He must increase, I must decrease.
Luke 11:14-36 from the daily reading in the One year Bible
And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 16 Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. 17 But He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. 20 But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. 22 But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. 23 He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.
24 “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
27 While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” 28 But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
29 As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. 30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
33 “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”
In today’s text Jesus says: “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” In 2 Corinthians 2:3-5, speaking of spiritual warfare, it says: Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. There is a vital principle, we need to know, understand and practice, in these verses, which should affect what we do in our own lives and in the lives of others as we pray for them to be delivered. Before we tear down any evil strongholds, we should be prepared to raise up something good in its place. Before we cast out anything evil, we need to be prepared to fill it with something good. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus says: “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” So, as an example, when we bind sickness, we need to loose healing and wholeness. When we bind fear, we need to loose faith and love. When we cast out an evil spirit, we need to ask for a filling of the Holy Spirit. We and others for whom we pray need more than just a touch from God. Surely a touch is enough to heal, as it was for so many that Jesus touched, but to maintain a healing or a deliverance we must maintain our connection with Christ. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we can walk in our healing and deliverance. In John 5, Jesus healed a man who had an infirmity for thirty eight years. Afterward, when He sees the man, He says: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
John the Baptist gives us an important truth regarding life with and in Christ, regarding walking in all that we have been given. In John 3:30, he says: He must increase, but I must decrease. There are two ways to exchange the contents of a vessel, removing what is bad and replacing it with what is good. One is to first empty the vessel completely then to refill it. We’ve already seen though what happens if the vessel is not filled. Instead, as John suggests, we can remove what is evil by displacing, rather than replacing it with what is good. If we fill something to the point of overflowing, continually pouring in what is good, there is no room left for what is evil. If Christ increases, to the point of overflowing, there is no room left for anything opposed to Him. 1 John 1:5 says: This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we are filled with the presence of God and the Spirit of God, with His light, there is no place for any darkness. We often think that to live as a Christian we must crucify the flesh, that we must die to self. Galatians 5:24 does indeed say: Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. But, what did Jesus say? In Matthew 16:24 He says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” We could never do enough on our own to rid ourselves of sin. Jesus did that for us as He was crucified. We need to follow Him, not dying on a cross, but rather walking in a renewed life, filled with His Spirit. He must increase so that there is nothing left of self. Galatians 5:24 is in the context of verses 16;25: I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh… If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Today’s text says: While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” … “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.” It is vital that we hear and obey the word of God. It is vital that we raise up and build up faith and love, that we are filled with light and not darkness. We cannot empty ourselves of evil, but rather need to be filled with good. Romans 12:9-21 says: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit increase in me. Fill me to overflowing. May I truly follow You. May I walk in the Spirit, filled with Your love and Your light. May Your goodness overcome all that is evil. May there be nothing left of me because I am Yours. You said You have overcome the world. Overcome me with Your goodness. Increase in me. Amen.