I Corinthians 15:31 – I die daily
John 3:30 – He must increase, but I must decrease.
Declarations of dependence on God are part of being an emerging disciple of Jesus Christ. We have embarked upon the lifetime journey of learning about God, and learning about ourselves at the same time. There are some things that God does in us through His spirit which are truly transformational. Notwithstanding, we have our hands full working on ourselves with tools like God’s word, service, and submission.
Paul plowed the field of personal repentance. Throughout his many epistles the theme was usually the gospel of Jesus and our proper response. For Jesus to live, we have to die. Through daily repentance we die to sin, rebellion, wrong motives, and methods. We keep our flesh under submission because our flesh always wrestles for control. This is a daily battle that finds its prefiguring in O.T. standoffs such as: Ishmael vs. Isaac, Esau vs. Jacob, and Jacob vs. Israel.
For life in the Spirit to produce lasting change in us we must face our real enemy head on. Our real enemy is the ugly guy looking back at you in the mirror. The lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, are major obstacles to overcome. Our goal in dying out in repentance is to abort any fleshly desire from becoming sin. We are also dying out to our will, our way, and our democratic wisdom. Believe me, in this war you are going to win some and lose some. Each individual attack must be measured against the war in total. As long as you eventually win the war, don’t let a setback in one battle discourage you or derail your determination to be an emerging disciple.
Let Paul’s declaration become your lifetime creed. Die daily. Allow the Spirit to have control in your daily walk.
John was another man that preached and practiced repentance. He added another dimension to our daily declaration which isn’t as prominent as its repentance cousin. He said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This declaration deals with the deadly virus known as the pride of life. Not only am I to be dead to flesh, I must disappear as well. Decreasing decreases self.
To decrease is to give Christ total preeminence. We are making it possible for Jesus to be seen and not ourselves. John believed this was a must. However, decreasing doesn’t get the press repentance does. It’s one thing to die. It’s another thing to decrease. You can be dead to sin and still promote self.
What decreasing meant for John:
1. His disciples became followers of Jesus.
2. He went from preaching to crowds to being alone.
3. He was put in prison and Jesus never visited him in person.
4. He had to fend off feelings of offense toward Jesus.
5. He didn’t take part in the ministry of Jesus he had personally spent his life getting people ready for.
6. He was beheaded for the cause of Christ.
Decreasing isn’t vogue or in style today. Self can still rule after your sin has been handled. Self is desire for position, prominence, personal accolade, etc. Decreasing causes us to not care about who God uses or who gets the credit. Decreasing throws us under the bus of kingdom progress. We may spend our lives building up for a ministry which somebody else gets. Jesus might choose to answer other prayers but not ours. You get the idea, decreasing is a must, but it’s not for the milquetoast.
Do you have an easier time dying or decreasing? How are you doing with both? What’s the hardest of the two for you?