Heal The Land Daily Devotional Archives

Devotionals By The Heal The Land Ministry

Why We Fast

Posted by Job on March 2, 2007

Romans 7:14-19 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 

Under the old covenant, God commanded the Jews to fast as part of their rituals for worship, forgiveness of sins, consecration, and to draw nigh to God. Now I have said in the past that the reason why God gave Israel these laws and rituals was not for the establishment of righteousness or for salvation, but rather to set apart a nation of people distinct from all others in the earth from which to raise up His Son so that those people first and then the rest of the world could be saved by Him through His Son. Also, many of the rituals gave a prophetic or symbolic representation of His Son. But after the Son – and then the Holy Spirit – came, the purpose for the law and the rituals had been fulfilled, and there was nothing of spiritual value to be gained by keeping them. Yet many Christians today still fast. Why, and what purpose does it fill?

It is true that some Christians regrettably fast for the wrong reason, thinking that it makes them more holy and/or that it gives them spiritual power. In their spiritual immaturity, they are trying to gain on the outside through the flesh what has already accomplished by Jesus Christ for them on the cross and only needs to be established on the inside by the Holy Spirit through faith. Still, despite its abuses, fasting can and should be a very important part of the Christian life, and the reason is that fasting helps a Christian to overcome the world and to overcome the flesh. We often do not realize how we are creatures of routine, habit, tradition, etc. We further do not realize how many of these routines, traditions, habits, etc. come about because of or in reaction to external forces in our lives that are ungodly. We also are rarely conscious of how much of our daily activities are motivated or controlled by things which superficially appear to please or comfort our flesh. We do so many things without thinking or even being conscious of our doing them, let alone of their affects on other people. For instance, virtually all men automatically stare at the bodies of women and girls, and their expression changes based on the pleasure – or displeasure – they get from it; a man will smile and fix his stare if he finds the woman attractive, or he will frown and even turn his head he perceives the woman unattractive, or even if he spots a flaw in an otherwise attractive woman. This man has no idea that he is acting in such a revolting fashion. He further has no idea that he cannot even control it. Perhaps he may be aware of his basic biology, but what he does not know is that his biology is almost completely controlled by his psychology, which is so strong that he mistakes it for biology. He has no concept of how he has been conditioned all his life by the actions of other men (including his father) and all the images and depictions of sexuality that he has been exposed to in entertainment and media that not only causes him to act this way without thinking, but makes it almost impossible to act any other way when he is desperately trying not to. He further has no idea that women, including his wife, female friends and relatives, his mother and sisters and (yes) daughters, and even total strangers, have seen him doing this thing all their lives. He does not know that this behavior, and the similar behavior of virtually all men, causes females from a very young age to dress and act in a way that will cause men to stare and smile (approval) and prevent their frowning and turning of head (disapproval), and how women will alter their appearance and behavior in drastic ways in response to their conditioning by the approval (reward) and disapproval (punishment) environment that men inflict on them, and that boys in turn will respond by altering their own behavior in response to that of the women. 

Now, this is totally natural from a worldly sense. It is the result of our being born into Adam; lust and power in men, low self – esteem and a desire to control in women, and then being thrust into an environment ruled by these demons. The result is that our will, emotions, mentality, habits, desires, expectations, etc. are shaped by sin, evil, and demons in every area of our lives. This is what we call “the flesh” (or “the heart”). Even though it is not our physical flesh, it is so basic, fundamental, natural, and inseparable to us that it seems like a second skin. As a matter of fact, it is actually more real to us than our skin, bones, muscles, and blood! Proof? Cut off a man’s arms and legs, and he will still leer at women. Gouge out his eyes, and his fondest memories will be of looking at women, and his biggest torment will be never being able to stare at a woman’s body. We tell ourselves that it is natural biology, and even concoct evolutionary theories for it. Proof that this is incorrect is that different cultures have different standards of sexual beauty; what one culture might find revolting is extremely desirable in another. Furthermore, when people move from one culture to another, they ultimately adapt to the standards of the culture that surrounds them. And most revealing of all, because of the proliferation of the sin of homosexuality and child molestation – and their growing acceptance, many people who would not have exhibited this behavior towards the same sex or even towards members of a different sex that are sexually immature now do so. What is next on the horizon: bestiality, or sex with animals, will become more common and accepted, and many people will find themselves conditioned to be sexually attracted to horses, sheep, dogs, apes, etc. just as they are attracted to sexually immature children or to members of the same sex today. And yes, evolutionary theories will be used to justify it. And this is just sex. Greed, violence, sloth, hatred … you name it, it is going to proliferate. People are going to be surrounded by it, and it is going to enter into and cultivate their flesh! And it will all be 100% natural.  

