I love this illustration of the importance of being transformed by the Word and the Holy Spirit. Jesus used an illustration that everyone in His day would understand. A wineskin held new wine. But once the wineskin was empty it became an old wineskin (dried out). You and I were old “wineskins” before we accepted Jesus into our hearts! Our mind, soul and spirit were “old/dried out” by the corruption/filth in our hearts and lives. We were dead in our sins. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1)
As I thought about this, a visual came to mind to explain this. A person hears the gospel and recognizes their need of a Savior. They begin attending church and hear that they need to tithe in order to be blessed, so they tithe. They are told Jesus wants to heal them so they go to the altar to be healed. They like the songs and praise music but they only listen to it in church. They have not made an effort to get into the Word of God, all they have done is added something else to their schedule of things to do. Soon they become weary.
Jesus explained the parable of the sower so that we can easily identify our relationship with Him. Three of the situations were not true salvations but were a work of the flesh “to do” something that sounded good; there was not a filling of the Holy Spirit because it was not a true salvation.
“And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9) (emphasis mine)
A new wineskin has to be carefully made by a master craftsman, that is Jesus Christ. The cloth (you and me) are like the clay in the potter’s hand. (Jeremiah 18:1-6) The skin must be rubbed with oils (anointed by the Holy Spirit) and stretched (by the reading and application of the Word in our lives). Tanning of the skins is a process that involves much skill by the master (sitting at the feet of Jesus as a disciple). Certain steps have to be taken which make a great difference in the skin, but it isn’t able to be what it designed to be until the process is complete. It may begin to look different but it must be taken through the refining process and transformed into a usable vessel.
The animal who gave the “skin” had to die. We must die. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Did you hear Him? We must die so that we might live in Him. There are no “tries”, there are no half hearted efforts, it’s a total submission. The Apostle Paul asked the believers in Galatia a very serious question. They were turning from the truth that had been preached to them and were again becoming enslaved to the world. Listen to what Paul says, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) (emphasis mine)
Paul continues in his narration to remind them that it was the Lord Jesus Christ who saved him, not someone telling him about Jesus, but Jesus Christ Himself revealing Himself. Have you met Jesus? I am serious! Do you really know the Lord Jesus Christ? Paul reminds the believers in Galatia that he had to go away for three years, into the desert, to be taught and learn from the Lord. He gave up everything. In our example of the wineskin, Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus was his death to self and the next three years he was in the Master’s hand becoming a new wineskin!
Remember when the Prophet Samuel was instructed by God to go to anoint a new king when King Saul had lost his anointing and the kingdom? (I Samuel 15:28) David was only about 12 years old. His father had all the sons, except David, in the house and the Lord rejected every one of them. Jesse had to send for David from the fields and when he entered the Lord spoke to Samuel and told him he was the one to anoint. (I Samuel 16)
David was anointed that day, but it was many years of hardship and training before he was appointed! His “wineskin” had much work to be done before he would be the vessel to lead God’s people. And even then, David continuously leaned on his Beloved for direction, strength, wisdom and discernment. Scripture shows us clearly the Lord’s hand in victory after victory when David relied upon Him. It also shows the great defeats in David’s life when he chose to follow his own desires.
