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Bible verses about Fasting
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Only when we do not think so much of ourselves, feel helpless, weak, and backed into a corner will we listen with the intensity required to truly believe, repent, submit, and become at one. So often God has to resort to stern measures before we will allow our minds to change. He would rather have us submit willingly and change ourselves. Thus, in His wisdom He has ordained fasting as a part of Atonement because it induces a weakness we can physically feel, not just intellectually agree with.

Fasting is a self-imposed trial that should help us both know and feel what we are in comparison to God. Its purpose is not to impress God with how disciplined we are (though it is a good exercise in discipline), but it is to remind us how much we need the things He so freely and generously supplies.

God has life inherent. He is self-sustaining. But when we, even for a relatively short time, are denied the food He supplies, our weakness and dependence quickly become apparent. Food gives us physical strength and satisfaction. If we deny the body the food it needs, we become weak and die.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Separation and At-One-Ment


 

On the Day of Atonement, God commands us to afflict ourselves. Fasting is the external means God gives to assist us in this. It inflicts upon us a small amount of discomfort, which is a good indicator of God's mercy. He could have commanded us to do something very painful, requiring a great deal of endurance and discipline. He has every right to do so, but instead He chose something that also shows us how much we need what He so generously supplies, such as food and water. Without what He supplies spiritually, we would not last very long in that realm either.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

We should regard fasting as a vigorous spiritual exercise in which we personally fight and combat the Devil's most intense temptations. God Almighty is exonerated of tempting us (James 1:14), but Satan the Devil is not. He is the Tempter (Matthew 4:3; I Thessalonians 3:5). Satan is aware of our tissue needs—of hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, etc.—all he has to do is amplify these desires. He knows that our appetites dictate to us, that we serve our cravings. Of ourselves, we seem not to have control over certain pulls of the flesh, but this lack of self-control is only apparent, not real, especially when we have the gift of God's Spirit to give us strength and motivation to overcome them (Galatians 5:16-25).

We are not truly free until we can fight off these carnal pulls of the flesh and begin to imitate Christ in our daily lives. We are in a hot war against carnality, and this war includes a constant struggle against Satan the Devil and his minions (Ephesians 6:11-12). No wonder Jesus speaks of violence!

Fasting provides active affirmation, through our refusal to yield to the fleshly appetites, that we are doing our part in exercising spiritual control. By it, we actively affirm to God Almighty that we indeed opt for a spiritual future over a physio-chemical, dead-end existence. We are choosing life over death.

Fasting brings us face to face with our carnality, and we feel compelled to cry out for both physical and spiritual energy—the physical, to endure the privation, and the spiritual, to endure the temptations to satisfy our desires. The psalmist writes in Psalm 138:3: "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul." Fasting forces us to cry out to the only real Source of strength, and He promises to give us what we need to overcome the temptation (I Corinthians 10:13).

David F. Maas
Fasting: Building Spiritual Muscle


 

Fasting demonstrates to God our acknowledgment of our helplessness, dependency, and vulnerability. We, at this point, admit to God that we do not have the wherewithal to overcome, but at the same time, we acknowledge that we choose to follow Him. God then replaces the torn-down carnal pulls with a fresh reserve of His Holy Spirit. God's Spirit combined with our will to control ourselves according to God's law then begins to build holy character in us. As long as this process continues, strength in character grows.

In Matthew 4:2, our Elder Brother Jesus Christ received strength for His confrontation with Satan the Devil through a 40-day period of fasting. In verse 4, Jesus puts "the god of this [present, evil] age" (II Corinthians 4:4) on notice that He has no intention of letting His fleshly appetites rule over Him as our first parents in Eden did. We must follow this example in fighting our lesser temptations. Fasting is a tool we must use on occasion to put us in the proper frame of mind to resist evil and do good.

Jesus warns us that, in our spiritual wrestling match against familiar spirits, certain kinds do not leave "except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21). In our life-and-death spiritual struggle, if we really desire to defeat "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2), we will find it necessary to draw close to God in a regular program of fasting and prayer. It will give us the strength necessary to resist Satan's way as well as to grow in God's image.

David F. Maas
Fasting: Building Spiritual Muscle


 

We need God's food—apples, oranges, bread, and all those kind of natural things—that He causes to come up out of the ground. When we eat them in the right amounts and in the right balance, good health is the result. We also feel truly satiated because we eat the things that He so generously provides.

