PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF FASTING IN THE NEW DISPENSATION

ANCHOR TEXT: Mark 2:18-22

The opening chapter begins with the Lord being confronted with questions on why his disciples do not observe regular fasting and prayers, unlike the Pharisees and the disciples of John.
The disciples of the Pharisees never had any testimony like that of Jesus’ disciples. Christ’s disciples, even though they were not observing fasting, had had experiential salvation and great spiritual experiences. They had been taught of Christ, had witnessed his miracles firsthand, had gone out to preach, had healed the sick, had cleansed lepers and done so many other mighty works. Yet the Pharisees found faults with them in the area of fasting.
In answering their questions, Jesus gave them an illustration of the bridegroom and the children of the bride chamber. He was still physically present with his disciples, sufficient for their needs both physical and spiritual and as a result, there actually was no need for them to fast at all.
THE POWERLESSNESS OF FASTING WITH THE OLD CHARACTER (Mark 2:18; Isaiah 58:33)
John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray and how to fast. They prayed and fasted but they remained limited in knowledge, were inexperienced in fullness of the Spirit, and were also powerless in miracles, signs, and wonders.
Why did the disciples of john fast without seeing results? Why did the Jews fast without experiencing breakthrough?
They fasted with:
1. Falsehood and false expectations.
2. Adamancy at doing evil and resisting the word of God. (Isaiah 58:33; Zech 7: 5-7, 11-13)
3. Strife. (Isaiah 58:3)
4. Transgression (2 Sam. 11:27) David was presumptuous in his fasting. He felt that God would answer him like at other times in spite of his transgression of killing Uriah and marrying his wife. But God did not hear him. He was fasting in sin and transgression.
5. Impenitence (Jer. 36:6, 9, 21-24). Our mindset, heart and disposition must be transparent before God if our fasting will be effective. (Prov 28:9)
6. Negligence (Luke 18:11 Matt 23:23). Omitting the weightier matters of God’s law while embracing the ones that will favour our needs or us will make our fasting ineffective.
7. Godlessness (1 Kings 21:9-13).Those who fast with greed and godlessness will receive nothing from God. Such fasting and associated prayers are worthless and abominable in the sight of God. (Psalm 36:1; 7:11; Prov 21:27). The sinner who seeks to change the mind of God through vain fasting and prayers only deceives himself.
THE PROVISION OF FULLNESS FOR NEW CREATURES IN CHRIST (Mark 2: 18-20; John 3:26,2; 1:12-16; 7:37,38; 10:10; 15:11; 16:24 Ephe 3:17-21)
John clearly explained in his gospel that Jesus was the Bridegroom. Jesus is the One who has brought us all fullness. (Col 2:9, 10).
The children of God are complete in Him and lack nothing as long as He’s there with them and in them.
We receive and keep the fullness of Christ all by faith (Rom 5:1,2; Acts 15:9; 3:16)
Christ’s fullness is that through which we receive salvation, sanctification, Holy Ghost baptism and all other spiritual gifts by faith. (Gal 3:14)
Through him, we receive faith to conquer and overcome in all trials and temptations (1 John 5:4; Ephesians 6:16; Mark 11:22, 24)
God has provided abundance and fullness for us and we receive it all by faith. Christ exhorts us to have faith in God, believing with all assurance that He would fulfill all that He has promised concerning His children. (John 5:4; Ephe 6:16; Mark 11:22, 24).
THE POTENTIALS OF FASTING UNDER THE NEW COVENANT (Mark 2:20; Matt 6:17, 18; 17:19)
God will reward those who will fast with pure hearts and intentions. Mountains move and long-standing problems are rolled away when we fast and seek the face of the Lord in prayers. (Matt 17:19-21)
Fasting however, does not have to stretch over weeks and months. Our fasting can start little by little. We can, for example, decide to begin our fasting in the morning and end it by 12 pm in the day, or 6 pm in the evening, all the while praying and talking to the Lord about the problem throughout the day. Then at the appointed time, we come to God in the place of prayer and give a final word of authority or declaration over the problem facing us. And all those mountains will move in the name of Jesus.
The Early Church prayed and fasted (Acts 13:2) even after the Pentecost. This should serve as a model and a reminder to us that salvation, sanctification or baptism in the Holy Spirit does not in any way elevate us beyond the level of regular fasting and prayers.
To get more power, anointing and spiritual authority, we must tarry in God’s presence with fasting and prayers.
Should all believers fast? Yes, of course.
With mutual consent, married believers can engage in personal or family fasting and prayers to wait on the Lord for a definite period.
We see an example in the life of Paul the Apostle. He was a disciplined minister who regularly waited on the Lord with fasting and prayers. (2 Cor 1:27; Acts 13:8-12; 14:7; 16:16-18; Romans 15:18-22)
Christ in our text in Mark 2:21, 22 differentiated between the lifestyle of the Old, and the New Covenants.
How is the Old Covenant, in which the disciples of John and the Pharisees were tutored and which they practiced incompatible the New Covenant provisions?
1. The Old Covenant religion is not compatible with New Covenant relationship.
2. The Old Covenant concept of selective love is not compatible with the New Covenant concept of all-inclusive love.
3. The Old Covenant people were servants of fear, the New Covenant people are sons of faith.
4. Full surrender to Moses in the Old Covenant is not compatible with full submission to the Messiah of the New Covenant.
The New Covenant demands and provides:
1. New wine in new bottles.
2. New faith for new Creatures.
3. New faithfulness to the New Commander.
4. New followership to the New Captain.
5. New freshness from the New Comforter.
6. New fellowship in the New Congregation.
7. New freedom from the New Counselor.
8. New fasting with a new Comprehension.
The Lord has promised new strength for all those who wait upon Him, who will earnestly seek his face with heart purity, consecration and self-denial. He will hear us when we call upon Him.
“…They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” (Isaiah 40:28-31).