Fasting is Spiritual Leaven

By Patricia Backora If you wish to "go back to your Jewish roots" as a Christian, you must fast, that's part of the package. Paul warned the church about devious men who wanted to pollute the Gospel of Grace with religious rituals of the Old Jewish Law. Those who depend on religious works to help them keep right with God often don't know any better. Nothing we do or say enhances the value of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. If anything, reliance on your own works can make you fall from grace (Gal.5:4). Some Christians feel like freeloaders if they let Jesus pay for their salvation all by Himself. When believers don't feel Christ's torture on the cross is enough to keep them on good terms with God, they'll fast to "share in Christ's sufferings" to make up the difference. That's a religious crutch which lets Christians at least pay the tip so they'll feel better about themselves when Christ settles their sin bill. Some boast about how humble fasting makes them, even as they brag about doing it. But it's even more humbling to know someone else took the rap for your sins. It's humbling to say "Jesus paid it all, and I can't even chip in two cents to help Him keep me out of hell." Long ago I thought a faster's prayers were worth more than the prayers of those who came to prayer meeting after a good meal. Immediately after I received the Holy Spirit, I felt a joy inside I’d never, ever experienced before. Then I learned a doctrine that stuck out like a sore thumb from all the teachings of the Bible that sustained this feeling of joy. I had received the Promise of the Father (Luke 24:49), the Blessed Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus said would empower all who received Him (Acts 1:8). In Luke 10:19 Jesus gave His disciples power over ALL the power of the enemy, and these men did NOT fast at the time Christ bestowed this authority upon them (see Matt.9:14; Mark 2:18). In verse 20 Christ said wicked spirits ARE (present tense) subject to those he was speaking to at the time. And this occurred BEFORE Pentecost, with NO mention of the disciples having to fast to gain this power over the forces of evil. Not even before they were baptized in the Holy Ghost in Acts 2! In fact, Christ’s non-fasting disciples rejoiced that wicked spirits were already subject to them. Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from

heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.* * *If fasting had been a prerequisite for being able to tread on serpents and scorpions, surely Christ would have added that condition right here in this context! HE, not fasting, empowers His people to live in victory over demonic forces. Yet even though I had a wonderful Baptism in the Holy Ghost, I was taught that Christians needed to do something IN ADDITION TO receiving the Holy Ghost to have power over all the forces of the enemy. FAST! If going without food could defeat satan, every anorexic on earth could raise the dead and cast out devils! I’ll address one objection many would make that scripture DOES say fasting is necessary to cast out devils. Matt.17:21 says: Howbeit this kind (of demon) goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. However, Bible scholars dispute whether Matt.17:21 is even in the original Greek manuscripts, or whether it was added in later centuries when fasting legalism crept into the church. Some Bible translations contain a footnote stating that this particular verse is not included in some manuscripts. Others place the verse in brackets, indicating that it is of doubtful authenticity. In a parallel verse, Mark 9:29, some Bible versions do not contain the words “and fasting”, which indicates they could have been inserted later by translators. If that’s the case, it should just read that PRAYER is necessary to drive out the most resistant demons. Jesus prayed before He raised Lazarus from the dead. Obviously that was one of the hardest miracles He ever performed. But there were other times when Jesus simply COMMANDED the dead to rise again instead of praying, as in the case of Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:55) and the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15). Nowhere does it state that Christ fasted before raising Lazarus from the dead. He PRAYED, and then commanded Lazarus to come forth (John 11:41-43). One problem with this idea that fasting being necessary before Christians have power over demons: How hungry do you have to make yourself before Jesus’ promise that you ALREADY have power over ALL the forces of hell kicks in? The very fact you have to wait long enough for meal-skipping to affect your BODY in order to strengthen your SPIRIT shows that for at least two or three days you DIDN’T possess power over ALL the forces of satan! Suppose satan got his licks in BEFORE your blood sugar had time to crash and the power of fasting

