“The true mortification of our carnal nature is not a simple matter of denial and discipline. It is an internal, spiritual matter of finding more contentment in Christ than in food” (33).
“What’s new about Christian fasting is that it rests on all this finished work of the Bridegroom. It assumes that. It believes that. It enjoys that. The aching and yearning and longing for Christ and His power that drive us to fasting are not the expressions of emptiness. Need, yes. Pain, yes. Hunger for God, yes. But not emptiness…We have tasted the powers of the age to come, and our fasting is not because we are hungry for something we have not experienced, but because the new wine of Christ’s presence is so real and so satisfying. We must have all that it is possible to have” (41-42).
“…the new fasting is the fasting of faith…Faith is a spiritual feasting on Christ with a view to being so satisfied in him that the power of all other allurements is broken. This feasting begins by receiving the past grace of Christ’s death and resurrection, and then embracing all that God promises to be for us in him. As long as we are finite and fallen, Christian faith will mean both delighting in the (past) incarnation and desiring the (future) consummation. It will be both contentment and dissatisfaction. And the dissatisfaction will grow directly out of the measure of contentment that we have known in Christ” (43).
“Fasting is not a no to the goodness of food or the generosity of God in providing it. Rather, it is a way of saying, from time to time, that having more of the Giver surpasses having the gift…from time to time we need to test ourselves to see if we have begun to love his gifts in place of God” (44).
“My prayer for the Christian church is that God might awaken in us a new hunger for himself – a new fasting. Not because we haven’t tasted the new wine of Christ’s presence, but because we have tasted it and long, with a deep and joyful aching of soul, to know more of his presence and power in our midst (48-49).”
Before the day is over, I would encourage you to read Isaiah 58. It has been edifying, convicting, and sanctifying to our home today. I would encourage the husbands and fathers of the homes of new3c to read it to your wife and children over dinner.
The following comments on Isaiah 58 by Alex Moyter in his commentary on Isaiah (IVP, Tyndale OT Commentary Series, Vol. 18, 1999) may help direct your conversation around the dinner table – or before bed.
Commenting on vv. 3-4:
“But there was a fatal flaw [with their fasting]: it was all done in the pharisaic spirit of Luke 18.12. What seemed like eager devotion was actually aimed at earning benefit (3a-d)…Moreover, every fast day ended in a fight. Fasting was intended to win divine approval, but it brought out the worst in people – understandable if a basically unspiritual family was forced to spend a hungry day together! (361)
“Verses 6-12, describing how a fast day should be used…What seems like deprivation – fasting – is actually enrichment when used according to God. (361)
Commenting on vv. 8-9b:
“Then: get the fast right and the Lord will respond in blessing! (361-62)
Commenting on vv. 9c-10b:
“…pointing finger suggests personal behavior, the way we can so easily be a bind and burden [to] others…It is possible to have a very developed dutifulness (6) but to be personally malicious and mischief-making (9).
“spend yourselves on: …the words could mean ‘give to the needy what you want for yourself,’ a determined, self-sacrificing commitment going even beyond verse 7.” (362)
Commenting on vv. 10c-12:
“We are not told what satisfaction the Lord the Lord will give but when and where he will give it – when everything seems bleak, when we are vulnerable. In such a time, he will strengthen your frame, give durability in the face of harsh demands. (363)