Jesus used the ancient figure of the
wineskins to warn His hearers against the soul-shrinking thought and
life patters of the traditionalists (see Luke 5:33–39). Not long
ago, I saw how His warning about old wineskins applied to my own
life. a cluster of personal failures brought me face to face with
frightening signs that my once-new wineskins were becoming old and
The first incident occurred when I was
ridiculed along with several charismatic friends in a published work
assailing the most visible leaders in this movement. The broadsides
were volleyed by a man I consider a friend, notwithstanding his
My former will to live humbly with all
Christians was cracked in the atmosphere of criticism. In private
conversations, I was defensive, retaliatory and moving toward a kind
of bitterness I thought my earlier experiences with renewal had
Not long afterward, I was speaking at
one of the nation’s great churches. While touring their expansive
complex, I experienced a piteous recurrence of a character weakness I
thought I’d overcome years before.
I used to feel threatened when I heard,
read of or visited the scene of a great move of God. Intimidation
would take over.
Years ago, I experienced a deliverance
from this sorry state of mind, and I became genuinely happy to see
God doing great things wherever I found them. That is, until that day
in that church.
I wanted to rejoice in such health and
blessing. Instead, I reeled under a vicious assault on a point of
pride I hadn’t recognized until then.
It didn’t overcome me, but I was
repulsed by the face that so vile a spirit of jealously could even
momentarily taunt my soul. It’s no delight to reveal these
things—except that I can do so with an honest heart freshly freed
through confession of my sin to God.
Of course, not one of us is ignorant of
the subtle skill of the old nature in resurrecting itself. But when
old ways shed by earlier repentance are found to have somehow
returned, the discovery need not be defending. It can become a hope,
signaling the Holy Spirit’s readiness to lead us forward!
We serve a Savior who not only forgives
sin such as mine but also delights in renewing—again and again. The
new wine is flowing today—and only new wineskins can contain it.