New Wineskins for New Wine. Time to grow up!

School of Grace.

May 13th 2015

New Wineskin for New Wine.


1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The word “therefore relates to what Paul has just stated in the previous chapter. There he clearly speaks of the two covenants, old and new, as like two mothers, Hagar and Sarah. The first giving birth to slavery, the second to freedom and the offspring of these two mothers, Ishmael and Isaac, cannot mix together in the same house. Those born of the flesh always persecute those born of the Spirit (Gal.4:29)

The recurrent theme throughout this letter to the Galatians is Paul’s warning of the dangers of trying to mix the two covenants.


Still today, most of the disagreements in the modern church stem from confusion about the difference between the old and the new. Without a clear understanding of what Jesus accomplished, we end up living in guilt when we should be living in joy. We see in the scriptures that there are three main covenants referred to.

1.     God’s covenant with Abraham. Under the Abrahamic covenant, God’s people were blessed simply by virtue of being a descendant of Abraham. What brought the blessing of God was their Pedigree, the fact that they were a natural member of Abraham’s family.

2.     God’s covenant with Moses. Under the Mosaic covenant, God’s people were blessed by virtue of their obedience to the Law. (Obey and you will be blessed, disobey and you will be cursed). What brought the blessing of God was their Performamce.

3.     God’s covenant with Jesus. Under the New Covenant. God’s people are blessed by virtue of their acceptance of the free gift of Christ’s life as their life. We are blessed not because of our natural pedigree, or our performance, but simply by our Position in Christ.

To understand this more fully, please go to


“Stand fast” is an expression of the Greek word “steko.” (“to hold one’s ground”). The fact that Paul gives this instruction, shows that our freedom in Christ will be challenged and one of the enemy’s greatest weapons is legalism. We must resist every temptation to be drawn back into self-effort.

The liberty we are to stand fast in, is liberty from the oppression of the Old Covenant.

Even a little of the Old mixed in with the New, results in the liberty of the New being stolen from us, which is why Paul warns in v9 “A little leaven, leavens the whole lump”. Jesus declared this truth in Luke 5:36-39, when He warned that it is not possible to patch a new piece of cloth unto an old garment, nor put new wine in an old wineskin. In both cases the incompatibility of the Old with the New will lead to damage. We cannot mix our performance with Christ’s and think that “I will do my best and Christ will do the rest”. The work of Christ is not to patch up our old try our best life, but to gift us with a perfect life; His life.

The Old and New Covenants cannot be mixed because they are opposites.

·       The message about the Law is ALL about you and your performance (Deuteronomy 28:1,15).

·       The message of the Gospel is ALL about Christ and His complete and finished performance on our behalf (Rom.10:4).


Under the New Covenant, we are blessed through simple faith in Christ’s finished work. But in Galatians 3:12 Paul declared that the law is not of faith. That means that the Law and the Gospel (Old and New covenants) work by totally different principles.

If you are trusting in Jesus for your salvation, you cannot also be trusting in yourself and your ability to keep the law. If you are trusting in your ability to keep the law, then you are not trusting in Christ. It’s one or the other, not a combination (mixture) of both!

The Old Covenant fulfilled its purpose. It revealed the perfection of God and man’s inability to be perfect as God is (Rom.3:19). Jesus did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfil it (Matt.5:17). As a man, representing mankind, He totally fulfilled the requirements of the Law. He merited for us all the blessings of the Old Covenant and He took upon Himself all the curses of the Old Covenant (Gal.3:13), so as far as the Old is concerned it has run its course.  Jesus, by His blood has established a New Covenant that rendered the Old one obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), just as the moment you sign a new will for your estate, any old one becomes redundant.


Stop trying to move God. He moved!

We cannot enjoy the New Covenant if we still have an Old Covenant mind-set.

Under the Old Covenant, the blessings of God were a wage earned. Under the New they are a gift given.

