There is danger in dead religion
What seems like a lifetime ago, almost 20 years, I sat in the midst of dead religion. I didn’t know it, until the first day I sat in the midst of live faith! Tears well up in my soul as I write those words because it breaks my heart to think that there are many people around the world sitting where I once did. They are quite possibly good, saved people, serving Christ in their place; but I was not. I didn’t know the saving grace of Jesus Christ any more than I knew Superman. In my mind I knew of Jesus, but didn’t know Jesus. He was as surreal as Superman himself. I would read (and teach) scripture thinking… wow… that’s an amazing story. It is an amazing story, but at the time my unsaved soul had no spiritual discernment of the Word of God that comes with salvation, so it was just a story. That’s the danger of dead religion.
The scripture becomes just another book. The church becomes just another place. A prayer becomes a ritualistic means of getting “it” done.
No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
Patchin’ Old Britches
The disciples of John the Baptist had just questioned why Jesus’ disciples did not fast and carry out the ritualistic practices of the Pharisees. And to country quote my Lord, He said, we don’t patch old britches where I come from. That thought tickled me. The Pharisees put so much stock in their religious practices that their relationship with God was not a relationship at all, but merely a “get it done” method of behavior. Where they came from was all they could think about, not where they were going. The new that was happening was making them very uncomfortable. And for Jesus to put His new disciples in with the old works of the Pharisees would have been to Him like patchin’ a old pair of britches that were worn out. The new converts would have become a part of weak, worn out group of people. Jesus disciples were hanging out the Lord, the Bridegroom as mentioned in verse 15. They had a new relationship with the Lord who was in their midst. The Pharisees had lost their relationship with the Lord through ceremonial living.
New Wine and Old Bottles
The Pharisees represented empty vessels. Jesus said in Matthew 23:27 – “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Putting new wine in an old bottle would have been like putting a live person in the tomb of the dead. A new convert sitting in a church filled with lifeless Christians is no different. You’ll become one of them, just an empty vessel, looking pretty, but filling no one’s soul. You need fellowship with Christ and His people who are filled with the newness of life that never grows old.
I hope today finds you as a part of a church that is carrying out the mission of God, which is to bring people to the knowledge of Christ and His salvation and then disciple them to bringing others to the knowledge of Christ and His salvation. That jug of wine never gets old!!!
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