So how do we fight this? By rejecting that which is natural. Put down the candy bar and eat your vegetables, young man! Whatever you like and want to do without thinking is going to be wrong. What is worse, whenever you apply your own human standards of logic and morals, you will be even more wrong than you would be by acting without thinking! When you are a Christian still contending with the flesh, you have to come to the realization that up is down, black is white, right is wrong. Everything that you used to do, everything that you used to rely on, all of your standards, all of your tricks and angles, everything that you felt secure, comfortable, and established in, everything that made you accepted, everything that made you cool, everything that made you a success … all of it is wrong. You have to start doing precisely the opposite of all of those things, and not only that you have to like it no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel. As a matter of fact, you have to learn to like it because it makes you uncomfortable, and you may even have to glory in your discomfort! Doing what you automatically do is wrong. Doing what you were born to do is wrong. Following your heart is wrong. Seeking your destiny is wrong. It is all the flesh, it is all cursed, it was all nailed to the cross and crucified with Jesus Christ, and it all will be tossed into the lake of fire and destroyed! And if you keep going your old way, responding to your old natural state, you are going to walk in that which is dead and will shortly be destroyed. That is not the way. The way to victory is to walk in that which has been redeemed and will live forever more, that which is in Christ!  

And that is why we fast. There is nothing more basic and fundamental to your humanity than eating. Eating is man’s first source of pleasure, his first source of security, and it is formed while yet in the womb. What and how we eat is a function of our status and self – image. Our ability to regularly indulge in what we want or think that we should have to eat makes up or controls a huge portion of our emotions and psychological well – being. Merely depriving some people of their favorite foods will send them into depression or anxiety, and will even cause them to become physically ill! And the most amazing part is that most people have no clue how important food is to them; it is a cornerstone of the flesh, right along with sex and money/power. Now keep in mind: God commands us to control the sex portion of the flesh by restricting sexual activity to your spouse and not so much as lusting after another. God commands us to control the money portion of the flesh by telling us to give to the poor. God commands us to control the power portion of the flesh by surrendering all to God and to respect authority. Now, with food, God DOES tell us that gluttony is a sin. But that does not deal with the fact that man first learns to experience pleasure through eating. Make no mistake: man first sinned by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil! Man learns pleasure through eating, and then he experiences pleasure through other things like illicit sex, obtaining and using material things that money can buy, controlling people with power, etc. He then even learns pleasure through violence, corruption, murder, etc. It can be said, then, that while food is necessary, the love of food is the seed of the flesh. 

But when we fast, when we deny ourselves food, we war against flesh. We war against the very notion of physical carnal pleasure itself. It is as if we within ourselves reject Adam’s eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is not only that we are rejecting something so near and dear to us and is such a huge part of our psychology. We could do the very same by abstaining from sex or by renouncing material wealth. Rather, it is that we are renouncing the very thing by which we first knew physical pleasure! By doing so, we thereby reject all physical pleasure itself. It can be said that we knew pleasure from sex and money by virtue of our having first learned pleasure through eating. If we reject our learned experience from eating, then we can also reject what we later learned as pleasure through other things. We set ourselves at odds with the notion that we ought to be always physically comfortable and satisfied. The hunger, the headaches, the body aches, the energy loss: normally we experience those unwillingly through disease of some sort. But if we inflict them on ourselves knowingly and willingly through fasting and if we cheerfully endure it, then we are rejecting the idea that we simply ought to feel good.  

