Tag Archives: Christianity

Spiritual Warfare #23 Your Wineskin

          What did Jesus mean when He said, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins”?

           Of the 40 or so parables we see in the teachings of Jesus, only a handful are recorded in all three synoptic gospels. The parable of the wineskins is one of those that deserves our close attention.

          This parable was given in the context of answering a question about fasting.

Matthew 9:14-17 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. 17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

          What does fasting have to do with wineskins? I think most of us have not made the connection between this parable and the practice of fasting. We tend to read over the passage without realizing that Jesus is teaching us powerful truth about living with the fullness of the Spirit.

          Here is Mark’s account.

Mark 2:18-22 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22 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.”

          Jesus is using old and new wineskins, and old and new cloth, as an analogy of our old and new natures. The old carnal nature that we are born into under Adam, and the new nature of God that we receive by the Holy Spirit at our new birth in Christ.

          So, what significance does fasting have in the context of this parable? Jesus was explaining to them the purpose, and significance of fasting.

          I see people fasting for many different reasons but when you boil it down, there is only one primary reason for fasting. To break through the veil of carnal flesh so the Spirit can have full expression in our lives.

          We live in this incredible paradox of having two natures that are constantly battling and warring against each other. Jesus is telling us that fasting is how we fight the battle and win the war.

          Fasting is not very popular to most Christians because it requires discipline and self-denial. Some fast for wrong reasons with little understanding and have little results.

          Let’s look at Isaiah 58 and see what the purpose of fasting is.

Isaiah 58:6-9Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

          There is much more to this chapter, and I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but the point I want to make is that biblical fasting is not just about denying our physical bodies of food, but reaching out and helping others in need as we are denying ourselves. There is something supernatural about the combination of denying ourselves while tending to the needs of others that brings powerful breakthrough in our lives. It frees us from bondage, breaks yokes of unbelief, brings healing to our bodies.

           A true fast is not just denying the physical body, but the soul, mind, and will as well. Fasting should include deny every part of our being that is touched by the fall of man. Bringing whole being into subjection so our light will shine brighter and ultimately give God more glory.

           We all desire to be filled with the new wine, but it is God’s mercy that withholds it. If He filled us with the fullness of the Spirit before our wineskins were made new it would destroy us.

The kind of fasting that Isaiah describes creates in us a new wineskin that is meant to contain that new wine. It increases our capacity in the Spirit and empowers us to live a sustained life of power and demonstration of the kingdom of God.

          Let’s look at Luke’s account because he brings out a very interesting point that Matthew and Mark do not address.

Luke 5:33-39 Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?”

34 And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.” 36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise, the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.”

          Look at verse 39. Luke recorded Jesus as saying, “no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”

          Jesus is telling us up front, “our flesh is going to resist this. We are not going to immediately desire to practice this.” Our flesh will always argue that the old way is better, leave things as they are, the old wine is good enough, fasting is not necessary.

          This is not going to be easy for anyone, but if it was easy there would be no significant rewards. The promises we see in Isaiah 58 are absolutely mind blowing. We desire, and pray for new wine, but we are asking God to put in our old wineskin. Isn’t gonna happen!

          Because of our fallen, broken nature, we seek more of God without making the necessary sacrifices. We desire the new wine, but we don’t want to release the old, craving change, yet, allowing things to remain stagnate.

          In our present culture, we are inundated with the constant temptation to consume more. More food, more stuff, more entertainment, etc. Excess results in nothing but a strong, well developed carnal nature. We feed the monster that wars against our soul.

           We must choose new wineskins to be filled with the new wine and become everything Christ paid for. This choice is vital to our lives, but more importantly, it is vital for His glory!    

Are you satisfied with the old wine of your carnal nature? Most of the Church is satisfied with the status quo of living a carnal existence while claiming Jesus as Lord. Personally, I just don’t have the stomach for it anymore.

          There is so much that our Father desires for us to be and to have, but it cannot co-exist with the old fallen nature. The old wineskin must be “put off” and the new wineskin “put on.” We either choose to be who our Creator designed us to be, or we remain the same. The choice is new life in Christ with full kingdom power and authority, or remaining distant and separate from the Father which is described as spiritual death.(Deut. 30:15-20)

             Choosing life is easy. Living the life that God has provided takes a certain amount of discipline, resolve, and self denial. It will require us to maintain a new wineskin. It will require biblical fasting.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

          It is impossible to follow Jesus without denying ourselves. We will not have the strength to pick up our cross without this denial of self.

          Jesus said, “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.”

We are in those days. It’s your wineskin. What are you going to do with it?

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

What is Holiness?

Spiritual Warfare # 20 The Mark of a True Disciple

          What is a disciple? If someone asked you; Are you are a disciple of Jesus? What would you say? Do you believe that you are a disciple?

          I was convicted strongly by the Holy Spirit that we throw that word around and don’t seem to stop and consider what a true disciple of Christ really is. Websters definition of disciple is, “a pupil or follower of any teacher or school.” But what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

          We can easily look at the lives of the twelve disciples of Jesus and look at the life of the apostle Paul. That may help us understand what it means to be a true disciple, but what does the Bible say about it?

