3. The MUSTS Of Christianity: The MUST Of Decreasing Self


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John 3:30 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease.

Audio of Message

If you think you have everything, you will never seek the more. Many profess Christ, think they are saved, but when I ask them “Are you saved?” they tell me “I hope so”. Now “hope” is a fine thing. The Bible tells us “and now abideth faith, HOPE, and love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Biblical hope is not human “hope so”.

Biblical hope is a certain knowledge that, though you have not received the promises, you will receive the promises because God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9).

When the Apostle wrote of “hope” he said:

Romans 5:5-6 … hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

To Paul hope was not a gamble. He knew that God would come through. There was no doubt in his mind. Why? Because

God promised to send the Messiah, and send the Messiah He did.
God promised to send the Spirit, and send the Spirit He did.

God wants you to have a “know so” salvation. He said:

John 20:31 But these {words} are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The words we are focused on today are words spoken by John the Baptist. Once more, he said:

John 3:30 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease.

I have shopped in Christian bookstores all over the world, but have never seen a trinket or a bauble with these words on it. I have seen all types of bumper stickers on cars, from fish (pointed to the right of to the left) to “Honk if you love Jesus”. But I’ve never seen these words on a bumper, engraved on a cup, or on a pithy sign that hangs in a person’s home. That’s not to say there isn’t something like that – but I’ve just not seen it. It’s very rare. I think I know why.

In our world today we are taught from the cradle “you are special”. We are told on television shows “just be you”. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries where the spotlight is on us. Every commercial on the television selling something tells you “you deserve this”. The devil has engineered all advertising, media, radio, whatever to promote “you are the center of the YOUniverse”. We have, as a nation, gone through a national “time out”, practicing social distancing and self quarantining because “you matter”. Congress has passed out “free” money, 1200$ per person, because “we want you to be taken care of”. Now there’s nothing wrong with this. If we are under mandate to stay home from work then we shouldn’t starve. But Beloved, the day is coming when “you will have to pay this money back”. We don’t want to think about it, but it is so very true.

The concept that Jesus Christ must increase and I must decrease is so foreign to everything I have ever been taught as a person that it is almost like a foreign language. Yet it is the core of Christianity, the center of our faith.

The Words Were Spoken By John The Baptist

Even as I work on this sermon the devil whispers in my ear,

You know YOU’VE got other things YOU should be doing today. Let’s put this down and worry about it another day. After all, YOU matter!”

The devil will do all he can to keep you from hearing this message. Your phone will ring. A friend will drop by to visit. Someone will text you a smiley face. A child will stub its toe and cry. Your stomach will rumble. A bee will fly by your head.

To understand this wonderful statement,

John 3:30 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease.

You need to understand it in it’s context. First of all, it is in the same chapter of John where Jesus said “You MUST be born again” (John 3:7). The words we are now examining are not the words that our Lord Jesus spoke, but they are nonetheless words from the mouth of God. These words were spoken by John the Baptist.

Who was John the Baptist?

John the Baptist was – according to our Lord Jesus – the Greatest Prophet who ever lived. Jesus said of His cousin John:

Matthew 11:11 … Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist …

Jesus told us …

Matthew 11:13-15 … For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is {Elijah}, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The Jews knew the Biblical story of Elijah. God told His people:

Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

The Prophet Elijah was the greatest Prophet up to the time of John the Baptist. Elijah never died, but was taken up to Heaven by a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:9-12). Because of that, and the text in Malachi, the Jewish Rabbis taught that Elijah would return just prior to the coming of the Lord (see Mishnah (Edduyot 8:7).

Jesus told us that John the Baptist was the Elijah prophesied to come (Matthew 11:14). Jesus Christ is the Son of God come to save us from our sins. When John the Baptist went out into the wilderness and began preaching and baptizing in the river Jordan the Bible says:

John 1:19-23 … the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. … 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet {Isaiah}.

John the Baptist did not see himself as important as Elijah was, but knew that he was the herald, the one who would precede the King of Glory. Thus he quoted the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord”.

John was the greatest Prophet who ever was. He was the last Prophet of the Old Testament, ushering in the ministry of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. John baptized Jesus because Jesus commanded it, saying “you must do so, for we must fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).

After baptizing Jesus something happened. The crowds that used to come to John the Baptist began to fall off. Why? Because John was the Herald of Christ. John could not save anyone. His Baptism was a baptism of works. When people came to John to be baptized he told them:

Matthew 3:8-12 … Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John warned all – especially the Pharisees – that they needed to repent, and to show their repentance by their works. John was the last Prophet under the Law of Moses. He could not save anyone. But Jesus could. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). John pointed AWAY from himself. He said:

BEHOLD – LOOK AT JESUS – He is THE Lamb of God!”
(John 1:36, my paraphrase)

Jesus alone is the Christ. So John’s crowd begins to thin. As it does John’s disciples come to him, indignant and hurt. They tell John …

John 3:26 … Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

John, you were here first! You were baptizing long before this Jesus came by. What are you going to do about this? The power of John’s ministry is shown in his words. He replied:

John 3:27 … A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

These are wonderful words that we all have trouble absorbing. I have to admit when many flock to other preachers but few to myself I feel in my breast that old sin nature, saying, “Why not me, Lord? Why not me?” That is nothing but pride, self rising up.