Dear brothers and sisters, where are you today? Are you attempting to live a Christ filled life in an old “wineskin”? If so, you most likely are tired, frustrated, stuck and finding yourself in a very uncomfortable spot. Loved ones, the Holy Spirit will not speak to the world and if we are living our lives the same way we lived before coming to know Christ, we are not filled with “new wine”. He hasn’t left us, we have left Him! We are living life in our own power and that does not work! It actually should challenge you to examine yourself to see if you belong to God! (Psalm 139:23-24, II Corinthians 13:5)
I’ve spent at least the past 5 days with the Lord examining “new wineskins”. I’ve mentioned a couple above but sometimes we become so familiar with scripture that we become “dull of hearing”. And, I felt God really challenging me to “examine myself”. It has been a challenge this past week because the enemy did not want me to pursue this path so I knew I was exactly where God wanted me! I pray, with Paul, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18)
I’ve been spending time studying King Hezekiah. His father was King Ahaz who greatly displeased the Lord and did evil in the eyes of God. If you take the time to read the books of Chronicles and then both books of the Kings you will begin to see a pattern of disobedience that will make your head spin. Several years ago when I noticed that, the Lord spoke very gently to my spirit and challenged me to look at my life and see if it had been any different. It had not! My life had been in constant turmoil and while I was now seriously seeking His will in my life, I saw the inconsistencies in my thinking and behavior. What a reality check! I realized at that moment that holiness could only be done in me through submission and the outcome would be the power of the Holy Spirit pouring out His desire through me. It was His will that was important, not mine!
So Hezekiah did not have a good role model. Many of us didn’t have a good role model growing up. Unfortunately, many have used that excuse to not be who God created them to be. If you like to remind people “that’s just the way I am”, chances are you are not a “new wineskin”! We need to look unto the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) and begin declaring “I am who my Father says I am!”
Hezekiah determined in his heart to follow the Hebrew scriptures. Neither Israel nor Judah were following God, they all worshipped idols. So Hezekiah had the priests and Levites consecrate themselves and cleanse the temple in Jerusalem to reinstate sacrifices and worship. Then he ordered that all of the places of false worship be destroyed! He sent word even throughout Israel to attend the established feasts. The king of Israel was evil and did not repent and all of Israel was defeated by the Assyrians. Judah was next for the Assyrians to invade. So what would King Hezekiah do?
II Chronicles 32 tells us that they cut off the water supply so the attacking army would not have water to sustain themselves and they fortified their walls and made weapons. But the most important thing he did is recorded in verses 7-8: “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. “With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” (emphasis mine)
The enemy is no different today than he was in Hezekiah’s day. He came at them in a rage, trying to intimidate and terrify them. In verses 9-19 you can read their words. Let’s look closely at verse 19. We need to remember this lie when the enemy comes against us! “They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as of the gods of the peoples of the earth, the work of men’s hands.” (emphasis mine)
So what was King Hezekiah’s response? He and the prophet Isaiah cried out to God! The king of Judah, Hezekiah, and his people had become new wineskins! “And the LORD sent an angel who destroyed every mighty warrior, commander and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned in shame to his own land. And when he had entered the temple of his god, some of his own children killed him there with the sword.”
(2 Chronicles 32:21)
Loved ones, even if you are surrounded by others who are opposed to everything of God, it doesn’t matter! It is a personal relationship! The Lord God is wanting to draw us closer to Him in preparation for the marriage supper of the Lamb. Upon salvation we are to become new wineskins, holy and pure; a vessel to be poured out and filled again. It is not a one time occurrence, it is a daily walk until the coming Day of the Lord!
In the book of Revelations, the Apostle John records the words of Jesus to the seven churches. To each church He states, “And he who overcomes…” To each a different reward or crown is revealed.
The Apostle Paul really puts it in perspective in the following verses. “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Philippians 3:7) “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
Dear Abba Father, I’d rather have You than anything else in this life. Thank You for Your amazing blessings that we enjoy today, but also thank You for Your challenge today to look at each thing in our lives and see if it is pure and lines up with You, or if it is tainted and needs to be removed and repented of! Thank You for the “valleys” where we are tested, refreshed and fed in the presence of our enemies! You are faithful throughout the journey (I Thessalonians 5:24). You call us to be faithful to You, and Lord we call on the Holy Spirit to guide us, without You we cannot do it, but as we determine in our hearts, we trust You to bring it to pass as we lean upon You in all of our ways. (Proverbs 3:5-6) We humble ourselves before You today and pray all of these things in the blessed name of Your Son, Jesus Christ! Amen.