In the New Year, we ring out the old and ring in the new, right? We make New Year’s resolutions and new commitments to lose weight, eat better and go to the gym at least three times a week. Some people, especially Christians, recommit themselves to a higher calling but forget one very important thing:
No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the [fermenting] wine will [expand and] burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the wineskins. But new wine must be put into new wineskins” (Mark 2:22 AMP).
In our attempt to “forget what lies behind” (Phil. 3:3), we often keep the same old wine skin we’ve always walked in. The problem with this is exactly what Jesus is referring to in the passage above: the old wineskins, our old self life, cannot contain the new wine of the Holy Spirit, as He is poured into us, and in effect, it “bursts” because the old wineskin has become brittle and easily broken. This reminds me of a response from D.L. Moody, the famous preacher, when asked why he needed to be refilled again and again. He is reported to have said quite simply, “I leak.”
New Wineskins for New Wine!
To carry new wine, we need a new wineskin. I believe this requires an examination of where we’ve been walking. Frankly, it’s easy for our lives as Christians to become stale. We can do repetitive things year after year and remain in the same place, putting on the same old tired smile in our same old tired wineskin. This is how our “religion” becomes dead and lifeless to ourselves and those around us. Without thinking of any kind of new direction, like trained chimps, we just do as we’ve always done. And like the proverbial hamster boogying on his wheel, we go round and round getting nowhere while thinking we’re actually going somewhere.
In the spiritual sense, the old has to die. It could have “good” old, but it still needs to die if we are to receive a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. I love inner healing and deliverance. All you have to do is read my blog to realize this. But there is a place when–at least for a season–all that needs to come to a halt. At least that was true for me. Some Christian spiritual disciplines that worked–-or at least seemed to—no longer do. For some, like me, tiredness and weariness is the name of the game for the present time.
We all have a calling, but is it always the same? There is a time under heaven for different approaches and experiences (Eccl. 3:1), and yet if we live in that old wineskin, we can’t experience those new things. Fear may keep us bound in the same place, the same church that has become lifeless to us, or even the same group of people who want to walk only in their old wineskins.
Coming out of that Old Wineskin
Recently, I experienced some very discouraging and seemingly misdirected changes in my life. I hadn’t realized how tired and angry I was from doing the same thing I had done for essentially 37 years. It was good and effective, but I was worn out. Much transformation had occurred, but I was mired in the muck of sameness and weighed down because of my long journey of sanctification. A new wineskin was needed. And that’s what Dr. Jesus ordered!
Wade Taylor in writing about the difference between the church and the kingdom of God (many never get this), said the new wineskin is necessary to hear the voice of the Lord, as we move from one emphasis to the other:
“Because the message that will bring us into the Kingdom is different from the message to the Churches, the Lord has repeatedly said, “Who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:9)
The ministry of the Church is to “Whomsoever.”
The ministry of the Kingdom is to “He who overcomes.”
The message of the Church leads to “Heaven.”
The message of the Kingdom leads to “The Throne.”
The desire of the Church is “Jesus abiding within.”
The desire of the Kingdom is “Jesus taking His place as The Head of His body.”
The testimony of the Church is “I have Jesus.”
The testimony of the Kingdom is “Jesus has me.”
The Church operates through “Grace.”
The Kingdom operates under “Government.”
To enter the Church “A message of salvation.”
To enter the Kingdom “A message of preparation.”
Jesus met much opposition as He sought to move Israel from the Law of Moses to the message of the Kingdom. The Law required an “outward” obedience. The Kingdom requires an “inner” heart change.”
It’s the same with legalistic and “churchy” Christians. Have you ever attempted to “reach” one of these folks with the message of the kingdom? It’s like you’re talking Chinese to them (and they only speak English)! Not to be unkind, but we all need to get hold of the fact that the kingdom is what this whole thing is all about (Matt. 6:33). Why do you think people get so burned out with church and don’t want to go back? Somehow they missed the point that this isn’t about church – at least not the four walls where they’ve been hanging out!
Times Square Ball Drop
This has always been a big deal to some, but with all the hoopla over the change from one year to the next, how much changing do we really do? Do we drop our own ball as we head into another year by walking in the same old wineskin, or does God want to give us a new one?
Joseph Beckham is the author of Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls http://amzn.com/1493781286 and the soon-to-be-released book, Overcoming Bipolar Disorder & Other Mental Difficulties: A Christian Perspective.