Last week I discussed some ways for you to know whether you are on a hunger strike or doing a Biblical fast.
I have gotten great positive feedback from that article (thanks!) so I decided to dive a little deeper and spend one more week on this topic of fasting since so many are fasting to start the year off right.
Today I want to talk about some of the dangers of fasting. The gospel is free but it isn’t cheap. Let me explain that further. The Bible teaches us that God created us to have a relationship with Him. However, starting with Adam and Eve, we chose to do things our way despite knowing somewhere in our soul that what we are doing is not right. Let’s be honest! Sin just feels good at the time! Additionally, doing the right thing doesn’t always give us the instant gratification we really desire!
Sin separates us from a holy perfect God, so much so that we can’t approach his throne to receive help when we need it. Here is the problem. The Bible teaches that no matter what – we just sin. It is now in our nature since the “fall of humanity” when Adam and Eve set the foundation for people to give in to our desires to disobey God. Picture a crossroad where turning left means following God and choosing life in following the Creator of life. On the other hand, you can choose to turn right and follow your own desires, however to head away from life means to head towards death.
That is exactly what the Bible teaches us in Romans 6:23, when it says the price of sin is death. In the Old Testament, death was needed to atone for sin, which basically means a LOT of animals were killed so that these animals were killed to atone for human sin. Animal sacrifices were external regulations that did nothing to change people’s consciences so they kept sinning until Jesus came as the “Perfect Lamb” to be killed (sacrificed) on our behalf. Now that sacrifice wasn’t an animal being killed but rather a man knowingly offering his life as an eternal sacrifice setting us free permanently from the price of sin. In our renewed pure state, God simply wants one thing – our life. He wants us to surrender our life and allow His Holy Spirit to actually change us from within so that we no longer even desire to disobey God. When God creates a new creation, the old has gone and this new “born again” person actually desires to please the Lord. That is why I say it is free but not cheap. You don’t have to do or pay anything but in His love, God asks for your life.
Since the book of Galatians was written people have struggled with this. It seems too good to be true that your sins are forgiven when you do nothing, so they strove to DO enough to please God. Let me share a modern example to explain why you are missing
So many of us feel the same if we are honest. We feel we must DO something to earn God’s love. We must give to the church! We must fast till it hurts and show we are really trying to please God! We must attend every prayer meeting at church! We must… we must… till we are burned out and exhausted of DOING good deeds! Meanwhile God is saying – STOP!! Just spend time with me! Just let me love on you! I love you because you are my child, not because you earn it! But here is the kicker – as my children just let me love on them, they realise that every command I give them is for their benefit and they begin to WANT to obey me – not because they are afraid I will stop loving them if they mess up but because they trust me that I want what is best for them.
So the danger in fasting or any other external regulation is that it can lead you to feel that you can earn points with God. You may even think fasting gets you enough points to feel good about your continual sin because now your “good deeds are off setting your bad deeds”. The negative is it leaves you exhausted trying to please God with all these good works. Can I encourage you to just focus on Jesus? Just read the Bible and let His loving words soak over you. Read them over and over until you believe them! And then if you feel the need to fast, by all means, use that as a way to deny yourself and surrender all, even your appetite. But, please do not think you are earning brownie points with the Almighty God by denying yourself some food. He wants you to trust Him with your life not just an empty stomach for a temporary time period!
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*Ashley Thaba is a popular motivational speaker and life coach. She is the author of the well-known books, Dive In and Conquering the Giants, which can be bought on Amazon. She also facilitates corporate team building and wellness activities. You can view some of her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba.