Living Like a Christian In a Non-Christian World

I have been writing on the subject of worry. We are still on that subject, from Matthew 6; this time our emphasis is on not living like a Gentile (a non-Christian), but rather like a Christian. In Matthew 6:31 through 33 Jesus said,

“Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ 32 “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

We Are Not to Live Like the Non-Christian

In verse 32 Jesus mentions that the Gentiles (non-Christians) are always seeking food, drink, and clothing, and yet they always seem to be worried over it. It is because they have a wrong view of life, a view that leaves open the door to worry. Here are two life views of the non-Christian.

1. The theory of contingency. This view holds that everything in life is accidental, that things happen without rhyme or reason and we never know what will happen next.

2. The theory of fatalism. This is the idea that whatever happens we can’t do anything about it. It is the belief that there are unknow powers, good and bad, controlling things, but we can’t do anything about it—whatever happens, happens; whatever will be will be. Doris Day use to sing that song, remember?

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty
Will I be rich
Here’s what she said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

The non-Christian still has these views about life, and so you can see why they worry. And many will try to overcome worry by one of two way.

1. Party it up. They say, we don’t know what’s going to happen, so we might as well live it up now, for tomorrow we may die.

2. Suicide. There are all kinds of suicide. There is drug overuse, or immorality, both are used to blot out a depressed life. And some go crazy and just flip out, killing others and themselves.

Living by Faith

The Christian view of life is quite different than the non-Christian view. We could call it…

The doctrine of certainty. In this view things are certain because we are in the hands of the living God.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that l all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Therefore, we believe that God has a perfect plan for our lives, and much of that plan we see from day to day as we read His word and walk in His Spirit.

But why do so many Christians still worry (like me)? The answer is easy. Though they are believers and have the Holy Spirit, they unknowingly live not by the Christian view of life, but by the non-Christian view. And sometimes what they may say in ordinary conversation betrays them. They may say something like, “Well, we never know what the future holds.”

The answer to a worried life, of course, is to build up our faith; to constantly remind ourselves that we are a child of God and that we were meant to live by faith. Here are four things you can do to build up your faith in God.

1. Put every crisis in the context of your faith.

2. When faced with a crisis ask yourself, will my conduct show me and others that I am a Christian and that I belong to a higher realm.

3. Know that you will never be in any situation that is outside of God’s love and care.

4. When faced with any situation in life, know that you should seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and then believe that all other things will be taken care of by God (read Matthew 6:33).

Moving on from Little Faith to Great Faith

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus talks about how we ought not to worry or be anxious in life; and He talks about how we should look at the birds and the flowers to see how God our Father takes care of them and how He will even more take care of us. Then in Matthew 6:30 Jesus points out to us what the ultimate problem is that is causing us to worry. We have a lack of faith. He said, “O ye of little faith.”

What does He mean by little faith? He does not say “no faith,” but little faith, or not enough faith. And Jesus is not speaking to unbelievers, but to believers—those who began a life of faith in Him.

But we must proceed on from the faith we began with—from the faith that saved us. Let us desire a larger, deeper faith. Or let me say this: if we don’t move on to a larger faith, we may always have trouble with worries and doubts—and along the way, some may even doubt their salvation!

What is a larger faith? It is a faith that believes on God for more than salvation; for our entire life—for every little thing; for food and drink and clothing, and also that He will care for you in everything you do.

To be of little faith means that we are mastered by our circumstances. This should not happen to a Christian! We as Christians should be above our circumstances. We can even rejoice in tribulation.

Another way of looking at it is that we as Christians who are of great faith learn to be thinkers not just responders. Hence, the trouble with the one of little faith is that he does not think; he does not think of the truth and the promises of God. He is just blown around by the wind of circumstances.

We must spend more time studying the bible and thinking of on the lessons that the Lord gives us, and on His promises, and to believe them. This is the essence of faith. And conversely, little faith is not to open the bible but rather to cling to a vague memory of our salvation.

I am not saying that our salvation is not important. But we must go on and build on that salvation. A larger faith realizes the full implication of our salvation. It sees who we are as Christians; that we are children of our heavenly Father and that we have a great inheritance in Christ. All the promises of God are meant for us. Paul wrote, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things (Ro. 8:32).

Here are some things to think about which He has given us:

  • He has put our names in His book (Rev. 20:12). He has many things in store for us for all eternity.
  • Think of His great love for us (John 3:16).
  • He is concerned for us. He cares for us (1 Pt. 5:7).
  • He is so strong for us. His great power is working for us (Eph. 3:16-20).