Now when we do not eat, our body begins to feel weak, and we know immediately that we need to eat some food. If we do not get any food, we will hurt even more. For many of us, the main thing that we feel is not hunger, but weakness. The knees begin to feel a bit rubbery, and we just do not have the energy to do much. The mind begins to become a little dull, and the tongue begins to feel thick. Things just do not work with the smoothness that they normally do when we have strength. We need the food that God provides.

When we fast, we become weak. God wants us to make connections to spiritual things. Thus, when we do not have what we can get from Him spiritually, we will become just as weak spiritually as we become physically when we lack food. We will not be able to do spiritual things without those things that only God provides. We can visit hundreds of different stores to get food to eat, and the food we buy from them will make us feel strong physically. But there is only one place we can go to get the food that will feed us spiritually.

Humbling oneself before God is what is necessary to keep us from being separated from God. What can be produced by fasting is a vivid illustration of the attitude necessary for salvation—humility—thus allowing one's mind to change and turn toward God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Reconciliation and the Day of Atonement


 

Exodus 20:17

We are not helpless against the evil desires of our human nature. We can do several things:

1. Recognize that human beings have an unstable, insatiable nature. Ecclesiastes 1:8 says, "All things are full of labor; man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing." Being aware of this biblical truth can give us a better grasp of what we are dealing with. Do not be deceived; happiness is a fruit of true spirituality. God has not put the power into anything material to satisfy man's spiritual needs.

2. Seek God first. Our Savior advises in Luke 12:15, 31: "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. . . . But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you." Paul adds in Colossians 3:1-2: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."

We must purposely and deliberately study, pray, fast, and meditate. Further, we must consciously practice God's way of life. This takes sacrifice and discipline, but it fills the mind with the kind of thoughts that will eventually make it impossible to sin.

3. Hate covetousness, not things. Proverbs 28:15-16 states, "Like a roaring lion and a charging bear is a wicked ruler over poor people. A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days."

It is very helpful to observe what covetousness produces. Some sins are clearly understood, but covetousness is generally less easily observed, requiring careful attention to comprehend the very beginning of many sins. Making such observations is helpful in evaluating the self. We need to remember that coveting violates the basic principle of God's way of outgoing concern. It also keeps us from listening to God, so we must be attuned to detect its presence.

4. Learn to be cheerfully generous. Luke records Paul saying in Acts 20:35, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" The apostle adds to this thought in II Corinthians 9:6-7: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."

We need to keep in mind that we have such an abundance of self-concern mixed with a natural fear that, if we give things away, we will not have enough. God intends that we overcome these fears. Self-centeredness must be excised from our character. Working on it is an excellent discipline.

5. Learn thoroughly what grace teaches. Titus 2:11-14 tells us what this is:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Isaiah 1:16-17 adds, "Cease to do evil, learn to do good."

Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the power that motivates us to sin. He gives His power to those who strive to overcome the remnants of their old nature. Certainly, it is a tough and in many cases a long process, but with God's help, if we make the efforts, we can overcome it.

The dynamic of this new life is the coming of Jesus Christ first to us by His Spirit and then to this earth to rule it. When royalty is coming, everything is made spit-and-polish clean and decorated for the royal eyes to see. That is what we are doing: The Christian is one who is steadfastly making himself ready for the arrival of his King.

To this end, let us strive consistently and mightily to think the right thoughts that produce right conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Leviticus 23:26-32

The Day of Atonement is a commanded feast of God. God emphasizes this day's solemnity by threatening death to those who fail to afflict their souls or who do any work on this day. Nothing is more important than being at one with Him!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Holy Days: Atonement


 

Leviticus 23:27-32

The focus in these verses is on the spirit or attitude in which we keep Atonement. Considering verse 29, doing things right on this day is a serious responsibility. For religious Jews, this is the most solemn day of the year.

Three times in this short span of verses God commands us to afflict our souls or be afflicted. Many think that "fast" is derived from the same word as "afflict," but such is not the case. They are not cognate; in the Hebrew they have no etymological connection. They are two different words with distinctly different roots. God probably uses these different words to emphasize the attitude one should have during a fast, rather than the act itself, because it is entirely possible for a person to fast for a day and not be in the right attitude. However, when done properly, fasting can very greatly enhance the lesson of this holy day.

"Fast" is derived from a word meaning "to cover the mouth," implying that no nourishment gets past it into the body.

