March 2008


Fasting During This Season

Scripture has more to say about fasting than baptism.  It is a spiritual practice that is encouraged both in the OT and NT.  Fasting is to be vital part of our walk with God.  Scripture provides a vast variety of reasons to fast. 

Earlier we studied fasting in the gospel of Matthew.  In Matt 6:16-18 the Lord says,  

"Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Jesus instructs us to abstain from fasting in order to display our godliness to others Rather, we are to fast to God in private.  Jesus states that this type of fasting will result in God’s “reward.”  The Lord will respond  “whenever you fast.”  This is a general statement.  It seems that the Lord intends for us to fast as we are led of

the Spirit.


In Matt 9:14-17, the Lord gives additional teaching on fasting.  He states,  

“Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?"  And Jesus said to them, "The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then hey will fast.  "But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment,  and a worse tear results.  "Nor do people

put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved." 

Here we are told to avoid fasting like the religious leaders of Israel - out of legalistic duty, cf Zech 7:5.  The Jews in Christ’s day were fasting for traditions added to Scripture by man.  The only command in Scripture, given by the Lord as part of the Day of Atonement celebration, Lev 16:29, 23:27, is no longer needed.  The Day of Atonement celebration was a symbolic waiting of God’s people for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ, the blood sacrifice.  


Christ is saying that rather than fasting out of command or duty, given the dynamic of the NT realities provided to us through the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection,   we are through the direction of the Holy Spirit, who now

permanently dwells in us and guides us, to follow the Spirit’s direction.  We are to fast in response to what God is doing in our midst.


This is symbolically an expression of placing “shrunk” cloth” on “old garments” so that “no tearing results.”  Likewise our fasting is to be symbolized by placing “new wine” into “new wineskins” so that the skins will not ruined.  Now that Christ’s ministry on earth has been completed, the Spirit resides within us permanently.  We are to ask the Spirit to convict us to fast.  When the Spirit leads, we are to respond. 


The Lord’s instruction on fasting in the NT may be summarized as follows:


1.        Don’t fast to demonstrate your spirituality to others.

2.        Don’t fast out of legalistic duty.

3.        Fast in the Spirit and in response to God’s guidance.


If we say that we are not being convicted to fast, then we should not fast.  But if we are not seeking God’s direction to fast, the Spirit may not convict us.  In the alternative, the Spirit may be convicting us and yet we do not discern His guidance in this area because we have not understood the need to seek His direction in the area of fasting.  As James 4:2 indicates, “You do not have because you do not ask.”

By way of application, let me urge you seek God’s direction to fast for any of

the following reasons:  


1.       The Lord’s examination and direction of our Church and of us personally – See Acts 13:1-3, Joel 2:12-17, Lk 2:37.


2.        The selection of Church officers for 2008 - See Acts 14:23.


3.        March 9th – The Board of our Church is asking you to pray about fasting with us on this Sunday [or a part of this day].  We are meeting as a Church to affirm our budget and for further input from you.  See Josh 1; Matt 4:1-4.


4.        For Lacey’s ongoing recovery - See 1 Sam 20:34, Dan 9:1-23; Neh 1:4.


5.        For unbelievers during Easter - To maximize several upcoming opportunities:  The Men’s Pancake Breakfast, The “Making Time for Your Neighbor Weekend, March 14 – March 16; Easter Sunday, March 23.


Please study these passages and consider listening to the sermons I did in Matt 9 on Spirit Led Fasting.

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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427