New Wineskins

“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” Mark 2:22

How do you know what you ought to do? I ask this question because when it comes to behavior the Bible generally only teaches us principles or values regarding behavior. Very rarely does it specify what actions we should or shouldn’t do. So how do we know what we should and shouldn’t do?

By the time Jesus began his ministry the Jewish people had solved this question by creating a collection of legal traditions expanding on the principles taught in scripture. These had been written by respected Rabbis, or teachers, and these traditions solved the problem of the lack of specificity in the instruction God had given.

But they also created problems. You see, even the best and wisest among us don’t really understand God and his ways. So the expanded laws were frequently wrong. Just read the sermon on the mount, found in Matthew chapters five through seven, and you’ll hear Jesus comparing and correcting some of the mistakes made by these learned Rabbis. How true the words of Isaiah 55:8-9 are, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,So are My ways higher than your ways,And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

So if our best explanations of God’s laws fall short how do we know what we ought to do? In Mark 2:22, Jesus is explaining that our old way of relying on obedience to mans explanations of God’s instructions is insufficient. You cannot put the product of the new covenant into the container used to hold the old. It will be insufficient to the task. We need the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us in John chapter 16 the Spirit would teach us and guide us into all truth. And Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:30 that the Holy Spirit will be our “seal”, our mark of authenticity, the indication that the contents of ours lives have been uncontaminated, untampered with,

Over and over Jesus emphasized that we often just do get it when it comes to knowing and understanding God’s laws. We need to realize this, and expect, and be open to the correction the Holy Spirit will give us. The disciples started with nearly everything needing to be corrected in some way: how to worship, how to forgive, how to respect each other, what love means, what the sabbath is for, what constitutes honesty, how to pray. The list could go on. And we’re no better than they were. Let’s let the Spirit correct our mistaken ideas of what God’s instructions mean and allow Him to do his full work of sealing us unto the day of redemption

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