Don’t Be Anxious

This is a subject that I know I need. It seems that the older I get the more I worry about things. I think it is because I feel weaker and more vulnerable. So, I look forward to what I will learn here. Our text is Matthew 6:25-34.

Matthew 6:25-34

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? 26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span? 28 “And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? 31 “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ 32 “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This text follows immediately after Matthew 6: 19-24, having to do with not laying up treasures on earth, but in heaven; and having a single (or a pure) eye, and therefore having only one master, God. The text for this post having to do with not being anxious is a little different, but it has a connection to the previous text in the following ways:

  • The Matthew 6:19-24 passage is about laying up treasures; and the Matthew 6:25-34 text is about worrying over treasures.
  • Those who can’t afford treasures will worry about not having them.
  • Those who have treasures will still worry; they will worry about losing them, or getting more treasures, or over what to do with the treasures they have.

Satan doesn’t care if you have conquered having treasures, because he will get you to think and worry about them. His goal is to get your mind off of God and he will do it one way or another, either to be laying up treasures on earth or to be thinking about them—worrying about them.

Now the theme remains for us to have a single (or pure) eye, and to seek first His kingdom. To do that we are to trust Him and to “take no thought for our life.” This is the King James translation, in the time of Shakespeare, about 1600s; and in that day the meaning of “taking thought” was meant in the sense of being anxious or to worry. We may also understand the term as having a divided mind, or having a doubtful mind or double vision.

If you are using the KJV and the term “take no thought” you must understand that it does not mean that we are not to think about things or not to do anything about our problems except to trust God—to just sit and trust Him. No. We should be busy to provide for ourselves and work out our problems just like the birds do. They are always busy searching for their food. And in their search God rewards them and cares for them. So, the man also must work—or he will not eat. And if you begin to worry you should pray and God will give you peace (Phil. 4:6-7).

Here is one idea that may help you. If God has given you your life as a gift to you, and He has, then He will certainly make sure that your life is sustained for as long as He wills. God has a good plan for every life that He has created.

God or Mammon

The following text is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is on the subject of wealth and worldly-mindedness; and it is meant mainly for Christians, but also for non-Christians. 

Matthew 6:19-24

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

We will look at this teaching in three parts: 1) general observations, negative and positive, from verses 19 and 20; 2) spiritual dangers, from verses 21-23; and 3) On God and mammon, from verse 24.

General Observations (vv. 19 and 20)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal (v. 19).

Here are three general or common-sense observations of this verse:

  • Worldly treasures do not last. They are impure and corruptible like moth and rust. They are like beautiful flowers that will soon wilt and die.
  • Earthly treasures never fully satisfy. They always lack something and we are soon tired of them.
  • Earthly treasures are never safe from robbers.  

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal (v. 20).

Here are four general or common-sense observations of this verse:

  • Treasures in heaven will not be corrupted. They are incorruptible or imperishable.
  • Treasures in heaven cannot be stolen. They are in a place that is impregnable and will be kept for us for eternity.
  • The love of God is our greatest treasure and nothing can separate us from that (Rom. 8:38-39).
  • Heaven is the realm of life and light and purity, and nothing tainted or polluted can enter there.

Spiritual Dangers (vv. 21-23)

21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

     Let’s look at verse 21 first: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This tells us that our treasures tend to put a power-grip on our heart—and the heart involves the mind; so, we will also have a power-grip on our mind. This power-grip is very subtle, and to those who are not truly spiritual (who have not given themselves fully to Christ), a subtle change will happen to them (to their mind and heart). They will soon become influenced by a worldly-minded outlook on life, which will eventually master them and make them slaves to the world.

In verses 22 and 23 Jesus begins talking about the eye. He says,

“The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Normally or naturally the eye is clear (or single). This describes the spiritual vision of a spiritual person. But, in keeping with the context, if a person allows himself to be worldly-minded and in love with his treasures, he will develop an evil eye, or one who has double vision or blurred vision, vision colored by prejudices, or lusts, etc.; hence our earthly treasures affect us morally.

The last part of verse 23 is interesting. I think it means that a man who is so attached to his earthly treasures may actually not see anything wrong in it; so that the light that he thinks he sees in himself (and in his treasures) is actually darkness—a darkness that comes out of his hypocrisy and delusion. This is a person who has lost his mind and no longer knows right from wrong, good from evil.

God and Mammon

In verse 24 Jesus comes to the climax of the matter.

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

So it all comes down to this: which do we love, God or mammon (our wealth)? God wants all our love; He wants our total attention. But so does the world; and the world comes after our attention through all the things of the would—earthly treasures. And we have to choose between the two. Jesus said no man can have two masters.

