Fasting doesn’t save, but the saved should be fasting!

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”    -Matthew 6:16-18

This Sunday our church has the privilege of starting our annual Daniel Fast, based on Daniel 1:12 and Daniel 10:2-3. In this post, I hope to stress the following concept: that although fasting doesn’t save, those who are saved fast. Fasting should be a part of the believer’s life.

In Matthew 6:16-18, we see Jesus’ words in which he states “when you fast,” not “if you fast.” In essence, Jesus was making it clear that this behavior is normative in the life of the believer, while attacking the egotistical and hypocrite attitudes of the Pharisees. If one examines Isaiah 58, we understand that the purpose of fasting is not in self-interest, but rather to deepen our relationship with God and to receive the strength to live a life according to the Lord’s spiritual precepts. Fasting, when done correctly, helps us in the transition from sinner to saint.

Further, we can see evidenced that the church in Acts also fasted (e.g. Acts 13:1-3). In fact, there are several different purposes for fasting, such as to preach with anointing (Jeremiah 36:9), to make important decisions (2 Chronicles 20:3) to avert the wrath of God (Jonah 3:5-10), for divine protection  (Ezra 8:21-23), for discernment, to start ministries, for sending missionaries (Acts 13:2-3), to intercede (Daniel 9:3), to minister with power (Matthew 4:1-2, Acts 9: 9), and for revival (Joel 2:15-17).

In addition, we also understand that fasting helps us to dominate our flesh in order to give power to our spiritual man. Paul states that for many, their stomach is their idol (Philippians 3:18-19). In this type of fasting, we try and regulate our flesh in order to glorify God as our true Lord. Many in my church have remarked how difficult it was last year to give up such things as coffee, fast food, meat, or other types of “pleasurable” food in order to concentrate on their spiritual pursuits. It brings to light how difficult it is to practice self-control (a fruit of the Spirit) when the body is having strong cravings.

Therefore, I encourage believers to make fasting a normative practice in their lives and churches. Consider that all things worth having in life require a sacrifice!

  • Andres Garza

    Very great points. Fasting is a place that I struggle with (like probably everybody else) but your words are encouraging and true. Very good post.

    • philvargas

      Thanks for reading Andrew!