Fasting: The Dethroning of Food 
 
We live in an age and in a culture that is obsessed with food.  We are surrounded by food magazines, restaurant blogs and cooking shows of every variety catering to every taste from diners and dives to haute cuisine.  The Food Network has a vast audience and celebrity chefs have become cultural icons.  As a recovering foodie myself, I can attest to the power this fascination with all things related to food can have over us.  The problem is that this obsession has become a stronghold in God’s people with disastrous results.

The fact that God’s people have food issues is so obvious that all it takes is a glance at any congregation or gathering of Christians, especially in the US.  I think statistics would confirm my view that obesity is a greater problem in the Church than it is in the world.  The truth is that we use food in all kinds of ways that God never intended and that we are eating ourselves to death.  We use it to comfort and console us, to reward us, to entertain us and to medicate us when we feel hurt, bored or stressed.  We use it to compensate for other pleasures we feel deprived of.  Instead of being a source of fuel and pleasure, we have gone overboard and have made food the center of many of our lives.  We have transformed the temples of the Living God into toxic and defiled vessels. The Father has provided a powerful remedy to deliver us from this obsession which is the source of so many of the health problems of Christians.  That remedy is fasting.

Now the subject of fasting is very controversial.  The truth is that fasting is hard.  After all, eating is one of the basic essentials of life.  With the exception of breathing, it is the most essential factor of our physical existence.  Fasting is no joyride but then again it is not meant to be.  It is a sacrifice. But when we undertake that sacrifice to honor and obey God, He will honor and bless us.  When you are divinely guided into a fast (and that is the key that I will get back to later), God will pour out His grace on you and He will make it possible for you to accomplish it.  I have been on multiple day fasts where I felt no hunger pangs, no headaches and had no food fantasies.  Truly, fasting can open the door to the realm of the supernatural.
Among other purposes it serves, fasting is God’s way of bringing our fleshly appetites under submission to His Spirit.  As long as we are in bondage to food, we cannot fully enter into the fullness of what He has ordained for us.  It is very important to our spiritual growth and for that reason the enemy fights fasting with every weapon in his arsenal.  I want to discuss a few of those weapons.

The most obvious weapon is fear which I will not dwell on for long.  The cycle goes like this for many Christians: they abuse food, gain weight, need to go on medication to control their sugar levels, blood pressure, heart disease and cholesterol and then when God tries to lead them into a fast, they are fearful of getting off their medication or that the fast will injure their compromised health.  So we see that the enemy has Christians coming and going.  He exerts his dominion through gluttony, disease, fear, unbelief, distrust and rebellion which all result in death.

The next weapon is less obvious and more hidden.  I was having a friendly disagreement with a sister recently on the subject of fasting.  She made the statement that Paul never mentions fasting in his epistles.  I knew he did but at the time did not recall the specific scriptural references.  When I got home, I did some studying and discovered something very interesting.  The Strong’s concordance (based on the King James translation) shows that Paul refers to fasting or fastings three times.  The Youngs Literal  translation shows the same three references.  However, when I checked seven other translations (the translations most commonly used by millions of Christians) there are no references to fasting or fastings in any of them in Paul’s writings.  So in a way the sister was right.  For two of the three references in the KJV (II Cor. 6:5 and II Cor. 11:27) where Paul is cataloging the hardships he had to endure for the sake of the Gospel, the seven other translations render the Greek word for fasting as hunger.  The implication, which I think is somewhat valid, is that these were not voluntary fasts so much as circumstances where Paul was deprived of food.

Where my study got very interesting is with the third KJV reference in I Cor. 7:5.  This is the passage in which Paul is counseling married couples that it is acceptable to abstain from marital relations during times when they give themselves over to fasting and prayer.  When I checked eight* other translations, each one had omitted the fasting part.  The word was just altogether missing. There would seemingly be no justification for this omission because the word is clearly in the Greek original and the fasting referred to cannot be interpreted as forced like the other two references. For me, this has all the earmarks of a demonic conspiracy against fasting on the part of the translators.  I don’t know about you, but in my view, if the devil is against something to the point where he will deliberately alter the Word of God to eradicate a word, you should know that there is power in it.

The last weapon is also subtle and insidious.  In the same conversation with this sister, I inquired about a couple we both know who I remembered as being really devoted to intensive fasting and intercessory prayer.  I was wondering if they still fasted.  Her response was that they no longer fasted because they are now eating raw foods.  I said nothing at the time but as I thought about it later I began to see how really slick the enemy is.  I have nothing against a raw food diet.  In fact, I believe that God is leading His people in the direction of healthier eating including a diet of more raw food.  What I see the enemy doing, however, is replacing an obsession with unhealthy food with an obsession with healthy food.  Christians spend much time and money on sustaining a raw food diet and some, apparently, feel that this regimen is a substitute for fasting.  I believe that when God leads His people into a healthier diet, it is to make fasting easier not to eliminate fasting.  He wants to wean us from toxic, unhealthy food so that when we do fast we don’t suffer from headaches and the other symptoms of food withdrawal.

I want to end this by saying that fasting should never be undertaken in the wrong spirit or with the wrong motive.  It should not be undertaken in the spirit of religious asceticism nor should it be undertaken to change God’s mind.  We should fast in simple obedience to His leading believing that He will strengthen and sustain us for the duration of the fast.  In order to do this, we need to hear His voice and to be sensitive to His leading.  We cannot afford to take fasting off the table, so to speak, as many Christians seem to have done.  In the coming months and years, we need to draw closer to Him than ever before and we need to have our inner man strengthened as we leave all bondages behind.

         I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a                                living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  Rom. 12:1
 
*The Amplified Bible
  The Living Bible
  Phillips Modern English
  Revised Standard Version
  Today’s English Version
  New International Version
  Jerusalem Bible
  New English Bible


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