John the Baptist desired that God must increase, but he must decrease. How far do our desires comply with John the Baptist? Even if we want to reduce ourselves, the humiliation attached to it does not allow us to accept our decline. We thereby resist our willingness to decrease ourselves and fight against our decline. Likewise, we do not stick to our commitment in other areas too. Why do we not stand by our decisions? Because we like the scriptures that do not make us realize our mistakes but dislike those that awaken our consciousness to identify our guilt.
As we desire sins and preserve them for our future, we do not admit our sins. Sin gets hold of us and does evil using our strength and knowledge. We are using our freedom to accomplish the works of the Devil. Despite the outcome of sin being visible to others, we do not admit the truth. Instead, we request God not to expose our sins.
We also do not admit our sins, fearing punishment and forgetting that Jesus had taken our punishment on Him, and for this reason, His Father forgave us. Not admitting our mistakes is a sign of backsliding, as we reject the truth that God pardoned our sins two thousand years ago.
Backsliding starts within us in untraceable ways and soon dominates and persuades us to forego the salvation that is freely given to us. In other words, admitting our mistakes is the first step to the truth as we genuinely acknowledge what we did. God asks us to let Him know our weaknesses allowing Him to fill those areas with His strength.
If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.1 John 1:10 (NIV)
We are habitual in justifying our unjust deeds by fabricating stories upon stories. What makes us resist the truth? Despite scripture teaching us to resist the devil, we resist God and His truth. We are accustomed to denying God and do not even realize that we are denying Him. We have our ideologies to satisfy ourselves, and by implementing our ideologies in our lives, we think we are serving God. The people who do not know Jesus are also doing the same. Then, what difference do we have in our lives that will impact the lives of the unreached?
“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.John 16:1-2 (NIV)
A Stumbling Block
We often worry about anti-christian elements, not knowing that it helps us a lot by increasing our faith in Jesus, not only in the life of a person who follows Jesus but also in the lives of people who witness a believer’s firm faith despite challenges and persecution. People who work against the people of God are few, but people who observe the reactions of the believers are plenty.
We influence our society as people silently observe how we accept our mistakes without fearing the consequences. When we do so, others will be anxious to see our Jesus, who gives us strength. Jesus asked Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him, and he left everything and followed Jesus. Zacchaeus, his colleague, observed the change in the life of his ex-colleague Levi and could not help himself from seeing this Jesus.
After encountering Jesus, he did not preserve his illegal earnings but gave them to the poor. It is not that his deed gave him salvation, but the salvation he received pushed him to do good deeds. If Levi would not live a life worthy of his calling, Zacchaeus could not have found any difference in Levi’s life and would have thought Jesus was similar to other early leaders professing about their gods and goddesses.
The reaction of a new believer had an impact on the onlookers, who accused Jesus of not knowing the transformation that happened in the life of Zacchaeus. Our transformed life is not changing anyone, but it will draw them near to Jesus, who can change them. Admitting our past mistakes will help others to see our new way of life. Paul did not justify his past life but exposed it to make the people understand how God saves even the worst among us.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners —of whom I am the worst.1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV)
I Must Decrease
John the Baptist reminds us to humble ourselves. God does not want humbleness as an outward gesture but wants us to humble our hearts to confess our mistakes willingly. Acknowledging our mistakes might give the upper hand to others, or forgiving other mistakes might project us as a coward. But Humbling ourselves is not sitting with the destitute and having lunch with them on some specific occasions. Sacrificilingly giving up some comfort to save money for charity is not the way to decrease ourselves.
We observe ceremonial washing of feet but would not tolerate the sound of others’ footsteps approaching our doorsteps during our leisure hours. Leisure bothers children of God. More than relaxing, the Holy Spirit in them gives them joy while they do something or the other for the glory of God. Welcoming others and answering their calls at all times is a gesture of humbleness. If we are the children of God, people seek us because of the God who is in us and not because of our outward appearance. Exercising these kinds of humbleness in our lives would help us to find happiness through genuine repentance.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.Psalms 32:5 (NIV)
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
When God cleanses us with the blood of Jesus, we will be decreased to face false accusations by our fellow believers. The false blame might corrupt our social standings, but God will justify our deeds and helps us to stand on His word. Our Heavenly Father calls us to come to Him just as we are to make us just like His elder Son.
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.Romans 8:30 (NIV)
He Must Increase
“I must decrease, and He must increase” (John 3:33 NIV), superficially tells us that we should make room for the creator to establish His territory. Job declared that “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted (Job 42:2 NIV). We did not contribute anything while God created the world. Then what does it mean to decrease? We should be careful not to raise ourselves above God.
God is not increasing when we decrease, as He is always magnificent. Humbling ourselves in the presence of God leads us to understand how great He is. In other words, His Holy presence reveals our actual state, and we would be able to identify our state of affairs and His greatness through them. Isaiah realized that his lips were unclean only when he was in the presence of God.
Often, we look for ways to cleanse ourselves before going to His Holy presence. Firstly, we should understand that we cannot cleanse ourselves; secondly, without His presence, we cannot identify our guilt, and in that case, what are we getting rid of? When John the Baptist called people to repent, he called them to the presence of God. His presence helps us identify our sins and leads us to repent and receive His forgiveness.
When we receive His forgiveness, His love pours into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and God increases in us so that we will not be ashamed to serve Him with all our hearts. When the character of Jesus increases in us, God increases.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
Our repentance is a power-packed message of the Gospel that impacts the lives of others. The following command of Jesus invites us to His presence to identify our mistakes and repent to instigate people to glorify His Father. We might be devising so many schemes to spread the Good News, but genuine repentance paves the way to the speedy spread of the love of God to the ends of the earth. In His commands, good deeds start with true repentance.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.Matthew 5:16 (NIV)