Sunday, 21 March 2021

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 making a total separation between the two.  The Old Testament or Will was made redundant and to be replaced by the New Will and Testament.  If I have a will and want to change it, make a new will, my old will is null and void.

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. 

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the first time, to be honoured as a King and to die as the Saviour of the world.  Holy Week includes Passover, the Last Supper, the betrayal by Judas, the arrest and trial of Jesus, His whipping, and His crucifixion, followed by His resurrection to life.

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 joy.  

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, 
23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."  

Then there is no law against us, the power of the Holy Spirit keeps us living righteous lives.  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 the people or situations that have hurt them or caused bitterness.

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 relegates 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.  And it must be more than mental assent to forgiving them, it must be total, from the heart forgiveness.

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.  If it burst open the new wine is lost, a very serious matter.

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, the former Pharisee of the Pharisees, 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?  Plus he emphasized that the law cannot save anybody, so if you have gone backwards into Judaism you have lost your way.

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 live 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 it is something specific He wants me to do. But if 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.  

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 Jewish 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.  How wonderful is this? We are the Royal Priesthood who can enter the Holy of Holies at will.

The new Ark of the Covenant is Jesus Christ Himself.  All who are in Him are as safe as those who were on Noah's Ark.  All those outside of Him will perish....He said as it was in the days of Lot, and Noah so shall it be at the end.

In Lot's day the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone.  In Noah's day, the whole world perished in The Flood.  Those who think God will be all merciful and forgive everyone should pause to consider that if that were true Jesus would not have been crucified.

We are partakers of the New Wine because we are forgiven of sin and following the Lamb of God.  This invitation is for everybody.  

Revelation 3 v 19 - 22:  "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

This scripture was the letter Jesus gave to the Apostle John on Patmos for the Laodicean Church, which has become a universal calamity for the church.  Revelation 3 v 15 - 18: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."

He was warning the church of the last days that material wealth, and all that it brings, causes them to be indifferent to, blind to, the real needs of those who are suffering, and that what they do to the least of these brethren will be how He treats them!

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, or are in bondage to wealth and entertainment in the church, repent and renew their salvation.  In Jesus' name. Amen.