I had to retire my favorite pair of dress slacks recently. This wasn’t easy for numerous reasons. They were my go-to pair. They were reliable. They looked great and they were comfortable. The fact that I bought them at a bargain sale price made me value them even more.
Even so, I knew it was time. They had become high waters on me. The waist was too tight. They had started to fade in color, the zipper had way too much tension on it, and the button was hanging on by one last thread. It wasn’t my slacks fault. This retirement was caused by my growth and the mileage I had put on them. It was time for a new pair of slacks.
A similar thing happens in our lives as we accept a new, perfect life offered to us by Jesus Christ and commit to growing spiritually.
Mark 2:21-22 states, “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”
In Jesus’ day, wine was made by putting fresh grape juice into a bag made from tanned goatskin. They would then sew the bag closed. As the juice began to ferment into wine, gases would release, forcing the wineskin to stretch. While a stretched wineskin could be used to hold old wine that had already been fermented, it could not be used to hold new wine.
There’s no more “stretch” left in your old skin. You need a new wineskin because the cohabitation of sin and the Spirit is not an option. Sin resided in your old wineskin, but that’s where you have to leave it. New wine cannot be produced in an old wineskin. Concurrently, a new life is incapable of being lived in your old skin, which housed your bad habits, addictions, and the filth of a sin-life.
Scripture states in James 3:10-12 that, “Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so. Does a fountain send forth [simultaneously] from the same opening fresh water and bitter? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can a salt spring furnish fresh water.” Again in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, the Word declares, “How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?”
These two passages make it clear that your old life and your new life cannot simply fuse together. You cannot produce sin and righteousness at the same time. You cannot bear the fruit of the Spirit if you are walking with the fruit of the enemy in hand. The old life must be left behind when you choose to accept a new life in Christ.
The good news is that if you read Romans 6:1-11, you’ll see that we died to that old life of sin when Jesus died on the Cross! We are brand new creations in the Lord! Sin has no more power over you! The old life is gone and a new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
One issue that arises, however, when trying to redirect our lives towards Christ is when we unknowingly stop incredibly short of what God has in mind when He calls for us to leave our old lives behind us. The crippling mistake we make is trying to remove the sin from our hearts (whether it be thoughts, perspectives, habits, strongholds, etc), but not following that up with any further action. When you remove sin from your heart, there’s still a gapping hole left inside of you! If you don’t replace that sin with the Word of God (Philippians 4:8), prayer, healthy relationships, and growth-inducing resources, then you’re still left terribly depleted and empty!
Living in a new wineskin requires maintenance. It takes a dedicated effort to stay free (Galatians 5:1). Christ set you free indefinitely and you cannot return to your previous state of certain, eternal death. But many times we willingly choose to return to our old life of sin and slavery to the law. We must fight daily to stay free through Christ in mind, body, and spirit.
We have to ask the Lord to search our hearts for the areas that need adjustment and realignment. We must ask for His help, through the family of Christ, in throwing off all the weights that slow us down and all the sin that trips us up (Hebrews 12:1).
You’ve been ransomed by Jesus. The sacrifice He made for you enabled you to walk in freedom. He made you brand new. Let the Lord renew your mind by changing the way you think (Romans 12:2). Let Him empower you with the inner strength of the Holy Spirit to work in your heart (Ephesians 3:16). When you do these things, your reflection now matches your new status. You are now living in a new wineskin.