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Lesson # Matt. 6:16
Study Material - Matt. 6:16
You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
16 '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.
Fasting is a self denial of the things of this life, generally we think of fasting as a denial of food to ourselves for a period of time. Maybe we will skip eating meals today, or maybe we'll skip eating until sundown, or some such thing. In whatever case you follow fasting, the concept has been distorted throughout the centuries.
Fasting is one of the three major components of the spiritual life. Just as charity and worship are the other two, (unselfishness and spiritual growth), and just as these latter two are private matters before God and of the soul, so too, fasting is a concept of the soul and therefore a private matter between the believer and God.
But just as most of the spiritual life has been messed up in the minds of phony believers as well as unbelievers, then fasting is no different. In the Old Testament much of what was taught was for the purpose of demonstrating principles of spirituality in one form or another.
The sacrifices were used to teach the principles of salvation, of redemption, of reconciliation, of fellowship and so forth. Washing was used to teach the principles of the cleansing of the soul, of fellowship with God, of control over the soul by the Holy Spirit vs. the sin nature. But cultures all over the world distorted the sacrificial process substituting human sacrifices of virgins, and tried to make it better and to gods even better than the one true God. If God is to be born of a virgin then better to sacrifice a virgin. Right?
Fasting is no different. If we refrain from eating, then we will be closer to God. Right? Wrong. All of these concepts became distorted and therefore are evil in their function. Even the principles of Bible doctrine were lost as people did not learn or understand their meanings or purposes. So religion became a philosophy of giving up something in order to be spiritual.
So the Pharisees distorted their practices of fasting, but they did it in a public manner, and they did it deceptively. They pretended to fast, to make themselves appear to be in denial of food with their downcast look, a melancholy countenance, a slow and solemn pace, and publicly disfigured themselves, that people (not God) might see how often they fasted, and might gain the impression that these surely were 'devout men of faith' . And Jesus herein calls them on the carpet. Phony and misdirected applications of the fasting principle.
So what is it really? A denial of the productions of the sin nature in your life. How? By avoiding sin, by avoiding human good, by confessing frequently or as often as is necessary in order to be out from under the control of your sin nature, and under the control of the Holy Spirit.
The Christian life, the spiritual life, is a transformation of the soul, of what you think. Not a transformation of your stomach, not what you eat or do not eat. Faith is a concept of thought, not digestion. Unbelievers can fast. Negative believers can fast. And this gets them nowhere. People are constantly deciding that they should be vegetarians, or they eat fruit only or beef only, or bugs, or whatever it is that they think brings them in harmony with the universe and with God. And this is of course all false.
Christianity is not what you do, not what you wear, not what you have. Christianity is a product of what you think. Note that it is a result. God provides all the mechanisms - salvation by faith and Gods word, confession by faith and Gods word, fellowship by faith and Gods word, spiritual foundation by faith and Gods word, spiritual growth by faith and Gods word. Where is mans credit in all of this? Nowhere. What man does or is seen doing means nothing in the spiritual life. Only what God sees in the privacy of your soul matters.
Do you talk loudly to gain the attention of people? Do you say the right spiritual words in public or in conversation - hallelujah, God willing, praise God, brother this and sister that, say amen, by Gods graces, and so forth. Just as when you speak of numbers like 2+2=4, you say it with the understanding that you are using base ten, not binary, and so everyone understands this. So too is the spiritual life. You do not have to add to your conversation 'spiritual words' in order to impress people, and in most cases this is all that is intended. You do not have to wear black because you think that it is spiritual. You do not have to walk around slumped over because you think that it is humility.
If you seek the attentions of people, then your rewards for eternity are whatever you gain from people, and of course we already know that worldly rewards are short lived and will never make it beyond your death and into eternity. So what awaits you in eternity? Nothing. You have already been paid. This is referring to believers who have been negative during their life, of course. Unbelievers lose even more in eternity.
Now is the time to post a prayer.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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