In order for Paul to receive the mystery of the Gospel he first had to come face to face with his total failure as a man trying to please God. The same is true for each of us who call Christ our Lord.
New wine cannot be put into old wine-skins and Paul was a classic example of an old wine-skin.
Luk 5:37 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.
Luk 5:38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
Luk 5:39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ “
When Jesus spoke to the Jews of old and new wine-skins he was referring to the old and new covenant and the old and new creation. Jesus points out that those who are trained in the ways of the old will say it is better than the new. Therefore the challenge for the Lord is to cause us to see like He does the total failure of the Old Covenant.
Heb 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
Heb 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second…..v13: In that He says, “A NEW COVENANT,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The Old Covenant was made to bring all mankind to see that we are totally unable to keep it. All that obedience to the old covenant produces is pride or condemnation. It is a covenant with the old self –“the old man” as Paul called it in Romans 6:6
Saul was raised a Jew. He says of himself that he was: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Php 3:5,6
When Saul first came to Jesus he was still that insolent man, that proud law keeper who imagined himself to be very pleasing to God. Upon receiving Jesus and being filled with the Holy Spirit he immediately began preaching Jesus and confounding the Jews. Saul had been on a mission to Damascus to zealously kill Christians, now the same fleshly zeal was working for Jesus instead of against Him.
Act 9:29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.
Act 9:30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
Act 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
In those first days of his conversion Paul moved in the same zeal and confidence in his religious strength that he had moved in as a Pharisee. Right was right and watch out anyone who disagreed with Paul!! Once they got rid of Paul by sending him home to Tarsus the church had peace.
The old covenant mindset of obedience to an outer word was not to come over into the New Covenant. New wine –that is the Mysteries of the Gospel which Jesus would reveal to Paul could not be given to him until he grew totally aware of his inability to please God in his own strength.
Paul had to lose all that had profited him in order to receive all that God wanted him to have. Somewhere along the way Paul must have given permission to the Lord no matter what it cost him. I prayed that kind of prayer back in 2011 asking Father to lead me into all truth no matter what the cost…to expose the lies I believed no matter what the consequences! Do you want to be that new wineskin? You must first ask to be prepared by God. He will not force anyone to let go of what is blocking them. Paul had been a man that trusted in his own ability to please God. In other words he was blind.
Paul as a Pharisee and Paul as a new Christian although different in substance were acting out of the same carnal mind. Paul as a Pharisee did not have Christ in him. Paul as a new believer had Jesus living fully in his spirit. Yet like all of us when first born again, Christ was yet a seed in our heart needing time to grow. The old ways and thought patterns dominate us. The old man, even though crucified in Christ still seems to run our lives. The Old Man sees all things outwardly and trusts in outward appearance. Doing good and not doing bad are how the old man judges performance. Paul was a very good “do gooder”….but he says
Php 3:7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
Being a good Law keeper
Being of noble lineage
Being a Jew
Being of the favoured tribe of Benjamin , etc etc etc were all things that he had in his imaginary account. These were the things that he was banking on or depending upon if God ever judged him. He would have responded to God, “But Lord how can you judge me, I am a righteous man?!”
This is much the same as the men Jesus spoke of in a parable…
Luk 18:9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Luk 18:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Luk 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
Luk 18:13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
Luk 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is a beautiful and tragic picture. Paul had to become like the publican and so do we! This is not just something that must happen when we fist come to believe in Jesus…but today! Do we have eyes to see our true condition before God? Or do we dare trust in anything of our own doing? I dare say that many many Christians are standing in the same place as the Pharisee in Jesus story here.
Paul was the classic Pharisee and yet God had chosen to reveal Jesus in Paul so that all could see what God is like. Therefore everything of the Old Paul had to die.
Now this is where I am familiar. I wrongly thought that in order to become more like Jesus I must die to everything I was. So I stopped doing many things I used to enjoy doing. I used to love surfing but I stopped because I reasoned somehow that it was not godly to love doing something that much.
A clue on how this works is in the wineskin parable.