Now it seems to me that we can evaluate where we are by our attitude toward our things. If we are holding on to our things tightly so that we can’t imagine parting with them we have a problem. Since if we love our things, that means that we hate God (that is what verse 24 says). So, if you want to maintain a relationship with God and love Him, you must let go of your things. You must trust God to give you all you need, and all the things you have, recognize that they come from Him. Make God your only master. Love Him alone.

Jesus and the Pharisees : Study #1

To begin our study, I think we should say a little bit about who the Pharisees are. An article I found by Jack Zavada, I think is good. I will give you just the first part of it.

Who Were the Pharisees in the Bible?

The Pharisees in the Bible were members of a religious group or party that frequently clashed with Jesus Christ over his interpretation of the Law.

The Pharisees formed the largest and most influential religious-political party in New Testament times. They are consistently depicted in the Gospels as antagonists or opponents of Jesus Christ and the early Christians.

The name “Pharisee” means “separated one.” The Pharisees separated themselves from society to study and teach the law, but they also separated themselves from the common people because they considered them religiously unclean.

Besides this article—and there is a lot more to it if you care to click the title and read it—I’m sure we will gain a good bit of info on the Pharisees just by this progressive study.

What I want to do in this study is to just observe what the Pharisees do and say toward Jesus and about Jesus; we want to see their attitude toward Jesus. We also want to see Jesus’ attitude and sayings about the Pharisees. In the end, we want to make some applications for ourselves and maybe also about other people. We want to look and see how some people are like the Pharisees and how others are more like Jesus. Generally, we can say that Jesus is the good guy who does everything right (because He is God); and the Pharisees are the bad guys who do most things wrong—though in their eyes, they are always right—righteous.

Okay, here is what we will do. I have already found all the passages in the gospels where there is a conversation or debate between Jesus and a pharisee, or a group of Pharisees. I found 41 such passages, eliminating all the repeat passages (mainly between Matthew and Mark, in which case I used Matthew). We will take this study a little at a time until we are finished. We will start this first blog with Matthew 5:17-20.

Matthew 5:17-20

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Bold text for emphasis)

Observations

In this passage Jesus is preaching in His famous Sermon on the Mount. He is saying here that He has come to fulfill the law, not to abolish it—as the Pharisees may have been saying about Him. In this public sermon He does not tip toe around the Pharisees. He comes right at them, telling His disciples and all who are listening that their kind of righteousness is not good enough to enter heaven. He said that “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees…you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

John MacArthur in his bible notes writes that the Pharisees “had a tendency to soften the law’s demands by focusing only on external obedience.” But Jesus here was preaching a more “radical holiness” that demanded on “internal conformity to the spirit of the law.”

Applications

If we are to follow Jesus’ example, we ought to boldly warn against false teachers. And if we know who they are we ought not to be afraid to point them out.

How to Live the Christian Life in This World – From Matthew 6:19-20

We have been studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and following D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaching from his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. We have now come to the section following the Disciples Prayer outline, verses 19 -20, where Jesus tells us,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.

So here, we come to the problem of living the Christian life in the world and therefore how to overcome to world while living in it. Jesus gives us two points to follow: 1) we are not to store up for ourselves treasures upon earth, but 2) we are to store up treasures in heaven.

We Are Not to Store Up for Ourselves Treasures Upon Earth

Here are a few notes from my reading:

Jesus wants us to be concerned not so much with having wealth and possessions, but with our attitude toward them.

We are to be concerned with our whole attitude toward life in this world. That is, we ought not to get our total satisfaction in life from things in this world.

A person’s treasures are the things that mean everything to him—what he is living for.

Here are some things in this world that can become our treasures: love of money, of honor, of position, of status. We are not to be so concerned with these things that they take up our entire life. These things will all pass away in the end.

We Are to Store Up Treasures in Heaven

Use your riches to prophet you for the next life.

Do not labor for what will perish but for what will endure to everlasting life.

Have a right view of life. In this world we are pilgrims.  We walk under the eye of God, toward our everlasting hope.

Our attitude must be that I am not the possessor of my things. They really do not belong to me. I am but a custodian of them.

 I should always be using my things for the glory of God.

I am a child of God placed here for His purpose.

I must hold my things loosely; I am to be in a state of blessed detachment from them; and I should always be considering how I can use the things that God has entrusted to me for His kingdom.

The Lord’s Prayer: The Last Three Petitions

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:11-13

In previous blog posts I first wrote on the invocation, “Our Father.”  And then I wrote on the first three petitions, which have to do with God and His glory: with His character and holiness, with His kingdom, and with His will.

