30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 "He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.
These are the words of John the Baptist, and they echo the truth of Christian living to every believer. He who is of the earth speaks of earthly things. This is you and I as well as every other person in this life. Jesus made the statement, “The flesh profits you nothing. It’s the Spirit that gives life.”
Before coming to Christ, the earthly nature is all we had. Once we are born into the Spirit, we have a new nature created by God through the Spirit. This is the point where the Bible says, “Now all things are of God.” By all things, the scriptures are referring to the new focus of our lives. All things were once of the flesh, but now all things are focused on the Spirit and our life is God-focused. Or as Romans 8:28 puts it, “All things work together for the good of those who love God…”
Though our new life is of God, we still are wrapped in a body of flesh. The flesh still attempts to influence the way we think and act. The Bible describes the renewing and transforming work of the Spirit who guides us into all truth, but that work is not instantaneous. Just look at any new believer – or reflect back on your life. In fact, look at the attitudes you still struggle with. Even though we have new life, we still begin the journey living a self-focused lifestyle. A new Christian still lives for himself / herself. It’s called spiritual immaturity. Nearly every epistle in the New Testament addresses the selfishness that hinders the church. This is the cause of wars, bickering, and hypocrisy in the church.
Our selfishness blinds us from everything but our own perspective. This is why we think nothing of putting ourselves above others, but then we are outraged when we feel left out. The ‘I’ that sits on the throne of our lives must decrease, and Christ must increase. The Lord will not play musical chairs with the throne of our lives. Instead, He calls us to decrease as we put our trust in Him. I can deny myself because I believe His promises. I can stay the course in the midst of difficulties because I believe the promise that all things work together for good. Until I believe and walk by faith, decreasing isn’t possible.
When self remains the focus, we won’t be willing to allow God to lead us into situations where we don’t see pleasure, benefits, or comfort. Yet when I decrease and make Him Lord, then I also recognize the right of the Lord to lead me as He sees fit – even if it costs me. I decrease, but He increases. I will never see the full power of God unless I place my life into His trust. And this can’t happen until I lay my life down as a living sacrifice. Look at Romans 12:1-2
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
This is where the Christian journey truly begins. Christ purchased your redemption at the cost of His life. Not only that, but He willingly stepped off His throne, became a bondservant, and endured the wrath for every sin. Those who have allowed Jesus to purchase their redemption have a reasonable cost of giving themselves as a living sacrifice. The Holy life is reasonable, but it is also the life of walking with God toward the promises set before us.
We decrease by laying our lives down as a sacrifice in this life, believing that all things work for our good, and that the promise of our inheritance is true. Part of living as a sacrifice is to not become conformed to this world. The Spirit renews through the word and empowers us to live as a daily sacrifice.
It is not a one-time event. The Apostle Paul said, “I die daily.” Each day we must purposefully lay our lives down and put on the new man – the life created for the Spirit and in the Spirit. As you decrease by yielding yourself to His will, you will also experience the promise of 2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
The Christian journey is to walk faithfully with the Lord and experience the greatness of His power in your life. This is how we learn to overcome and experience the promise of joy. Each morning make a conscious decision to decrease and let go of your will so Christ is increased in your life. Then you will see the Lord show Himself strong in your life. There is no greater journey or more joyful way.