Treasures New and Old
Elkmont Baptist Church
Beloved: Grace and Peace
Fasting in Secret
l. Our Natural Self Wants Approval
May God bless you all!
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
When we get or do something, don't we automatically want to show it off? We want other people to be impressed. We like the approval of people. Who doesn't like to be well regarded? Everyone likes it! Showing off is a natural human trait: A deer hunter wants to tell you about the deer they just bagged.
Showing off how good one was a real sport amongst the Pharisees and religious leaders in Jesus' day. They wanted everyone to know how good they were, how pious, how generous, how dedicated, and spiritual they were.
Self-promotion doesn't fit into God's kingdom: In
That light is our spiritual light, our selflessness, not our ego!
We should live in a way that our works (not our spirit) is almost invisible. When we do things for God, it should be done in secret - including fasting.
ll. Elements of a Fast
Research on the topic of fasting in the Scripture yields the following results:
Fasting has many modes:
Total food fast - water only
Intermittent fasts: Various food denial systems - one meal only, only eat between certain hours, etc.
Juice fasts/soup fasts
Limited food types (really not a fast but a diet) but some call it a fast
The one day a week, two days and three days a week fasts
Fasting can last a day or a period - some have gone as much as forty days
Fasting in the Bible is a physical sacrifice for spiritual benefit
Fasting with a purpose changes things
Fasting is sometimes seeking an answer from God through prayer
Fasting and Scripture reading goes together
Fasting and repentance of sin go together
Fasting and prayer go together
Fasting was a common and regular event, both corporately and individually and understood in New Testament and Old Testament times
Fasting is for those worshipping and seeking God
Fasting is to be done with the right attitude
Fasting helps to cast out demons or break sin's bondage
Fasting allows us to bring our bodies under control against damaging habits we can't otherwise break
Fasting is to be a private activity between men and God and is done in secret
In Scripture, the normal means of fasting involves abstaining from all food, solid or liquid, but not from water: Jesus' fast of forty days, the partial fast in Daniel 10, and the absolute fast in Esther 4.
lll. The Purposes of Fasting
Fasting must center on God: Zechariah 7:5:
"Speak unto all the people of the
land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh
, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me,
Reminds us who sustains us - food does not sustain us: Colossians 1:17:
"And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."
Brings balance to our lives: 1 Corinthians 9:27:
"But I keep under my body,
into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others,
I myself should be a castaway."
"But as for me, when they were sick,
sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned
into mine own bosom."
lV. Should Christians Fast Today?
Example and teachings of Jesus . . .
He fasted during his forty day period of temptation in the wilderness -
He assumed His disciples would fast - He said
He said they would fast when He was gone -
"Then came to
him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast."
He taught us how to fast so as to incur God's good pleasure -
Fasting should be done only when appropriate -
There were occasions when prayer needed to be joined with fasting -
"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for
verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
Early church examples:
The brethren at Antioch -
- "As they ministered to the Lord, and
fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid
hands on them, they sent
away" (Acts 13:1-3).
The churches in Galatia -
- "And when they had ordained them
elders in every church, and had prayed in fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed" (Acts 14:23).
Paul fasting example:
He listed fasting among things which proved him as a minister of Christ - cf.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Verse 27: "In weariness and painfulness, in watchings
often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness."
We are encouraged to imitate him, even as he imitated Christ. -
1 Corinthians 11:1:
"Be ye followers of me, even as I also
V. Why Should Christians Fast?
People fast today for:
Times of grief and sorrow
Why Christians should fast: to seek divine help . . .
In times of war, or at the threat of it (Isreal)
When loved ones were sick (David)
When seeking God's forgiveness (Ahab, Daniel)
When seeking God's protection (Ezra)
When dealing with temptations (Jesus)
When serving the Lord (the church at Antioch)
When beginning a work for the Lord (Antioch)
Such fasting should be done with prayer
Fasting to humble the soul -
Fasting to chastise the soul -
Vl. Fasting Tate Displeases God
Not to be seen of men
. . .
Rather, our fasting is for God -
That He may answer our prayer and award us openly -
Not as some regular ritual
. . .
Not without true repentance
. . .
Vll. Some Practical Suggestions
Don't go out and fast just because it sounds like "a neat thing to do."
Take the subject seriously and prayerfully. Fast only when the occasion is serious one, one in which you desperately desire God's help.
If you have never fasted before start slow. Fast only for brief periods of time. End slow, gradually breaking your fast with fresh fruits and vegetables in small amounts. Time your fast when you are in prayerful meditation.
Remember the purpose for fasting: To humble oneself in God's sight; to seek a favorable answer to prayer for some important plea.
Children need to talk with their parents, elders teens may be able to do a day at a time.
And That Brings Us Back To:
"If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
Jesus says, "Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
When selecting and appointing elders (in Galatia)