“We have as much of God as we actually want.”–A. W. Tozer
Dietrick Bonhoffer said
“Jesus takes it for granted that His disciples will observe the pious custom of fasting. Strict exercise of self-control is an essential feature of the Christian life. Such customs have only one purpose — to make the disciples more ready and cheerful to accomplish those things which God would have done.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book The Cost of Discipleship
Self Control is demanded for Christians in the new testament…6 times it is mentioned in 5 of the epistles.
Why is it important to exercise self control - denying the flesh
The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
We spend ALOT of time catering to our desires:
Desire for entertainment (TV- vacations-video-movies)
Desire for pleasure (food-luxury-ease-convenience)
Without proper borders, these can take over our lives
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
All of this is working against God’s goals and priorities for us
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
We are not supposed to live just anyway we want
If we are lead by the flesh…we will seek the things of the flesh
If we are lead by the Spirit…we will seek the things of the Spirit
We need to strengthen the muscle of restraint and control
, a twentieth-century writer, said,
“You and I have no more right to omit fasting because we feel no special emotional prompting than we have a right to omit prayer, Bible reading, or assembling with God’s children for lack of some special emotional prompting. Fasting is just as biblical and normal a part of a spiritual walk of obedience with God as are these others.” Wesley Duewel
Fasting is to take our eyes off the things of this world and instead focus on God.
Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God and to ourselves that we are serious about our relationship with Him.
Fasting is for mature Christians who understand its meaning and purpose
Jesus’s example of Fasting:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
Fasting before a serious spiritually demanding experience is necessary
In spiritual battle many voices and emotions are coming at you
You need to be experienced in hearing God and knowing is voice
Fasting is the rehearsal for this....
Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
Major decisions within the new church done with fasting
John Piper says, “The absence of fasting is the measure of our contentment with the absence of Christ.”
What to fast-Not Always Food
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
There are many things we could fast from that would perfect disciple in us
Normal marital relations
Listening to radio in car?