Faithful Fasting (Matthew #28)

Text: Matthew 6:16-18

Fasting is a hard thing to do.  So you would think if someone is going to go through the trouble to fast they would at least do it right.

…when ye fast… (vs 16)

  • Fasting is a private, voluntary, abstinence from food to firmly fix yourself to a purpose for which you need help from the Lord.  The word fast is the same root as fasten like fix or firmly set such as stand fast or hold fast.
  • Fasting is an act of contrition toward God.
  • 1 Samuel 7:5-6 When the ark returned to Israel under Samuel
  • 2 Samuel 12:21-23 David fasts for the life of the baby between he and Bathsheba.
  • 2 Chronicles 20:1-4 Jehoshaphat is facing a fierce enemy and proclaims a fast
  • Jonah 3:5 Ninevites fast in sackcloth and ashes hoping to avoid God’s judgment

…that they may appear unto men to fast. (vs 16)

  • Remember this part of the Sermon on the Mount deals with the appearance of righteousness versus actual righteousness.
  • Remember the format
    • …do not your alms before men… Verses 1-4 dealt with alms and hypocrites who do it publicly to be seen of men. They have their reward
    • …thou shalt not be as the hypocrites… Verses 5-15 dealt with prayer and hypocrites who do it publicly to be seen of men. They have their reward
    • …be not as the hypocrites… Now the Lord is dealing with fasting and a public appearance of righteousness versus being seen of God. They have their reward
    • Matthew 23:27-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
  • …disfigure their faces…
    • Ash Wednesday
    • Idolatry camouflages disobedience to God by clothing it in an act of devotion.

…when thou fastest… (vs 17-18)

  • Don’t advertise your sacrifice, or contrition, or charity and that is the point.  If you’re going to fast it’s because you are desperate to get a hold of God.
  • How long do I fast?
    • The Lord doesn’t say how long you should fast; remember there is no law about these things.
    • Generally speaking, you will be fasting for a purpose, so, you’ll probably fast as long as it takes to get peace from the Lord on the thing.
    • Daniel fasted three weeks in Daniel 10:2-3 for an answer about Israel’s judgment. He restricted his diet to bland food and drink.
    • Esther and the Jews in Esther 4:16 fasted from all food and drink three nights and three days.
    • Others have just skipped a meal or a day’s worth of meals as in Acts 10:30
  • When do I fast?
    • The Lord doesn’t say when to fast; again, this is not a law.
    • Any time you desire.  However, there are some times that the scriptures tell us we should fast.
    • Certain devils apparently latch onto the flesh and won’t leave unless the flesh is weakened and the grip of the flesh is weakened in Matthew 17:21.
    • In Acts 13:3 the church fasted and prayed before sending out missionaries.
    • In Acts 14:23 the church fasted and prayed before ordaining  elders.
    • In 1 Corinthians 7:5 in dealing with marital problems.
    • What are the benefits of fasting?
      • Isaiah 58:3-12
      • Verses 3-4 they were fasting to manipulate God and burden others
      • Verse 5 – acceptance from the Lord
      • Verse 6
        • loose the bands of wickedness (contrary to increasing bands of wickedness)
        • undo the heavy burdens (contrary to binding heavy burdens on people)
        • let the oppressed go free (contrary to imprisoning the people)
        • break every yoke (contrary to build more yokes)
      • Verse 7 describes how the fast will serve to make verse happen
      • Verse 8
        • Light break forth – clear direction
      • Thine health shall spring forth speedily – along with the clear direction is the ability to move in that direction
      • Notice the colon which means he’s going to define what he just said.  The light breaking forth is the righteousness of God being made much more clear to move forward and the glory of the Lord would be rereward, which is behind, like the engine moving you forward.
      • Verse 9 is answered prayer
      • Verses 9-11 the Lord describes what He just said again.