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Dear Partner,

I was recently asked, "What did Jesus mean when he answered the questions about fasting when He said you don't put new wine into old bottles?" Here is the passage of scripture:

Luk 5:33-39   And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. 36 And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. 37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. 39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

For many years this passage was a complete mystery to me. What in the world did fasting have to do with sewing new patches onto old garments, or with putting new wine into old bottles? I had not a clue. About the only thing I could understand was that Jesus said plainly that after He was taken away from earth, His disciples would fast. Based on that limited knowledge alone I would fast (a little) over the years. It wasn't until I began hearing the messages taught by Pastor Dave Roberson that eventually the mysteries of fasting were revealed to me and as always they were so simple.

Let's go all the way back to Adam in our thinking. Adam was made in the image of God. His spirit was created righteous and holy from the very beginning. He was given a body that did not have the motions of sin and death in it. If you will allow the analogy, his spirit was the "wine" and his body was the "bottle." In God's original plan, man's spirit was pure and his body was eternal. Man was created with new wine in a new bottle. But at the fall of man, sin entered into him and death by sin.

Rom 5:12   Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

Death entered into man's spirit and his body. Man became ruled by the law of sin and death. God had warned Adam that he would die "in the day" that he ate thereof. We know that Adam's body did not die for over 900 years, but his spirit went from life unto death instantly the very day he partook of the forbidden fruit. Again, using the analogy Jesus used when teaching about fasting man's spirit was now dead unto God and his body had become mortal (subject to death). Or you could say it this way, man was now old wine in an old bottle.

When Jesus teaches about the cloth and the wine regarding fasting, He is actually prophesying about what will soon happen when the new birth is made available to man after His death, burial and resurrection. When a person is born again, he literally goes from death unto life in his spirit. The Holy Spirit does a miracle and the believer is "raised to new life" in his spirit. He goes from being "old wine" to being "new wine" with a spirit that is once more alive unto God. Jesus goes on to explain, however, that until the time we receive our glorified bodies God has to leave us in these same old bodies that have the motions of sin and death working in them. In this dispensation on earth, God had no choice but to pour this new wine into old bottles. We are born again children of the living God, eternal creatures who will never die, living in bodies that still have the motions of sin and death working in them. We are literally new wine in old bottles.

Did you ever wonder why we have so much trouble with fleshly temptations and desires? It's because the new wine and the old bottle are totally incompatible with each other. Our reborn spirit and the sinful flesh that houses it are completely hostile with one another constantly. Look at how Paul describes this warfare in his letter to the Galatians:

Gal 5:16-18   This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

The Greek word translated "lusteth" is "epithumeo" and means "to set the heart upon" and "to strongly desire." The flesh has strong desire for things that the reborn human spirit is absolutely against. The reborn spirit has strong desire for things that the flesh is absolutely against. There is this constant tension between the spirit and the flesh in every born again person and the question is which will win? And right here is where the wisdom of Jesus' teaching is made manifest.

Fasting is a tool that weakens the flesh and helps bring it under the dominion of the reborn spirit in every believer. In the same way that reading the Word of God and prayer feeds and nurtures the spirit of man, so fasting is a tool that forces the flesh (the old bottle) to submit to the dominion given to the children of God by their Father.

Sue and I love you and appreciate you.   We thank God for your generous and giving heart.   God bless you!


Your friend and co-laborer,

 

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