gave you power over him? That waiting period would be a window of opportunity for the devil to do his dirty work! In most cases where Jesus cast out demons, Christ doesn’t pray for His Father to do it for Him. Just like Jesus COMMANDED the dead to rise again, He simply ordered the demons to leave, which isn’t the same as praying! Apparently Jesus expected His disciples to do like him and just TELL those demons to get lost. Yet when a burden is too big for us to handle, we need to PRAY to God for extra help. You don’t have to buy God’s intervention through self-imposed suffering like the prophets of Baal tortured themselves when they begged their false god to send a miracle (I Kings 18:28). But you don’t have to eat if the prayer need is urgent and you feel the strength to press on till the job is done. If you are in the thick of a battle with satan, it would be just as ludicrous to break for lunch as a cop pausing in the middle of a shootout for a doughnut break! Grabbing a snack would distract you from your intense prayer session. Christians get mixed messages from the pulpit. They’re taught that Christ is all their righteousness, and ALL their sins have been washed away as far as east is from west, and they have a righteous standing with God. True! But they’re also taught that they’re so rotten and depraved inside that they need to fast to “humble” their sin nature and gain God’s favor. This is contrary to Colossians 2:21-23 which teaches that treating the body harshly doesn’t make you any holier. I devoured “deeper life” magazines and went off the deep end, thinking I could never beat up on myself or “repent” enough to please God. This spiritual voodoo teaches Christians that just like the alabaster box containing the perfumed ointment which anointed Christ, their souls need to be “crushed” in order to release the life of Christ. Despite God’s promise that as He is so are we IN THIS WORLD (I John 4:17). Despite the scripture which says we are made the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor.5:21). But legalists still insist that Christians need to “be refined in the fire” to make them good enough to face God after they die. This heresy is taught nowhere by the apostles, founders of the Church. This notion is no different from the Catholic teaching that your own suffering contributes toward your salvation, and if you aren’t “holy” enough when you die you need to go to Purgatory to suffer more pain before God will let you into heaven. I call this idea of contributing your own suffering (of any type) to help buy your ticket to heaven

“Supplemental Suffering Salvation”. If you fast to help Christ atone for your sin, it’s “Matching Funds Fasting” or “Residual Fee Fasting”. Those who teach fasting to create a sense of shame for sin believe that if a Christian isn’t already afflicted with some horrible trial to keep his joy under restraint, he should make his own body a “living sacrifice” by starving himself to “deny the flesh”. Or, Deep-End Life teachers teach that you must fast to “enter into the Holiest Place” with God in the spirit, losing all consciousness of the things of earth (this could be dangerous for a busy mother!). Funny, but the book of Hebrews teaches that we are brought into the Holiest of All through the blood of Jesus, not fasting (Heb.10:19). Although the Book of Hebrews teaches that only ONE sacrifice, that of Christ Himself, is sufficient (Heb.7:27; 10:12), fasting advocates warn you that unless you “make your body a living sacrifice” by starving it and forcing it to burn itself for fuel, you don’t really mean business with God. Jesus NEVER taught such devilish doctrines! Making your body a living sacrifice (Rom.12:1) means you consecrate the members of your body to do God’s will and prevent your body from giving in to fleshly lusts which war against the soul (I Cor.6:20; I Pet.2:11). Thanks to weird ascetic doctrines floating around the Body of Christ, I struggled so hard to “improve” on what I’d received from God that I made myself miserable. My joy started feeling like a tarnished penny. Because I didn’t have supernatural heavenly visions like Paul’s out-ofbody experience, I felt like a failure! All my singing, all my floor-pacing and praying, all my “sacrifices” to money-hungry preachers, all my missed meals and confessing of (often imaginary) sin, and I still hadn’t been raptured off the earth in a blaze of glory. I still had to think about “earthly things” day in and day out. Before long I lost a vital awareness of the love of God. Instead of achieving greater glories of ecstasy, I felt deep grief in my innermost being. The devil started making me worry that I’d committed the Unpardonable Sin, and sometimes I wasn’t even sure what that was. It took me YEARS to become firmly persuaded that my guarantee of going to heaven was rock-solid. Eventually I realized that even if I never skipped another meal or paid another “seed-faith” offering till the day I died, it wouldn’t make God love me any less. Many glumlooking Christians think they aren't serving the Lord unless they're constantly suffering some type of “sacrifice” to keep Him happy.

People swear by fasting as being good for your health, God's way of getting slim. If that's your true motivation, might as well just call it a diet instead of a fast. But apart from the fact that excessive fasting can ruin health, there is another reason it can be harmful in that area. I suspect that religious fasting, like all other legalistic things done to gain or keep God’s favor, might be the devil’s way of taking Christians out from under the protection which comes from solely relying on the merits of the precious blood of Christ. Since legalism brings Christians back under all the curses of the Law, that would partially explain much of the poverty, depression, spiritual oppression and physical sickness in the Body of Christ. Whatever you do to please God, always examine your motivations. Ask God to help you to steer clear of anything that is not of faith, for if your religious practices stem from a religious spirit of fear instead of faith, they are sin (Rom.14;23). Some Christians think food is prayer poison. But Jesus said it's what comes OUT of your mouth that defiles you spiritually, not what goes into it (Matt.15:11). One preacher wrote that if you want an answer to prayer, you should be happy to sacrifice to help bring it about. Is extra sacrifice really necessary to please God? Psalms 40:6: Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Heb.11:5-6: By faith (not fasting) Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith (not fasting) it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 10:10: By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOR EVER, sat down on the right hand of God You can't approach God's Throne on the merits of fasting. Just because you drive past Dunkin' Donuts without stopping, do you seriously think God equates that so-called sacrifice with the torment His Son suffered

