“ And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskin will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’” Luke 5:37-39
I’m not a theologian. I don’t understand a lot of the things I read in the bible the first time, and so I have to keep going back and chewing on them until I understand what the Lord is saying. This particular parable is one that never really made sense to me. I mean, clearly, the Lord was talking about the law and grace. The law being the old way of life, grace being the new. And our hearts are the wineskins. He was speaking directly to the Pharisees here, in that they could not accept this new doctrine of faith and grace because they were “old wineskins.” And Jesus was telling them they had to be made new so that they could receive it. And we all seem to agree on these points. But there’s always been something missing in this for me, and I have pondered it for years. Is this “new wine” simply the words Jesus was speaking, the purpose He came? The redemption story? Religion? Is there more?
I began reading Acts today and when I read this verse, I immediately recalled this story and saw what’s been missing:
“Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.” (Acts 2:13)
It happened on the day of Pentecost that the “new wine” was poured out. The Holy Spirit is the new wine Christ spoke about. I just love how people in the bible say things without knowing the significance of the things spoken. Those speaking in tongues that day were indeed full of “new wine.“
Looking back at the parable, I wonder if it is true then, that the Holy Spirit cannot reside in a man who is not living in the new life of the Spirit. If you accept that the Spirit is the new wine, then it seems that the Holy Spirit cannot reside in a man who continues to live in the flesh, disregarding the Spirit’s guidance. Jesus himself said it: “ … or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and the wine will pour out and the wineskin ruined.” A man living unto himself cannot contain the spirit of God for long. Him who contains the Spirit must be a changed man. This changed man must submit to the “new wine” within him and pour out that wine in accordance to the will of God. If he continues being the “old wineskin,” then he risks being ruined and wasting the things of God.
Being ruined? Wasting the things of God? It’s a tragedy too often recorded. The Lord places people in ministry and they, just like the Galatians who, “having begun in the Spirit…” all the sudden seem to be walking about working in the flesh. Trusting in the flesh, in their own intellect or the intellect of others, instead of looking to the Lord for guidance. I’m guilty of this. Just the other day, I started a new chapter in a book I am writing and sat down with my bible to begin to read and mark down scriptures I could use, and the Spirit spoke to me and said, “Do you not think that what God would have you to write is not already inside of you, and I can speak it forth?” Not that sitting down to read my bible was a bad thing. In fact, it was a good thing to attune my ears to the Lord. But my purpose was not tuning, it was searching in my own wisdom and discernment. Ouch!
The problem, I think, was addressed by Paul in Romans 12:3,6: “For I say to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think … do not be wise in your own opinion.” When we begin to think we know something about something, we quit looking for guidance. Why should we? And the moment we become sure that we know something, we begin to live in the flesh.
I have learned something very wicked of flesh lately. Flesh is an open doorway through which Satan has access into our lives. Our flesh is in direct opposition to God, according to Galatians 5:17, which says, “for the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
How then, do we maintain this “new wine” inside of us? We allow the Lord to do His work of making us new in Christ, and then, we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) and study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15). If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. We live in a fallen world with a foe who is constantly looking to trip us up. If we desire to live above the base things of life, if we desire to be all that God has called us to, we commit ourselves to an uphill battle. The Spirit is in us so that we can have victory. Don’t disregard your compass as you walk on the path the Lord has marked out for you. The Holy Spirit is that compass, and you will not make it any other way. Be renewed and carry the new wine “and both will be preserved.”