John had the greatest gift that God can give a man. He had the gift of knowing who he was, and who God is.

As great as John was, and as great a number that came to him to be baptized, John knew that the very nature of His ministry was that he had to decrease. Once the King has come, what need is there of the Herald. John quickly added:

John 3:28-29 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom

Heaven had given John the glorious duty of being Herald to the King of Kings. But now the King of Kings has come. John sent men to Jesus. Now his crowds are growing smaller. He had done as God gave him to do. John was not the Bridegroom, the Husband of the Church. This was Jesus’ place. Jesus Christ came to build His Church (Matthew 16:18). John was at best a doorman who pointed the way to Christ. John was not important. We are not important. The One Who is important is Jesus Christ. Once you understand this “no flesh will glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29). John said of Jesus:

John 3:31-36 …. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. The rest of us – David Buffaloe included – are nothing compared to Him. John could not save, and neither can Charles Stanley, Adrian Rogers, C.H. Spurgeon, or even this foolish country preacher. Only Jesus can give life. Only Jesus can make peace between us and God.

Jesus must increase, but I must decrease!

You Cannot Be SAVED Without This Truth

John 3:30-31, 36 {Jesus} must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

In order to be “saved” a person must humble themselves, and come to Jesus Christ alone. The very first word in salvation is “repent”. The word “repent” is the Greek μετανοέω metanoeō which means “to change the mind”. Greek scholar F.F. Bruce wrote in his Greek Text Commentary The Acts of the Apostles:

“Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness.”

This word is used as the KEY word in:

  • John the Baptist’s sermons: (Matthew 3:2) Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
  • Jesus Christ’s sermons: (Matthew 4:17) Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. And in (Luke 13:5) Luke 13:5 – I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And in (Luke 15:10) I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. It is in many other scriptures, but I will continue on.
  • Peter’s sermons: (Acts 2:38) Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And in (Acts 3:19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
  • Paul’s sermons: (Acts 17:30-31) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man {Jesus Christ}whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

To repent is to humble yourself before God, and receive Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. To repent is to reject the flesh with it’s sin, and cling to the Savior Who is able to deliver thee.

Take away the “H” from the word “F-L-E-S-H”, and invert the word. What does it spell? S-E-L-F. To be saved you must cease following the flesh, the SELF.
The mark of the lost is that they are in the F-L-E-S-H!

Romans 7:5-6 For when we were in the FLESH, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Those “in the flesh” are those who have not yet met the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. They may PROFESS Christ, but are not POSSESSED of Christ. The Christian is a person who WAS in the flesh but, repenting, turned to Christ Jesus for salvation. Because of Jesus we who are His receive his Holy Spirit. Now we walk not by our opinion, but by God’s. We live our lives directed by his Word and His Spirit. God saves a person so that we can walk a new way through life. How? The Apostle said:

Romans 8:4-8 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Beloved, unless you humble yourself, God cannot lift you up (1 Peter 5:6). Unless you humble yourself, you cannot receive the Grace of God. God gives greater grace. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

Praise Him, Believer, if you know Him! Praise Him, for it is He Who:

Colossians 1:12 … hath made us {acceptable} to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light..

You Cannot Be SANCTIFIED Without This Truth

Jesus must increase, but I must decrease!

One of the sad facts of modern Christianity is that there is much preaching on salvation, much preaching on deliverance from hell, much preaching on God lifting us up when we are down, but little preaching on SANCTIFICATION. Yet SANCTIFICATION – becoming like Jesus – is at the heart of our faith.

If you are saved, Christ professor, then there is to be LESS of you and MORE of Jesus. We are to imitate Christ. We are not to imitate the Law. Why? Because when you imitate the Law you become like a Pharisee. You outwardly look religious, but inwardly are filled with self. Those who imitate the Law focus on the EXTERIOR and not the INTERIOR. Jesus emphasized this in His Sermon on the Mount. Jesus spoke of the Law, but then said “but I say unto you”, then gave the INTERIOR of what God wants us to be. For example:

Matthew 5:21-24 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Man looks at the Law against murder (the 6th commandment) and says “I haven’t taken anyone’s life”. But Jesus looks to the interior. We are to love others sacrificially, just as Jesus loves us. While we were yet sinners – offensive to God – Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We cannot serve God – taking a gift to the altar – unless we first are at peace with those around us. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:27-28 … Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

The Pharisee said “I have never violated the 7th commandment, physically or OUTWARDLY touching a woman not my wife”. But Jesus takes it inward. Have you LOOKED at a woman as a sex object? Have you looked at a man with lust in your heart. That person is made in the image of God. That person was made to be saved, brought into the Kingdom of God. That person was not made to gratify your appetites.

We who are saved are called to imitate Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit of God. Let God Himself preach the ending of this sermon:

Ephesians 5:1-11 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints (those who are SANCTIFIED); 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whore monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (see also Galatians 5:16-25).

We who are saved are not to walk imitating the Law.
We who are saved are not to walk imitating the world.
We who are saved are to walk imitating Jesus Christ.

Whoever says he abides in Jesus ought to walk in the same way in which He walked (1 John 2:6). Let us, together, walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2). And if you are not saved by faith in Jesus Christ, I beg you, REPENT, and turn to Him. Jesus is faithful to save all that believe in Him. Bow the knee to Him Who died for you. May God bless this sermon by His Spirit and by His Word. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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