on Calvary? Does that uneaten doughnut purchase a single favor from the hand of God? Failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth brings Christians under unnecessary religious bondages. When Jesus commented on the Pharisees' tithing practices, He was addressing JEWS UNDER THE LAW, not Gentiles. Likewise, when He preached on fasting, He was addressing JEWS UNDER THE LAW. Christ did not come to teach the Gentiles how to correctly keep Jewish traditions (including fasting). In fact, Christ rebuffed one desperate Gentile woman who pleaded for Him to heal her daughter. Jesus did heal the child because of the woman's faith. But He said that He hadn't even been sent to anybody but the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matt.15:24). If Jesus' teaching on fasting (Matt.6:16-18) binds fasting on nonJewish believers under the post-cross New Covenant, then we must also literally keep other Jewish customs He commented on. Matt.8:4: And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. Jesus commanded the healed leper to go to the priest for ceremonial cleansing. This wasn't a quickie procedure. The complicated, drawnout ritual involved several days of washings, shavings, pigeon offerings, etc. If we must follow this example whenever we're healed, there's a problem. There's no Levitical priesthood around, and Christians aren't supposed to offer animal sacrifices. In Paul's day, the infrastructure for keeping that particular command of Christ was still in place, even though the New Covenant had just come into effect. The Temple was still standing, and the Levitical priesthood was still functioning in Jerusalem. Some point out that Christ said “when you fast”, not IF you fast in Matt.6:16-18. Jesus was addressing Jewish listeners who regularly fasted in their devotions, not Gentile believers of the Church Age. If this passage binds fasting on church people, then Matt.5:23-24 must also be interpreted as a command for Christian believers to bring a gift (Gk. doron) to a literal altar. Depending on the context in which it is found, this Greek word can mean either a gift of any kind, or an animal sacrifice. Contrary to modern televangelist teaching, money was never sacrificed on the Temple altar, only edible things. Monetary contributions were deposited in a treasury box.

Most would agree that Christ does not command Christians to offer up literal animal sacrifices today. Matt.5:23-24 and Matt.6:16 have something very important in common: Christ was teaching His Jewish listeners to do JEWISH things God’s way, with the proper attitude. Jesus wasn’t commanding the Church to fast anymore than He was commanding them to offer up a bullock on the church altar! Fasting advocates cite King David, Queen Esther, Daniel, Anna and other Old Testament (before the Cross) fasters as proof we must fast under the New Covenant to please God. Old Testament saints lived under an inferior covenant, whereby they approached a Holy God feeling very unworthy and fearful of His wrath. God says we can come BOLDLY before His Throne of Grace, with no mention of fasting being necessary to prepare you for the trip (Heb.4:16). Fasting appears NOWHERE in this deeply spiritual epistle. In Acts 20:22 Paul tells the brethren that he feels BOUND IN THE SPIRIT to go to Jerusalem. Paul had previously bound his soul with a vow (Acts 18:18; Num.30:6). Paul felt forced to go to Jerusalem to fulfill that vow. Something is wrong here. Paul could have asked God to FORGIVE (RELEASE HIM FROM) THIS DEBT of Mosaic law-keeping (Matt.6:12) in order to allow him to live in Christian liberty instead of legalistic bondage. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of liberty, not bondage (2 Cor.3:17). Despite Paul’s teaching about “submitting to one another” he ignored the warning of God’s prophet. Paul went against his brethren’s counsel NOT to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-12). Paul told Christians to follow his own example (I Cor.4:16; 11:1). In Acts chapter 21 Paul succumbs to pressure from legalistic brethren to go to Jerusalem to fulfill his vow in company with others who would go through the same ceremony. Going back to the old ways of worshipping God was very sternly warned against in the Book of Hebrews, written at a later time by an unknown author. Those Judaizers were real kill-joys who went around making sure nobody stayed free in Christ for very long if they ever did manage to get free. They wanted reassurance that Paul still kept the Law of Moses and all its rituals. To keep the peace, Paul shaved his head and offered sacrifices in the Temple, even after his own conversion. Is that an example we Gentiles should follow today? Acts 21:23: Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;

