“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins. That way both the wine and the wineskins are preserved." (Matt. 9:17)
New Living Translation © 1996 Tyndale Charitable Trust


This passage markedly illustrates God’s wisdom, heart and design.  It exemplifies man’s way (religion) and God’s way (life).  Our God is the God of creation and resurrection (life and NEW life).  That alone sets Him apart from all gods and man!  God works via LIFE. 

 Religion on the other hand is diametrically opposed to such a concept.  Religion places its import on the outward and is very pretentious.   Life begins from the inside (hidden) and works toward the outward.  The germ of life is fully self contained with all the life elements needed and inherently functions as designed by the Life Giver.   Life also implies growth (inward movement).  Religion is also involved in movement, but it is always outward.  Religion demands control and constant manipulation because it has no life in itself (full of dead men’s bones).  << Does this not remind you of the two trees in the garden?   One offered life, the other death >>

 Our verse above speaks of new wine.  What do you suppose that could be?  Actually I think it would be better to ask WHO do you think the new wine could be J.  Jesus said He came that we might have life, and life more abundantly.  Once Jesus brings us into the life of God, it starts moving in and around us.  This new wine needs room to expand.

 What then is the old wineskin?  I think the primary answer would be Judaism, the religion of the Jews, but also religion in general.  The Jews of that day were very proud of their religion.  At one time, new wine had been poured into a new wineskin.  God’s life is also that new wine, and what God began as life begins moving.  That new wine brought a growing relationship with Him and His people let it become old.  It was being kept in an hardened, inflexible container (no room to further expand), the old wineskin - religion.


Wisdom (God and man’s)

God’s wisdom is shown through what Jesus said.  We should not try to fit something of God, something of His life (new wine), new and fresh into something old and rigid (old wineskin).  Now that is God’s wisdom.   

What does man do?  Exactly the opposite!  God begins something NEW, something living and fresh.  It’s something outside of religion.  People get excited, invigorated and things are really beginning to happen.  Uh oh…here come the religious folks.  They like this “new wine” too.  Next thing you know, they wanna incorporate it into “their church.”  Then someone comes up with another idea, “hey, lets bottle this and sell it!.”  Of course, it must be redesigned, reconstituted and artificially reproduced for mass distribution.  Sound familiar?


 God’s Heart

God longs for relationship.  He doesn’t have to worry about outward appearance cuz He can trust the life within.  He’s not interested in explosive numbers (leaven).  He knows His life will reproduce after its Kind, that’s how He made it.  God is looking for something for Himself, something and/or someone after His own heart.  This new wine brings us into God’s heart.

 His heart yearns for “fellership.”  A part of that is worship.  Did you ever notice that in John 4 the Father is actually “seeking” true worshippers?  Hmmm, if He’s having to seek for worshippers, you’d think all He has to do is show up on Sundays for “worship services.”  But there’s more to it than that.  Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that God is NOT on this mountain or that mountain, this corner or that (not even this scheduled time or that), but God is spirit and MUST be worshipped in spirit and truth (reality).

God’s heart is longing for spirit to Spirit worship and fellership.  It’s not the outward act, but the inward reality.  It’s the heart to heart communion and intimacy with His new creation (His born anew family). 

16 Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. 17 Don't act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. 19 Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts.

New Living Translation © 1996 Tyndale Charitable Trust

 Some translations say “speaking to yourselves…”  What we do outwardly, speaking, singing, praying, etc. is for ourselves, for our pleasure and enjoyment, but what is coming from our heart, spirit to Spirit is well pleasing and enjoyed by God.  When we come together to enjoy the Lord it’s us together, enjoying the music, harmony, words, etc. and us to God (each individually) spirit to Spirit: that’s true worship…all of that is fellership J.


God’s Design

This new wine brings us into something much deeper than us just coming together to worship.  God has given us His Spirit, His life giving essence, His Breath as a personal and direct link to our spirit and we are now one spirit with the Lord. (I Cor. 6:17)  God is spirit and the essence of spirit is life.  God’s life in us contains God’s divine nature, His mercy, His forgiveness, His patience, His peace, etc., etc.  In fact, we now have all that we need, “all things pertaining to life and godliness.” when we became partakers of His divine nature (II Pet. 1:3-4). 

God’s heart, wisdom and design is that we can now commune (fellership) with Him one on one and get to know Him intimately.  As we draw close to Him, we begin to realize how different God is from what religion has taught us.  We begin to see His love behind the law as David did.  We begin to see that God is a jealous lover.  He doesn’t want anything to come between us (no other gods before Him).  Like a loving husband, He wants His name revered.  He doesn’t want us to be loose in using His name, especially using His name where it doesn’t belong.  ,<< I can remember when I used to attach God’s name with everything “I” wanted.  That is using His name in vain foolishly for selfish things which God has not approbated. >>  We could go through all “Ten Commandments” and see God declaring Himself to us, revealing His nature.  Do you want to know what God is like?  He does not steal, murder, bear false witness, etc. 

God wants us to be like Him; not by outward compliance, but through that inward communion and fellership with Him.  The more time spent in His presence the more we begin to see and eventually begin to emulate His very nature.  This is His new wine bringing us into a more intimate  and personal relationship.  But His design goes even further. 

As we continue to let His Spirit teach us about God’s nature, His life within us will also long to reach out to others.  It may not necessarily come in this order, but sooner or later we will long for others who have experienced this intimacy with God.  Later we will desire that others who don’t really know God will come to find Him intimately as we have.  This may mean they need to be born again, born anew with His life, or just reacquainted with such a loving God. 

All this will be worked out in God’s life and in His time.  We may find ourselves alone or with just a few for period of time.  God is in no hurry.  He let Joseph remain in prison quite a while and Moses remained alone in the wilderness for 40 years.  The apostle Paul spent some time alone in Arabia.  Eventually though, God’s life will find a way to bring others into your life.  How else will others know the riches awaiting them on this earth?

A personal note

One final mention of God’s design: it’s NOT about “going to church,” nor is it about “going to heaven.”  If you can find this treasure in “church” I’d like to know.  My “church” experiences have for the most part began enjoyable, and I learned a lot through each passing, but there is an evil system out there that cares only for propagating itself.  Eventually you end up serving the system and not God.  Once you confront that evil system…look out! 

If you read closely, even in the end – heaven (the New Jerusalem) is coming down.  We can have a foretaste of that today by allowing heaven (the kingdom of heaven) to come down now into our lives.  Once that begins to happen, you just can’t wait to share that with others.  This is all part of God’s design.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.

Some manuscripts read God himself will be with them, their God.
New Living Translation © 1996 Tyndale Charitable Trust

CL - 4/2006