In light of recent events especially at this time of the year, one of the most observed activity in the church today is FASTING.
Kenneth Hagin once commented:
“Some people try to make a religion out of fasting. They push themselves to an extreme, thinking works will get the job done. But I don’t believe in religion; I believe in Christ and life in Christ. Don’t get involved in works.”
I strongly believe common sense needs to applied in understanding the topic “Fasting” and its application in the New testament.
Many comment that the church in the new testament as evidenced in the scriptures. Some say that since Jesus fasted then we have to. But if we truly have closer look at the scriptures perhaps we may see things differently.
The church in the book of Acts fasted for 3 basic reasons:
1. To minister to the Lord
2. To ordain men to the ministry.
3. When they sought in times of extreme danger.
The other cases where Paul himself fasted was because of the persecution and troubles he was going through. He simply could not eat because there was no food.
“I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Corinthians 11:26-27)
The purpose of fasting was very much not the same as that of the Old covenant. This had to be because of the finished work.
Many people are quick to Isaiah 58 as to the reason why they engage in prolong fast that even stretch to between 30-150 days.
Now let’s look at the scripture itself and you will discover something amazing. Which is this scripture was not talking about but Jesus.
Please note the word that were boldened.
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
The scripture above gives up a vivid picture of the consummation of the finished work of Christ. The theme of the scripure is Jesus and not about us. Whenever we look at the scriptures in light of us, we end up with works that burden us and sap the life in us.
If your fasting can loose the bonds of wickedness and let the oppressed go free then Christ died in vain. He died for nothing.
Look at what the same Prophet Isaiah later said in chapter 61:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
God honours faith more than anything else. Faith is our title deed to the blessings of God in Christ and fasting. Fasting can put us in a position of sensitivity when it is mixed with the word.
These extreme fasts that people declare are absolutely UNNECESSARY. Why work your way into the blessings when they are already available through the finished work of Jesus.
Another objection that may arise out of this post may be the encounter Jesus had with the disciples of John the Baptist, when they asked him “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?
“In Israel it is common to have periods for fasting. The exception is when someone attends a wedding dinner. That’s what Jesus meant. When he is around you don’t fast.
When Jesus mentioned that when he is away, the disciples fast he wasn’t talking about today. He meant the 3 days he was crucified and buried. If you look at the resurrection accounts with his disciples he would tell them to eat.
What about now? Many people tell you, you will be married to Jesus at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
I don’t believe that is true. In Romans 7 Paul speaks about the fact as Jews they were married to the Law. Christ provided a death for you to be separated from the Law without breaking it.
In fact he says we already belong to another. We are actually already married to Jesus. Paul even speaks about children resultant from the marriage. You are already bearing fruit for God.
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
Hence the bridegroom is perpetually with you. When that happens you don’t fast. You feast.
The marriage of the Lamb took place when the Law was removed. That happen when the temple which was the foundation of the Law was burned down. You are already his bride.
Perhaps the confusion is created by how we are often thought of the idea that “God with us” to mean as in he being on our side.
Emmanuel is a concept that is wrongly perceived. Many think it means he is alongside you. God has made himself one with you. He is in you around you and one with you. That’s how he is with you.
He has infused His Son with you. Through Jesus the divine and the natural became one. You are now in that Christ. He joined you with the Godhead.”
We are to be led of the Spirit in any activity we engage in as the church and not be involved in activities to prove our identities and spiritual status. Fasting should like every other ordinance should be with common sense. Fasting doesn’t change God or impress Him.
It benefits you but does not qualify you for more of God. I believe in a lot cases that is even delighted when you feast on the good things in the land. He gets the glory when you eat well and sleep well. That puts you in a better position to be more useful in advancing the kingdom of God.