"Afflict," anah, is an intriguing word, giving us great insight into how God intends us to use this day. According to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, its primary meaning is "to force or try to force into submission," "to punish or inflict pain upon." When used in contexts involving attitude, it means "to find oneself in a stunted, humble, lowly position; cowed." It is used to describe what one does to an enemy (Numbers 24:24), what Sarah inflicted on Hagar (Genesis 16:6), and what the lawless do to the weak (Exodus 22:22). It is used of the pain inflicted on Joseph's ankles by his chains (Psalm 105:18). Moses describes Egypt's treatment of Israel with this word (Exodus 1:11-12), and in this case, it implies more than the emotional pain of slavery but something that hurt physically. Thus, in Strong's Concordance, the author uses such forceful and painful words as "browbeat," "deal hardly with," "defile," "force," "hurt," and "ravish" to describe it. Anah is a strong, forceful word.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

God Almighty has given man the power to make choices regarding his ultimate destiny. As a free moral agent, man has the awesome responsibility to choose between a hapless, physio-chemical existence with a dead end or a rich and rewarding eternity as a member of God's Family. Though the choice appears easy, the challenging road to the Kingdom of God dismays many because they are unwilling to undergo the rigors of the journey.

God has set before us the choice to obey or disobey, hoping we will choose obedience and giving us reasons and promises that persuade us to that end, but He wants us to make sure that it is our intention, without coercion or brainwashing on His part. It takes a free moral agent, making the right choices, to create the mind of Christ in us. Though He has a good idea how we will choose, God ultimately does not know what we will decide when given the choice. He will do all He can—short of rescinding our freedom to choose—to convince us to choose Him.

David F. Maas
Fasting: Building Spiritual Muscle


 

Nehemiah 9:1

The twenty-fourth day of the seventh month is two days after the Last Great Day! They are still there en masse!

What are they doing immediately after the Feast? They are fasting and repenting as a group, together! What an impressive example for us end-time believers! What might God do for us, for the church, for the world even, if His called people would humble themselves and fast and pray and seek Him after hearing His words at His Feast?

Notice what God tells Solomon in II Chronicles 7:14: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." This is exactly what the Jews under Nehemiah were doing.

But it does not end there. These children of Israel now do something about what they have heard all feast long. And what they do is in many respects far harder than overcoming some of the problems that face us!

Staff
The Feast Is Over . . . Now What?


 

Psalm 35:13

This verse presents us with a clear example in which anah is not in the niphal stem (reflexive case), but clarity is achieved by explanation: "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled [anah] myself with fasting." In this case, the self-imposed affliction or humbling is by means of fasting. Ezra 8:21 is another example: "Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble [anah] ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions." Again, anah is not in the niphal stem, but the rest of the verse explains that the humbling comes through fasting.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Proverbs 25:27

Jesus warns against this in the Sermon on the Mount when He tells us to do our spiritual devotions privately. We are to fast and pray privately. We should not let everyone know what and how much we are studying God's Word. We should not draw attention to our good deeds. However, the pride in a person leads him to ensure he is recognized and honored for what he does.

Notice that this verse does not say that the proud's work was not a good one. It may indeed have been a good work. But for him to make sure that he gets the glory for it has the same effect on him spiritually as eating too much honey has physically: It tastes awfully good going down, but it causes serious consequences later on. That is the lesson of the proverb: Seeking one's own glory will someday result in negative consequences.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Isaiah 58:1

Trumpets symbolize a loud, warning cry of impending danger. These verses from the prophets impart a dire warning to those living in the end time: The day of the Lord is at hand, a day of darkness, gloominess, and clouds over man's society! The prophets strongly admonish the ministry to raise their voices as trumpets to warn of sudden, terrifying destruction!

Though originally intended for Israel, these warnings apply specifically to the called-out children of God since we are the ones living in the end time with the understanding of God's plan! In fact, we have the most to lose by ignoring these stern prophecies of death and destruction. They are admonishments to prepare ourselves spiritually for the tumult ahead. Notice that these verses stress repentance, fasting, and prayer, and who but God's elect truly understand them?

