Why Lent, Fasting, and Bible Reading is for Pharisaical Flesh Lovers

   

Image by Kara Marie

With pain and twisted hunger, countless people are practicing their desert theology this Lent season. Through fasting and sacrifice, they attempt to pump themselves up in the eyes of God. Surely He will find greater favor in the one who prays longer, fasts more completely, and physically abuses their body to show God how “serious” they are.

Modern day fasting is no more different than the medieval flagellation and whipping of the body. Spilling one’s blood through pain, sweat, and tears is the only way Christ will take you seriously, right?

The truth is, fasting and physical abuse is an archaic practice no longer needed under the new covenant. We we do not need to draw closer to Christ, he has drawn close to us already. We do not need to press in, we have been pressed into. We have the fullness of Christ within us. We are one with him. How, than, can we draw closer to one with whom we are already one?

We are no more close to Christ through countless hours of prayer, fasting, and Bible reading than when eating sausage while watching a good movie with friends.

This Lent, I am bidding farewell to religious practices and vestigial pharisaical flesh focused attempts at becoming holy. I am already holy. I am already perfect in Christ and so are you if we are in Christ!

It is time for the truth of the full gospel of grace to emerge once again—the truly ancient and original form of Christianity.

The Gospel of Grace is perhaps most clearly articulated by John Crowder. Watching his weekly vlog “The Jesus Trip” has blown the doors-off of what I one thought following Christ was really about. Check this video out.

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  • Cuda

    From what I see in the new testament Jesus expects us to fast and his early followers did just that.
    Matthew 6:16-18
    16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
    17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
    18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    Acts 3:1-3
    1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
    2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
    3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

  • Yes indeed! Fasting is an important element for asking God for guidance. However, fasting to “make us closer” does nothing of the sort. We are already united and one with Christ. We can come no closer than that! At least that is my argument. Thanks for your thoughts. 

  • Watched a bit of John Crowder’s talk about the wine.  There are definitely several things I agree with in his talk, but there is definitely some things that alarm me.  

    In doing a quick study on spiritual gifts, or manifestations, one can quickly understand that gifts are exactly that… gifts of grace.  He makes an interesting conclusion about how people would fear it, if they saw it as a gift because they would go too far.  In fact, the reason why I think people fear manifestations of the grace of God is because of how immature people use their gifting.  They fear it because of false doctrine.  The fear it because of false teaching.  Not because it is a gift.

    What is the wine for John Crowder?  Amongst many things, anointing.  He also suggests the “this wine is a person.”  This is in direct reference to Jesus Christ, anointing and idolatry.  “You can’t idolize this wine, this wine is a person.”

    To me this is the same thing that we are warned by, by Jude in terms of Balaam’s error.  Balaam gained, as a result of his usage of the annointing of God.  Sure we could say this is Old Testament.  But Balaam and his actions are brought up all the way through Revelation.  Balaam, was characterized for taking the things of God, the anointing, and mixing the world in it, all for gain.

    I am not suggesting that is what Crowder is doing, because I don’t know if he is doing this for gain.  However, I do think he is a bit stuck on the “wine” anology, and he is going through Scripture deductively instead of inductively.  Anointing is God given.  Manifestation is different.  However, it is a result of grace, and as we all know, grace can be misappropriated and misused.

    He needed to just stick with the whole works portion.  THAT is where he is on point.  And through one thought of his I would like to encourage you into finding a healthy form of fasting, (while applauding you for calling out those that are doing it out of religion).  

    One of John Crowders points is that we can’t go in and out of the New Covenant.  RIGHT ON.  We are hemmed into Him as it says in Psalms.  That is grace we receive after His amazing mercy.  So naturally, in a non-works basis, we should desire to hunger after our Lord.  This is not works.  This is wanting to see and do things like Jesus.  Seeing and doing only what our Father does.

    Some people may fast for the spiritual highs; a connection to go out and do.  Fasting in my experience is to help bring us to a place to realize we don’t run on batteries. Rather, we are plugged into Him always.  Fasting as described in Isaiah 58, is so amazingly beautiful to me.  “To loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.”

