1999 James A. Fowler
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I. Scriptures pertaining to fasting in New Testament.
Matt. 4:2 - Jesus "had fasted
forty days and forty nights" (Lk. 4:2)
Matt. 6:16,17,18 - "when you fast,
do not put on gloomy face...to be seen fasting by men, but
fast wash your face, so that you may not be seen fasting by men,
but by your
who is in secret."
Matt. 9:14,15 - (John's disciples to
Jesus) "Why do we and Pharisees fast, but Your disciples
do not fast?"
When bridegroom is taken away they will fast." (Mk. 2:18-20;
Matt. 17:21 - "this kind (of demon)
does not go out except by prayer and fasting"
manuscript evidence; not in parallel of Mk. 9:29)
Lk. 18:12 - (Pharisee) "I fast twice
Acts 13:2,3 - (Christians in Antioch)
"When they had fasted and prayed and laid hands on them,
them (Paul and Barnabas) on their way."
Acts 14:23 - (Paul and Barnabas) "appointed
elders, having prayed with fasting"
(KJV) - Matt. 17:21; Mk. 9:29; Acts 10:30;
I Cor. 7:5 (Not in best manuscripts).
II. Fasting in the old covenant.
A. Reasons for
God's will - Judges 20:26
deliverance or protection - II Chron. 20:3; Ezra 8:21-23
- II Sam. 12:16-23; Neh. 9:1; Dan. 9:3,4
- I Kgs. 21:27-29; Ps. 69:10
sorrow - I Sam. 31:13
of mourning - II Sam 1:12; 12:21; Isa. 31:13
to rejoice and show appreciation - Esther 9:31
Day of Atonement - Lev. 16:29; 23:27-32
B. Abuses of
fasting - Isa. 58:3-7; Jere. 14:12
fasting - Zech. 7:5,6
meritorious religious exercise in itself.
required on Mondays and Thursdays
C. Prophesy of fasting being superseded.
8:19 - "the fasts will become joy and gladness"
III. Invalid reasons for fasting.
A. Fasting is NOT
1. a means
of coercing or bribing God, forcing God's hand, pushing God's
sincerity so that God will work on our behalf, and do what we
desire, and give us the
2. a way
to enhance "soul power"
3. a way
to seek additional "blessings" (Eph. 1:3), or "spirituality"
4. a "spiritual"
means of weight loss, a "divine diet plan," a nutritional
regulation, a way to
5. a means
of cleansing oneself in repentance.
6. a means
of overcoming temptation.
7. a means
of determining God's will.
8. a "spiritual
discipline," a mark of "spirituality"
9. a test
of faith and fellowship
10. a legalistic
means of spiritual "obedience" to be imposed or regulated
by the church.
11. an ordinance
of the church
12. a requirement
of new covenant Christianity.
B. Why religion uses fasting.
3. A show
of self-denial, humility .
4. To demonstrate
the earnestness of their prayers.
dedication, commitment, wholeheartedness
self-discipline; something to "do" - performance, "works"
IV. The Christian and the practice of fasting.
A. The religious practice of fasting
has been superseded by the joy that is in Christ Jesus.
as a religious exercise, is a thing of the past in the old covenant.
old patterns cannot hold the new
New garment (Mk. 2:21)
New wine (Mk. 2:22)
are no commands for fasting made by Jesus or writers of the New
is not to be regarded as having any meritorious value as an activity
in its own
B. If a Christian does choose to abstain
from food (or other activities) such a decision and such
1. Be voluntary,
freely chosen; not obligatory.
2. Be done
in secret; not ostentatious
be regarded as having any spiritual value or benefit before God.
4. Be done
in accord with "counting all things but loss in view of
the surpassing value of
Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil. 3:8).