Now we come to the last three petitions that have to do with our needs and desires. Though this prayer outline is quite brief, it is all inclusive: the needs of the body, the soul, and the spirit are all included. Nothing is left out. The needs of the body are termed as “our daily bread.” The needs of the soul are termed as “forgiveness.” And the needs of our spirit are termed as our deliverance from evil.

Our daily bread

This request is for our material needs: everything that is necessary for our living. And notice that this is the first petition having to do with what we need, suggesting that God cares that we be healthy in our life.

And just because He knows all our needs even before we ask, doesn’t mean that we should not ask Him. We should ask Him every morning because He desires us to speak with Him every day. And He also wants us to realize our dependence on Him; that we cannot live for one day without Him.

Forgive us

In the first section, “And forgive us our debts,” we must recognize that “us” is in reference to anyone who is in the family of God; all others are excluded. So, this prayer is only for His children. Next, know that He will give us forgiveness immediately if we ask (look at 1 John 1:9).

In the next part, “as we forgive our debtors,” notice that it says “as” we forgive our debtors, not “because” we forgive them. Hence, our forgiveness is not based on our work of forgiving others. Rather, we should see it altogether. In the family of God, He gives us the desire and the strength to forgive others; and He also forgives us. It is in the new nature of believers to forgive as God forgives.

We could see it this way: the proof that we are forgiven of God is that we forgive others. And if we have not forgiven others than this is an indication that God has not forgiven us—that we are not His children.

Deliverance from evil

The first part, “And lead us not into temptation,” is asking God not to allow us into any situation where we are liable to be tempted by Satan or the flesh. It is the same as in 1 Corinthians 10:13, where we can ask God to give us a way of escape from temptation. The second part, “deliver us from evil,” is asking God to show us that way of escape and then give us the power to get out of there—or He may just remove the power of evil from us, just as He tamed the lion in front of Daniel (you know the story).

Now here are three reasons why we should pray this third petition:

1. So that our fellowship with him may not be broken.

2. So that we will have a right relationship with Him.

3. So that we can get to know Him.

How to Pray Using The Lord’s Prayer

I have been reviewing the sermons of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I am now covering his chapters on the Lord’s Prayer, from Matthew 6:9-13. So far, from my previous blog post, I wrote shortly on the first line, “Our Father in heaven.” That is the invocation, or we could say, that which takes us into prayer. Those words remind us that He is our Father and a mighty Father-God who is in heaven.

Now we come to the rest of the prayer, which is really an outline that Jesus has given us in order to pray better. And it consists of six petitions as follows:

1. Hallowed be Thy name.

2. Your kingdom come.

3. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

4. Give us this day our daily bread.

5. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

6. And do not lead us unto temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Notice that the first three petitions have regard to God and His glory, and the second three have reference to ourselves. And please take note of this order; for it is the way He wants us to pray. We must never start with ourselves; we must always begin first praying for God and His glory. In this blog, we will examine these first three petitions.

Hallowed be Thy name.

At first glance it doesn’t really appear to be a petition, or request, but more of a statement—that we are sort of willing His name to be hallowed, or holy. But it is definitely a petition, that His name would be hallowed on this earth.

Here are two other translations that may help:

“May your name be honored” (NLT).

“Reveal who you are” (the Message).

Hallowed means to sanctify, or to revere, or to make and keep holy. The petition is that God, in all that is true of Him, would be revered (God has many names, and it would be good to study those names).

Your kingdom come.

This petition is that His kingdom would come into every heart. Then it is also that His kingdom would come into the world and light up the world. His kingdom is His reign, His law, and His rule. This I think is a good missionary prayer. Every Christian should pray this prayer—that all would come to know Him and reign and rule in his or her life.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

This is the result of His kingdom coming, that His will would be done on earth just as it is in heaven.

How to Begin Your Prayers

Generally, before we (Christians) go to prayer, it is always good to realize what a privilege we have to be in God’s presence and to be able to talk with Him face to face and soul to soul. Prayer is truly a high activity of the soul—the highest activity of the soul.

When you begin to pray, don’t think that it is okay to just ramble on with your requests or to just say whatever is on you mind. We all tend to do that—me too. But there is a correct way to pray. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them a skeleton prayer to follow (found in Matthew 6:9-13). We call it “The Lord’s Prayer.” We are not to just recite this prayer, as some do; but we are to use it as a guide, or as an outline. If we do that, we are well on our way to be able to pray correctly; for in this skeleton prayer contains every prayer principle.

Our Father

As you go to pray, the first thing you should do as you bow your head is to pause and remind yourself of what you are about to do and who you are about to speak to. Remind yourself that you are in the presence of holiness, and that He, your Father, is with you listening and attentive. You may want to have a copy of the Lord’s Prayer before you, and focus first on the first two words of the prayer: Our Father. Yes, He is your Father, and my Father. So, realize that all of us who are believers have the same Father and we are in a wonderful relationship with Him.