Staff
Holy Days: Trumpets


 

Isaiah 58:3

Fasting puts us in a proper attitude to submit to God. When we deprive ourselves of the necessities of life, we see how dependent we are upon God's providence. This is why in a true, spiritual fast we neither eat nor drink anything for the whole 24 hours of the day (Deuteronomy 9:18; Esther 4:16). God desires such a humble spirit in us so that we can walk in harmony with Him (Micah 6:8; Isaiah 66:2).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Holy Days: Atonement


 

Isaiah 58:3-12

The members of Isaiah's audience were fasting for all the wrong reasons! They fasted to get things from God and hypocritically appear righteous. God says, though, that we should fast to free others from their sins, to intercede with God for their healing, to help provide for their needs and to understand His will. Fasting is a tool of godly love we are to use for the good of others, and any benefits we derive from it are wonderful blessings! On the Day of Atonement, we fast to implore God to bring to pass the greatest blessing of all upon ourselves and the world: unity, oneness, with Him!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Holy Days: Atonement


 

Isaiah 58:13-14

It is likely that the Sabbath here is either the Feast of Trumpets or the Day of Atonement. The chapter opens up with "Lift up your voice like a trumpet," but then the bulk of the chapter has to do with fasting. The Sabbath arises in verse 13, which indicates that, when Isaiah wrote this, God had a particular Sabbath in mind.

There are only two Sabbaths in which God says, "No work shall be done." The one is the Day of Atonement, and the other is the weekly Sabbath (which occurs fifty-two times a year). In that regard, the weekly Sabbath is more stringent than are the holy days. When holy days and weekly Sabbaths coincide, the holy day takes precedence as being a Sabbath of the first rank. But yet, in regard to the weekly Sabbath, God says, "No work shall be done."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 4)


 

Zechariah 7:4-6

This actually confirms that God permits national observances. His complaint is not with the observance of the fasts per se, but with the attitude in which the Jews observed them. The Jews' attitude abused something permitted but not commanded. God expresses His disapproval of the ethical and spiritual attitudes that underlay their outward observance. He questions their sincerity and motivation during their fasts, which should have been times of prayer and repentance. They should have used the time to recall the sins that had led them into the slavery that made calling the fasts so necessary. They should have been searching for any remnant of those sins still residing in them and repenting of them. In Isaiah 58:5, God asks, "Is it a fast that I have chosen?" God is scolding the Jews in the same way.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Thanksgiving or Self-Indulgence?


 

Matthew 9:14-15

The bridegroom's friends would not think of fasting while he was with them. For them, it was a time of festivity and rejoicing—mourning was not appropriate. When the bridegroom left them, their festivities would end, and the proper time for fasting and sorrow would begin.

While Christ, the Bridegroom, was with His disciples, it was a time for joy. Expressing grief by fasting would have been inappropriate at that time. In addition, since Jesus was with them, they had no need to draw closer to Him through fasting. After Christ died, the disciples fasted when appropriate.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins


 

Matthew 16:21-23

These verses show how easily a disciple of Christ can become the means of communication from demons. Peter did the speaking, but Jesus spoke to Satan, attributing the source of the disciple's action. His verbal outburst was against God's will that Jesus suffer and die. Without recognizing it, Peter permitted himself to be a willing conduit for Satan's will!

Several years ago, I clipped an abstract of a book, Wrestling with Dark Angels, which was advertised in a book catalog. The abstract reads:

They're those inner "voices of reason" that try to convince you that wrong is right, that evil is good. They're Satan's dark angels, and you fight them every day. Some of today's most respected theologians help you better understand these supernatural forces so you can combat them effectively—and win the war for your mind.

There is a time coming, represented by the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, when these dark forces of reason will no longer be free to influence mankind as they can now. Those who are now facing them without understanding what is happening will have died, been resurrected, and will live again with the knowledge of why life was so difficult before. God will not make them face these dark angels' subtle but powerful influence again. It will have had its effect, which will still have to be overcome. However, the possibility of that influence being refreshed each day will not exist.

The solution for us today is to combat that influence by means of the continuous influence of God's Holy Spirit flowing from our relationship with God through Bible study, prayer, meditation, occasional fasting, and obedience. Being in the spiritual presence of God and His Son Jesus Christ is the antidote. It is our shield and the means to flee Babylon.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part One)


 

Matthew 17:19-21

A lack of faith is a sign of a weak prayer life. Jesus Christ advises us how to address unbelief—prayer and fasting.

On a human level, how do we build trust, faith, and loyalty? Will we have faith in someone we do not know? Can we be loyal to a stranger? We build confidence in others through repeated contact with them over time—close and frequent communication. As we get to know them, to see them in action, to see their characters, we eventually reach a point where we can have trust and faith in them and in their behavior. Is it any different with God?

