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John the Baptist

(Mark 1:4-11,14,15; Luke 7:18-23)

Lesson 6 -- first quarter 1997
January 5, 1997

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

"There hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist." What an accolade! I stand in awe of such a tribute because it was paid by the Perfect Man, by God Himself. What a stunning commendation. What is even more significant to me, though, is the rest of the verse: "notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Doesn't that just leave you breathless in its implications, promises and hopes?! To me this says that you and I can become "a greater than John the Baptist."

Sometimes I get so discouraged with myself. I seem like such a little Christian, so petty and immature, so consumed with myself and the things of this life, so weak and underdeveloped. I know I am a Christian, but some times I seem so "least." But, praise the Lord, this verse reminds me of what I can become through the work of Jesus! He has begun a good work, and He will perform it. How can I cooperate with Him? Well, John the Baptist proclaimed:

"Make straight the way of the Lord" (John 1:23). I want to learn to give God's ways and means free, unhindered course in my life. This is accomplished in part by acknowledging Him in all my ways. Another part is bringing all my thoughts captive to Him. And, on the "negative" side, I help the process along by not making provision for the flesh. Furthermore, by lifting, supporting and encouraging the weary stumbler, we build straight paths in our own life.

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Keep yourself and others focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the author (the beginning) and the finisher (the successful completer) of our faith. Don't ever forget in practice the fact that He came to do away with sin. When you are tempted, turn to the Lamb. When you are in danger of sinning, turn to the Lamb. When you have sinned, turn to the Lamb in full repentance, making no excuses for yourself.

"He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). This represents the most significant portion of my treasures which I present to Jesus as a gift. This means I will avoid doing or saying or thinking anything that will put me forward into the place that only the Lord must occupy. This statement declares my determination to seek first God, His kingdom and His righteousness. I will not pursue my agenda but will allow my life to be consumed in the passionate quest for His.

"O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matthew 3:7). I will not flinch from confronting hypocrisy, politicking and a lack of integrity--in my life first, then in the lives of others. These evils are corroding the church from within, weakening her to attacks, both subtle and blatant, from without. I will not fear man, but I will strive to keep that from diluting my love for the errant one.

"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). Have a heart tender and eager to turn from your own ways and those of the world. You will not enter the Lord's kingdom if you are too arrogant and stubborn and proud to acknowledge your failures. Humbly submit to the Lord's correction and cleansing; replace your sinful, selfish living with His holy righteousness. And you will discover that the kingdom of God is within you! Such are the fruits of repentance.

"It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6:18). Stick to God's Word. Base your whole life and doctrine on His law. Then you can fearlessly present the truth to whomever about whatever.

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