Faith and Unbelief. Day seventy-one
Are you interested in doing a fast, either for the first time or with a different perspective?
If so, what does a fast for a new‐covenant believer look like?
The fast under the new covenant is different than it was under the old covenant, just as the law is different under the new covenant than it was under the old. Since the fast was actually a part of the old‐covenant law, to understand the difference in how we relate to the law will help us understand the difference in how we relate to the fast.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be thei God, and they will be My people. (Hebrews 8:10 HCSB)
Jesus didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17–18). But this is a difficult concept to grasp. How did Jesus take laws on stone tablets and somehow fulfill them?
First of all, let's look at what has happened to us when we surrendered our lives to Jesus.
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:25–26 NKJV)
Except for those times when the Spirit of God fell on them, God lived with the men and women under the old covenant differently than He lives with us. He was external to them, but He is internal to those of us who are born again through Christ.
We have a new heart and a new spirit within us. But what exactly does this mean?
Jesus basically fulfilled everything that needed to be fulfilled when He said, “It is finished.” How He did all this, including the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, is beyond the scope of my brain. But I do know that Jesus is both the beginning and the completion all things (see Revelation 22:33).
Our heart has been transformed by Christ and now has the capacity to contain Him fully through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. In other words, when we have Jesus within us we effectively have Jesus' fulfillment of the law and the prophets (see Matthew 5:17).
So as a born‐again believer, it is just as impossible for me to fast like they did under the old covenant as it is for me to practice the law like they did under the old covenant. Oh, I can do it, all right, but to do so would be to reject what Jesus did on the Cross. If I were to try to live under the law like they did back in the old days, then I would completely abandon the grace of God.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:1–6 (NKJV)
Do you really want to go there? I sure don't.
So we must look at the accounts of fasting in the Old Testament with the idea that these are not models of our “external” behavior, but of our “internal” nature. We must go after the “heart” of the fast and not its trappings. Let me explain.
There are the Biblical accounts of the forty‐day no‐water no‐food fast of Moses (see Exodus 34:28) and the no‐rich‐foods fast of Daniel (see Daniel 1:8–16), along with mentions of other fasts in the Old Testament. And then there is Jesus' fast, which I believe to be like Moses' fast—no food or water for forty days.
But I can't pattern my fast after that of Moses or Jesus. A no‐food no‐water fast, without divine intervention, will kill the human body. I could, however, do a no‐food, minimal‐water fast for forty days—by drinking only enough water to survive. Or I could do just a no‐food fast for forty days. And if I really wanted to lessen the effects of the fast, I could do something like Daniel did—give up some rich foods for a period of time.
But at some point we start looking silly when we jury‐rig the Biblical model into one we can comfortably follow. We can end up with a fast in name only—like not watching a TV show (that we rarely watched anyway) for forty days—and feeling as if we've really sacrificed for the Lord.
If you're going to get any value out of fasting, please realize that you can't do it like they did back under the old covenant. You've got to approach the fast just like the law. You have to take on the “heart” of the fast and make it an integral part of your life.
More on this tomorrow.
Have a good day,