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From The Heart

Publish date: 01/23/2011

He told them a proverb also: No one puts a patch from a new garment on an old garment; if he does, he will both tear the new one, and the patch from the new [one] will not match the old [garment]. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the fresh wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled and the skins will be ruined (destroyed). 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine immediately desires new wine, for he says, The old is good or better.  Luke 5:36-39 AMP

Jesus spoke this parable in the presence of His brand new disciples and the Pharisees. He gives us these illustrations to show us that old forms and new contents cannot go together. New contents require brand new forms. The Law and the Gospel cannot be mixed. The Law is dependent on our ability to keep it – which is impossible. The Gospel depends only on faith in the free gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Jesus did not come to patch up an old system, but to bring a brand new dispensation.

1. You cannot put a patch from a new garment on an old garment

In Scripture, garments are often used as an example to picture character and conduct. Colossians 3:8-17 talks about “taking off” the old man, and ceasing to do the works of the flesh, and “putting on” the new man, and operating in the fruit of the Spirit. Jude 23 AMP says, “[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality.”   

The old garment is referring to what we have without faith in Jesus. It could represent the old law, and also an old sinful way of life. Isaiah 64:6 says that, “our righteousness is like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” That means that all OUR own efforts, no matter how noble or well-intended, are completely inadequate and unacceptable. It is useless and fruitless to trust in our own good works for salvation.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Isaiah 61:10 AMP

We need God to give us a brand new garment by His grace and mercy! Many people have a “patchwork” religion that they have made, instead of trusting the Lord for the robe of salvation that He gives by His grace. If you try to take Jesus’ teachings and “patch” them onto your old way of doing things, you will only make things worse. You need a new heart not merely a new tradition! You must lay the old down and put on the brand new garment that only He can give.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.  12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and* cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  Matthew 22:11-13 NKJV

The “wedding garment” is that robe of righteousness that only God can give. We cannot enter heaven or the presence of God without it. We need the Lord to make us a “new creature”. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” And Galatians 6:15 AMP says, “For neither is circumcision [now] of any importance, nor uncircumcision, but [only] a new creation [the result of a new birth and a new nature in Christ Jesus, the Messiah].”

2. You cannot pour new wine into old wineskins

In Bible times, they did not have glass bottles. They made “bottles” out of skins – usually goatskin, sewn together tightly forming a watertight bag. The new wine would expand inside the skin after a few days, so new wine had to always be placed in a new, supple, pliable wineskin. A fresh wineskin had the attributes of strength and elasticity. Older wineskins could not accommodate any expansion of their contents, because they were already stretched out and also dryer and more rigid and brittle and would burst, spilling and wasting the wine.

Wine is symbolic of the Spirit of God. The Pharisees were like old wineskins - they were too rigid to accept Jesus – Jesus cannot be contained by mere traditions or rules. Even some Christians today are so rigid with traditions and rules, that they cannot receive what the Spirit of God wants to do in their hearts and their churches! We should not allow our church programs and ministries to be so structured that we have no room for a fresh touch of the Spirit, a new method, or a new idea. We should not allow what God did yesterday in our hearts to be all that He is allowed to do. We must remain pliable – humble and teachable – so that He can continue to change and refine us into His image and likeness. We must always be a work in progress - welcoming the life-changing work of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in our lives.

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], 24 And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:23-24 AMP

3. You will not desire nor receive the new if you are hanging onto the old

People tend to get comfortable and be satisfied with the way things are – whether it be a life of religious tradition, a life of “good works”, or a life of sin. People find change uncomfortable – even scary or painful. There is a saying:
that people will usually not change, until the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of change. Jesus could not merely “patch” up our old way of life – He had to give us a new one. We have to be prepared to give up the old and familiar to step into this new, exciting life with Him!

The message of the Gospel will always remain “new” because it must be accepted and applied in every generation. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be prepared for new ways to live, new ways to look at people, and new ways to serve.