Fasting In A Fast Food Age (Matthew 6:16-18)Ken Miller, September 21, 2014
Part of the Sermon On The Mount series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
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In the early church, Christians did what they could to keep the "Sermon on the Mount". Because it was so hard to keep it during the medieval era, they decided that only the very religious should keep it. Martin Luther came on the scene and said that the double standard should not be. Rather, he thought people should keep it if they can, but for something like swearing an oath, it would be OK to break. Later people thought the "Sermon on the Mount" was completely irrelevant to today and wasn't even in the New Testament era. But we as a church believe that the "Sermon on the Mount" is valid, and we must do what we can to keep it, by the grace of God.
Jesus hated hypocrisy. The hypocrites would fast to look very religious. As Christians, we must examine our motives for the things we are doing. Simply fasting because Jesus fasted should be our motive for fasting, not what others are thinking.
Jesus assumed that His disciples would fast after He left them. Fasting was never specifically required, but if we look at Jesus and His disciples, they needed to fast. How can we be close to the Father and not need to fast?
One hindrance to fasting is that we live in a self-indulgent society. Philippians 3:20, Titus 1:12.
Sitting around doing nothing is hazardous. If you sit for more than four hours a day, you have a 40% more of a chance of dying.
More than 2/3 of Americans weigh more than they should. More people in America die of over-eating than of malnutrition. Eating out is one cause for obesity. At some restaurants, it is easy to eat as many or more calories in one meal than you should in one day. Refined sugar also can cause obesity. On average each American will eat 77 pounds of sugar per year.
It is healthier for your car to run a quart under what it should be than it is to have a quart too much. The same way with fasting - it is healthier to fast or not eat enough, than it is to overeat.
Fasting frees us from getting what we want. It also teaches us temperance. Do we get grumpy when we don't get exactly what we want or can we look to the Lord and allow Him to nourish us?
If we do as He tough, we can have the confidence that He will reward us openly.
16 “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. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 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. (ESV)