He Must Increase!
James L. Reynolds
(John 3:25-30)  "Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. {26} And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. {27} John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. {28} Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. {29} He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. {30} He must increase, but I must decrease."
(Philippians 3:1-4)  "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. {2} Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. {3} For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. {4} Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:"
    We would ask you to take notice of two verses of Scripture from the portion of God's inspired Word which we just read.
(John 3:30)  "He must increase, but I must decrease."

(Philippians 3:3)  "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

    As we read in John 3:25-30, John the Baptist declared that in the world, the Lord Jesus Christ must increase and he (John) must decrease. John's ministry was temporary and relatively short in duration, and when it was finished he was to be removed from the scene. However , the Lord Jesus Christ, because He lives forever, has a permanent, an enduring and an ever increasing ministry.
    In Philippians 3:3 the apostle Paul declares that those who worship God in spirit, (and that is the only manner of worship which is acceptable to Him,) will “rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”.
    This morning I would like to submit a premise unto you for your careful and prayerful consideration.    And as we look into the inspired Word of God I trust that the blessed Holy Spirit will direct our minds and hearts into self reflection so that we may discern how that premise relates unto us.
    The premise which I wish to submit unto you is this, “The Lord Jesus Christ increases in the life of the believer inversely proportional to the measure of confidence that believer has in their flesh.” In other words the more that the Lord Jesus Christ increases in the life of a believer the less confidence that believer will have in their flesh. Or the more confidence that a believer has in their flesh the less the Lord Jesus Christ will increase in their life.
    There are two groups of people that we wish to take notice of this morning as we pursue our premise. At a informal glance by the casual observer these two groups may appear to be quite similar but in reality there is a great and vital distinction between those two groups.
    And that distinction is based solely upon the validity of the premise previously set before you. That is how much Christ has increased in their lives.
    1.) The first group of people which we wish to take note of is those who profess that they are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and are trusting in Him for their redemption and eternal rest. But in reality these people have an unwarranted measure of confidence is in their flesh relative to their eternal standing before a thrice holy God.
    2.) The second group of people which we wish to take note of is those who profess that they are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and are trusting in Him for their redemption and eternal rest. These people have NO confidence in the flesh relative to their eternal standing before a thrice holy God.
    3.) We also would, if time permits, like to note a subset of our second group, those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ wholly for salvation, yet who in some measure of their lives have confidence in their flesh. The Lord Jesus Christ has not increased in their lives as He should have.
    Let us begin our examination of the premise set before you by looking at a portion of the inspired narrative which gives us a very vivid and picturesque example of one having confidence in his flesh and of one having no confidence in his flesh.
    In I Samuel 17 we have the account of David and Goliath presented to us.
    Of Goliath it is recorded that he “was six cubits and a span”.
    Of David it is recorded that he “was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.
    Of Goliath's armament it is recorded that “the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron”.
    Of David's armament it is recorded that he had “a sling and with a stone”.
    Goliath was fully confident in his flesh, that in his strength alone he would prevail against anyone whom the Israelites would send out against him.
(1 Samuel 17:8-10)  "And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. {9} If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. {10} And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together."
    David was fully confident that the LORD would prevail through him and that by God's power the giant would be slain.
(I Samuel 17:37) "... The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine."
    Goliath told David what he intended to do unto him and how he would prevail against him. Goliath's confidence was totally in his flesh, in his own strength.
    Then David told Goliath what God was going to do unto him. There was no speculation on David's part for he was certain that the omnipotent sovereign of the universe would prevail.
    David had no confidence in his flesh but he had total confidence in the power of the holy God who had redeemed him and Whom he served with joy and thanksgiving.
