Lesson 3 – Only Jesus Sanctifies
“He must increase, but I must decrease”
“In life you’re either moving forward or backwards, towards something or away from it, growing stronger or becoming weaker.”
– Michael Irwin
John chapter three might be the most famous passage in the not only the New Testament but the entire Bible. It begins with a conversation Jesus has in the middle of the night with a very educated and wealthy ruler named Nicodemus.
The second part closes with a conversation between John the Baptist and some of his disciples as he lays to rest their fears that Jesus is overtaking his ministry and encourages them to follow Jesus, not himself.
This chapter of John opens the Christians eyes to the meaning of the word “sanctification”. Sanctification means “to set a person or a thing apart for the use intended by its designer.” In a spiritual sense things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends; or practically a human being is sanctified when he or she lives according to God’s design or purpose.
You and I are either living or dying, we’re either believing or we’re perishing, we’re increasing or we’re decreasing. There is no standing still.
It All Begins at Birth (John 3:1-21)
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”
John 3 opens up revealing the beautiful picture of salvation is the first step of sanctification.
Nicodemus, a religious ruler of the day, most likely sent to Jesus by the Sanhedrin (religious government body) to enquire about his recent “cleansing” of the temple and to learn more about his ministry.
- Vs 1-7 – Nicodemus must be made aware of who he is; a member of the race of fallen man and with it comes the curse of sin, death, and hell. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22)
- Vs 9-15 – Nicodemus asks the most pivotal question ever human being must ask “How can this be?” Jesus never leaves us without an answer, he responds in a way Nicodemus can understand from the Numbers 21:9 (vs 14,15) The whole world is dying from a terrible curse, the only cure for the curse of sin will be Jesus Christ perfect sacrifice on the cross for the whole world.
- Vs 16 – 22 – The verse that is the climax of the Bible, everything before it has led up to and foretold of it, and everything following will be an outcome of its eternal promise. It promises the believer
- We are loved by God the Father (vs.16)
- We are saved by God the Son (vs. 16)
- We have access to His gift of salvation (vs. 17)
- We are not nor ever will be condemned because “God so loved, He gave” (vs.18)
- We can now live out the truth and walk in the light of God (vs. 21)
It promises the unbeliever
- They will perish (destruction) (vs.15,16)
- They are condemned (under judgement) (vs. 17,18)
- They walk in the darkness of their evil deeds (vs 19,20)
Nicodemus had a choice to make, and that choice was repentance. Nicodemus along with the rest of the Pharisees would have seen no use for John’s baptism of repentance. Jesus tells Nicodemus not only does he and the whole world need to repent, they must also be “born of the Spirit.” The only way that would be possible would be through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
The first step to being set apart for God’s use is to agree with God that you are broken and not fit for His use. Now you can begin to take the next step and allow God to make you a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17)
Confessing your sin and receiving Christ as Savior is the “baby step” of the Christian life.
Grow Up (John 3:22-36)
“I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him.”
John reminded his followers of something very important, he was not the Christ. Each of us needs to remind ourselves every day that we are no longer the Lord of our lives (and praise God for it).
John’s disciples were upset that Jesus was also baptizing and that men were coming to him rather than John (vs. 26)
John the Baptist response shows great maturity and spiritual growth. Are these evident in your Christian life?
- 27 – Realize you have nothing of merit to offer, and every good gift, talent, comes from heaven.
- 28 – Rejoice every time God’s name is glorified whether we receive credit or not. No one is offended at a wedding that the bride and bridegroom receive all the attention and they do not, instead they rejoice with them.
- 29 – Decrease in your self-importance. A dead man cannot be offended (Gal 2:20) Crucify your pride, ambition, ego, hurt feelings, bitterness, malice, at the cross of Jesus. Let him be lifted up in your life. This is where the true meaning of (John 1:16) begins to take place. The fullness of Christ can only be known as you put your selfishness to death. His grace can only be experienced as you put away your worldly ambitions.
- 30 – 34 – Speak words of life, that God is true. Tell others of the testimony you have received. Do you speak words of life in your home? In your relationships? In your workplace? In the church? “For whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.” (Vs.34)
- 35 – Love Jesus. Do you love Jesus? Do you desire to be with him by singing praise, reading and studying his word, or speaking to him in prayer?
- 36 – Believe the Son. Belief begins at salvation, but it does not end there. Do you believe on the Son today to give you what you need to be victorious in the Christian life? Do you believe that he is able to bring you victory tomorrow? Will you live out your life in the belief that one day you will experience the fullness of the promise “everlasting life” and “dwell in the house of the Lord forever”?
You can never make yourself better. Only Jesus can do that. Repent. Obey. Repeat.
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”