July 10

Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spoiled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. Matthew 9:17

This parable of the wineskins was given in answer to the question of why Jesus did not teach his disciples to fast. Jesus was teaching that there is a difference in order of life, between His life and that of even the greatest man of the old dispensation of law. John the Baptist was a great man, but he did not know the power of the indwelling Christ and all the riches of life that come from the New Covenant. The parable is disarmingly simple, and hidden in it is a great jewel – the human heart cannot bear the glory of the life of Christ. The standards of Christ are too high and would cause deadly strain if imposed upon people without the power of the Holy Spirit. So, how is the problem solved? A new wineskin must be procured. In natural terms, this involved killing an animal and searing its skin in the fire to remove all traces of flesh. Then, while the skin was supple, it would be sewn up and filled with the new wine. The implications are simple. For the Holy Spirit to have free reign in us, He does not require great commitment, or even great openness to new things. He requires that I yield to God’s knife – the cross – and God’s fire – the Holy Spirit – to bring self and strain to an end, so that I will not spoil the Holy Spirit’s work. John the Baptist was great, but he would have spoilt the Spirit’s work. The New Covenant releases us from self-centred striving, to the wonderful ease of a Christ-centred life. Yield to the Holy Spirit, and let Him impart the life of Christ.