24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. 25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.* * **Paul, who offered up animal sacrifices in the Temple, exempted Gentile believers from Jewish customs. That would include religious fasting. Paul doesn’t teach fasting, or even recommend it, in any of his epistles. Even the legalists who pressured Paul to keep Temple rituals agreed that Gentile believers don’t have to live like Jews. Verse 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. Apparently it took Paul awhile to realize that Christ no longer expected His people to follow Mosaic rituals He had fulfilled in Himself. Which begs the question: Why do most Christians agree that circumcision was made spiritual only (in putting off the deeds of the flesh, (see Col.2:11), but fasting, a Jewish tradition, still has to be literally kept? Instead of defending His own Christian liberty before the legalistic Jewish brethren, Paul kept his Temple vow. Paul sailed to Jerusalem, where Jewish leaders were waiting to capture him. Paul went through a Mosaic purification ceremony and made offerings for himself and each of his brethren (Acts 21:26). Paul had been a believer in Christ for some time when he did this! Paul’s action amounted to a public denial that He had ALREADY been purified by the Blood of Christ and that Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself was sufficient. Notice in Numbers 6 to see how complicated it was to keep a ritual vow, and all the offerings which had to be made. Part of the process was to offer PEACE OFFERINGS. This was totally wrong, since Paul ALREADY had peace with God through Christ (Rom.5:1). Jesus IS our Peace (Eph.2:14). Paul pacified the legalists by going through this ceremony. But peace gained by coming back under the Law isn't worth the price. Not long after that, Paul was captured in “the city which is in bondage” (Gal.4:25). He spent years in prison. Legalism always brings bondage.

Peter and James, the most legalistic of the apostles, agreed that Gentiles don’t have to act like Jews or keep their customs. Acts 15:7: And when there had been much disputing (argument), Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, PURIFYING THEIR HEARTS BY FAITH* * * * * (not fasting). 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 BUT WE BELIEVE THAT THROUGH THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WE SHALL BE SAVED, EVEN AS THEY. Verse 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that WE TROUBLE NOT THEM, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. Verse 28 FOR IT SEEMED GOOD TO THE HOLY GHOST, AND TO US, TO LAY UPON YOU NO GREATER BURDEN THAN THESE NECESSARY THINGS; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. Significantly, the Holy Spirit REPEATS this information at least three times in the Book of Acts, to emphasize that Gentile believers are NOT under Jewish Laws and customs. So why do Christian leaders contradict the Holy Ghost Who said NO SUCH THING (Jewish religious traditions) should be practiced by Gentile converts, and NO GREATER BURDEN than those four necessary things is to be laid upon them? Being expected to torment your own body (or tithe) IS a greater burden than those four necessary things. Because fasting didn't make the Holy Spirit's short list of NECESSARY things, fasting must be UNnecessary. Otherwise, He would have led the apostles to teach converted Gentiles about fasting, who may never have practiced it before coming to Christ. This apostolic conference would have been the perfect time and place to bind fasting (and tithing, Sabbathkeeping, etc.) on Gentile believers. Some say since Daniel fasted we have to fast too. But Daniel also kept kosher food laws and prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem. What Christian does these things today? Many Christians fast (or claim to), but how many brag about wearing burlap robes like fasting Jews did in

