In the book of John in the Bible, Jesus is talking to His disciples. John 15:5 says, "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."
At first glance, that sounds like God is trying to control us and that we can't do anything on our own.
I know many people who have advanced in life, apart from God. One in the spotlight at the moment that comes to my mind is Donald Trump. He's got boat loads of money, he's had wives, children, etc. But he doesn't have God. So, the fact is, he's done plenty, without God.
Here's the difference.... Trump has worldly, not lasting stuff.
What Jesus was talking about is eternal things and "fruit". In Galatians 5: 22-23 it says, "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control."
The section title in Galatians 5 that starts in verse 13 is "Life by the Spirit". The reason verse 22 has a but is because the verses before it are describing the actions of the flesh.
We are all born with a sinful nature. When we decide to let God lead our lives by believing in Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection, we get the Holy Spirit. He helps us, and it's by Him that we can live. (That's what Galatians means by "life by the Spirit" and the "fruit of the Spirit".
My Jesus Calling Devotional really explains this too:
"Do everything in dependence on Me. The desire to act independently - apart from Me - springs from the root of pride. Self-sufficiency is subtle, insinuating its way into your thoughts and actions without your realizing it. But "apart from Me, you can do nothing": that is, nothing of eternal value. My deepest desire for you is that you learn to depend on Me in every situation. I move heaven and earth to accomplish this purpose, but you must collaborate with Me in this training. Teaching you would be simple if I negated your free will or overwhelmed you with My Power. However, I love you too much to withdraw the godlike privilege I bestowed on you as My image-bearer. Use your freedom wisely by relying on Me constantly. Thus you enjoy My Presence and My Peace."
I believe this is spot on!
God loves us so much, but He allows us free will and doesn't overwhelm us with His power.
He wants us to rely on Him, because He has a plan for our lives.
I hope this helps someone today.