Then came to Him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. No man puts a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved (Mat 9:16,17)
Only when a person dies to the flesh and become born again in the spirit, the Holy Spirit can come, dwell and work in a person. Because the old carnal man and the new spiritual man cannot live together. Fasting plays an important role in the life of a born again believer.
But what is fasting? What is exactly the meaning of fasting? Why do Christians have to fast? When do you have to fast? What is the purpose of fasting?
The disciples of John asked Jesus, why they had to fast, but the disciples of Jesus not.
Jesus told them, that as long as He; the Bridegroom would be with them, His disciples wouldn’t have to fast. But when He would depart from them, then His disciples would also have to fast.
You don’t need to fast anymore, because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you?
Many people say, and many preachers preach from the pulpit, that people don’t need to fast anymore, because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. Therefore Jesus (the Bridegroom) is in us.
They say, that the disciples only needed to fast, during the time that Jesus ascended to the Heaven and the Holy Spirit descended. But is that true? Because when Jesus was baptised with the Holy Spirit, He was led to the wilderness and fasted for 40 days.
If the new creation; the new man, doesn’t need to fast, why did Jesus fast? And why did His disciples fast after they were baptised with the Holy Spirit (Acts 14:23)? Even Paul wrote to the new creations; the saints in Jesus Christ in 1 Co 7:5, about fasting. If fasting wasn’t part of the Christian life, then why did Paul write about it?
What are the wrong reasons to fast?
You don’t need to fast in order to get things from God, like power, healing, breakthroughs in certain situations, a partner, money, material things, destroying strongholds etc. Because that means that you starve yourself, and actually are blackmailing God to get something from Him or to get things done.
Look at hunger strikes, where people, who don’t agree with something, demonstrate and go on a hunger strike, in order to get their way.
But that is not what fasting is meant for. Fasting is not meant to get things or get something from God, because He has already blessed you with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly Places. And you certainly don’t have to fast for material things.
I know that many people do this, and that many people also are blessed with material things, when they fast for it. But the devil can also do wonders. If you fast for material things, than you don’t know the Kingdom of God, and are more focused on the things of this earth than on the things of the Kingdom of God. It shows that you are still carnal and not spiritual.
Fasting is also not meant to cast out demons. Many people refer to Matthew 17:21, when the disciples were not able to cast out a demon. But if we look at Matthew 17:20 we read the reason, why Jesus His disciples were not able to cast out this demon: because of their unbelief. Because of their unbelief, they couldn’t cast the demon out, and not because of the fact that they didn’t pray and/or fast enough.
If Jesus really referred with ‘this kind’ to the demon, than He would contradict His own words in Mat 9:15, when He said that His disciples didn’t need to fast, because the Bridegroom was with them.
And then there is another thing, namely that demons are one kind; fallen angels. The one can be more stubborn than the other, and have different appearances and/or manifestations, but demons are fallen angels and are the same kind. Therefore Jesus didn’t refer with ‘this kind’ to the demon, who held the child captive. I will tell you in a minute, what Jesus really was referring to with ‘this kind’. But first, let’s have a look what the word fasting means.
What does the word fasting means?
Fasting means not eating (and drinking). Sometimes people fast by skipping one meal, or treats, or people fast by not watching television, but that’s not what fasting is about. Skipping a meal, or a treat or not watching television etc. is not fasting. People can invent all kinds of fasting, but the truth is that fasting means not eating.
What is fasting?
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness,to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6)
God spoke these words to His people, who were still the old creation; bound by their flesh.
Through the means of fasting, they ‘punished’ their flesh, for what they, and/or their ancestors, had done, they repented and asked, and sought forgiveness of the Lord.
By fasting, they mourned, humbled themselves, and repented, and turned back to God. By fasting they loosed the bands of wickedness, in which they were taken captive, and undone the burdens. They were freed, because they broke every yoke that was upon them, because of their sin and iniquity.
David fasted, after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband Uriah. When Bathsheba was expecting his child, Nathan went to David and told Him that because of his actions, the Lord would take his son. David humbled his soul with fasting for the Lord, and hoped that through the means of fasting, he had ‘punished’ his flesh sufficiently, and that the Lord would spare his son and live. But David was punished for his adultery and murder. It costed his son (2 Sam 12:1-23)
I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayers returned into mine own bosom (Psalm 35:13)
When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach (Ps 69:10)
My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness (Ps 109:24)
In the Book of Nehemiah (Neh 9:1) and Esther (Est 4:3) we also read about fasting.
Does fasting belongs in the life of a born again believer?
When you become born again; born of water and Spirit, you have become a new creation. The old you has passed away, the old you doesn’t exist anymore, a new life after the Spirit has come
In the heavenly places you have become a new creation in Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit and His fulness living inside of you. But in the visible world, the flesh still reigns as king.
Now it is time for the process of sanctification; the transformation in the flesh to become like Jesus, and walk after the Spirit. The transformation, means that your spirit will take over the rulership in your life, and shall rule over your flesh. So that, you will be continuously led by the Spirit and walk holy and righteous before the Lord.
It is therefore time ‘to fast’. Fasting means ‘killing’ your flesh. When you fast, you make your flesh subject to the Spirit.
