Wednesday, August 18, 2010


A few years ago, the discipline of fasting came up in Bible class. One of the things we discussed was wrong reasons to fast. Obviously, we do not fast to be extra good and make God like us. Likewise, fasting would be harmful if we're doing it so that other people think, "Isn't he a good Christian to be fasting!"

Some people think that fasting helps to cleanse the soul. That wouldn't be true: only Jesus' blood can cleanse us from our sin and guilt.

Fasting isn't about giving up sinful things. It's about abstaining from some of the good gifts God gives. But why would we do that? Because even the blessings God gives are subject to corruption; even His gifts to us can become our idols. It's easy to say that temporal goods or health or relationships are not our idols; it's easy to say that we trust in Christ. But when we lose those blessings, we see that we relied on them much more than we realized. Such losses would be like a "fast" imposed upon us by God. Similarly, when we freely undertake a fast, we see how much these things are our idols. In the context of a fast, the law shows us our idolatry and how much we need a Savior.

The cross is about killing. The cross is not something that's uncomfortable-but-endurable. It is about death. Killing the Old Adam is a process. (As Korby said, "The old Adam may have been drowned, but he's a good swimmer." He needs to be killed again and again.) In America, our affluence skews our view of the truth that we are needy and dependent and dying. But through the struggle with sin and the temptations of Satan and the world's false teachings, God kills the Old Adam.

Our faith is in Christ's forgiveness, not in His word of law. Sanctification flows from the word of forgiveness. But it doesn't happen until we're killed. Pastor said, "The outcome of the cross is always infinitely better than the satisfaction we thought we would receive from our idols."

Jesus was baptized to die. So are we. The word which sustained Him in the darkness of the cross and suffering was "this is My beloved Son." The word which sustains us in the darkness of our cross and suffering is also "you are My beloved son."

Sorry if this sounds disjointed. If I tried to take my notes from that class and explain them, this would be a terribly long post.

1 comment:

  1. I think that fasting can be a very, very, very good thing. In fact, as often as it gets talked about in the Bible (even by Jesus), it's bothered me a bit that we don't talk about fasting more often. I guess maybe it's one of those "too catholic" things.

    Anyway, when discussing doing things like this, especially for our own spiritual wellbeing (the putting to death of the sinful flesh and so forth), I would add two things to what you said:

    1) Humility. This means not going about and letting others know that "I'm fasting!" (You said that.) And it also means not judging others when they're not doing something that we think is good. Someone else doesn't fast? Plank in your own eye, and all that jazz. Besides, if someone is fasting (or doing anything else, for that matter) in humility, how would you even know? None of your business. And, of course, most importantly, humility before God - "Lord, have mercy." I am nothing before Him, and whatever I do, I pray that He does through me - else, on my own, I am lost.

    2) These things probably should not be done on our own, but by the guidance of a spiritual father / father confessor. Because, especially when we start doing certain things that we don't necessarily engage in as an entire church body and don't talk about very much, having a Father in Christ who can guide us and pull us back from the temptation to works righteousness and focus our sight on Christ is absolutely vital. I think, anyway.

    Just some added observations, for whatever they're worth (probably not much!).