·       Under the Old Covenant, God is the one who responds to us. A wage is the response of the employer to the work of the employee. With an Old Covenant mind-set, believers are waiting for God to respond to their work (prayer, sacrifices, church attendance, financial giving). They are trying to ‘motivate’ God to act.

·       Under the New Covenant, we are the ones who respond to God, for the one receiving a gift is the one who responds. God has already given the gift, (John 3:16) and our response is to receive by faith what has already been given.


Faith does not move the hand of God; the hand of God has already moved and faith simply receives what God now offers as a gift. It is knowing God as so generous that He has already given us all we need, that enables us to pray in faith in order to receive what has been freely provided (Mark.11:24). We cannot be double-minded about the willingness of God to give (James1:7,8) The good news of the true loving nature of God (Gospel of God’s grace) causes faith to arise in our hearts, faith to stop believing that we have to move Him and start receiving the move that He has already provided.

If a sinner asked you, “When is God going to save me?” what would you tell them?

It is not up to God to save sinners, it is up to sinners to receive the salvation that God has already freely provided. At the Cross our salvation (wholeness) was won by Jesus in its entirety. Through the Cross salvation and healing has been made available to all to receive by faith (Gal.3:13, 1Peter.2:24) It is not up to God to heal the sick, it is up to the sick to receive their healing. What Paul was warning the Galatians is that the greatest hindrance to receiving all that God has provided for us in Christ, is the “wage” mind-set, the Old Covenant thinking that we have to earn the blessing of God. Such attempts to ‘move’ God estrange us from the very grace of God (Gal.5:4). Trying to patch the grace of God onto an Old Covenant belief tradition that says we need to move God, results in a tearing in our minds of the union between us and God in Christ.


Time to grow up.

Why do so many believers remain in spiritual infancy and struggle to mature into the victorious life of Christ? Why do so many look back to their salvation experience as the best time of their Christian life?

The reason is our reluctance to believe that we can live a life pleasing before God without the Schoolmaster of the Law looking over our shoulder (Gal.3:24) Many Christians are uncomfortable and disturbed by scriptures that declare truths such as the Law is now obsolete and God is not imputing their sins against them. They are disturbed because they cannot see, without the Ten Commandments and the threat of God’s judgement hanging over them to restrain them, what will stop them from becoming lawless?

What they fail to see is that Grace is not merely the absence of Judgement, it is the presence of God’s divine influence in our lives. God has not done away with sin and the Law and stopped there, He has replaced the external law with an internal law; the law of the Spirit who gives life (Rom.8:2). He has replaced laws designed to point out our fallen nature with a nature that has no desire to sin. Hebrews 8:10 declares God’s confidence, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts…” A Christian has no need for an external law because he now has an internal nature that needs no law to restrain it; Christ’s nature (unless you believe that Christ needed the Law to keep His behaviour under control)

God always planned to give us a nature that did not need the Law or threats of punishment to restrain it. This is what the prophet Ezekiel spoke of;

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26,27.


God has placed within believers a new spirit; the Spirit of Christ and it is because of His Spirit in our lives that we live a life pleasing to God. All glory goes to Him and not to our performance.

Why should we attempt to live a life apart from God’s life in us, yet that is what we are doing when we attempt to return to a life of seeking to move God to bless our lives. We are separating ourselves from the truth that in Christ, we now only have one life and it is a perfect one (1Cor.6:17,1John 4:17). Let us not fall away from the grace that we have been given; the new sinless life that is within us. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to convince us of our righteousness, our union with God, that as faith in the enormity of Christ’s work rises in us, we find ourselves experiencing the joy of those who know, that where sin abounds grace does much more abound. Let us stand fast and remain in that truth and allow the fruit of this new life to abound in our lives (John 15:5). Let the Holy Spirit renew our thinking so we can take hold of the enormity of the love of God (Eph.3:17-19). Let us agree with Jesus; if we are to hold the new wine, we require a new wineskin! The mind of Christ in us is that new wineskin. Let us believe His Word and think His thoughts about us and others will see His life in us, they will see a people growing up into Christ. (Eph.4:11-24)