Make no mistake: this “feel – good positive Christianity” that tells people that they ought to always be happy and experience only prosperity and good things, and that is what they should strive for … that has nothing to do with the Christianity of the Bible, and it is completely irrelevant to the experience of even present – day Christians who face real persecution and other dire situations. Look, if you are comfortable and others are comfortable with you, and it is your goal to make yourself and others comfortable, then you are not doing your job as a Christian. Rather, the first goal of true Christianity is to make yourself uncomfortable by rejecting the world and your flesh that is conformed to the world. The second goal of true Christianity is to make others who are still in the world uncomfortable by their seeing you reject it. A great way to start is to turn down your classmates, neighbors, coworkers, family members, etc. when they want to spend an afternoon night on the town carousing with food and alcohol followed by dancing and carrying on with members of the opposite sex by telling them: “No thanks. I am fasting.” Now, you want to go eat steaks and ribs and drink wine and martinis. You want to press your body up against a member of the opposite sex that is not your spouse, dance to lyrics that glorify fornication and adultery, and entertain fantasies about the person that you are dancing with in your mind. You want the approval and envy of your peers for engaging in this behavior. Why? Because your flesh is conditioned to it, and it desires it. But you tell your flesh “No, I am fasting”, endure the turmoil and torment with Bible – reading, prayer, and worship, and you overcome. And the people that you turn down? They don’t know what to make of you. What do you think you are, holier than thou? Like you are better than them or something? At first they will try to tempt you at every turn so that they can get you into the same things that they are into. They will not have any idea why, or why it means so much to them; they have no clue that they have no control over their behavior but rather are puppets on some demon’s strong! When that fails, they will do the opposite. They will decide that they don’t like socializing with you anymore. They will even wish that you weren’t around, and start trying to do things to bring it about! They will shun and ostracize you, talk about you behind your back, try to sabotage you, even provoke you. When the righteousness of God established within you conflicts with their demonic flesh, they have no choice but behave in that fashion! But alas, not all of them will act this way forever! One of them, maybe more, will decide that the steak and beer just doesn’t taste good anymore; that the dancing and carousing just doesn’t turn them on like it used to, and it isn’t worth the trouble that it causes at home with their spouses. They will decide that their lives are pretty empty, and that they are miserable, and that they want to make a change. Quit their job and leave their spouse? Impractical, plus they know plenty of people who tried that and wound up worse off than before. So the only avenue of change that they see is you. They will see how much more respectable, how much more peaceful, how much more orderly and in control you became when you first turned to Christ and then committed yourself to Him sincerely. They will contrast their own lives going down a downward spiral with you, a picture of perfect peace even when times are rough! And it will cause them to really think, and that will make them ripe for the gospel. 

Of course, it is not the fasting that works this in you. That is faith and confidence in and of the flesh; legalism, circumcision. No, it is the Holy Spirit that works it in you. But fasting opens the door to the Holy Spirit. It removes the clutter, chaos, and barriers of the flesh and makes it easier to operate. Look at your heart in its flesh state as a wilderness; a wild disorganized area of land unsafe and unfit even to enter into, let alone inhabit. Fasting chases off all the wild ferocious animals. It cuts down the poison ivy and other treacherous weeds. It clears a patch of land where a house can be built, and on another patch of land it breaks up and tills the ground, discarding all of the rocks, roots, and tree stumps. Now, the Holy Spirit is what comes in, builds the house, and dwells in your heart. The Holy Spirit is what plants the seeds, cultivates the crop, and brings in the harvest. The Holy Spirit does the real work that leads to spiritual growth and maturity that ultimately causes you to overcome to the point where you are no longer warring against the flesh but instead you die to the flesh and no longer desire those sinful things. All fasting does is give the Holy Spirit room to operate; it makes the Holy Spirit’s job easier. Now there will come times when you should not fast; indeed when fasting becomes a snare to you. That is when you begin to credit your spiritual growth to the fasting itself, rather than recognizing that all fasting does is facilitate a release of the Holy Spirit. That is when you believe yourself to be made righteous – or more righteous – by your own works rather than by God’s grace. Now, continuing in prayer, worship, and Bible study is something that can prevent that legalistic mindset from forming in the first place. So can being under the guidance of a pastor who advocates sound doctrine with regards to fasting. But you are always better off seeking spiritual growth in the absence of fasting than you are crediting your spiritual growth to some legalistic ritualism. And you may indeed come to a point in your spiritual maturity where you no longer need to fast to break the bands of the flesh to cause a release of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, God may have given you a new way to accomplish this. If this happens, then fasting for spiritual growth will have ceased its usefulness to you and become vain and a snare to you, just as the law did for the Jews after the coming of Christ. Of course, that is not to say that God will not give you other reasons and occasions to fast! 

In conclusion, all Christians, especially new Christians, Christians with a “thorn in the flesh”, worldly carnal lukewarm Christians, spiritually immature Christians, and complacent Christians, need to fast. But in order for the fasting to be effective and effectual, they need to know why they are fasting, which is not to be made better by fasting, but rather to be made better by grace through the Holy Spirit whose working your fasting will facilitate.   

Prayer:

Father God in the Name of Jesus Christ, please lead your children that need to do so to fast, and to fast for the right reason. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  Deliverance:

The demon that works in this area is legalism, false religion, and false doctrine, causing people to fast according to ceremony or routine, or to think that their righteousness is established, enhanced, or proven by their fasting. Please read the Basic Spiritual Warfare guide to learn more about how to go against these demons to help set captives free and win battles in the name of your God through the power, authority, and victory given to you by his Son Jesus Christ and by his blood shed for you!

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