Fasting for the sake of fasting often proves fatal in our grasp of God's desired fast for us.
If we read the next four verses of Isaiah 58, this is where I and many of God's people miss the mark:
"Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high." - Isaiah 58:2-4
If the American Christian were to read this, what would they think? Aren't these the things that God desires from His people? To "Seek Him daily, to know His ways, to be righteous, to not forsake God, to ask God of righteous judgments, and to delight in drawing near to Him."
And while this may be true...what is the intent of the heart? See, that is what is being wrought forth for us. Why are you doing these things, Christian? I understand that this is a hard pill to swallow, but it alleviates our pride and allows the Holy Spirit to show us where we have strayed in seeking God.
So let Him search you.
See if there is in you, any of these false motivations:
I think of the illustration Jesus gave to us that gets to the heart of the issue at hand:
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”- Luke 18:9-14
Many Christians pursue ritual and right standing rather than pursuing God.
My heart is bereaved when I think of all of the times I've committed myself to doing for God rather than walking with Him. In worshiping Him so as to achieve this neutral place to where I can partake in what I want. Or, worse, pride myself in my righteous indignation.
Did not Jesus address this a second time in Rev. 2?
2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.- Rev. 2:2-4
From the outside, these people had it ALL together. But it was for recognition, for pride, for being God of their lives, by worshiping their service to Him rather than worshiping Him.
13 And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,- Isaiah 29:13
My dear family in Jesus Christ, do not fall into this standing with God. I think He would rather have our hearts as we trip over ourselves rather than attempt to be known by our deeds.
Authenticity of the Christian life is pursuing God with your heart, not your deeds.
This Prison is one you were set free from when Jesus called you to Himself, don't let it shackle your heart once more.
Application: 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.- Revelation 2:5a
Let Jesus comfort and remind you of service to Him being an avenue of loving Him, not earning a right standing with Him. Only He can do that for you through the Holy Spirit.
SAVED BY GRACE, IN SEARCH OF THINGS WHICH LAST FOR ETERNITY, I DESIRE TO DELVE INTO DAILY LIFE AS WE LIVE TO EMULATE THE LOVE CHRIST PARDONED TO US AS HUMANITY AND GOD'S CHURCH.