By: Norm Rasmussen
THE AWESOME BENEFITS OF FASTING! (Part 1 of 4)
"When prayer and trust does not seem to be getting the job done ... consider including the weapon of fasting."
Outside of obedience to God's Word, fasting is the greatest spiritual discipline (weapon) for seeking God's intervention. Combined with prayer they together make up the most critical weapons of spiritual warfare and deliverance in our lives. While we cannot manipulate God to fulfill our desires exactly as laid out to Him, fasting moves God to fulfill His intended will over the matters in our lives.
God's will is that we are not controlled by anything but His Spirit, and fasting (combined with prayer) helps us be much more sensitive and responsive to the Holy Spirit (as well as being more obedient to God's Word). It also moves the Holy Spirit to be more inclined to be responsive to US.
God honors fasting.
Our Lord Jesus said fasting would be necessary for his disciples after he ascended. “The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15)
The early disciples remembered the words of their master and thus they made fasting vital. The outstanding work God accomplished through them speaks for itself.
The ministry of Paul started after a period of praying and fasting. While they were worshipping and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set a part for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2-3)
Just not to be misunderstood, it is not a must to fast, as in making it a sin if one does not. Jesus said “When you fast...” implying that it’s an essential Christian discipline. Believers are not obligated to fast, even if we’re expected to obey that we ought to fast. However, believers who opt never to fast could be limited in experiencing matters that can be realized in their Christian lives only through both prayer and fasting.
There are many benefits to fasting, but let’s zero in on one of the most precious. Fasting has the awesome ability to starve sin.
Maybe you’ve never thought much about it before, but sin needs some sort of “nutrition” to keep it alive. We have to assume there are at least two sources of fuel that provide our sin “nutrition.” One would be our flesh; the second would be demonic spirits.
If we’re students of God’s Word to any degree, we know that the sixth chapter of Romans gives us some very powerful assurance that God has given us a way to stop demons from providing "nutrition" (or fuel) to our sin:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? - Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV Translation).
We also read in the eighth chapter of Romans that if we work diligently at walking in the Spirit, we increase our odds greatly of killing “nutrition” our flesh is also very willing to give sin sustenance to.
Thus our persistent reckoning our flesh dead to sin by faith as Romans 6:11-12 exhorts us to do hinders greatly demons from providing “food” for our sin:
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (NKJV Translation)
Romans 8:8-13 also prevents demons from providing our sin “food”:
So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who dwells in you.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (NKJV Translation)
I purposely highlighted you in the above scripture because I think it is easy to miss it otherwise. It does not imply that the Holy Spirit is the ONLY one involved to put to death sin in our flesh, though truly He’s the ONLY one who has the power to do so. It implies that we must constantly seek Him to where one day (and the sooner the better for us!) He’s successful in putting it to death, once and for all, hopefully, and that is only going to happen if WE make the choice to let Him do so.
He’ll provide the power to do it; we have to make up our mind to LET Him do it.
And that’s the difficult part, right? Making up our mind to LET Him do it.
Know what fasting can do? Help you make up your mind to LET Him do it!
That needs to sink in … deeply. Read and re-read this last sentence over and over.
More often than not, we need to let God make us willing enough to ALLOW Him to starve sin in our life, don't we?
If you have been on the merry-go-round of asking and trusting God to help you get victory over one or more sins … and you have, or are about tempted to give up asking and trusting anymore … I have some very good news the Holy Spirit has for you! There is a weapon available to you called FASTING!
In fact, it may well be when all is said and done, it is the ONLY weapon that will starve that sin stronghold you have to where it ultimately starves of "nutrition" and literally dies.
You can give the word “fasting” all kinds of wonderful definitions, but I’ll tell you the definition my stomach gives it: “Starvation!”
Care to know what definition the Holy Spirit gives fasting? “Starvation!”
He then continues, “Literally starving nutrition to your sin … if you will make that your primary purpose for fasting in the first place when the situation calls for it, because sin first originates in one’s spirit, and then slowly seeps out and manifests itself in more visible form in the material body you each have referred to as your “flesh.”
(God confirms this in scripture by telling us that wickedness starts in the heart of mankind. When God refers to the “heart” of man, he almost always is referring to our spirit. You might not have realized that. Here are just a few scripture references you can look up if you want to confirm it: Mark 7:21; 1 Cor. 14:25).