(1 Samuel 17:44-46)  "And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. {45} Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. {46} This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel."
    The outcome of this clash between one trusting in his own flesh and one trusting in the power of the Lord is summed up in I Samuel 17:50.
(1 Samuel 17:50)  "So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him;"
    In this divinely recorded narrative Goliath is a type of the lost person, (who may or may not be a professing believer) whose confidence is in their own flesh.
    David is a type of the true believer whose confidence is only and totally in the power of the Lord.
    There are many other examples of the two groups of people we are considering given us in God's inspired Word but for brevity's sake we will briefly not but one more.
(Luke 18:10-13)  "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. {11} The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. {12} I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. {13} And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner."
    This Pharisee is a type of the lost person, (one who professes to believe in God) but in reality one whose confidence is in their own flesh.
    The publican is a type of the true believer who has no confidence in their flesh but whose only confidence and hope is in the power, grace and mercy of our holy God.
    With the preceding examples set before us let us move on to a brief examination of the first group of people which we wish to consider this morning.
    1.) That first group of people are those who profess that they are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and are trusting in Him for their redemption and eternal rest. But in reality these people have an unwarranted measure of confidence in their flesh relative to their eternal standing before a thrice holy God.
    Sadly, I fear that a great portion of the professing Christian world are to be included in this group of people. As we said at the outset of this message it is often difficult for the casual observer to see a distinction between those in this group and those who are real believers and who have NO confidence in the flesh.
    I recently attended the funeral of one of my neighbors. I had never before met the young man who had been asked by the family to preach the memorial service.  After a brief eulogy of the deceased this young man spoke of the fact that God's Word is the only real and lasting comfort for those suffering bereavement. He also read and quoted several Scriptures as he exhorted those in attendance to lay hold of the fact that death awaits us all and of the vital need for each of us to be prepared to face a holy and righteous God. He went on to say, rightly I believe, that if the deceased was permitted to once again speak he would urge all in attendance to listen to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in His holy Word.
    Listening to this young man's comments I was reminded of the apostle Paul's words as he stood before Felix as recorded in Acts 24:25 and “as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come ...”.
    I was very appreciative of the things he had said and it appeared, for a time, that he was one who worshipped God in the spirit, and rejoiced in Christ Jesus, and had no confidence in the flesh. Then the young man proceeded to urge the people to be ‘baptized for the remission of sins’. He then quoted a portion of (Mark 16:16)  "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" yet he left out the end of that verse which says "but he that believeth not shall be damned."
    In closing the young man urged those in attendance to ‘obey the gospel’.
    I found myself in a frame of mind as was Paul in Philippians 1:18 where he rejoiced that Christ was preached even though those who preach it are not always sincere in doing so.
(Philippians 1:18)  "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
    From what this young man had said it was very evident that he was confident in his flesh to favorably commend himself unto God. He was trusting in something that he had done (his being immersed) more than he was trusting in the finished work of the blessed Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus. Christ, as yet, had never increased in his life to the point that his confidence was only in the precious blood of God's only begotten Son.
    This young man is typical of a multitude of professing people who have a false and soul damning confidence in the flesh. The apostle Paul spoke of just such as these in  Romans 10:3.
(Romans 10:3)  "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
    There are many varieties of these false professors but one thing which they all have in common is their denial of their own innate depravity and God's absolute holiness. It matters little what their variant of the ‘works for salvation’ scheme is because the end result is always the same. They exalt their own supposed ability and in so doing they belittle the sovereign grace of God.
    God needs no assistance in saving His people or in keeping them saved. Salvation in its entirety is the sole and exclusive work of the blessed Holy Trinity. God alone, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, bleed and died for His people.
(Hebrews 1:3)  "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
    Of the saint's faith through which salvation is realized we are told that it given to us and that the one who gave or authored it will finish it.
(Ephesians 2:8)  "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"

