For years I tried to accomplish by myself what Jesus Christ wanted to achieve through me—in other words, I attempted to produce fruit by doing good works. My desire was to impress God and earn His approval. His goal, on the other hand, was for me to act like the branch that I am and just abide.
The Holy Spirit's job is to live the life of Christ through us. This process is known by a variety of names, including the exchanged life, the Spirit-filled life, and the abiding life. All of these monikers describe the joyful existence Paul spoke of in Galatians 2:20: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God." The apostle meant those words literally.
Seen from the outside, a branch does not appear to be doing anything. But don't get the idea that the abiding life is passive. Jesus was the perfect example of a Spirit-filled life, and He certainly didn't sit around! He worked hard out of a reservoir of divine energy (John 8:28). All of Christ's wisdom, knowledge, and courage was drawn from God through the Holy Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit does not pop out of believers through effort; Christians bear fruit through surrender. We "take root" in the Lord by meditating on His Word, praying, and serving. We reserve nothing for ourselves to control but fully rely upon Him. That's not passive living; it's an abiding life.
Taken from "The Abiding Life " by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).