Thomasville Times Enterprise

Faith & values

January 30, 2014

Drink the new wine of the Spirit

If you have never seen the movie “Matthew” with Bruce Marchiano playing the part of Jesus, I would highly recommend it. The actor wanted so much to portray Jesus as a man who was filled with love for His Father and all of His brethren and who lived in such joy that it radiated from His very being.  He did a superb job, in my opinion. He played with children, joked with His disciples and became passionate in His opposition to the legalistic Pharisaical professional religionists of His time.

Did you know that the Hebrew word for Eden is pleasure? God created an atmosphere for us that was to be an absolute delight.  We were created to enjoy Him and fellowship with Him on a regular basis.  I don't think that when sin entered the picture God changed His mind. There are too many scriptures that encourage us to partake of Him in spite of our weaknesses and even because of them. We were created for pleasure and the real problem is settling for a lesser pleasure, rather than pursuing Him.  Both C.S. Lewis and John Piper, whom I highly respect, write extensively on the subject of pursuing a joyful relationship with God. Both address the excesses of worldly pleasures that cause us to settle for less than God intended. 

Some are so paranoid about the possibility of becoming too emotional, etc. when it comes to enjoying God, that they would rather settle for a legalistic, sober religion that will never attract those who do not know Him. If you go down through church history and study it in any depth, you will find that many of our forefathers understood and partook of a deep, intimate personal relationship with a God of joy and delight.

I, for one, am no longer willing to settle or be satisfied with lifeless, legalistic religion. I have drunk the “new wine” of the Spirit and there is no natural wine that can begin to compare with what He has on tap. And, yes, His wine will affect you in a similar way. Just ask Peter on the day of Pentecost! “These men are not drunk, as ye suppose . . .”  What would make someone think these grown men were drunk at 9 o’clock in the morning?  Looking and acting like they were inebriated, I think.

I have experienced such joy at times, I could not contain it. Seeing someone come to an altar, repenting of their old ways and desiring to begin a new life in Him, brings such pleasure, not only to the Father, but to us who have prayed and believed for their deliverance. I have found myself (literally) alternating between laughing and crying for joy when something like this happens. Jesus was filled with this kind of joy when His disciples returned from one of their ministry trips after reporting their success. (Luke 10:21 in the Greek indicates a visible demonstration of His joy). Moffat's translation of scripture is delightful and expressive. Here is an example: “Oh the bliss of him whose guilt is pardoned, and his sin forgiven! Oh the bliss of him whom the Eternal has absolved, whose spirit has made full confession!” (Psalm 32:1-2)  Bliss — supernatural delight — is for now, not just the future, in the sweet bye and bye! The Amplified also uses similar vocabulary to describe this same delight when describing the crowd's response to Jesus healing someone: “and overwhelming astonishment and ecstasy seized them all, and they recognized and praised and thanked God; and they were filled with and controlled by reverential fear and kept saying, We have seen wonderful and strange and incredible and unthinkable things today. (Luke 5:26) How many of us can relate to that kind of emotion and expression in our own surroundings? It is no wonder that so many of our young people are turning to drugs, the paranormal, hedonism, etc. If we were all created for pleasure and we have not found it in Him, then surely we will settle for a baser experience.

His joy is what will sustain us through the tough times we all go through as a natural part of  living in a fallen world.  Let His joy become your sustaining strength.  Go ahead and drink some of that “new wine”!  After all, a merry heart does good like medicine.

 

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