‘To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?’ 2 Cor 2.16 NIV.
Who is equal to such a task? Anyone filled by the Spirit of Christ.
There’s nothing more tragic that hearing a speaker or observing the witness of a church that ministers death when it thinks it has a ministry of life. Iniquity is a subtle form of death that exists among people and often transmitted from generation to generation. It manages to present a face of acceptability but unmasked it has the visage of the religious spirit. This kind of iniquity is not the result of immorality or perfidy. Its essence is found in distorting the gospel of Jesus and the apostles.
‘But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity’ Luke 13.27 KJV.
Jesus is life itself. In Him all things find their purpose and hold together. For anything to be alive it must come forth from Jesus and circle back to Him. He is the beginning and the end. To be alive and alight. To love. To be ignited with the fierce burning flame of the brightness of life, Jesus Himself must be our life. This is why all who would engage in activity that is alive, why all who would teach and speak living words must live in the new testament and abandon the old covenant.
‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV.
WHAT IS THE WINESKIN?
The new covenant is the vicarious humanity of Jesus. It is Christ our life. I once heard a preacher describe the new covenant as ‘new covenant theology.’ It’s not a theology in the sense of a mode of belief. It’s what God has achieved in Christ for all. This is Christ our life. Look at it this way. Many people talk of ‘receiving Christ.’ That’s the religious view. The fact is you have already been received into His life. You belong. This is the new wineskin. The new and living way of your union with God.
Are you living in a new wineskin or have you attempted to patch up an old testament mind-set with some TRY-HARDER Jesus BAND-AIDS? As ministers of the new covenant we minister Christ’s life to all. Not Christ as the means to religion. Competent to minister the Kingdom of God’s Son we minister light. As ministers of the new covenant we represent resurrection from the dead. We are the aroma of life to a wilting world because in Christ we are personally RESURRECTION AND LIFE.
Have you ever witnessed someone earnestly doing their best, yet their efforts are labored, almost heavy and certainly not anointed? They are more earnestly religious than alive and just shy of the outflow of the Spirit. Why? The letter is hand-maiden to the law and the belief system is the child of the letter. Our beliefs are a frame of reference. But they are not something to live from. Christ is our life. In the new covenant you are the expression of Jesus. As a son you are the manifestation of our Father.
This is the key new covenant truth: In Jesus you and our Father are one.
There are two ways to live. Letter or spirit. What will it be? To live from the Spirit is to have Jesus as our life. It is to be fully human, fully ourselves. To live from the letter is to live from law, beliefs, a religious framework– even an agenda that we hope is enhanced by the gifts of the Spirit. But the Spirit does not come from the gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit without limit comes to you because you agree that you are our Father’s daughter or son.
Jesus warned that one can utilize the power gifts of the Spirit, yet be unknown and unauthorized by Him. The Kingdom is the life of Jesus manifest in you and more. It is the life of the Father flowering and bearing fruit in the sons and daughters of God.
There is a sharpness and a poignancy that is ours when Christ is our life. We discern between the Kingdom and religion. We can sharply distinguish flesh from spirit.
The Kingdom of God is a realm of love, authority and power that transcends religious sincerity and earnest well-doing. Because it is the Spirit of Christ in you, it is the kingdom of heaven manifesting on earth through you. I can live my life in order to earn the love of God, in which case my actions will be labored and my spiritual discernment dull. Then again I can embrace Jesus as my life and multiply the life of the Father as a son. One is mere religion and the kingdoms of this world. The other is the Kingdom of God.
What is the wineskin? It is eating Jesus flesh and drinking His blood in order that you will be His life!
‘Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: "The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever’ Rev 11.15 NLT.