Prayer provides the repeated and continual contact with God that we need to get to know Him. This sets in motion the process that will lead to faith, to God being willing to give us the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8). The prayerful person becomes the faithful person, not the other way around. Hebrews 11:6 illustrates this point: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Notice the condition in this verse: God is not the rewarder of everyone, but "of those who diligently seek Him." The gift of living faith comes from diligently, actively seeking Him, consistently and with zeal. Prayer is a major tool in seeking God, along with study, fasting, and using the knowledge gained to conform to His will—practical Christian living and overcoming. Those who prove their diligence by doing these things are the ones rewarded with the faith to overcome (I John 5:4).

The Sabbath is an external sign that identifies God's people (Exodus 31:13, 17). Yet a person may be a nominal Sabbath-keeper without having a true relationship with God. Is there another sign—a less visible one—that perhaps only God sees? Yes, and Zechariah 13:9 shows it is prayer: "They will pray in my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'You are my people,' and they will reply, 'You, LORD, are our God!'" (Contemporary English Version).

Those with a weak prayer life have weak faith (Matthew 17:19-21). Those with weak faith are sinful (Romans 14:23) and are promised death (Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23). That is just how important earnest prayer is as part of a solid foundation, especially during the end time. As I Peter 4:7 instructs, "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers."

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part Two)


 

Luke 2:25

How were Simeon and Anna able to recognize the Messiah three decades before His first witness actually began? Luke provides the answer. He shows us that, in aggregate, the people of this group displayed the following characteristics:

1. They had God's Spirit. As a result, they were able to understand "the deep things of God. . . . No one knows the things of God except [by] the Spirit of God" (I Corinthians 2:10-11). When He promised the Spirit to His disciples, Christ called it

the Spirit of truth [which] . . . will guide you into all truth; for [it] will not speak on [its] own authority, but whatever [it] hears [it] will speak; and [it] will tell you things to come. (John 16:13)

The Spirit taught Simeon and Anna, just as it taught the apostles—just as it teaches us today.

2. They heard God's Word. Anna "did not depart from the Temple . . . night and day." She often heard the reading of God's Word, which Christ defined as truth (John 17:17). That Word "is profitable for . . . instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16). The Devout received frequent instruction from God's Word.

3. They talked with others of like mind. Simeon was not alone; neither was Anna. Luke 2:38 says Anna "spoke of [Christ] to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem." An unspecified number of other people also waited for the Messiah! They fellowshipped with those who were "just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel" (verse 25).

4. They fasted often. Notice the plural: Anna "served God with fastings" (Luke 2:37). These were not the fastings of vanity (see Matthew 6:16-18), but she fasted in service to God. A result of proper fasting is knowledge (see Daniel 9:1-22; 10:1-21). Surely, Anna's frequent fastings contributed to her ability to recognize the Messiah.

5. They prayed regularly. Again, notice the plural, "prayers" (Luke 2:37). Many hours of prayer lay behind Anna's recognition of her Messiah.

Solomon writes in Proverbs 2:3-5, "If you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, . . . then you will . . . find the knowledge of God." Solomon should know. God greatly increased his knowledge and wisdom as a result of his prayer (II Chronicles 1:10).

6. The Devout made the right connections. As a result of hearing God's Word, they were aware of the Seventy-Weeks Prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27). They realized that it was about 69 prophetic weeks since the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the Messiah's coming was imminent. That is what Luke 2:26 tells us: God's Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Messiah.

7. The Devout saw the Day approaching and did not forsake the assembling of themselves together (Hebrews 10:25). They understood the value of Christian fellowship. The prophet wrote of them and their sort through the ages: "Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them" (Malachi 3:16).

Discussing God's Word in frequent fellowship, with humble fastings and prayers, the Devout received understanding from God. Thus, they recognized their Messiah while the superstitious and the proud did not.

Charles Whitaker
Recognizing the Second Witness


 

Romans 8:20

God knew that man's continuous struggle against corruption would mature and perfect the character needed to be in God's Family. Because we possess the capacity to sin, when it is coupled with the determination to resist temptation to sin, the resultant effort becomes a spiritual exercise. Like a man training with dumbbells, the repeated resistance builds strength over time.

Dr. Viktor Frankl, psychologist and survivor of Auschwitz, cautions that it is a dangerous misconception to believe that man needs a continuous equilibrium or a tensionless state. He insists, "What man actually needs is not a tensionless state, but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him." The stress of attaining to a high standard or achieving a seemingly impossible quest betters a person. The bland, satisfied life means little, accomplishes little, and is remembered little.

