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Sermon #1142

I Must Decrease

A Sermon on John 3:30


John 3:30 ESV KJV
He must increase, but I must decrease.” (ESV)

Sermon Description

What does it mean for one to decrease and Christ to increase? In this sermon titled “I Must Decrease,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from John 3:30 to encourage his listeners to pursue decreasing self-focus. He gives a few determiners of whether a person is pursuing this “decreasing”. First, he asks if the person must sense their need before the Lord will give them what they need. Second, a Christian's habits will continue to be less self-consumed the more they pursue Christ. Third, a Christian pursues loving God and others before loving self. Dr. Lloyd-Jones compares the gifts to a fluttering stream and love to a strong, deep river coursing through the plain. One is more exciting indeed, but the other more powerful. He also encourages meditation and Bible reading each morning. Christians ought not only to read the Scriptures, but to meditate on what they mean. This entails seeking to know God’s character and holiness. He also prescribes increasing Christ and decreasing self by reading the biographies of saints of old. Not only will the reader be astounded by how much the saints accomplished, they will also be edified by the awareness of their sin and their dependence on Christ.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon text comes from John 3:30 - "He must increase, but I must decrease."
  2. This statement was made by John the Baptist about Jesus. John is correcting his followers who were jealous of Jesus' success.
  3. The statement reflects a key principle for spiritual growth - self must decrease for Christ to increase in our lives.
  4. The sermon has explored this principle over the past few weeks. The sermon asks - what does it mean to be a Christian? It means receiving grace upon grace from Jesus, having Christ in us.
  5. However, self is the greatest enemy to this. The Bible warns against self and calls us to decrease self.
  6. One sign self is decreasing is having a truer view of ourselves, being less self-centered, and less self-reliant.
  7. Another sign is living less based on feelings and more based on faith in Christ. We should value the fruit of the Spirit over spiritual gifts.
  8. We must make efforts to decrease self. Reading Scripture, while praying for understanding, helps decrease self by showing us God's holiness, our sin, and examples of other's failures.
  9. Reading about the lives of saints also helps decrease self by showing us our own smallness in comparison to what God has done through others.
  10. Meditating on the fleeting nature of life and eternity also helps decrease self by giving us a right perspective on our importance.
  11. Self-examination helps decrease self by showing us the depth of our sin and need for Christ.
  12. Remembering our old self was crucified with Christ helps decrease self by showing we have nothing to boast in ourselves.
  13. Having the mind of Christ - not looking to our own interests but others' - helps decrease self. Christ made himself nothing, so we should do the same.
  14. The sermon closes with a prayer that God would help us implement these principles to decrease self so Christ may increase in us.

The Book of John

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.