the good old days? Catholic ascetics “doing penance” would often wear scratchy undergarments, sleep on boards, do without adequate blankets in the winter, crawl over pebbles up the mountain to shrines, counting their rosary beads as they went. Nuns and monks would whip themselves as well as fast. OT Jews threw dirt over their heads, went barefoot, tore their clothes, wore sackcloth and shaved their heads. Christians who insist on fasting should wonder why they neglect these other practices. What about two fasts the apostles held? They are found in Acts 13:2-3 and Acts 14:23. These JEWISH disciples, who had always fasted as part of their religion, were transitioning from the Old Covenant to the New. Paul's freedom manifesto, the book of Galatians, hadn't even been written yet. Some quote 2 Cor. 6:5 and 11:27 to prove that Paul practiced religious fasting even after he received his revelation about being set free from the Law. But these fastings were mentioned with other miserable ordeals he suffered, like beatings, stonings, character assassination, lack of clothing, thirst, freezing cold and shipwrecks. Paul did not impose these periods of starvation on himself as a “spiritual discipline” to become more “Christlike”. Paul lacked food in the same sense he lacked (fasted) clothing. Paul no more deprived himself of food as a “spiritual discipline” than he deprived himself of warm clothes in the winter. The REAL Christ came eating and drinking, see Matt.11:19 and Luke 7:34). Paul endured FORCED FASTS because of poverty. The most reliable Greek manuscripts do not even contain the word "fasting" in I Cor.7:5, where husbands and wives are not to defraud each other unless they agree to do so during fasting and prayer. That's the only possible mention of devotional fasting after Acts, and it's not even a command to do it! Paul endured these “fastings” partly because other Christians were either too poor or too stingy to take care of him. The Philippians were extremely poor. But they did what they could to help Paul. But the rich Corinthians failed to supply Paul’s needs when they could easily have done so. I Cor.4:8: Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; Paul contrasts the wealth of the Corinthians with the miserable privations he and his co-workers suffer. These affluent, selfish Corinthians were just like the materialistic "King"s kids' of the modern Prosperity Movement. Every man for himself! Even under the Old Law, fasting is commanded on only ONE day of the year: the Day of Atonement (Lev.16:29-31), and even here fasting is only IMPLIED. The Day of Atonement scriptures simply command an Old Covenant Jew to afflict his soul. Several other fasts were added by Jewish doctors (doctor-uppers-of) the Law to improve on God’s requirements to make the religious life of a Jew a more challenging experience. Christians who insist on regular fast days (or any fast days at all) are not following apostolic teaching in this, but the example set by legalistic Jews who fasted twice a week to prove how spiritual they were (Luke 18:12). ONE fast by Christ is recorded in scripture, and there’s no mention He ever did any fasting with His disciples. Throughout Paul's ministry the Judaizers ("Christian" enforcers of Jewish laws and traditions) were a thorn in his side. Paul circumcised Timothy to keep them happy. But he later stood his ground and refused to also circumcise Titus. Galatians 2:3: But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily (in a sneaky way) to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Galatians 6:12: As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.* * * There's fleshly satisfaction in keeping religious rituals.

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.* * * *Your spiritual life becomes a tangled mess when you dilute the grace of God with works. The old and the new don’t mix (Luke 5:36-38). 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.* * * *Religious works can cause a believer to stop relying on Christ. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.* * * *Observe one Jewish law or ritual, you're obligated to keep them all. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.* * * *Reliance upon religious works of any kind to keep keep God happy can make you fall out of the grace of God and imperil salvation. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.* * * *Nowhere does Paul ever recommend fasting as a way to melt the heart of God or make miracle-working easier. NOWHERE! If fasting's so vital, why didn't the apostles warn believers not to neglect a practice which prioritizes your prayers on God's "to do" list? Where in scripture does Paul teach on fasting and its merits? Did Paul ever say that you have to starve your body to prove how hungry you are for Jesus? How many miracles does this apostle attribute to fasting? Not one! And that goes for all the writings of Peter, John, James, and Jude. Never do they prescribe fasting as a way to recharge your prayer batteries or zap demons. Satan is more frightened of a heart full of faith than an empty stomach. One preacher racked up 100 fasting days in one particular year, but he didn't see satan tuck tail and run. No apostle ever tells you to fast to spank yourself for sin. If fasting's so all-fired important, why are the epistles (doctrinal letters of the apostles to the churches) so silent on it? Fasting, like tithing, has been imposed on God's people without authorization from the apostles, the founders and builders of Christ's church. How can fasting bring you closer to Jesus, if He already dwells in your heart by faith (Eph.3:17) and you’re already one spirit with Him (I Cor.6:17)? Even pagans starve their body to contact the spirit realm. Fasting to weaken the

