First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives,

Many are familiar with the text in Mark 2:22 where Jesus says, "No one pours new wine into old wineskins, if he does, the wine will burst the skins and both the wine, and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into old wineskins."

Of those who are familiar with the word of God, few understand the depth of its teaching.

The application of new methods of ministry not being able to be contained or controlled by older traditions can be drawn from this text. However, deeper truth is available to us. This truth has everything to do with the choice of attempting to put the way of life that Christ offers into a container that is conformed to the world.

I read a story the other day about a man who was convicted by the Holy Spirit and convinced that he needed to release his life to the Lord for salvation but refused to be converted by the power of God. He understood what he needed, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Maybe you know someone like that. If you are someone like that then God has a word for you today.

The influences around this man, some very close would have nothing to do with God or anything connected with God. He found himself in a circumstance where he was convinced that he needed God, (and even desired God) but he couldn't part with those who had no use for God. He attempted on many occasions to clean up his life and his language, but he couldn't bring himself to let go of what he loved dearly in this world and that kept him from complete surrender. This man saw clearly the need to be right with God, but he didn't want to be separated from the world or the worldly minded. He was attempting to put new wine into old wineskins. He wanted to adopt a new way of life, but the old way of life would not adapt to it. And in the struggle this man experienced what too many discover today; there is no flexibility in the old way of life to contain the new way of life that Jesus offers.

The carnal mind will not be flexible when it comes to practices and patterns of right living. The flesh will not yield willingly. And so often from the frustration and disappointment of trying to fit 'a square peg into a round hole', a choice must be made. Will I choose to go 'all in' for Jesus OR will I choose to remain 'all out' with the worldly minded?

That day came for this man as it does for many who are convicted of sin and convinced of righteousness in Christ. Only his choice was not a good one. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he chose to love his old way of life more and in so doing, the supernatural life of Christ was lost because the life of Christ cannot be contained in the old wineskin.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17--"therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things become new." That involves both the contents and the container. At the point of being transformed by grace through faith, God changes the heart and mind through a transfer of ownership at conversion and the Holy Spirit begins a renovation process of making our body a suitable place as the temple of God.

The person in this story represents many in this world today who believe they need to live a better life but are unwilling to let go of their old way of life. And in their effort to reform their practices, both the contents of the new and the old container are ruined.

Many attempt reforms as a substitute for repentance. Some make resolutions to quit gossiping or smoking or viewing pornography because they know that it is harmful to the spirit, soul and body. On the other hand, they resolve to begin praying more or being kinder and more generous only to soon discover that they're frustrated within and forsaken by their 'old' friends without. And both are lost and ruined in the process.

Are there any 'old' wine-skin habits that need to be discarded? Genuine repentance transforms both internally and externally. Reform on the other hand will settle for old habits trying to co-exist with new wine. And both will be ruined before long.

It is a fundamental impossibility to put new life into an old wineskin. Yet, many will continue to the point of insanity meaning they do the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result. The great tragedy is that the new life that Christ offers will be lost and the vessel ruined. It is certain that tears and sorrow will follow.

Bottom line--each of us have a choice to love God with all our heart or love ourselves more. There is no middle ground or neutral zone. We're either for Him or we're against Him.

We're either 'all in' through redemption and reconciliation or we're 'all out' and ruined.

What are you 'pouring' yourself into today? Will it endure?

Blessing upon blessing, grace upon grace,

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36