The Movement of the Spirit
Let’s go back to our scripture in Matthew 9. I appreciate that they came to Jesus with their questions. That’s good advice for us. When we have questions, we shouldn’t just come to conclusions on our own, or even simply from getting input by talking to others and reading about the subject. Take your questions to Jesus.
In answer to their questions, Jesus gave them a couple of illustrations that are helpful to consider. He says, “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17)NKJV In one illustration the shrinking new cloth tears the old. In the other, the expanding new wine breaks the stiff old wineskin that can’t flex. In either case it causes destruction.
The point made here is that the way of God does not fit in the mold of men. The Spirit of God does not fit within the patterns and programs that men set up. As a person, I naturally like things that are rigid, where I can see the lines, and know where the limits are. I like things that are predictable, that I can understand, and where we can all come to the same conclusion and do the same thing. That’s very attractive. But the Spirit of God doesn’t work that way. He might shrink in some areas and He might expand in other areas. He breaks the mold. The only way to stay within a mold is to quench the Spirit of God, because the Spirit of God is always moving. He’s teaching and adjusting and stretching us. At a certain season He leads us in one way, in another season He’ll lead us in another way, and it doesn’t seem to fit. You look at it and think, “Well, if God is really leading, He should lead like this.” But that’s not how the Lord works. He motivates us by His love, and that love is going to be applied differently in different situations. God’s kingdom isn’t outward, so we can’t put outward definitions on it. Rather, it’s about “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)NKJV It’s about God moving and working. He’s a living, active God. So a certain outward form might have been good for a season, but He might want to change things in the future.
Let us look at the story of Nicodemus in John 3. “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.” (John 3:1)NKJV So here’s a man who fasted. One Pharisee said he fasted twice a week—it was a practice among the Pharisees (Luke 18:11-12). “This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ ” (John 3:2)NKJV I can almost hear the questioning tone in his voice, “We know you are from God, but—but—you don’t fit. You don’t fit the mold. You’re not what we’re expecting. You’re different. But I can’t deny that you’ve got the power.”
And Jesus seems to know just what to say. He says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)NKJV Here is Nicodemus’s problem. He’s not born again. He can’t see the kingdom of God. He’s not in tune with what God’s doing. He’s looking at outward forms and he’s trying to line Jesus up and figure out who He is.
After Jesus told him he needed to be born again, “Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” (John 3:4-8)NKJV
We are born by the Holy Spirit, and we are also led by the Holy Spirit. Our whole life is to be one of the Holy Spirit leading us (Romans 8:14). Jesus uses the wind as an example. You can see the effects of the wind but you can’t really see the wind. Where does the wind come from? Where is it going? You can’t clearly predict it. Jesus says that everyone born of the Spirit is like that. The Spirit of God moves as He wishes, as He wills. And those who are born of the Spirit and walking with the Spirit move as He moves. They stretch or they shrink as the Spirit of God is expanding and contracting things. Jesus came to bring the kingdom of God for us to enter into and live in. Praise the Lord! And that kingdom is different than the way the programs of the world operate.