body's grip on the soul so you can soar up into the heavenlies is a pagan doctrine. The apostles NEVER taught this! If fasting were a valid Christian doctrine, the apostles would have given specific instruction on the correct way to carry it out. This would have involved a bunch of rules and regulations: How to fast within strictly regulated parameters to protect health, how to fast to induce heavenly visions, whether sick people, expectant mothers or children had to fast to please God, whether you could have juice or crackers before bed, the correct way to begin and end a fast, and how to avoid feeling self-righteous like the proud Pharisee in Luke 18:12. Religious fasting is a carnal commandment of men, taught nowhere in the Pentateuch (five books of Mosaic Law). Col.2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) AFTER THE COMMANDMENTS AND DOCTRINES OF MEN? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.* * *Modern translations help clarify the meaning of this verse. It might seem wise to treat the body harshly and drum up a little (false) humility, but that does nothing to “kill the flesh nature”. Only the Word of God, RIGHTLY DIVIDED and applicable to New Covenant believers, is binding on us today. Religious fasting to rack up points with God is a deception of satan, although it may sometimes be necessary to postpone a meal to get urgent praying done. Immediately after asking the confused Colossians why they're still observing carnal ordinances (touch not, TASTE NOT, handle not) Paul asks them why they are conforming to the commandments and doctrines of men. Commandments not to touch or taste food came not from God, but men, the Pharisees of Jesus' day. Some say since many early Christians fasted, we have to fast too. But many early believers came from Jewish homes and had always fasted. Anyway, an example is not a command. Does Jesus rebuke Christians for not fasting enough? Jesus makes it clear the Book of Revelation is written only TO THE CHURCHES. In fact, He repeats "TO THE CHURCHES" seven times so they'll get the

point (Rev.2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). During His earthly ministry Jesus ministered to Jews who still did religious things like tithing, fasting and animal sacrifice. He wasn't binding these practices on the church, which didn't even exist yet. But the Holy Spirit addresses Revelation to the church and no other group. Jesus sternly rebukes several churches in Revelation chapters 1-3. For laziness , fornication, adultery, idolatry, lukewarmness, you name it, they've done it. But NOT ONE REBUKE FOR FAILURE TO FAST! Jesus commands backsliders to "be zealous and repent". In the Old Testament books of the Prophets, God sometimes commands backsliders to rend their hearts with sorrow and fast. But Jesus does not command these believers to go without food, just repent. We’ll examine one of the most commonly-used scriptural arguments for the fasting doctrine. In both Mark 2:20 and Luke 5:35 Jesus says that in THOSE DAYS the children of the bridechamber would fast. Modern English translations help clarify the meaning of “children” in this verse as meaning wedding GUESTS. A commonly used Jewish idiom was “son” or “child” of something, which means someone displays the characteristics of a particular thing, as when Christ called James and John “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). In Luke 9:54 you see what Jesus meant by this. James and John had thunderous characteristics in their nature, as they showed by asking Jesus if they could call down fire on an inhospitable Samaritan village. Jesus also called the evil Pharisees children of hell (Matt.23:15). The Pharisees acted like they belonged there, just like the children of the bridal chamber behave like proper wedding guests. He spoke also of a “son of peace” (Luke 10:6). If a peace-loving man lives in a home you’re visiting, let your greeting of peace remain on that person. If not, take it back. Christ said that after He is taken away, the “children of the bridechamber” (the wedding guests) would fast. If everyone was supposed to fast, why didn’t Jesus simply say, “After I go back to heaven, ALL righteous people will fast” instead of saying “when the Bridegroom is taken away the children of the bride chamber will fast”? Some would still insist that this predicted fasting was to be done by Christians of the Church Age. But the word “children” in the KJV, however you interpret it, is PLURAL, not singular. Throughout the epistles in ten different scripture verses, the Church, the Bride of

Christ, is spoken of as being ONE body (Eph.4:4;5:25-32). There is a huge difference in how Old Covenant believers and New Covenant Christians relate to Christ. The OT people of God were a CONGREGATION of individual Israelites gathered together for Temple worship. But they were NEVER viewed as being ONE spiritual Body indwelt by God’s Spirit, and having Jesus as their spiritual Head. Before Christ became the Bridegroom of the Church, He offered to be the Bridegroom of Israel. The Jews often referred to their expected Messiah as the Bridegroom of Israel. That’s why John the Baptist spoke of the Bridegroom to Jews (John 3:29). John was the last of Israel’s OT prophets (Matt.11:13; Luke 16:16). John introduced Jesus to Israel, not the Church (Luke 1:80; 3:16). But Israel as a nation would reject their Messiah. Christ, their rejected Bridegroom, was taken away from them. Where it concerned unbelieving Israel, Jesus did not promise that He would still “be with them always” after He went back to heaven. I believe that after the Jews stoned Stephen God turned His attention from Israel to the Gentiles. God retracted His offer of the Kingdom to Israel, fulfilling Christ’s warning that the Kingdom would be taken away from the Nation of Israel and given to others (Matt.21:43). At the close of the Tribulation, the Jews will mourn when they realize they killed their true Messiah (Zech.12:10). This would probably involve fasting. After the third chapter of Revelation, you never hear from the Church again, for she is in heaven. But you read much about the trials of nonraptured Tribulation saints still on earth. In Rev.19:7-8 the Church, as the Bride of Christ, reappears, and to HER (singular), is granted that she be arrayed in raiment clean and white. The next verse, verse 9, says ‘Blessed are they (plural) who are called (invited) unto the marriage supper of the lamb’. There is ONE Bride and many guests. Ask any wedding planner. The wedding guests and the Bride are not one and the same. John the Baptist fasted all the time, but he performed far fewer miracles than Jesus. He will be the friend of the bridegroom, or Jesus’ Best Man (John 3:29). John and countless other Old Testament saints will be the wedding guests, not the actual Bride of Christ. Other wedding guests, the martyred Tribulation saints, will not be part of the Bride, either. They will become converted after the Church, the Bride of Christ, is raptured to heaven. Having been martyred by the Antichrist before the Second Coming of Christ, they will join the

