You yourselves bear me witness that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:28-30)
The Decreasing Christian
John the Baptist was born for a special work in the ministry of Jesus. Like Elijah, he would seek to bring the people to the coming of the kingdom and the promised Christ. His work would prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. John would seek to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and cause those who are rebellious to accept the will of God. The work of John preceded the ministry of Jesus. Multitudes came to John to hear his preaching and to be baptized. Jesus and John never worked together, but their missions were similar, with one exception: John knew his work was limited and the work of Jesus was unlimited.
John began his ministry when he was thirty years of age and died within a few years at the hand of Herod, the king. Some thought John was the promised Christ, and he repeatedly reminded them he was not the Christ, but he had been sent before the Lord as one who prepared the way. It was never the intention of John to supplant the work of Jesus. John knew his work was on a short leash, and his work would prepare the way for the greater effort of Jesus. Like the friend of the bridegroom, John was not the focus of the world, but the eternal bridegroom, Jesus, should receive the glory and honor of the Father. John knew the work of Jesus must increase, and the work of John must decrease. The more Jesus was in the world; the less John was center stage. He literally faded from sight, so the glory of God’s Son shone in a dark world.
There is a spiritual reality when a man becomes a Christian. The glory of man is his identity, character, and personality. That spiritual reality is the longer one serves the Lord Jesus Christ, the less he becomes himself and the more he becomes the image of the Son of God. The statement of John the Baptist that he must decrease while Jesus is magnified is the pure essence of a Christian’s life. Everything about the life of a child of God becomes more the imitation of Jesus in identity, character, and personality. The Christian knows his life is short and that all that identifies him must decrease while the personification of the Son of God increases. This comes about by faith and knowledge of the word of God. The deeper a man penetrates his soul into the character of Jesus, the more he becomes like the Son of God.
The purpose of life must always be to decrease the man and increase the Christ. Life is not about the identification of this life. Changing into the image of Jesus is the metamorphosis of the soul from the carnal to the eternal. As a light that penetrates the darkness of a sinful world, the Christian life shows the glory of God to those around him. That is accomplished when the man becomes like the Baptist – a transformed life. John the Baptist glorified God by decreasing so the glory of Jesus Christ would increase. In the life of the Christian, his purpose is to glorify God to the dimming of self so that Christ may be exalted in all things. Then, and only then, can the man of God know the depth of God’s love in saving him from wrath. Decrease me – increase Jesus.