John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

          Abiding in God’s word is the mark of a true disciple. According to this passage, the fruit of being a true disciple is knowledge of the truth and freedom. In other words, being a disciple has a specific fruit attached to it. It is measurable.

We must ask ourselves these two very sobering questions.

Am I truly abiding in God’s word?

          Do I hunger and thirst for the word like a baby desires its milk?

1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby

          True disciples have this in common, they all have an insatiable desire for God’s word. Spiritual hunger and spiritual growth are also measurable fruit of being a true disciple.

Am I truly free?

          Am I free from the bondage of sin? Or am I still bound by the same old habits, addictions, emotions, and carnal tendencies I was last year? Is my transformation into Christ-likeness obvious to me and others, or am I stuck in religious practices that makes me feel better about myself but doesn’t change me?

          Do I understand that Truth is a person and not just words on a page? Am I growing in my relationship with that person and following Him?

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

          Being a true disciple is to abide in truth until it dawns on our heart and mind that truth is a living person, not simply words in a book. Abiding in truth causes Truth to set us free, and whom the Truth sets free, is free indeed. Freedom is the fruit of knowing Him.

          As we abide in the truth of God’s word, that Word becomes flesh in our lives. We become the truth we abide in. We become what we behold.

          This is how we follow Him.

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Warfare #18 ~ Reckon Yourself Dead

Romans 6:11 Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

          So, what does it mean to “reckon yourself to be dead indeed to sin?” Many translations render this phrase “consider yourself to be dead,” but what does that look like?

          Another good word for “reckon” is “believe.” We must believe that we are dead to sin. But that is not the end of the verse. We must also reckon (believe) that we are alive to God in Christ Jesus. It means we need to stop believing and thinking of ourselves as “sinners,” and start believing and thinking of ourselves as forgiven, redeemed sons and daughters of God. The problem is, thinking and believing does not change automatically, it is changed by what we continually look at and meditate on.

Without daily intimacy with the Lord and continual exposure to His living word, we will stay focused on our failures and shortcomings, never actually becoming all that Jesus paid for. Reading and hearing the Word of God, fellowship with other believers, and listening to good preaching are all good things. However, nothing will transform us faster than spending time with God when no one else is looking. Intimacy is where the greatest transformation takes place. It is where grace has its perfect work.

          Intimacy with the Father builds faith, dispels doubt, and corrects wrong thinking. Beholding Him and His glory shapes our perspectives, confirming and strengthening our identity by changing the way we see Him.

          The Bible says that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 Matthew 12:33-37)

          What is in our heart and mind (believer and thinker) will eventually come out of our mouth, and that is the other thing that must change.

          We will never be free from sin while keeping it in our conversation and our thought life.

          We must not talk about how normal it is for us to sin. Saying things like; “We all sin, everybody sins, we are always going to sin,” strengthens a sin consciousness and reinforces the strongholds of wrong thinking and wrong believing.

There is a time and place to confess our sins and weaknesses to others for the purpose of needed ministry, restoration, and accountability. However, talking about the sins of others and filling our prayer life with wrong declarations of how sinful and unworthy we have been is counterproductive and anti-finished work.

That is not humility, it is BLASPHEMY! He made you worthy.

          Talking and thinking that way is “reckoning” ourselves alive to sin. It is saying that sin still has power over us, and therefore suggests that the finished work of Jesus did not actually accomplish anything for us.

Sin only has power over us if we empower it.

          If we do miss it and sin, run to God, and declare:

“Lord, I thank you for your mercy. I am sorry, that is no longer who I am Lord. That is certainly not what You look like in me. Thank you for making me clean and transforming me into your image. Thank you for perfecting your work in me and bringing me to the place where this is not an issue anymore. Thank you for your blood! Thank you for redeeming me. Thank you for Fathering me.”

           Understand that we have a healthy new identity that was purchased by the blood of Christ. Without our constant exposure to God’s presence and His Word, we will never find out who we are, and who we were created to be. Here are some scriptures that affirms who we are in Christ.

“We are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10)

“We have been perfected.” (Hebrews 10:14)

“We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

“We are holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” (Colossians 1:22)

“We are chosen by God, without blame, an adopted son, accepted, redeemed by His blood and forgiven by His grace.” (Ephesians 1:4-7)

          To truly live the abundant life in Christ we must die to our fallen, carnal nature. For us to be successful at this we will need intimacy with Him, and constant intake and exposure to His Word.  

Our intimacy with the Father is the key to dying to sin and self.

When we give ourselves to intimacy with Him and give ourselves to reading and studying His word, we lay ourselves on the great potter’s wheel allow Him to shape us into everything we were created to be.

If we don’t embrace the finished work of Christ and believe that sin has been dealt with, we the enemy opportunity to deceive us. The primary way he does this is through guilt, condemnation, and shame.

Guilt ~ A subconscious belief that I am not forgiven

Condemnation ~ A subconscious belief that I am worthy of judgment.

Shame ~ A subconscious belief that I am still the old person I used to be before Christ.