wedding party in heaven as GUESTS of the Bride and Groom. All the mournful fasting they did on earth will be forever over. These particular guests will become converted after the Church, the Bride of Christ, is raptured to heaven. People automatically assume Jesus is talking about the Church Age, the present day, when He says “in those days they will fast”. But Jesus must have meant the TRIBULATION days, because when He speaks of THOSE days, it is usually in the context of that terrible period of history. Mark 13:17 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: 15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: 16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. 17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in THOSE DAYS! 18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. 19 For in THOSE DAYS shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.* * * *Here, Jesus echoes Daniel’s prophecy in Dan.12:1 about the coming time of unprecedented trouble. 20 And except that the Lord had shortened THOSE DAYS, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. Repeatedly Jesus speaks of THOSE DAYS as being the days just preceding His Coming. His Second Coming is different and distinct from the Rapture, where He comes FOR His saints to take them to heaven before returning WITH His saints to rule over this planet. Jesus prophesied a terrible time of trouble that would be worse than ever before, to hit this earth during THOSE DAYS. I believe Jesus’ use of the term THOSE DAYS also refers to the time Tribulation converts to Christ will not feel any inner assurance of victory and just might afflict their souls in fasting to try to get God to take pity on them. Possibly they will see frightened Jews fasting, who have historically done this in time of great danger, and Gentile believers in Christ will also fast. Also, believers won’t be allowed to buy and sell without the Mark of the Beast and will, most likely, go on FORCED fasts like Paul did when he had nothing to eat.

Despite Christ’s promise to be with us always (Matt.28:20), some insist we still have to fast because our Heavenly Bridegroom is not visibly with us. Must Jesus be always PHYSICALLY in our presence in order to say we don’t have to fast? When Jesus returns to rule Planet Earth, He will have many glorified saints stationed on the other side of the globe carrying out various assignments for Him. Then, as now, Christ will be constantly with them in Spirit. But it won’t be possible for Jesus to physically be everywhere at once with everybody at the same time. So the argument that we must fast because the Bridegroom isn't physically in our presence doesn't hold water. If we have to fast just because we can’t see Jesus with our literal eyes or touch Him with our physical hands, that would also apply to this Millennial scenario: If Simon Peter were ministering in San Francisco while Jesus was in Jerusalem, he would have to fast because at that moment in time his Heavenly Bridegroom wasn't physically in California! Paul said it was possible to be present somewhere in spirit while being physically absent: Col.2:4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I WITH YOU IN THE SPIRIT, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. Paul even tried, convicted, and sentenced one Christian criminal when he was physically absent from the "courtroom": I Cor.5:3: For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Paul didn't say he wasn't with them, just because his body was far away. His spirit was there. How can this be so? The Spirit of God within us is not limited to time and space, as our bodies are. At conversion, we actually become one spirit with Christ the Lord (I Cor.6:17). That Mind of Christ within us knows all things, even if our natural intellect falls short (I John 2:20). Sometimes Spirit-filled

