Faith and Unbelief. Day sixty-six...
When I decided to go on my first fast, it was during the hottest days of summer. I hadn't read any books or heard any sermons on the subject. The only kind of fast I knew anything about was what Jesus did in the Bible. So I just woke up one morning and decided go without food or water.
Needless to say, by the afternoon of the second day I was beginning to visit La La Land. Fortunately, I ran into a friend who saved me from dehydration.
Jesus talks about fasting (and prayer) in the story of the boy with seizures (Matthew 17:14–21 and Mark 9:14–29). He talks about how this “kind” does not go out but by (in Matthew) and can come out by nothing but (in Mark) prayer and fasting.
The obvious question is: “This kind of what?”
Most commentators answer with, “This kind of demon or unclean spirit.” But I think there's a better interpretation.
To pray and fast before casting a demon out of another person is simply not practical. Based on the Biblical record, Jesus only fasted once—for forty days (food and water) —in the very beginning of His ministry. And Jesus certainly did not go off to pray before He cast out a demon. Since He is our example, I think we need to dig a little deeper into the question: “This kind of what?”
If Jesus isn't teaching us how to get rid of demons, He is teaching us to get rid of what?
I think Jesus is showing us how to get rid of the mindset that thinks, “We only need what Jesus has, and not who He is.”
Please remember that Jesus' correction of the disciples and their generation (Matthew 17:14–21, Mark 9:14–29, and Luke 9:37–45) contained the terms faithless, perverse, and unbelief—all of which have to do with the distancing of oneself from God, as opposed to the pursuing of intimacy with Him.
Also, please remember that while faith has its substance in our spirit (our divine nature), unbelief has its substance in our flesh (our human nature). And both conditions can be (and usually are) present at the same time.
Unbelief is your human nature's direct attack against the true nature of God, trying to convince you that God is not who He says He is.
If faith is drawing us into a revelation of who God really is, then unbelief is trying to convince us otherwise. It's as if unbelief whispers in our ear, “You don't really need God; you just need His stuff.” Unbelief is intent on manipulating God instead of knowing God.
I am convinced that Jesus is teaching us how to get rid of our unbelief.
However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21 NKJV)
Prayer works one end of the deal. Prayer puts us in God's presence. And when we are in His presence we become more interested in who He is than what He does.
- In His presence we get to know Him.
- In His presence we experience the fullness of joy.
- In His presence we live and move and have our being.
- In His presence we begin to do what He did—not because of what we've learned, but because of who we have become in Him.
The better we know God, the harder it is to entertain unbelief.
Fasting works the other end of the deal. Fasting in its simplest form is saying, “No!” to our human nature's desire to control us.
- “No, you're not hungry.”
- “No, you're not tired.”
- “No, you're not sick.”
- “No, you're not in charge.”
The more we control our human nature, the less unbelief controls us.
Have a good day,