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False Fasting False Fasting

False Fasting


Fasting used to be done primarily for religious purposes. Today, most of those who voluntarily abstain from eating want to improve their health or to lose weight, with little thought given to fasting as a spiritual practice.

In Isaiah’s day, people practiced fasting in an attempt to get God’s attention and enlist His aid. They became frustrated when God seemed to ignore their efforts: “‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’” (v. 3).

The Lord’s reply revealed the flaw. They were regular in their religious activity but superficial in their devotion. On the surface they appeared sincere. They sought God daily and even seemed eager to know about Him. But on closer inspection, their lives showed serious inconsistencies. Their religious practices were mixed with acts of selfishness, exploitation of others, and quarreling. Like a church member who thanks the pastor for the sermon on loving your neighbor and then gossips about a friend on the way out, their ordinary behavior proved that these spiritual practices were only a religious veneer.

The word for this kind of behavior is hypocrisy. The trouble with hypocrisy is that we have a sharper eye for it in others than we do for ourselves. We think others are hypocrites; we are merely inconsistent. The flaw in those Isaiah criticized was twofold. First, they thought they could use their acts of devotion as leverage to get God to do what they wanted. Second, their practice of spirituality was compartmentalized. Jesus echoed Isaiah’s criticism when He rebuked the religious leaders of His day for attending to minor details while ignoring the heart of holy living (Matt. 23:23).

Pray with Us

New students will be arriving on campus tomorrow. As the new semester is about to start, please join Anthony Turner, VP and dean of Student Enrollment Services, in prayer that Christ’s name will be glorified through the teaching of His Word at MBI.

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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