Since many of you have voted to hear more on the subject “fasting,” plus the fact that many believers fast for extended amount of times in the beginning of each year, I’ve put this (and the next) blog post together.
What I share is how I’ve come to see the role of fasting in our lives. We might differ in our views, that’s totally fine. I would love to hear your thoughts! That’s how I learn and get sharpened. We’ll continue our series on “Mistakes you don’t want to make” in a few weeks time. Click on this button to watch the video blog:
Fasting with no results
Fasting is a popular discipline in some circles. For years, I’ve been a fanatic and fervent meal-skipper myself. Mostly for the wrong reasons though! Since I’ve awakened to the realities of the finished work of the cross, aka Grace, my beliefs on what fasting accomplishes has dramaticly changed.
I used to believe fasting was neccesary to be more like Christ and change the world faster because my extended times of fasting and prayer would bring revivial, make Gods power break into my family and nations, and get them saved, healed and delivered.
I would skip lunches, pace up and down in my prayercloset, begging God to bring revival, expecting Him to do what He told me to do. I saw little or no supernatural manifestions regardless how much I fasted, pleaded, banged my fist on the wall, and cried out for the next great awakening.
However, since my beliefs changed I not only have more peace, joy and freedom, but I witness God supernaturally work through me and bring revival whereever I go! Because He revived us to be revival.
Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result. If you’re not having the results God says you would have as a believer, then what you’re currently believing is problably wrong! Only right believing leads to having the right results!
I don’t have all the answers, but I’d love to share some insights on how fasting looks like under grace and if you should do it.
What Fasting doesn’t accomplish
Let me first give a list of what fasting doesn’t accomplish to debunk any religious beliefs. Because of what Christ already has accomplished for you:
Fasting doesn’t make you more righteous, acceptable or pleasing to God
Fasting doesn’t make you more Christ-like, spiritual or holy
Fasting doesn’t make you be closer to God (you are one with Him)
Fasting doesn’t get you cleaned up, straigthened out and dried out to receive from God
Fasting doesn’t help you to “press into” God more (He has “pressed into” you)
Fasting doesn’t help you “to get hold of God” (He got a hold of you)
Fasting doesn’t make God start to smile on you or enjoy you more
Fasting doesn’t make God release more love, power, blessings or anointing
Fasting doesn’t make God give you more favor, faith, honor or wealth
Fasting doesn’t make God move or (finally) do something for you
Fasting doesn’t make God (finally) pay attention and listen to you more attentively
Fasting doesn’t make God answer your prayers
Fasting doesn’t make God show up more in your prayer closet or meetings
Fasting doesn’t cause any spiritual or physical victory or breakthrough (only faith does)
Fasting doesn’t change God’s mind to finally step in and do something
If you think fasting does accomplish any of these things then what you’re believing is not based on Christ and His finished work!
God’s pleasure in Jesus’ sacrifice
God isn’t pleased with your sacrifices – like fasting – if you do it for the reason to better yourself, to get right with God or to get God to do something.
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, nor were You pleased with them (Heb. 10:8).
He doens’t want you to throw yourself at His feet saying, “God I am going to give up this and that. I will stop eating chocolate and do a Daniel fast, because my sacrifice will get me closer to you and will bring revival.” That’s anti-Gospel.
God is not one iota interested in your “sacrifice” and how much you can give up for Him for He’s only interested in Jesus’ sacrifice and how much He gave up on your behalf.
If you are wondering why God is not pleased with your sacrifices, maybe it’s because you are not pleased with His.
Since Christ is the perfect sacrifice, you’re off the hook to prove your worth before God will bless you. Every blessings there is, whether salvation, health, deliverance, provision, comes to us by grace and grace alone. To think you must work for the blessings of God is to try and buy that which is not for sale.
At no cost, you’ve already become perfect, blameless, blessed, spiritual, holy, Christ-like, one with God and revival.
At no cost, you’ve already received love, power, anointing, victory, favor, faith, honor, wealth and breakthrough. It’s all by grace. And grace is for free. You don’t have to pay any price or sacrifice. Jesus paid it all!
In other words, you can’t attain spiritual goals by abstaining from physical pleasures!
I’m not denying the benefits of abstinence; I’m just saying that skipping juicy steaks or cheeseburgers won’t make you more holy or be closer to God. The truth is that you can do nothing to make yourself more righteousness or make yourself more pleasing to God. Jesus has done it all!
Fasting under the Old Covenant Law
Under the Old Covenant the Israelites were required to fast once a year. It was on the Day of Atonement. People would be wailing in sackcloth and ash to demonstrate true repentance for sin. Since all our sins are forgiven on the cross, we do not fast for this purpose any more, but instead feast on the Lamb that was slain to atone the sins of the world.
Some people interpret Isaiah 58 as the kind of fast that pleases God under the New Covenant. However the context of this chapter shows this was addressed to Israel under the Old Covenant.
Verse 1 says: The Lord says, “Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins!
