Sunday, 6 August 2017

New Wineskins


Scripture: Mark 2 v 21-22: "No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. 
 22  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles."

These are the words of Jesus - He was comparing the Old Covenant under the Law of Moses with the new covenant which would start with His death and resurrection.  He was giving a future and long term view.  

He likened the Law to "old cloth" and "old bottles" into which a piece of new cloth or new wine would not fit or be right.  The old wineskin is stiff and rigid and the bubbly, freshly fermented wine needs a soft supple container. 

Jesus is the new wine as He referred to Himself at the Last Supper - this is the new wine in My Blood drink all of it.  The new wine are those who are born again believers, dead to Moses' Law, dead to sin, but alive in Christ bubbling with joyful new wine.  

The Law will always be with us but if we are filled with the Holy Spirit as in Galatians 5 v 22 - 24: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."

We have forgiven everyone that has hurt us in any way.  Jesus says that unless you forgive from the heart those who have sinned against you, neither will the Father forgive your sins.  This is a huge stumbling block to many Christians who have never forgiven their enemies.  

It is a requirement for salvation.  If you are struggling with issues and not getting answers to prayers, audit your heart for those you still blame for some wrong.  Refusing to forgive relegated you back to the rigid, hard wineskin of the Law, filled with tradition, religion, works, guilt and punishment.  This is a choice we all have to make.  If you want God's forgiveness you must do likewise.

If we try to justify our stance, the old wineskin would burst open and the new wine be lost. So it is with the gospel of truth and our souls. The Old Testament Law was strict and rigid, but the New Testament Grace flows spontaneously. So God is saying that a person who is born again, baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit would be a pliable flexible wineskin able to contain the new wine without bursting open.

In the past couple of decades there has been a huge movement of Christians returning to the Jewish Law, keeping Sabbath, keeping all the feasts and trying to squeeze this into Christianity.  Paul said in Galatians 2 v 16: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

He went on to say, Who has bewitched you to return to the old ways and deny your salvation?  I have pleaded with some truly lovely Christians who turned back to the law and tried to persuade me to join them.  Their parting shot was that God does not favour me with the revelation and enlightenment they have received under the law.  I noticed that they lived in fear, needing bodyguards and guns for protection!   

Jesus writes His commands on each heart and they are tailor-made for each person, and not on tablets of stone, when the same commands are applied generally to everyone.  He has an individual plan for each one of us and He expects us to adhere to His righteousness at all times.  When He writes a command on my heart and I relay it to everyone as something they must all do, I have made a new religious law.  It has become my command and not His Word anymore.  We are warned not to add or subtract anything from His Word.

When Jesus died His last words were "It is finished" and He meant the Law was finally done away and we are forgiven of all sin. The time for the New Wine has come in His Blood.  At the moment of His death there was an earthquake that caused the four inch thick curtain with interwoven gold that hid the Holy of Holies in the Temple to split from top to bottom.  The Law kept the Holy place away from all except the High Priest once a year on the Day of Atonement.  The New Covenant opened it wide and inviting to all who would believe in Jesus.

Prayer: Heavenly Father thank You that the Law is past and we can live by Grace. Please confirm to me that I am truly a new wineskin ready to be filled with Your bubbly new wine. May those who have wandered back to live under the Law repent and renew their salvation.  In Jesus' name. Amen.