I’m so glad that whenever I pray, God hears me in Christ. But I also need to hear Him when He speaks. I don’t think it’s as much God not speaking, as it’s me not listening.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus made a startling statement that many have overlooked. But first, let’s look at the context.
“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”
In this parable the old wineskins stand for those who walk in legalism. Once wineskins were used, they became empty, used up, dry, and unyielding.
That’s a good description of many of the Pharisees Jesus had to deal with. They had nothing on the inside to give that would bless others.
In the natural, new wine is unfermented grape juice. As it becomes wine, it produces gasses that pressurize the skins.
Old, dry and unyielding wineskins would burst under that internal pressure. You can’t live for God like that.
A New wineskin – one that’s unstretched, oiled, soft, and pliable – is ready to be used in this process.
As we get that new wine of the Holy Spirit in us, it starts to ferment. There is a spiritual pressure that builds up. That’s what brings growth.
Now you’re hearing from God and something is being poured into you. The pressure is building. You have something to give and pour out into someone else.
Listen to Jesus’ next statement.
“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
Once you get a taste for legalism, you don’t want the new work of the Spirit. Why is that? Simply put, legalism is intoxicating and addictive.
Legalism strokes my ego. “Look at what I’m doing for God. I read my Bible and pray every day. I go to church every week. I’m better than most.”
This “intoxication” with self-righteousness will put us to sleep, spiritually speaking. We don’t feel the need to hear from God. We can live the way we want as we perform our minimal church obligations.
Basically, we can live for God without being changed by the Spirit. That’s the deception of legalism.
I want to be prepared to hear His voice. This requires that I allow the Holy Spirit to work His change in me – to stretch my outer man sometimes. It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s worth it to see the Lord working through me.
Question: How far are you willing to be stretched by the Holy Spirit?
© Nick Zaccardi 2014