These three lies are Satan’s counterfeit to Godly conviction, Godly sorrow, and a Godly perspective on our new identity in Christ.

Romans 14:22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

For those that struggle with sin, it is a dead give away that they have yet to understand the gospel message and the completed work of Jesus Christ that we are to abide in. Personally, I struggle with it for decades until I began to see my deception. Even then, it took some time to overcome the strongholds of wrong believing. The thing that helped me the most was the book of Romans.

I found that reading Romans in the Message paraphrase of the New Testament helped me gain the right perspective on my redemption. It helped me move from trying so hard to be “sold out to God,” to understanding that I have been “bought out completely!” God purchased me with His own blood, knowing that I was a sinner, knowing that I had a fallen nature, knowing I would make mistakes, and knowing that I could not fix myself. Still he bought me!

Once I realized I could do nothing about fixing my sin, and understanding that only He could, I just quit thinking about it. Now I wake up every day to pursue Him and trust that He is perfecting the work that He started. I believe that God knows what He is doing, and I am thoroughly convinced that I do not.

As we seek God’s face our old carnal man dies, because no man can look into the face of God and live.

Exodus 33:20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 

We can look into the Father’s face because we are Christ’s. We have His Holy Spirit abiding in us. As we behold Him and His holiness, those things that are unholy and unworthy die. This is how we die to self.

We must believe that we are dead to sin, not giving sin another thought, not giving it the time of day. If we keep it out of our thoughts and out of our mouth, all the time and energy we previously wasted on trying to “do better,” or “clean ourselves up,” can be spent with Him.

The most important thing for us to remember about “reckoning ourselves dead to sin,” is believing that we are alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11 Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Warfare #15 ~ Finger In The Sand

Some of the most powerful teachings of Jesus are when the religious leaders are trying to catch Him in His words to bring an accusation against Him. He always seems to use those opportunities to demonstrate the kingdom of God that He is ushering in. This is one of my favorites.

In John 8 we see Jesus teaching in the temple and the Pharisees interrupt His reading to bring Him a woman caught in the act of adultery. Pay attention to how Jesus deals with this.

John 8:2-8 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 

          They were testing Jesus. They were squeezing Him, hoping for something to come out of Him that they could use against Him.

Our heart is revealed through testing. When we get squeezed by life and circumstance, what is inside of us comes out.

        There is much to be learned from this passage, but there are two key phrases in this verse that we will focus on; “they said to test Him,” and “He bent down and wrote on the ground.” How are they related? What was Jesus doing when He bent down to write on the ground? What is the Lord saying to us through this encounter?

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 

Being slow to speak is just one of the many valuable lessons to learn here. When Jesus got squeezed, what did He do? He bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. Giving us a living example of how to deal with testing, and how to find the answers we need when our feet are being held to the fire.

Most teachers would be quick to get angry for bursting into the temple and interrupting the service. They would be quick to rebuke and correct such brash and irreverent actions, but that is not what Jesus did.

          Instead of answering out of anger and His own understanding, Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground, focusing on what the Spirit had to say. I doubt that Jesus was writing anything significant on the ground. I believe He was simply checking what the Father had to say about it, how He should respond, and what He should do. I believe He was seeking wisdom and understanding.

They continued to pressure Him, we don’t know how long, but when He finally stood up He had the heart of the Father, and the Spirit gave Him the words to say. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone,” Then once more, He bent back down and wrote on the ground, waiting for further instruction asking the Father about the next step, waiting for those powerful words to have their full effect.

Proverbs 4:7-9 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

The principle thing in every test, every battle, and every encounter is getting wisdom and getting understanding. Wisdom and understanding are always available to us if we ask, seek, and wait. Many times we don’t think about waiting and speak before we seek. We try to answer or act from the shallow well of our limited understanding instead waiting , watching, and listening for direction from the Holy Spirit.

James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 

          Testing will always come, and we are to count it all joy when it does. The closer we get to Him, the greater our testing will be. What comes forth from us during testing and trials indicates what we believe and who we trust. Testing is an essential part of the gospel. It causes us to grow spiritually and increase in our authority in the kingdom of God.

          We know from scripture that in Jesus’s mind, He could do nothing of Himself. Since He is our model for Christian living, it would behoove us to adopt the same line of thinking. The life of Jesus is perfect theology. What we see Him doing, we should be practicing in our churches and in our personal lives. If we cannot see it in the life of Jesus, it doesn’t belong in ours.

John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

Luke 12:11-12 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

          Jesus modeled this passage in Luke 12 in His encounter with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus always modeled the word that He preached.

          Many times throughout the gospels, Jesus separated Himself in between times of ministry to pray and fellowship with the Father. Without this component in our lives, we will not be mindful enough, or strong enough to keep our finger in the sand when difficult tests arise.

The world is watching all of us that profess to be Christians to see our true character. Our response to trials and testing should produce wisdom and grace, seasoned with salt and in step with God’s character.

If we are not intimate with the Father, we will not produce the fruit of who He is when it counts the most.

Lets keep our sword in our hand, and our finger in the sand, remembering that a test of character usually comes in the form of a “pop quiz.”

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC