Summary: Allowing Christ First Place in Your Life
How to Grow in Christ
I rarely preach one verse at a time which makes this a topical sermon. But if there were ever a topical sermon to preach I believe this one verse will help us to grow in Christ. Let me lay out what is going on in John the baptizers ministry beginning in verse 22. Jesus had just ministered to Nicodemus about the new birth, about being born again, about faith in Christ and the repentance of sin. After Jesus teachings to Nicodemus, Jesus and His disciples according to verse 22 came into the region where John was baptizing and Jesus disciples were baptizing also. Johns disciples began grumbling about this to him because instead of coming to John and his disciples for baptism the people were going to Jesus according to verse 26. Well John goes further to say, guys the One whose disciples are baptizing is the one I came to testify about, the One whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. So guys my ministry has been fulfilled and it is my joy to fulfill God’s will in my life and it is time and here’s the verse; it’s my time to step down so “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Now what I hope to accomplish this morning in this one verse through the Holy Spirit is how we can give God preeminence in our life, How to Grow in Christ. We will look at this verse in reverse order.
In order to grow in Christ we must use the personal pronoun “I”
I I must decrease. The word “must” means “necessary.” It is necessary to become a nobody in order for God to make you somebody for Him. It is God’s sovereign eternal plan that you become nothing that He might be the Son who shines through your life into the world. But in order for this to happen we first
A. Must be humble before Him. That is what John is doing; He is humbling Himself before the Father in Heaven so Jesus might have preeminence. The first act of giving Jesus first place in our lives is that we humble ourselves before Him. (James 4:10) says humble yourselves in the sight of God, and He shall lift you up.” Why are so many Christians living the life of misery and sin? Because they aren’t putting God first, they aren’t setting themselves aside and allowing God to be God in their lives. You must become absolutely nothing before God can fully bless you. (2 Chronicles 7:14) says “If My people who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I forgive their sins…
Humility puts God first and seeks Him as the God who is over all and above all. Humbling ourselves before God flows down
B. So we may be humble before one another. Did you notice that I didn’t say we should desire others to humble themselves before us? When we humble ourselves before God it will result in humility before one another. In the thinking process of man we want others to cater to our needs. We want others to respect us in a manner we don’t return respect them. We want to be served and not serve. Jesus told His disciples in (Matthew 20:27) “And whoever desires to be first among you, let Him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve… (3 John 1:9) John says “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have preeminence among them, does not receive us.” The word “preeminence” means to “be fond of being first” and trampling over the headship of Christ. That’s what were doing when we want to be served instead of serving each other. We are refusing to humble ourselves before God and one another so we might get the honor. If we want to grow in Christ we must humble ourselves before Him first which will flow down toward each other. In order to decrease
C. We must not retaliate against everyone who comes against us. This comes from humbling ourselves. It amazes me to see the attitude of people who call themselves Christians who are constantly offended at everyone who rubs them wrong. For those of us who think we have to respond to everyone who has unkind things to say about us stop. It does not glorify God, His church and it surly makes you look like a phony Christian. (1 Peter 3:8, 9) says “be tenderhearted, be courteous, verse 9, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling… The KJV uses the word “railing” and both mean “insult for insult.” In other words it is people who throw insults at us and we feel as though we have to defend ourselves with by returning an insult. So how do you respond to those who insult you? Well the rest of that verse tells us; Peter says “on the contrary, bless them.” How do you bless them? Pray for them, pray for God to work His grace in their lives; they may need to be saved so pray for them because you dishonor God when you insult and bicker with others. When we pray for those who come against don't pray for them negatively. God will not work through your prayers when we pray against them. (Matthew 5:44) "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you;" That's when God will work in your prayer, not only for your good but theirs as well.