Jesus is our Example, He is the Firstborn of the new creation; the new man. Therefore let’s have a look at Jesus, and how He made His flesh completely submissive to the Spirit.
When Jesus was baptised with the Holy Spirit, He was led into the wilderness, in order to make His flesh submissive to the Spirit. So that, during His ministry, the flesh wouldn’t play any role anymore, but would be submissive to the Spirit.
During those 40 days, Jesus was being prepared for the task, that God had given Him to accomplish on this earth. By fasting and prayer, He killed His flesh, and His spirit became strong and ruled over His flesh. Now Jesus could walk fully after the Spirit.
During those 40 days, He was constantly tempted but didn’t gave in to the temptations. When the 40 days came to an end, He was almost ready to go, to preach and bring the Kingdom of God to the people. The only thing He had to do, was to pass the final test. God didn’t prevent this test from happening. He could have, but God allowed the devil to test Jesus
Jesus was tested
After 40 days, His flesh became hungry (just like any other human being), at that moment of weakness, His adversary; the devil came and tried to tempt Him to sin. He tempted Him to eat, to still His carnal hunger.
The devil tried to tempt Him, by twisting the Word of God, so that Jesus would give in to the craving of His flesh, and obey His flesh. If Jesus had done what the devil suggested, then Jesus would have given into the flesh. The flesh, which is the territory where the devil works, would have gotten the victory, and would reign as king in His life, and the spirit would be subjected to the flesh and to the devil.
Then the devil tried to tempt Him again, by proving who He was. But Jesus resisted the devil again with the Word.
Finally the devil tried to tempt Him, by showing Him all the kingdoms of the world, and offered these to Him. The only thing that Jesus had to do, was to bow down and worship the devil. But Jesus didn’t give in to the lusts and desires of the flesh, and resisted the devil with the Word. Jesus commanded the devil to go, and the devil left Him alone, for a while
Jesus had passed the test, and the Spirit had complete reign in His life. Then the angels came and ministered to Him.
During His ministry on earth, Jesus fasted regularly. Fasting was part of His life.
The purpose of fasting
When you become born again, the flesh often still plays a major role in your life. You are still carnally oriented, and are led and ruled by your senses, emotions, feelings, thoughts, will, lust, desires etc. instead of being spiritually oriented. You seek those things which are on the earth, instead of seeking those things, which are above
If you don’t change your life, then you will always stay a baby, and baby’s cannot walk, but they cry and screech if something is bothering them, or if they don’t get their way etc. The only things that baby’s do, is drinking, eating, sleeping and being nurtured.
When you have received the Holy Spirit, through the baptism with the Holy Spirit, then you have received everything you need.
The only thing that stands in your way, is your unbelief, which is part of your flesh; your carnal mind.
Jesus fasted before His ministry, before He walked after the Spirit. If we want to walk after the Spirit, then we also have to do, what Jesus did.
Killing your flesh; the carnal man
When you fast, you make your flesh submissive to the Spirit, because you ‘kill’ your flesh, by not eating. Fasting means ‘killing’ your flesh, so that your flesh will become submissive to the Spirit.
When you fast, you don’t feed your flesh anymore, and therefore you silence your flesh. When you feed your spirit, with the Word of God, prayer, and speaking in tongues, your spirit will become strong. Your mind will start to line up with the Word, and spiritual discernment will rise.
If a born again believer never fasts, and lives like the world, but prophecies, and perform signs and wonders etc. Than you seriously have to ask yourself, if these works are done out of the Spirit or out of the flesh.
Fortune-tellers also ‘prophecy’ over people’s lives, and a lot of those ‘prophecy’s’ come to pass. And look at illusionist, magicians, medicine men etc. they also perform signs, miracles, wonders, and healings. But they perform these signs and wonders out of the flesh, empowered by the kingdom of darkness.
Jesus said, that in the last days, many false prophets and false Christ’s shall come, who will perform great, signs and wonders, and will deceive many. They shall do such great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect (Mat 24, Mark 13)
Therefore it is important not to focus on signs and wonders, these are just side issues. But stay focused on the Word of God; Jesus, keep His commandments and walk after the Spirit.
Only through the Word, you will be able to discern what is real (what is from God), and what is fake (what is from the devil), and stay faithful to God.
Fasting and prayer
The adversary works through the flesh, that is his field. Therefore it is important to silence, and ‘to kill’ the flesh, and the only way to do that is through fasting and prayer.
Jesus told His disciples “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Mat 17:21, Mark 9:29)
Jesus wasn’t referring to the demon, but He was referring to the old man; the carnal man, who is captivated in his sin nature, in his unbelief, and walks after the flesh, being sense ruled. The only way to kill this old carnal man, is through prayer and fasting.
Your spirit will become strong, when you feed yourself with the Word and become a doer of the Word. You exercise your spiritual senses and become spiritual strong, and you will be able to walk after the Spirit and don’t fulfil the lusts and desires of the flesh.
You will preach and bring the Kingdom of God to this earth; to the people, without the flesh interfering. You will be able to walk after the Spirit, and fulfil the plan that God has for your life, so that He will be exalted.
‘Be the salt of the earth’