Good people, allow me to highlight ten fundamental truths about fasting.
(1) First, the key is to remember that fasting is always motivated by deep desire. We fast because we want something more than food or more than whatever activity it is from which we abstain. Something of eternal value.
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(2) Thus we might reasonably say that fasting is feasting! The ironic thing about fasting is that it really isn’t about not eating food.
(3) Fasting is all about ingesting the Word of God, the beauty of God, the presence of God, the blessings of God. Fasting is all about spiritual gluttony!
(4) Fasting is not something you do for God. It is instead your appeal that God in grace and power do everything for you.
(5) Fasting is not a statement that food or other things are bad, but that God is better! In other words, fasting is not a rejection of the many blessings God has given to us, but an affirmation that in the ultimate sense we prefer the Giver to his gifts.
(6) An especially instructive insight about fasting is something I heard from John Piper as he compared it to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a feasting that looks backward in time, whereas fasting is a feasting that looks forward in time. I love this!!
(7) It is crucial that we understand the difference between being seen fasting, on the one hand, and fasting to be seen, on the other. Or again, to be seen fasting is not a sin. Fasting to be seen is (see Matt. 6:16). True, godly fasting is motivated by a heart for God, not human admiration.
(8) Fasting opens our spiritual eyes to see Christ more clearly in Scripture and sensitizes our hearts to enjoy his presence.
(9) Fasting is a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare. See Matthew 4:1-11 where we read that Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights in preparation for resisting the temptations of Satan (see Matt. 17:14-21; Mark 9:29).
(10) Are we commanded to fast? Am I in sin if I choose not to? No. But the Bible assumes we will fast. Jesus simply takes it for granted (Matt. 6:16-18 / “when you fast”). In Mark 2 we see the same emphasis.
When the Pharisees queried why Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast, he explained it in terms of his own physical presence on earth. “The days will come,” he said, “when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.”
The point here is that the Messiah has come like a bridegroom to a wedding feast. Such a moment is too joyful and stunning and exciting to mingle with fasting. Groomsmen don’t fast at the bachelor party! The rehearsal dinner is no place to be sad. Jesus is present. The time for celebration is upon us. When the wedding feast is over and the bridegroom has departed, then it is appropriate to fast.
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