tim. 1:12).
Surely, we can’t do anything significant if we are not abiding in Christ, but if we are abiding in Christ, we can do all things. This is because it is Christ Himself Who will strengthen us. So it is true that outside of Christ, I am weak; in Christ, I am strong.