He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:22-4:3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea; and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon, near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there; and people were coming and being baptized— 24 for John had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 Then a matter of dispute developed on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew 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 the people are coming to Him.” 27 John replied, “A person can receive not even one thing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the groom; but the friend of the groom, who stands and listens to him, rejoices greatly because of the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 “He who comes from above is above all; the one who is only from the earth is of the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 What He has seen and heard, of this He testifies; and no one accepts His testimony. 33 The one who has accepted His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God sent speaks the words of God; for He does not give the Spirit sparingly. 35 The Father loves the Son and has entrusted all things to His hand. 36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life; but the one who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
4 So then, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that He was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing; rather, His disciples were), 3 He left Judea and went away again to Galilee.
In Genesis 1:26 it says: Then God said, “Let Us make mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the livestock and over all the earth, and over every crawling thing that crawls on the earth.” Romans 8:28-30 We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Everything that happens in our lives, both the good things and the difficult and bad things are used by God to conform us to the image of Christ, as long as we love God. Jesus sacrifice on the cross was about more than our eternal salvation. It is also about restoring us to what God intended from the beginning; to be recreated into Their image and likeness.
Scripture tells us we must crucify our flesh. Galatians 5:24 says: Those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Romans 6:6 says: We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Jesus teaches that we should deny ourselves. In Luke 9:23 He says: “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” The problem is that when we focus on self and focus on our flesh, our sin, our lust and our desires seem even bigger and more abundant. We become discouraged and even overwhelmed, thinking that we can never attain Christlikeness. We also need to remember what Jesus taught in Matthew 12:43-45: “Now when the unclean spirit comes out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they come in and live there; and the last condition of that person becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” Even if we could, it is not enough that we empty ourselves and are devoid of evil. In the text today, John had the right attitude and approach to our life with Christ. In verse 30, he says: He must increase, but I must decrease. The best method of becoming conformed to the image of Christ is not by replacement, but rather by displacement. We need to fill ourselves with more of Him until there is nothing left of us. Romans 12:21 says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. The psalmist also instructs us in the way to righteousness. In Psalm 37:3-6 he says: Trust in the Lord and do good; Live in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring out your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday. It is better that we cultivate faithfulness to God than to try to weed out our unfaithfulness. As we focus on and delight in God, we become more like Him. His desires become the desires of our hearts. As we commit our way to Him, He brings forth His righteousness in us.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, fill me; increase in me that I might decrease. May the psalmist’s words be my declaration and prayer: As I trust in the Lord and do good; Live in the land and cultivate faithfulness. As I delight myself in the Lord; give me the desires of my heart. As I commit my way to the Lord, trust also in You, bring out your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday. May I become conformed, recreated; restored to Your image and likeness. Amen.