“No one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17 NLT)
The most significant problem with us living out a truly Christian life is… us!
As long as “I” am in the equation – there is the potential for a huge problem. This is exactly of what Jesus was speaking, when He was talking about wineskins.
Now, this illustration doesn’t mean a whole lot to us – today, we buy our wine in bottles. But back in Jesus’ day, they used skins of animals that were crafted to store newly made wine. The skins were only used one time. In serving their purpose, they became stretched to their limit, fragile, brittle, and rigid.
When new wine is made it simply must be put into new skins. The new, if placed into the old, ruins the old and makes the new wine unuseable for it’s intended purpose (unless your purpose was to spill it onto the ground!).
True Christianity is always a study in contrasts – the old vs. the new. Jesus came to implement a new way of looking at things, and of getting things done. And He warned us, from the very beginning, that the new way will not fit into the old way of seeing and doing things.
This creates our huge problem. We are so used to living by the old way that the new way seems strange – and somewhat unrewarding. The old way is entirely based upon our efforts, and our diligence (and [in our thinking] we am rewarded for how well we do what we do). The old way is all too familiar and comfortable (even if it doesn’t work very well at all).
The old way simply cannot possibly contain the “new wine” that Jesus is offering – but we really like to pretend that it can (“this time… maybe it will!?”).
What is this old way?
Human effort, human ability, human willpower.
Do you see the problem here?
True Christianity is all about God’s efforts, God’s diligence, God’s will. It is all about God – doing what only God can do, in and through human beings.
God told us so. Scripture reveals this new way… “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13 ESV)
The challenge for every person, who would choose to accept what Jesus has done (and follow after Him), is to lay aside this whole notion that we can make God’s new way fit into our old way of seeing and doing things. This is why true Christianity must begin with a complete surrender to God, and to His way of seeing and doing things.
Most of the people of this world, with an “old wineskin” mentality, will never understand (or accept) this.
The Bible tells us that God made us new because He wants to put something new within us.
Prayer focus: God, help me to understand that I am new – and this new life is all about what You have done, and what You will do, in and through me.