    This is the core of fasting.  It is not some religious “experience” to make us more holy, it is something we get to do as worship, and done with the right heart, it ministers to us by writing our identity in Christ, on our hearts.  It is through that identity that we can have no problem saying that we are slaves to God, like Paul did, because we are so joyful in Him.  

    Fasting is not about becoming more holy.  It is about hungering for God, because He has made us holy.  It is about sloughing off our flesh, and realizing how new we are in Him.  

    We have to call one another into a place where we desire to live in our holiness, not through works, but because we have already been made new.  Allowing ourselves to have our minds renewed and become more like Christ is the greatest response we can have towards a very costly grace.

    I applaud your desire to live more in His grace.  In fact, if we were at Starbucks together or sitting in your living room I would give you a big ole bear hug.  I just pray that God may help you explore fasting in other ways, that may deepen your lifelong love song with Him.

    Love you buddy.

  • Charlie

    I think you’ve painted fasting, being in scripture and other “spiritual disciplines” as controlling, destructive, and not beneficial. You’ve vastly miscalculated and missed the point of these things.

    First, I agree that yes, we are indeed filled up with God’s love as Christians. Amen to that! But we also have to realize that there are other things that have to happen on OUR part in order for us to draw closer to God. So let me pose a few questions…

    What’s the point of spiritual disciplines and practices, such as fasting, prayer, etc? If your answer is, “So I can do something to become more righteous and holy,” you have a misplaced theology. If the answer is, “To be in communion with my father so that He can continue to change me into someone who looks more like his Son,” you’re closer to the right track. The point is not to continue “archaic practices” but to constantly draw close to the Father so we can be more in tune with the Spirit and his direction, and to continue to grow in the faith. That being said…How are we to grow in faith? Ephesians tells us that there is a process to maturing in the faith. Recognizing gifts, commitment to studying the word, and to a faith community are ways that happens. We read very early on in Acts that the believers still met in the temple to worship, they devoted themselves to teaching and sharing meals and to reading scripture. 

    How are we to know how to fully live in God’s love? Jesus said in John 14, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” Well, how exactly are we to know what Jesus commanded? By your line of thought, all we have to do is be filled with His love, and we will just know. 

    You wrote along the lines of the church in Galatia, thinking that it was Jesus + something else that makes us acceptable to God. No, they don’t give us more of his favor, but they are still important. Jesus himself committed to studying the Word, understanding more about his Father, and being in communion with him through prayer. If fasting was no longer important, why did Jesus do it? Why is it mentioned as a practice in the New Testament?? The book of Acts talks about early believers fasting. Are we better than them? 

    We DO still need to press in. The spiritual disciplines are not to make ourselves holy or righteous or even to gain more favor (as you and the video have suggested, and no doubt combatted with church leaders over in the past), but to constantly declare our intention to be followers committed to our God. By practicing these things (not as a checklist, but as a way to better connect with our God and have our hearts shaped more like Jesus), we become more like the church in the 1st century and begin to look more like Jesus and his early followers.

  • I’d like to know who in the faith lived this novel idea? I get Crowder says it but where do you find a basis for the scripturaly? 

  • Vericganj

    For some reason I had this site bookmarked, but as I glance over some of the most superficially thought out articles I’ve ever read on Faith and Practice and Experience . . . it must have been a fluke.  I think you’ve mistaken Grace for Gnosticism (a head centered, out of body platitude). 
     

  • Not everything written on this site is from the same theological perspective or school of thought. All views are welcome to be discussed and are written upon. As for this specific piece, there certainly is something to be said about the correlation between faith, grace, and action. The point of this John Crowder’s work is to remind the Church that their actions do not determine who they are but rather who they are determines their actions. Of course, when Paul declares those who follow Christ as already perfect and one with Christ, controversy over how this can actually exist when people still “sin” raises all kinds of problem—not the least of which is the accusation of Gnosticism. You are right to point out the danger. How might Paul address this then since he wrote on this very principle?

  • Unfortunately, Keck I did not get that from reading your article. :/

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