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Summary: This is a study on the Sermon on the Mount. This is the 7th sermon in the series.

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Sermon on the Mount

Pt 7

Fasting

Matthew 6: 16-18

Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. [17] But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, [18] so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

OPENING REMARKS

How many of you have ever fasted?

How many of you have fasted in the last month?

How many of you have fasted in the last year?

1. As you may have noticed for the majority of you fasting is not an aspect of Christianity that is practiced or participated in often.

2. God does not say when or how often we should fast, but Jesus does here tell (v. 16, 17) His disciples that they are expected to fast throughout Christian walk through this world.

A. Fasting?

1. Fasting is the refraining from eating food.

2. Christian Fasting is when the believer refrains from eating to draw near to God.

a. In Christian Fasting the believer becomes dependent upon God to sustain him as he seeks to understand either the will of God in his own life or concerning the special needs of the object of his petitions.

Psalm 109:24

My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness.

B. The Bible describes three main forms of fasting: 1) normal; 2) absolute; 3) partial.

1. Normal Fasting – this involves the total abstinence of food.

Luke 4:1-2

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

Example

Jesus fasted 40 days – Luke 4:2

David fasted during his and Bathsheba’s son’s fatal illness – 2 Samuel 12:15b-20

2. Absolute Fasting – this is the refraining from food and water.

Acts 9:8-9

Then Saul [later called Paul] arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither are nor drank.

Example

Esther preparing to approach the King concerning the plight of the Jews – Esther 4:16

3. Partial Fasting – this is the restriction of diet rather than complete abstinence.

Daniel 10:1-3

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel … In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

Example

Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azairiah (Abed-Nego), - asked that they go on a limited diet of vegetables and water for ten days – Daniel 1:11-12

C. Fasting is often associated with faith | prayer –

Matt. 17:14-21

[to the disciples, Jesus said], Because of your unbelief … However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.


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