David F. Maas
Fasting: Building Spiritual Muscle


 

Colossians 3:1-2

A vital step to overcoming covetousness is to study, pray, fast, meditate, and obey. Consciously practice God's way of life. This takes sacrifice and discipline, but it fills the mind with God's thoughts. This will eventually make sin foreign to us because we simply will not think to do it!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

1 Thessalonians 4:1

When we really mature in our spiritual life, we see more, we know more, we feel more, we do more, and we repent more. It is all in proportion to our closeness to God! We are, in short, growing in grace (as Peter said in II Peter 3:18).

No one who neglects the spiritual big four—Bible study, prayer, meditation, and occasional fasting—can expect to make much progress in sanctification because these are the channels through which spiritual strength flows from God. This is why having access to God through Jesus Christ is so important. These efforts produce faith and then obedience, and fresh supplies of His grace flows.

There are no spiritual gains without pains. Would we expect a crop from a farmer who never even looked at his fields until harvest time? That is ridiculous! The farmer has to get out in his fields and sow the seeds. Does not God say in James 3:18 that "the fruit of righteousness are sown in peace by those who make peace"? The fruits of righteousness have to be sown! That is work.

What are the fruits of righteousness? They are love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, kindness, faith, self-control—but they have to be sown, fertilized, cultivated, and pruned. We see a process. As those fruits begin to be produced, sanctification cannot be hidden any more than the fruit on a tree can be hidden. We will never attain to holiness without Bible study, prayer, fasting, meditation, and obedience because through them is how spiritual life is sown, cultivated, fertilized, and tended so that fruit is produced.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 9)


 

1 Peter 1:10-12

Consider what these verses say from the standpoint of the prophets who were looking into these things. How did they look into these things? How did they seek God? How did they search Him out?

An actual example appears in Daniel 9:1-3:

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD [given] through Jeremiah the prophet, . . .

What was Daniel looking into? He was looking into the Bible, specifically the writings of Jeremiah the prophet.

. . . that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

How did he seek God? By prayer, fasting, and study—the same things that we teach Christians to do. Looking into His Word is a major portion of seeking God. It is not the end of it because, as Amos 5:4, 6-7, 14-15 relates, "seek" in the biblical sense does not just mean "gaining an intellectual knowledge of God" but "turning to become like God." The knowledge of God is of absolutely no use unless we become like God, which is why he says, "Seek God and live!" (Amos 5:4, 6). What good is it if we have the knowledge but do not repent, do not turn to act and become like He is? None. If we only gain knowledge, we will not live.

Prayer plays a major role in this process. Daniel was seeking God's mind for the purpose of imitating, obeying, pleasing, being like Him, and doing His will. If we would continue in the prophet's book, we would find in chapter 10 that another occasion came up in which he fasted for three weeks. A person must be very serious and fervent to fast that long! The angel that is sent to him tells him that God heard Daniel's words from the very first day—that God would hear and answer was never a question. He spent three weeks fasting and praying to understand the will of God.

It is in this way that we come to know God in the sense of perceiving things as He does. If we are doing these things, we have every opportunity to pray according to His will because we will be praying His Word right back to Him—maybe not the exact words, but words that have the same sense. We will be on the same wavelength, as it were, with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is Prayer?


 

1 Peter 5:5-6

The most important thing that we can take from these verses is the understanding and the knowledge, the belief and the conviction, that humility is a choice. Peter says, "Humble yourself!" We can choose to go the right way, and when we do, we have humbled ourselves. Humility is not a feeling but a state of mind wherein a person sets his course to submit to God—regardless of his feelings. This is a terribly hard thing to do.

Along these lines, fasting makes us think about where our life-sustaining provisions come from. They are not inherent but have to come from outside of us—even the physical food, water, or air. We do not have self-sustaining life. Spiritual provision is from exactly the same source. The necessities that sustain spiritual life and produce the kind of strength that we want to have—the sense of well-being that we desire, along with a clear conscience—all of these vital "nutrients" come from God. They are directly tied to our submission to Him because "God resists the proud, but gives grace [favor, gifts] to the humble."

If we are waiting for a "feeling" to come along before we submit to God, we will be waiting a long time. It may come; it may not. However, we may use feeling in the sense of a decision that is reached. When we say that we "felt" we had to go in a certain direction, we may not be speaking of an emotion at all. In that case, our "feeling" is correct and would be a right understanding of I Peter 5:5-6.

Nevertheless, our part in settling the disagreement with God is to be humble before Him. The separation will not be bridged until we do what Adam and Eve did not: humbly submit!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

Find more Bible verses about Fasting:
Fasting {Nave's}
Fasting {Torrey's}
 




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