Lessons in Humility from John the Baptist

 

I invite you to consider Jesus, humility—and the greatest man who ever lived up until Christ.  

The supreme lesson of John the Baptist's life is humility. And there can be no more vital message that we all need to hear than that God HATES pride. God uses John because he was willing to obey the Lord and by the power of the Holy Spirit in his life cultivate humility. 

PRIDE IS AN EPIDEMIC  

James Bjoanstad writes:   

At one time, most Christians believed that to have a close relationship with God, a person should magnify God, deny himself and the pleasures of this world, repent and confess his sins, and live a holy and separated life.  Their heroes were missionaries who gave up everything to serve God and martyrs who suffered because of their faith.   

Today, it"s becoming a different story.  Many Christians believe that to have a close relationship with God, a person should realize the importance of himself as God intended, pursue his dreams and aspirations, and become affluent and successful.  Their heroes are those celebrities and self-made individuals who happened to be Christians.  

Behind this new gospel stands a variety of distinguished teachers, preachers, and evangelists proclaiming a variety of ways to attain prosperity and success.  But examining their theological models and points of emphasis reveals one common element--they are simply not biblical. [1] 

Why not do a spelling lesson with me?  

Let’s notice together that I is right in the middle of some very big things in life.

First spell "sin” with me: s-I-n.

Now spell “pride” with me: pr-I-de.

Now how about “anxiety”: anx-I-ety.

Here is the best one, spell Satan’s original name with me, it was “Lucifer”, spell that with me: luc-I-fer.  

So that I is in the middle of all my sins, all my pride, all my anxieties, and all the time doing the will of the Devil! 

No matter what else you do in your life, if humility is not yours then God will resist everything else you and I do. God is moment-by-moment in a personal warfare against pride in the life of believers. It is the sin He hates most, sees first, and wants us to likewise hate. 

No saint more fully or greatly pointed to God then when a simple man dressed like a peasant, after a lifetime of discipline and self denial thundered from the wilderness, "Its time to look at Jesus!" 

By using John, God Demonstrates the essence of true humility in John the Baptist--because the key to God’s blessing is humility 

He has been prepared by God as a man alone, a man apart, a great man, greater than had not been born from among women Jesus said. Why? What had refined and shaped this man to such a point as that? Listen to the testimony of John and we will hear his secret.  

He Must Increase 

Please turn with me to John 1 and trace again those events God's Word records that reveal John’s character as he sought to serve the Lord as His humble servant. 

The key to being constantly showered with grace is humility. Christ must increase and I must decrease. That is the essence of humility. 

Humility produces spiritual blessing. Just as every sin starts in pride, every virtue begins in humility. Humility allows us to see ourselves as we are, because it shows us before God as He is.  

The life of John the Baptist gives seven principles we may apply in determining humility.[2] 

First, John the Baptist was humble because he used his life as a ministry to others.  

John 1:22-27 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”23 He said: “I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” 24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 “It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.”  

God saw true SERVANTHOOD in John the Baptist       

 

God is looking for servants. II Chronicles 16:9 says that tonight God's eyes are running up and down the world looking for those whose whole heart seeks Him. They will be willing to be voices. God needs voices and John the Baptist was willing to be one for God.  

Note how Mark 1:2-3 quotes from both Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 in those opening verses. The words messenger and voice refer to John the Baptist, the prophet God sent to prepare the way for His Son (Matt. 3; Luke 3:1-18; John 1:19–34).  

In ancient times, before a king visited any part of his realm, a messenger was sent before him to prepare the way. This included both repairing the roads and preparing the people. By calling the nation to repentance, John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah and Malachi join voices in declaring that Jesus Christ is the Lord, Jehovah God.  

Second, John the Baptist was humble because he closed his mouth to complaining.  

John 3:22-27a After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison. 25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” 27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven

Without realizing it, John’s disciples were putting him into a situation of competing against the Lord Jesus! “All men come to Him!” (John 3:26) sounds like a wail of despair.

It is interesting to note that four of the greatest men in the Bible faced this problem of comparison and competition:

How did John the Baptist handle this controversy? He didn’t complain. He wasn’t proud so he didn’t grasp on to ministry. He knew that he was just a voice and what ever God wanted to do with that voice was great with him. But as we see below, this controversy revealed a deeper level of humility in John’s life. 

Third, John the Baptist was humble because he opened his will to God's.  

John 3:27b John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 

John saw that his duty in life was to obey God.  

This sermon will conclude tomorrow October 27th as we finish looking at Lessons in humility from John the Baptist.

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit  discoverthebook.org.