Our Father in heaven

At this point in your prayer, you can continue to ruminate on what it means to be in the family of God and to thank and praise Him for who He is and what He has done for you. And then, at some point you will want to move on to the next few words… “in heaven.” He is your and our Father in heaven. What does that mean? It refers to His greatness and that His presence is everywhere. He is almighty God in heaven. He is all knowing, present everywhere, and all powerful.

In your prayers you may at first just be thinking of Him and of your relationship with Him. But at some point, you will also want to start speaking to Him. Thank Him and praise Him for being your Father and for who He is. Praise and worship Him in the best way you know how.

Final comments. If you have been a Christian for a long time maybe what I am teaching here seems too mechanical, or too basic. Believe me, I understand. But especially for a new Christian, I think it is important to get on the right track. I hear too many Christians praying incorrectly. Some of them, all they do is list their needs as if they are talking to Santa Claus. That is so disrespectful. I think it is important to at first follow the outline of the Lord’s Prayer. And then after a while, as it is firm in your mind, your prayers will flow more easily and you, without even realizing it, will be praying correctly, as He taught us.

The next line in the Lord’s Prayer is “hallowed be Your name.” I will save that for the next blog.

Fasting: How to Fast Correctly

In general, fasting is abstinence from food for spiritual reasons; it is that personal discipline that aids us in our spiritual life.

To start, I want to tell you that I am not a regular faster, nor do I enjoy even the thought of it. But as any discipline, I know that it has its purpose; and so, as I present this information—which happens to be in the chapter of the book I am blogging through, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount—I am now trying to follow God’s will if He should guide me to fast. I will now present to you the follow four points:

The Biblical Basis for Fasting

Some would argue that in this day of grace, in this New Testament era, we should not be fasting. But clearly, there is a biblical basis for it, both in the Old and New Testament. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out, under the Law of Moses the children of Israel were commanded to fast once a year. And there are several examples of Old Testament fasting. Fasting is also mentioned in the New Testament. It is not directly commanded or taught by Jesus, but is indirectly taught and approved of by Jesus, since He Himself fasted (Matt. 4:2), and so did the early church (Acts13:2-3; 14:23).

Lloyd-Jones points out that the problem many are having now with fasting is clearly an over-reaction against Catholicism; for you recall from history that fasting was a huge part of the Catholic religion and clearly was an incorrect use of it.

The Wrong Use of Fasting

If we stick to what fasting basically is, a discipline that aids us in pray and in our spiritual relationship with God, that will keep us from any wrong use of it. With that being said, here are four wrong uses:

1. Fasting should not be done as a good work in itself.

2. Fasting should not be done to try to make yourself more disciplined or more spiritual.

3. Fasting should not be done to get a blessing from God or to be more prosperous.

4. Fasting should not be done to see if we can achieve some personal fasting goal—for example, to try to fast for a certain length of time. Overall, fasting itself will not please God. It should not be an end it itself. It is always to be regarded as a means to an end and not as an end in itself.

Correct Purposes for Fasting

Again, we will begin with the definition of fasting, which is a discipline to aid us in our spiritual life. From there we derive the following purposes:

1. To aid us in our lack of faith in doing some spiritual work (example: casting out a demon, Matt. 17:19-21).

2. Basically it is to be closer to God. We get this from Mark 2:18-20, where Jesus explains that His disciples did not fast because they were with Him, and so they had no need to fast. But after Jesus would be “taken away from them,” then they would fast—for obvious reasons.

3. As an aid in doing a special work of God, which would require a special spiritual guidance (example: Acts 14:2-3, choosing Barnabas and Saul as missionaries; Acts 14:23, appointing elders).

4. To receive help from God when faith is lacking (Example: the nation of Israel fasted when Moab and Ammon came against them and they were afraid, 2 Chron. 20:3).

How to Act When Fasting

Just as with giving and praying, fasting, Jesus said, is a practice of righteousness (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16), and therefore, we should do these things without sounding a trumpet, as to inform those around us what we are doing. For any act of our Christianity should be an act of humility and just between us and God. Fasting therefore should be done in secret, or, without people knowing that we are doing it. Hence, we shouldn’t draw attention to what we are doing by not washing or shaving. We should rather look as normal as possible. And if we are worried that we will not get our proper recognition, we can take comfort in the fact that God sees everything we do and will secretly reward us (Matt. 6:18).

Matthew 6:16-18

“And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face 18 so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. NASB