WHY FAST? MAIN PURPOSE: HUMILITY
- Confronts Man’s Main Problem: Pride
- Humanities primary issue and obstacle is pride. Thus, the ultimate purpose of fasting, either directly or indirectly, is humiliation in the Lord unto revealing our desperate need for Him.
- Pride and independence are a cover-up for spiritual famine within. Fasting strips away cover-ups and shows us our deep need for humility. Think of fasting as a Humility Maintenance Program. 🙂
- Generally people sign up for a life of fasting just to get revelation, anointing and glory, when the primary reason for fasting is self-humiliation or humility.
- Man’s ultimate desire is to exalt himself rather than humble himself and thus we can even manipulate fasting to serve ourselves.
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers
And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. “Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
- A good way to quickly test and reveal the value humility holds in our hearts is to pick one thing we take pride in about ourselves & possibly anchor our reputation in, and try to avoid or discourage all exalting conversation and thought around it for a time.
Jesus loves me so much, He is fiercely committed to destroying that which has afflicted me: my deep infatuation with myself. David Sliker
“Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself.” T.S. Eliot
How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
- Our life should always be found in Him, not them (Col. 3:4). Then we will be empowered to represent Him rightly to them in humility.
- Fasting = Our Weakness = His Strength
- Fasting truly is a gift from God in how it reminds us that we are not “all that” & that we desperately need Him to strengthen us unto the Day of His appearing. Without that constant reminder, we grow in blinded pride & eventually have a language void of heart reality (Is. 29:13; Is. 58).
- Fasting is the one voluntary activity that God highlighted Biblically for man to choose in our own freewill, in order to keep our heart sober to our inner realities
2 Corinthians 12:9,10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Fasting & prayer is God’s plan to usher you into voluntary weakness. Billy Humphrey
God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us. Martin Luther
- Cultivates Love & Dependence With God
- In the OT, fasting mostly happened in light of needing God’s strategic help, and many times was in response to going astray & rejecting Him as their leader. It represented humility in the heart of the corporate whole. Esther 4:3,16; Joel 2; Jonah 3:5; Ps. 35:13; 69:10; 109:24
- The OT many times fasting displayed a corporate surrender, dependence & turning of the heart of a nation to God in order that He might set His eyes on the nation and redeem it onto it’s covenantal purpose, ultimately displayed in the restoration of all things in the end.
Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.
And the people of Ninevah believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them to the least of them.
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
- The most important date on Israel’s calendar was/is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which is the only fast commanded by the law. Known as a time to afflict the soul, which they understood primarily to be abstaining from food (Lev. 23:27; Acts 27:9 – “the Fast”)
- In the 2 primary fasting passages of the Old Testament, Isaiah 58 and Zechariah 7, this is the point God is making. (Isaiah 58:3-…) “You say you are humbling yourself, but when you fast you actually pursue self-exaltation.” In Isaiah 58, God hits directly on their exploitation and reveals it: …seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
- Remember that God is always after the inner reality of our hearts and has such great mercy and love that He will pursue the cleansing of the inside in whatever way He so chooses.
- Jesus’ rebuked the Pharisees for using fasting as a means of self-exaltation instead of self-humiliation. Those searching self-exaltation in the immediate receive their reward in this age by the reputation and recognition they inwardly pursue through external means.
- Great Facilitator of Godly Sorrow Unto Bodily Resurrection
- Weeping and mourning is commonly found in OT contexts of fasting and humbling (cf. Judges 20:26; 2 Sam. 12:21; 1 Kings 21:27-29)
- Godly sorrow/grief is characterized by repentance unto belief in Him as the leader, followed by obedience (similar to those in Nineveh in book of Jonah). Worldly grief sets it’s sorrow on the loss of the world’s approval, leading to an attempt in regaining that approval which leads to the “second death” at the Day of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 7:8-11
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it…As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces (second) death (in hell). For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (in the resurrection at the Lord’s appearing).
1 Peter 5:1-11
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed (the resurrection & coming Kingdom of the Messiah): shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock (similar context to Is. 58, don’t exploit unto your reputation). And when the chief Shepherd appears (the Messiah’s/Jesus’ return), you will receive the unfading crown of glory (at the resurrection of your body). Likewise, you who are younger…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time (the Messiah’s return) he may exalt you (resurrect you unto life in Him), casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith (of the Messiah’s return), knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (in the resurrection of your body at Jesus return). To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- Humility – Conclusion
Pride is not an attribute of God’s current and coming Kingdom, thus He will oppose it on the Day of the Lord at His appearing. The only way to overcome pride is through the grace given by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was given to help us endure inwardly unto the Day of the Lord with a right heart. Thus we access His Spirit and grace through prayer and it becomes the “on ramp” of displaying our weakness before God, in every day life, by crying out “Help!” to the Spirit on a consistent basis. Fasting can easily intensify this cry because of the vulnerability and exposing it brings to our inner life. When our inner life is walking rightly with God, there is Biblical precedent that God might give us immediate favor in some situations. However, the heart of the believer should keep their eyes soberly fixed on the favor that they will receive on the Day of the Messiah’s appearing (1 Pet. 1:13).