Oct 14, 2019
I love fall. It's a time of gathering and bringing in, from fields, orchards, gardens and tucking away and celebrating.
Even we gather. Warm cider around the fire. Goodies shared whether gooey with caramel or as soups and chowders or roasted to perfection. For my family and probably yours, gathering means food. And we all like to cook because we all like to eat. This is best outdoors. Under trees gleaming in color. Dressed in flannel and wrapped in red buffalo check wool.
I l-o-v-e fall. Thank you, Father, for making change so glorious!
I think it's a shame then, that autumn has been hijacked by Halloween. I know not everyone shares my lament, but evil is nothing to celebrate. Jesus has given His all to keep us safe from it and I wonder at heaven's raised brow when so many Christians run to embrace it.
But Satan's too crafty to be openly evil. His ways are subtly deceiving. He attacks our mind and our physical senses with a relentless, one path strategy meant to wear us down.
After Jesus was baptized with water and the Holy Spirit, God spoke from heaven with a voice like thunder, declaring Jesus was His Son. Satan took notice. Jesus was led into the desert to fast for forty days and nights. He never broke His fast at night. What was the purpose of this fast?
Most Christians will answer the New Testament purpose of fasting is to get closer to God. No argument there, but let's take a deeper look into why it can make you more aware of God.
First off Jesus was God. But Jesus as a man had a physical body with a physical operating mind. This is an important aspect of our Savior we can't ignore. For Jesus to do what God called Him to do, He eliminated the human tendency to be led by the physical senses and emotions in regard to circumstances. He trained Himself to put aside the demands of flesh. To do it, He had to will what He allowed His mind to think and act on. But for most of us our flesh is too loud.
I hate to admit this, but when I was younger, I hated to fast. The minute I decided to fast pop or desserts is the minute my flesh WANTED it. I felt like Golem,"My precious!" My mind was filled with thoughts of whatever I was fasting, and I had a hard time concentrating when I read the Bible. That didn't happen when I wasn't fasting...ugh! I really wondered what was the use?
In other words, my flesh was too loud. But the reason I needed to fast was because I needed to hear from God. Apparently that wasn't happening in my ordinary routine so I decided to fast which made things worse. Why I am I sharing this with you? Because most of us are led by our physical selves whether you are salivating over an image of an icy cold Coke or not.
One of the purposes of fasting is for us to take control of the physical workings of ourselves so it doesn't drag us from desire to desire, want to want, donut to cheesecake.
When Satan heard the news God spoke from heaven, he already had his plan ready to use against Jesus. He knew it worked against Adam. The first assault was against Jesus' identity and authority. "If you are the Son of God," he began. The statement was meant to create doubt. It was also meant to create emotion.
Satan knows that if he can get you to question your position in relation to God, he can get his foot into the door of your thoughts. To question means you need an answer. You aren't sure of something. There's no clarity. If he can get you to take the question of your identity and ponder it, stew on it, he knows the result will be confusion. Confusion is a place where we can be deceived.
Jesus was hungry. His physical senses were reacting to their circumstances. Satan may have heard Jesus' stomach growl. The rocks surely did. So Satan lets the second half of his strategy roll. He appeals to the physical need. "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." (WEB)
Jesus wasn't sent into the desert to do miracles. If Jesus would have yielded to what Satan suggested, He would have disobeyed God. It was a miracle He was capable of performing or else it wouldn't have been a temptation. The accusation Satan leveled against Jesus could have been a catalyst for pride. Jesus didn't need to prove He was God's Son by doing miracles to meet His own needs. That would have been a work demanded by His physical self and if He had done it, the physical body and its emotion would have been the master of Jesus.
One thing Christians need to know is the human body has a physical entity and a spiritual one, regardless if a person is saved or not. Like the Godhead we are a trinity of sorts: soul (mind, will and emotions), body (physical senses and systems, e.g. circulatory, etc.) and spirit. The spirit of a man runs the soul and the body. Jesus said out of the heart flow the issues of life. Man lives life, saved or not, from the inside out.
Jesus reminded Satan of this when He answered the temptation. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (WEB) This is actually a spiritual principle, for better or for worse.
Food doesn't make the spirit stronger. Giving in to the demands of the flesh doesn't make the spirit stronger. It is only by focusing on our inner man and feeding it the Word do we impart life to the body. We also strengthen our spirit through speaking in tongues, which is the purpose of it, to edify ourselves. We also become more aware of our spiritual life when we learn to put the flesh and it's thoughts off to the side and not let them rule over us.
So here are 7 steps to a better way to fast.
1. Resist Satan. The promise is you resist him and he has to flee.
2. Tell your physical body what it is going to do. You are not going to tell me what to do. I am speaking to you, and you will do what I say. You will eat when I say it's time to eat. You are sustained by the Word of God right now."
3. Tell your mind what it is going to do. "Mind, you are going to think what I tell you to think. All your cares I am casting on Jesus right now and you are going to leave them there. Every thought is taken captive to the obedience of Christ. I have Jesus' thoughts because I have the mind of Christ."
4. You have humbled your flesh; now submit to God and yield yourself to the Holy Spirit.
5. Then speak in tongues for a while. That means longer than a minute. Continue throughout your time of fasting. If you don't speak in tongues and don't want to, okay. Life's too short to argue. Go to the next step.
6. Start speaking God's promises outloud. An important one is John 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (WEB) Keep speaking promises throughout your fast.
7. Read the Word.
This process is strengthening your spirit and putting your flesh in its place. So when you sit down to have your quiet times with God, you will be more aware of those fleshy hindrances plaguing your connection to God. You will be better able to discern the tactics of our enemy, better able to resist him and submit to God.
Title image by Ben White courtesy of Unsplash. In text image by Jakob Owens courtesy of Unsplash.
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