(Hebrews 12:2)  "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

(Philippians 1:6)  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"

    God, who dispenses salvation as it pleases Him does so in strict adherence to His Word. As the people of this world strive to be politically correct they do so many times in direct opposition to God's inspired Word. The ‘religious world’ has many ways to approach God. These people are on a broad way which leads to the flames of hell!
    While the ‘so called Christian world’ proclaims there is but one way to God sadly that way which they proclaim is a false way. Their ‘free will’ works for salvation schemes may inflate their egos and appease their religious nature but they are a soul damning abomination unto our thrice holy God.
    To the religious worldling who feels secure in following one of their ‘many ways’ to God's acceptable presence and to the professing Christian who feels secure in their decision, their accepting Christ (which phrase I detest), their baptism or ANY other effort on their part we point to the words of the sinless Son of God we offer the following portions of God's inspired Word for their consideration.
(John 14:6)  "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
    In declaring He was ‘the way’ the Lord Jesus Christ excluded ALL other ways as being acceptable and branded them as false ways.
(Acts 4:12)  "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
    All of the multiplied millions, without a single exception, who have any confidence in the flesh as regards to obtaining or maintaining salvation have not experienced what John the Baptist and all truly saved people have experienced, that being the Lord Jesus Christ increasing in their lives while they themselves decrease.
    Let us move on now to the second group of people which we wish to take note of this morning.
    2.) This group of people are those who profess that they are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and are trusting in Him for their redemption and eternal rest. These people have NO confidence in the flesh relative to their eternal standing before a thrice holy God.
    Without exception every person who has ever been genuinely  saved or who shall ever be genuinely saved is a member of this division of humankind.
    Thankfully there are many who by God's unmerited grace fall into this category.
    By God's unfathomable grace a multitude which no man can number were given to the Lord Jesus Christ in the eternal covenant of election and all of those were in time redeemed by His vicarious or substitutionary atonement and they have been or will be quickened, and made alive by the blessed Holy Spirit. These are caused to ‘walk in newness of life’ and ‘serve in newness of spirit’.
    They have, by divine enablement, kept the appointment made for them before the foundation of the world with the Divine cardiologist. Their old heart of stone has been replaced with a new heart of flesh which now has the capacity to love and adore a holy God.
(Ezekiel 36:26)  "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."
    As there are numerous examples in God's inspired Word of religious false professors who have confidence in their flesh so there are also many examples of those who have experienced an unending increase of Christ in their lives as they themselves proportionally decrease.
    Listen to the haughty Pharisee Saul who became the beloved apostle Paul after he met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus cry out "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
    Listen to the publican who was given a glimpse of his own depravity and sin and a glimpse of the thrice holy God plead with a reverently bowed head, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.
    Listen to the multitudes convicted of their sins against a Holy God by the instrumentality of Peter's preaching cry out for direction and relief from their guilt of worthy condemnation, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
    Listen to Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened as she seeks to serve the Lord who redeemed her by ministering unto His saints, "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there."
    Listen to the Philippian jailer, awakened from his sleep by a great earthquake and from his spiritual death by the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by Paul and Silas cry out for salvation from his merited punishment and doom, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And listen to the clear and simple answer to that eternally vital inquiry.
(Acts 16:31)  "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
    As Paul said in Hebrews 11:32for the time would fail me to tell of’ the many examples of those who had no confidence in their flesh which are recorded for our learning and example in God's Word.
    Let us now as we draw to a close look again at (Philippians 3:3) and note three things.
(Philippians 3:3)  "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
    a.) Those in whose lives Christ has increased and is increasing ‘worship God in spirit’. That is the divinely prescribed way and therefore the only way. Worship in the flesh is unacceptable and abomination unto God.
(John 4:24)  "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
    The Lord Jesus Christ, speaking of the Father's inspired Word said, ‘... thy word is truth.”, therefore to worship God in truth is to worship Him according to the manner prescribed and commanded in His inspired Word.
    God is not properly and therefore acceptably worshipped according to the traditions and concepts of mankind.
    God is not worshipped as if he needs anything from the creature.
(Acts 17:25)  "Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;"
    b.) Those in whose lives Christ has increased and is increasing ‘rejoice in Christ Jesus’ These redeemed saints rejoice in the perfection of our dear Lord. They rejoice in His eternal love for unworthy and unlovable creatures. They rejoice in His gracious condescension as He left the riches of glory and became poor that they might be made rich. They rejoice in His perfect obedience to and fulfillment of the law for them.
    They rejoice in His atonement for them and in His death in their place. They rejoice in His resurrection for their justification. They rejoice in His constant intercession for them because He ever lives. In these and many, many more things declared in God's holy Word they rejoice in Christ. But they NEVER, I repeat, they NEVER rejoice in or have confidence in their flesh. Christ increases daily and they ‘die daily’ to their old flesh.
    c.) Directly proportional to the measure which we worship God in spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus will be the measure Christ increases in our lives. And as He increases our confidence in the flesh will decrease.
    d.) In closing we have a few thoughts on those who have truly trusted Christ for their eternal salvation but in some areas of their lives yet have confidence in their flesh for ‘day to day’ matters. We are to trust our omnipotent Lord in every situation and with every care.
(1 Peter 5:7)  "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
    Seeing as we have trusted only and totally in the Lord for our salvation shall we not also trust in Him for all other matters as well.
(Romans 8:32)  "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
    “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of,”, and “God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”. Therefore it behooves us to seek the Lord's direction and trust in His leading and provision for every circumstance in our lives.
    It is my hope and prayer that all who have heard these words will no confidence in their flesh, even in the most infinitesimal matter, concerning their being acceptable in the Lord's sight and also in all other matters of their lives.
    That we all, like Jonah of old, may, with full divine assurance, cry out, ‘Salvation is of the LORD.’

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