Jesus said And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ “Luk 5:39
God would have us desire the new wine….but He will not force us to stop drinking the old. Instead He gives us little sips of the new wine as we follow Him. The new is superior but we are stuck in the old ways and are used to the old. Gradually he weans us off the old usually by the experience of repeated failure to obey God.
The New Covenant which God made came into being whilst the Old was still being followed by the majority. The new wine-skins carrying the new wine were mingling among the old wine followers and many people were tasting and seeing that the new wine was better than the old. Grace and love and mercy were in these people whereas only sternness and harshness and self indulgence were seen in the Pharisees.
If we are honest with God we come to the place where we admit that we cannot please Him and do not even know Him like we should. We desire to have the new written upon our hearts and to walk in the new way. As we desire the new we come to see that we have lost all that was of the old. We come to see that we are already that new creation we want so desperately to become.
We are already!
We come to see that we are pleasing to God already. We come to see that we are one person with Jesus in all ways. We have longed to be these things by doing and more doing…Now we finally see and choose to believe that we are already these things in Him.
By simple faith we gladly lose all that we were in order to gain Christ Jesus as our only life and only self now.
This is what Paul went through in those wilderness years. He came to see that the one he had thought was right with God was really a guilty sinner. Therefore he loathed himself and battled to do good and not do bad. But the more he tried to do good the more this stirred up sin to do bad. The day came when he finally cried to God for deliverance from his plight. It was at this time that God revealed Christ IN Paul.
Paul had been unaware that he had been trying to serve God as a separate person from God. He had imagined that within himself he had some ability to obey what God’s word told him to do. Yet he found that God’s written word was death to him because try as he might, he just could not stop coveting. Through this battle he came to SEE that the “I” he thought of as his true self was really Sin…even though he believed in Jesus.
It is this I…this old self…the false self…that we must lose in order to find the new self.
The truth revealed to Paul was astonishing. Take note of the pronouns…I and me
Gal 2:19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
The truth revealed to Paul is the truth for each one of us.
Which “I” died? The old I. The I that served God by outward obedience to law. The old I that thought it was something separate from God.
Rom 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
The Old I was married to the Law, which only serves to give the knowledge of sin. Therefore the Old I can never be free from accusation and condemnation. The Old I can never know rest and peace. But when Christ died that Old I died with Him and in Him. You and I were in Christ on the Cross- where we died.
In the resurrection we are raised up in Christ a new self..a new I….one that is now joined or married to Christ Jesus. This new I is What/Who serves God in the newness of the spirit, not in the oldness of the letter. But Who is this new I that is I?
Sounds confusing doesn’t it?
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
This is reality.
This is literal!
This is crucial and substantial!
It is no longer I who live in me. Christ lives in me as the I that I am.
Therefore the I that I now am is Christ Jesus Himself JOINED AS ONE SELF with me.
“…and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…”
This new I–Christ and me as One–now live. We do not live like the old I lived, trying to do things for God. We live by the faith of the Son of God. Not by faith in Jesus…but I live by His faith.
His faith works like this.
The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he sees the Father do.
This new I that I am..that we are..me and Jesus as One…rests completely inside the Father. This new I is Jesus in me….the One who loved me and gave Himself…His SELF to me. Jesus traded His self for my old self, becoming Sin for me. That was what I was…SIN. Jesus became SIN for me..He became me…and died as me, therefore I died with Him….then was raised up free of that old me, becoming the new me..my new I…my new self.
I have lost all that I was–to become all that He is.
We do not try to lose anything for we have already died on the Cross in Christ. We do not need to lose our life but to agree with God that we HAVE ALREADY LOST IT. We ARE a new creation. We are a new person. Are as He is..Are fully pleasing in His sight…now.
The trouble for us is that we do not see that we have died already because we listen to the accuser who constantly points at us to make us do good or make us try to stop doing bad. If we fall for that…we are reviving again the shadow of the old man(which already died) and are living an imaginary life that God does not recognise at all.
The only life God recognises is Christ. This is why Paul gladly let go of the fake self built upon his performance in order that he may gain Christ and be found in Him NOT HAVING HIS WON LIFE—OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS….but the LIFE or righteousness that is from God. JESUS!!