“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Now, of course, some would say, that does not literally mean nothing, after all, most can walk and talk, most have the ability to form at least the rudimentary capabilities of thoughts, and after all, if you are alive, you are breathing, so obviously the Lord must have been speaking in the form of analogies or at least euphemisms. So then, let’s get that thought out of the way first, shall we, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Col. 1:17) There, done, if it was not for God, nothing would exist, except God, the Triune God, so by rational thought, you can do nothing without Him because you would not exist if it wasn’t for Him.
More directly, and in context though, our Lord was speaking of those things that are done specifically and with the sole intent of glorifying God, we can do none of those things while we are in the flesh, unless we are in complete submission to the will and Word of God. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18) The submission to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit inside of those who have been born-again is how we can glorify the Lord, how we can be profitable for the Kingdom, for only that which comes from God is worthy to be eternally in His presence.
When we listen to and obey the Holy Spirit, through faith, we are obeying God, for the Holy Spirit is God, when our faith is in Jesus Christ and in Him alone, our faith is in God, for Jesus Christ is God. That is why the verse that goes side-by-side with John 15:5 is “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23) That means everyone who has been crucified with Christ.
I remember the very early days of my coming to Christ, when the “name it and claim it” crowd tried to persuade me of the interpretation of this verse, one I praise God for showing me the truth of, I laid my hands on a very nice house one day, and claimed it in the name of Jesus. Talk about foolishness, but that is exactly how some poor, misguided souls interpret this verse.
This is a reason that we study to show ourselves approved, (2 Tim 2:15) there is a reason that we ask the Lord for Spiritual discernment, for those who have come before us that served Him in fear and trembling to be brought into our lives, so that when we ask anything in His name, (John 14:14) we are sure that we are asking properly. Will what I am asking glorify God must be the first question we must ask ourselves; will it lift up and exalt Jesus Christ, will we be able to say with all certainty that the Holy Spirit has led us to ask this request of the Most High, and can we validate that request with the Word of God?
Far too many have used these verses far too frivolously, attempting to heap upon themselves something from the world, something that will make them feel better, that will not be used to bring glory to the Lord, but only as a means to encourage themselves in their supposed walk with Him.
There are three things that are a prerequisite to asking and receiving, four even. You must seek the face of God earnestly, you must contemplate and study the Word of God, you must be able to see, unequivocally how your request will glorify the Lord, and you must believe that it is the Holy Spirit that is guiding you in what you are asking for. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6) There is no other way, if you do not believe, you will not receive, and that is not a cute little catch phrase, that is the truth, and if what you are asking for will not glorify the Lord, then you’re simply wasting your time.