Good Wine Gone BadBy: Joseph H. Murray
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:29–30).
Someone has said that before the flood, Noah’s wine didn’t sour or ferment and wouldn’t make him drunk, but after the waters of the flood had abated, he planted a vineyard and made wine from the fruit thereof, and the Bible reads, “And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent” (Gen. 9:21). Noah’s good wine had gone bad, or soured, on him.
The writer to the Ephesians tells us not to be “drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), which Jesus called the new wine. He said, “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” (Matt. 9:17).
The bottles spoken of by Jesus here are the temples of our bodies, which we have to be born of the flesh (or water) to have for the receiving of the new wine, or the Holy Ghost. But let’s not let this new wine sour on us by grieving the Holy Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30).
Some go so far as to say that they are already saved, and that is to say that they have made it. Yet, they are doing things that are grievous to the Spirit of God even as the children of Israel did in the wilderness. “How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 78:40–41).
We who have received the Holy Ghost are yet in the wilderness, even as the natural Israelites were in the wilderness, and being in the wilderness is not being in the promised land. And not being in the promised land means we are not yet saved. For the promised land lies over Jordan. Theirs was a land located on this earth, and Jordan was a natural river, but the spiritual Israelites’ promised land lies beyond death in the new earth.
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest” (Ps. 95:6–11). How long have you been blessed with the infilling of the Holy Ghost? Forty years you say. Well that’s how long you have been in the wilderness. And many, I dare say, have been doing as Israel did, going around in a circle, and if not obeying His commandments to us, we have also been grieving Him and will never enter into His rest (or true Sabbath). When the [Holy Ghost] in us is grieved, our new wine has soured on us, and instead of it being a pleasure to us, we become the most miserable people on the face of the earth. Two spirits in one temple, one evil and one holy, cannot fellowship, and we are torn between the two. The battle is on, and it cannot be won until we decide to which spirit we are going to completely yield our vessel.
My Christian friend, examine yourself, and if you find that you fall into this position in life, and God has let some misfortune befall you, you should be thankful that you still have His attention and that He loves you enough that He will not let you out of His hands. Many natural criminals are never apprehended and brought to justice but run amuck in crime until they have a confrontation with the law and are killed in a gun battle. The same is true of the spiritual criminal. Many are never chastened of the Lord, nor are they captured because they were foolish in the beginning. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent,” the Scripture tells us in Revelation 3:19. Psalm 94:12–15 reads also: “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. For the LORD will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance. But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.”
If trouble is dogging your pathway, and you are sore distressed and cannot find rest, it’s because God has sent His agent on your trail, and you had better surrender, or He will also get you for resisting arrest. The federal government has an agency called the F.B.I., and even that isn’t called onto a case for local offenders, but God’s Bureau of Investigation has a worldwide coverage, and there is no hiding place except under the shelter of His wings. If God’s chastening rod is upon you, the closer you get to Him, the less severe the beating will be, because He doesn’t hit too hard in close. “My Son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:5–14).
When things have gone wrong in one’s life, and the Spirit of God is grieved, it puts one out of step with God and all that is righteous. These conditions can be felt by those who are walking in step and in tune with God. One grieved spirit in a group can affect everyone connected with it. But it cannot prevail upon the strength of the church, for Jesus said to Peter “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. No failure in anyone’s life need be disastrous or fatal as long as one can see his error and be remorseful and repentant.
The only way we can keep the unity of the Spirit of God is to be obedient to its biddings. That way we are not grievous to God nor to one another. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1John 5:3–4). We cannot keep the faith when our lives are overcome by sin and rebellion against God, for the scripture is written, “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence [or faith] toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment. And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us” (1John 3:21–24).
There are times during our Christian journey that things aren’t going to be pleasant, and we ask God, Why? But Jesus told His disciples, “It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come” (Luke 17:1).
There was a time in my life that I was being bothered by something unpleasant, and I was asking God why, and it seemed that the Spirit of God whispered to me, saying, “You are taking the woe by fretting about the thing about which you should be praying.” We had better be less harsh in our judgment and criticism unless we want the woe that is unduly ours. The woe belongs to the offender. Every offender of God’s people is going to be captured and brought to justice. You hold on and pray and see if that’s not true. “It’s better to give than to receive,” and it’s also “better to forgive than to offend”. Forgiveness brings the blessing. And, condemnation and judgment of others brings the woe that belongs to the offender upon us. “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).