Dear reader, please let that sink in deeply as well. We tend to freak out when we hear the word “fasting” because immediately our flesh reminds us so quickly and forcefully that there comes too much pain with fasting, "so do NOT do it, at least soon. Put it off yet for awhile … and awhile … and awhile … and awhile …"
Our flesh - along with the supernatural help of demons - will do everything possible to drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit … even if we start listening for a fraction of a second about letting the Holy Spirit starve our sin.
Oh yeah -- fasting isn’t just a "firecracker" weapon. It literally is the equivalent of a mega-potent nuclear warhead to annihilate strongholds of sin in our life. It happens to be extremely high on the list of potent weapons God has available for His people to pull down demonic strongholds of all kinds ... not just sin strongholds in our life.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. -- 2 Cor. 10:3-6
Fasting is one of God's powerful weapons He gives us that are mighty "to pull down demonic strongholds." If it weren't, I can assure you Apostle Paul wouldn't have fasted as often as he did. (See: 2 Cor. 6:5;11:27 for proof).
How often is necessary to starve our pet sin/s of nutrition by fasting? As often as we can no longer say “No!” to giving into the temptation of that sin.
See … fasting doesn’t just have a cleansing, detoxing affect for our natural bodies; eliminating toxins and poisons and destroying deadly viruses trying to get us sick and diseased. Fasting also has an equivalent spiritual cleansing - spiritually healing component as well! Just as our natural, fleshly body has need to be cleansed to once more be made as healthy as possible … so does our spirit … our heart, if you prefer calling it that.
There are no doctors on this planet as qualified as the Holy Spirit to heal our diseased spirit (Nor any part of our body, for that matter!). None. They aren’t trained in medical school to diagnose our spiritual sicknesses and diseases, nor are they trained to heal them. God assigns Holy Spirit filled Pastors and Elders and Christian counselors and the like to point us down correct pathways to allow the Great Physician to do the necessary work in our spirit being, yet they too realize that it is wholly the Holy Spirit who they must rely on to complete the appropriate diagnosis and then administer the correct medical attention to bring about spiritual healing – spiritual wholeness.
You and I can save ourselves a lot of time and expense and frustration by employing the work of the Holy Spirit without spending so much time and expenses on trying to find a human to help us … if we’ll just utilize the weapon of fasting wisely that God has given us.
If it’s been said once, it needs to be said at least a million times. Don’t use a firecracker to try to destroy your enemy when it requires a nuclear warhead.
Fasting is no firecracker. It’s a spiritual nuclear warhead. However, it takes time and training to learn how to utilize this warhead effectively, so be patient with yourself and God ... your "fasting nuclear warhead Instructor."
Here is an encapsulation of reasons to fast and some supportive scripture references:
1. Fasting helps subject our
bodies to our spirit. (I Cor 9:27)
2. Fasting is disciplining the body, mind, and spirit. (Prov. 25:28)
3. Fasting is subordinating our flesh-desires to our spirit-desires. (Gal 5:17)
4. Fasting helps set the priorities in our lives. (Mt 6:33)
5. Fasting is longing after God. (Ps 63:1-2)
Why Should We Fast?
1. Honor God - (Mt 6:16-18, Luke 2:37, Acts 13:2, Mt 5:6)
2. Humble yourself; dethroning selfishness; pride - (2 Chron. 7:14-15)
3. Repentance - personal failures - (Psalm 51: Jer. 29:11-14, James 4:8-10)
4. Discernment - obtaining healing - (I Cor. 11:30, James 5:13-18, Isaiah 59:1-2)
4. Deliverance from sinful bondage - (Mt 17:21, Is 58:6-9: loose bands of wickedness)
5. Destroying strongholds of doubt and unbelief whereby increasing one's faith for more effective ministry - (Mark 9:29 KJV)
6. Increased confidence and effectiveness in our prayer-life - (2 Cor. 10:4)
7. Revelation - God’s vision and will - (Dan 9:3, 20-21, Dan 10:2-10, 12-13)
8. Revival - personal and corporate - (Acts 1:4, 14 / 2:16-21, Joel 2:12-18)
9. Though this should not be a reason to fast in and of itself -- rewards most likely will be stored up in heaven when we fast to honor God in some way, done in humility, for Christ-like reason/s - (Matt. 6:17-22)
Here is an excellent website on fasting that you might greatly appreciate: http://www.freedomyou.com/
And a couple more: http://www.webmd.com/diet/fasting
There are many other excellent websites about fasting/detoxing. Take the time to do an Internet Search on both words (fasting/detoxing) to inform yourself as much as possible. Be CAREFUL of extremes however. Some people writing on the topic tend to go to extremes, and you need to learn to discern them.
If you would like to read Part 2 of this series on Fasting, click: Here
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