believers pray in the Spirit for unknown people and situations in far-off lands, as the omniscient, omnipresent Holy Spirit detects their needs. If we are actually spiritually united with Christ the Lord, how then can we say He is not with us? Old Testament saints were not spiritually united with Christ during their mortal lifetimes. In fear and desperation they fasted to reach out to a God far away in heaven. Our experience of God is different from theirs. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 15 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. Jesus immediately links fasting with mourning. He never associates it with rejoicing. Drummed-up depression is out of sync with the joy of the Holy Spirit. The disciples mourned after Jesus was killed. But after Jesus' Resurrection His disciples REJOICED, even after He ascended back to the Father (Luke 24:52). They didn't fast and cry when He went home. At Pentecost, Christ came in His fullness of His Spirit to dwell in the hearts of His people. He is with us always (Matt.28:20). Fasting "because the Bridegroom is not with us" is downplaying (or denying) what Jesus said about ALWAYS being with us. Interestingly, Jesus in His role of Savior will still be at work on earth to save people after the rapture. Otherwise, there would be no Tribulation saints. But Christ in His role as Heavenly Bridegroom WILL be absent from the earth after the Rapture because our Bridegroom will be in heaven with His Bride the Church celebrating the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Today the life of a Spirit-filled believer is characterized not only by righteousness, but by great peace and joy (Acts 2:46; 4: Rom.14:17). Tribulation saints will do their best to walk righteously before God, like Old Testament saints did. But how can they be full of joy, knowing they might any moment weaken and take the Mark of the Beast out of fear? How could they overflow with joy, knowing plagues and famines are sweeping the earth, and they might be slaughtered at any time? Those who persecute these particular believers will be totally sold out to satan and irretrievably doomed to hell be because they will have taken the Mark of the Beast. Persecuted Tribulation believers won’t even have the consolation of hoping that their courageous death might soften the hearts of their evil persecutors to lead them to Christ. More than likely, the agents of Antichrist will be a whole lot scarier than the Roman tyrants who threw early Christians to the lions.

In the Bible, fasting is ALWAYS associated with sorrow for sin or reaction to some other kind of stressful event. Jesus never told believers to fast to celebrate their normal condition of joy in the Lord. But yes, there WILL be a time when sorrow will be far more appropriate for believers than joy, and that will be the dark, deadly Tribulation Period. Those who repent AFTER the Rapture will be saved by the Blood of the Lamb as we are today. But unlike us, they’ll be KEPT in salvation through their own faithfulness in performing good works (see Matt.25:31-46). Contrast this precarious, CONDITIONAL salvation experience with Paul’s firm assertion that our salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph.2:8-9). Other conditions the Tribulation saints must fulfill in order to earn the right to keep their own salvation: They must “endure” or “hold out to the end” (Matt. 24:13). They must do their best to keep God’s commandments (Rev.14:12). And they must not, under ANY circumstances, accept the Mark of the Beast (Rev.20:4). Even believers who take this Mark out of fear of starvation or torture will lose their salvation because scripture warns that if ANY man takes this Mark, they’ll be forever doomed (Rev.14:9-12). Notice, believers in Christ are NOT exempted from this terrible warning! Even if the Antichrist were to torture them beyond all endurance! The Tribulation will be a terrible time of tremendous stress, sorrow and fear of falling away for believers, not a time of great joy in the Lord like that experienced by Church Age Christians who received the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. Why is it that legalists give lip service to founding all church doctrine on "grace through faith alone", but then they burden the people of God with "spiritual disciplines" never taught in any New Testament epistle? To bind fasting on New Covenant Christians, you must do the same as you do with tithing: Import it from the Old Covenant or the Gospels, when Jesus okayed the tithing of garden herbs (Matt.23:23). The Gospels (the earthly ministry of Jesus) transpired during the closing days of the Old Covenant, when Jews lived under the Law and nonJews were the odd men out. Why do I believe Jesus lived during the Old Testament? Because the New Covenant didn't come into effect until after Jesus died on the Cross and rose again (Heb.9:15-17). Scripture places Jesus' earthly ministry firmly under the Dispensation of Law, the Old Testament:

Galatians 4:4: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, MADE UNDER THE LAW, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Fasting has nothing to do with Christian joy and celebration in Jesus. Fasting is a perfect tissue match with “the leaven of the Pharisees” (Matt.16:6,11-12), who were the ones responsible for adding extra fast days to the Jewish Calendar, unauthorized by God. Purge out the old leaven of religious legalism. When yeast is first mixed into bread dough, it's barely detectable. But yeast blows bread dough up to three times its original size. Just like human hearts puff up with pride when they think God is impressed with their religious works. Leavened bread dough looks stable and substantial, but exert a little pressure on it and the whole thing caves in. People who swap their rock-solid faith in Christ for religious legalism will see their impressive religious lives cave in when the devil puts pressure on them. A little religious leaven puffs a believer’s heart up into the sin of relying on his own works to keep him in right standing with God, instead of putting faith ONLY in Christ. This is what it means to fall from grace, a very dangerous thing indeed. I Cor.5:7: Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Jesus is the ONLY sacrifice we need! Christ died on the Cross long before you even thought of being born. In John 19:30 Jesus Himself said: IT IS FINISHED!

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