July 29, 2016
Field Time: Browning, MT
IGNITE CLASS 10
Inductive Bible Study (IBS)
An Increasing Decrease
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30 (NKJV)
Often times the word decrease rings uneasily in the mind, especially when it is accompanied with the words I and must. I find this true in myself even though I am saved. It is because I still wrestle with the fleshly mindset of greedily striving to gain more material things so as to achieve a status, or a sense of security. Because of the Fall, the human instinct is to try and fill our separation from God with worldly substitutes. This nature causes many to interpret this verse it incorrectly, believing that a life serving Christ becomes a depressing, non-possessive, non-opinionated, and ho-hum cloud, purely miserable. However, scripture says otherwise.
John 3:30 actually arose out of the midst of “25…a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, ‘“Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified – behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”’” (John 3:25b-26) Yet in the face of this, John the Baptist shows the mark of a true man of God. He gave all the glory to the Father above because of Jesus. He uses the analogy of how a groomsman at a wedding rejoices in the bridegroom’s taking of his bride. In that light, John the Baptist says in reference to Christ being glorified, “This joy of mine is fulfilled,” (verse 29b). That being said, verse 30 becomes a statement of a grateful and privileged joy: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is an attitude joyfully willing to give all glory to Christ, with an understanding gratitude that we are only able to honor His majesty in our humbleness.
The apostle Paul talks of this same joy in his letter to the Philippians. He opens the third chapter with “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…” Contrary to human thinking, Paul shows by giving an example of his own life resume how the things we may have gained in the world are really of no eternal value. He says in verses 7-8, “7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” Paul states again in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; 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, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Jesus Himself spoke in Mark 8:34-35 that, “34…Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Our own Savior did this very thing also. He humbly decreased and gave Himself in order to glorify His Father in heaven, and did so willingly because He knew that eternal joy would be rewarded to Him in it all. This is example that I strive to follow: learning more every day that “He must increase, but I must decrease,” so that, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
Application: I will write on a sheet of paper “HE > I” and hang it a place that it will constantly remind me of this.