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New Wine


19/11/2012

The Holy Spirit fills People with New Natures!

‘New wine calls for new wineskins...’ Mark 2:22

I’ve pondered the meaning of this saying for many years. I guess it has a wide application because I can think of many ways in which it is true and not only in the natural world.

In Mark chapter 2:18-22 Jesus responds to a question from the Pharisees who were querying why they fasted and the disciples of John the Baptist, but Jesus disciples did not. From Mark 2:13 all the way through to chapter 3:6 we see Jesus dealing with religion in its various guises. Religion is all about rules, keeping them and making more of them. It measures a person’s spirituality by the degree to which they keep the rules and in many ways, the more rules the better.

No one typified this more than Paul the Apostle who wrote concerning his own life ‘as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.’ That captures the goal of the religious person and it is what venerates them in the eyes of lesser mortals. But Jesus teaches us something quite the opposite of religion; he says that the issue is about having the right container. What do I mean by that? Well the problem with the old system of rules and religion is that in truth we are not suited to them, they don’t fit us. 

The new wine that Jesus spoke about here is clearly the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who wants to know God therefore must experience the presence of God within them, but the problem is that the Holy Spirit will only live in that which is holy and therein lays the problem. We are all by nature unholy! No one, even the apostle Paul was by nature holy, and I use the phrase by nature because that is exactly the problem. As King David put it a thousand years earlier in Psalm 51:6 ‘...You desire truth in the inward parts.’ But sadly ‘there is none righteous, no not one.’ It is beyond us to attain.

So what God does is both surprising and wonderful, he gives his people a new nature, or to put it another way, a new wineskin. The new nature is given to us at the point of our conversion; it is a supernatural act that replaces our old sin nature with a new nature created in the image of God. So then God can live in us because we have a new nature that is holy. So the new wine of the Holy Spirit flows within the life of the new believer (the new wineskin) and now instead of following the rules to please God, we walk in a new nature that delights to do the will of God. I no longer look for rules to live by, I look to God’s word to guide me and there is an inner power now to fulfil the will of God in my life.

No wonder the people declared on the day of Pentecost, ‘these people are drunk with wine’ that is the glorious effect of the Holy Spirit on people who were formerly very religious, they are suddenly set free, overwhelmed by the presence of God the Holy Spirit and to the outward eye they look like they are drunk, but it is the freedom and fullness that comes from being totally transformed from within.

 
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