And in the last two verses we read: The Lord says, “If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honor it by not traveling, working, or talking idly on that day, then you will find the joy that comes from serving me. I will make you honored all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken.” (Is. 58:13-14, GNB).
Even though some principles are good, like in verse 6-7 “to remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, let the oppressed go free, share your food, your drink, your clothes, etc,” it is still clear God’s blessings in this chapter were dependent on Israel’s ability to perform these deeds. Under the New Covenant, however, God’s blessings do not depend on your ability to keep the Commandments – Jesus Christ fulfilled them all.
What about the Bridal fast?
If fasting doens’t make you be who you already are and doens’t give you any blessing from God, why in the world would we fast? Well, you don’t have to. Fasting is never prescribed for believers in the doctrinal books of the New Testament.
When considering Jesus’ words in the Gospels on this subject, we need to keep in mind that at that time he was a man under the Law speaking to a people under the Law.
For instance, right after Jesus spoke about the Bridal fast, He changed the subject from fasting to the famous parables of the new and old wineskins, thus giving us the context, telling us that grace cannot be mixed with law. He was pointing the the New Covenant of Grace which He would establish with His own blood on the cross.
After that, instead of keeping a mandatory yearly fast, God’s people would daily feast on the finished work of the cross. In comparison with the Old Covenant, fasting turned into feasting, mourning turned into dancing, sorrow turned into joy, ashes turned into beauty, despair turned into praise.
I can hear someone say, “But what about when Jesus said the disciples would fast when the bridegroom would be taken away from them?” Because Jesus’ disciples were feasting instead of fasting the Pharisees were complaining to Jesus, saying “John the Baptist’s disciples are constantly going without food, and praying,” they declared, “and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are yours wining and dining?” (Luke 5:33, TLB).
Jesus said his disciples could not fast as long as the Bridegroon was with them. The days are coming, He said, when they will fast when the Bridegroom is taken from them (Luke 5:35).
Do you know how long “those days that they will fast” lasted? It was the time period when the Jesus would be taken from them, that was between His death until He gave believers His Spirit at the Feast of Pentacost. During those days, the Bridegroom was truly not with them and thus it was an appropriate time for mourning and fasting. But when Jesus’ Spirit came to dwell in each believer the days of mourning and fasting are forever over.
The Gospel declares: “The Bridegroom is here; He lives inside of you!” That’s why we’re instructed to keep the feast instead of a fast. 1 Cor. 5:8 says, “so that we may keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with unleavened food of sincerity and truth” (YLT).
Jesus is not interested in how we abstain ourselves from eating our meals as a way of fasting. He is interested in the feeding on the New Covenant Grace, that is Jesus Christ and His finished work.
In part 2 we’ll cover, “what about the fasting in relation to driving out demons, the oupouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost, and the abstinence from sex in marriage for purposes of fasting?” Plus you’ll hear how fasting under grace really looks like (it might not be what you think). And, if you should fast under grace. Stay tuned.
Great stuff, Bas! Love the way you give clarity on the matter: it gave me some new insights.
That’s awesome Albert. I’m glad it helped you and gave you new insight bro!
Oeh Bas… You’ve been kicking at some religious knees here ;). Actually I haven’t been fasting for a while now. Waiting on God to give me the ‘go’ to fast. But he didn’t in a couple of years now (maybe 2 days in those years). When I wanted to start fasting corporately a couple of years ago once God asked me ‘why’. And I didn’t had an answer, well actually I had a couple but they weren’t satisfying enough for Him. So I just felt not to fast just to fast. Because it was done corporately I felt a bit like I was missing a boat and felt less connected. But after a while that feeling passed. But Bas I do wonder, how come that so many people feel refreshed, closer to God and feeling more ‘holy’ after fasting. In the past for me it didn’t felt I was only satisfying my flesh? Do you think we need to make our hunger more for His presence and knowing Him than food and other pleasures? Well I don’t want to over-think this hahaha. And I will stay tuned for episode 2!
That’s such a good questions God asked you Do, “why?” To feel refreshed, clsoer to God and such doesn’t really come so much from what we physically do or not to do/or the intake of the food amount, but really to experience the indwelling presence and everything that contains that, becomes a reality the moment we take time to set our minds on Him and His amazing love/presence. In other words, other distracting voices (of the world/flesh) then quite down and we ‘suddenly’ can become so aware (again) of His nearness, closeness, holiness. I’m not denying the benefit of fasting, but it’s not necessary to feel close, holy, get breakthrough. But since during a fasting time people (sometimes finally) have time to be aware of God’s indwelling presence, THEN that is why they start to feel stuff, and consequently think: wow, this helps me to be refreshed, closer to Him, more holy – and that’s a subtle deception. We don’t need any works of the flesh to experience Papa.
No, I think we’re called to live normal lives of living normal Christianity: that means we partake fully both of spiritually staying aware of His presence (what you call hunger for His presence) AND we enjoy food and other pleasure, since we are a physical being also. However, it might be unhealthy when people get physically addicted to something. That speaks for itself.
So that are some thoughts.
Thank you for the reply! It is great how you put in words what I wasn’t concious of.