Saturday, December 18, 2010

God's not that in to fasting

Day 18 - Rediscovering the Christmas Season

Reading Isaiah 58 it would appear that God's is not into fasting. Before you think I've gone off my rocker. I know that fasting is a necessary spiritual discipline. But with the whole of Christian life God's is not into empty rituals that don't bring life change.

Growing up in church I came to think that fasting was all about twisting God's arm. A way to show God that this prayer was important. This time you see God I'm adding to my words sacrifice. I'm giving up a meal.

But fasting is not a silver bullet to getting the answer we want from God. In fact Isaiah says that if our hearts are not right in our fast "our prayers won't get off the ground" (v4).

I firmly believe now that fasting is more about changing our hearts than changing God's mind. God through Isaiah describes the result of a God type fast:

6 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.

7 What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.

8 Do this and the lights will turn on..

Isaiah 58 v 6 - 8


Jeremy Penwarden said...

Great truth that we cannot change God's mind. Jesus did that at the crucifiction and God isn't changing His mind back. God hasn't got any mind changing left to do.

You're so right to say that much teaching on fasting is really about manipulating God into doing something we want, presuming that He's withholding from us. That actually is blasphemy as it slanders the character of our good God.

We mustn't start add our fleshly sacrifices to Jesus' complete sacrifice, or we're saying that His finished work is only started and we need to add to it.

But Ezekiel tells us that God gives us our new heart. Which comes at the new birth. We lose our sin nature and get a righteousness nature according to Paul.

So for believers our heart is changed and it is by God. So fasting won't help that because God has already given us everything pertaining to godliness 2 Pet 1:3. Our minds need to be renewed to the word of God, but fasting won't help with that either. That comes by hearing and believing the word.

The closest Paul ever gets to teaching on fasting is Col 2:16-23 which in context and regarding food I can only see refering to fasting as something to be avoided.

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