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Freedom from the Bondage of Sin

Freedom from the Bondage of Sin

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” — Joel 2:12

“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” —  Matthew 6:17–18

No one wants to remain an infant sustained on milk when they can grow and mature and feast on the solid food of the Spirit. It’s important to know where you are spiritually so you can have a starting point. If you’ve been on a diet of spiritual milk for some time, you’re likely ready to take your faith to the next level and experience greater intimacy with God. To do this, you need to move past the trap of perpetual sin.

Otherwise, your faith will merely revolve around your mistakes and your need for forgiveness. Throughout life in this fallen world,

  • you will still have moments when you sin and need to ask for forgiveness, but you don’t have to stay stuck in a daily rinse-and-repeat cycle. God has so much more for you than that.

Knowing where you are spiritually is the starting point regardless of your struggles. And if you’re not struggling, then praise God! You’re likely more than ready to take your faith to the next level and experience more intimacy with Him. Because once you enter into relationship with Christ, you can have freedom from the bondage of sin...

While we have been set free — free indeed — by the Son, we remain spiritual beings in a body of flesh. Even though our salvation is secured and the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are still works in progress capable of making sinful choices — even when we know better and don’t want to do so. Paul expressed this frustration in a way we can all relate to at some level:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. — Romans 7:15, 18 NIV

Paul went on to conclude, 

Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. — Romans 7:20 NIV

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a better spiritual description of addiction than in the paradox Paul described. Basically, addiction reflects the pattern of doing something you really don’t want to do and/or not doing something you really do want to do.

What causes this ongoing tension? The Bible tells us that we are tripart beings comprised of body, soul, and spirit. Because our bodies are the tangible, visible part we see and feel, we tend to let our bodies, including our emotions, rule our hearts — which is why fasting is so essential for refocusing on God and strengthening our spirit. Fasting weakens the body and its appetites so that we can keep our eyes on Jesus. Simply put, fasting is about less of us and more of God.

In stark contrast to the constant messages in today’s society, fasting denies the things that our flesh craves — food, alcohol, and anything we use for pleasure and distraction. When we suppress those cravings and appetites and force our bodies to yield to our spirits, we create space for drawing closer to God and aligning our hearts with His. And when we’re aligned with Him, we have full access to His unlimited power through the Holy Spirit, including the power to overcome those stubborn, sinful areas that continue to hold us back in our faith...

Fasting is mentioned in the Bible not a couple times, not a dozen times, but more than seventy times! In fact, Jesus said that His people would need to fast to remain connected to Him in His absence, once He had left earth and returned to Heaven:

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast’. — Matthew 9:14–15 NIV, emphasis added

Fasting was a vital part of life in the New Testament church, in both big decisions and daily moments. 

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.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. — Acts 13:2–3 NIV, emphasis added

We also find that the apostle Paul fasted as a regular discipline:

...in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often. — 2 Corinthians 11:27 NKJV

  • I sincerely believe fasting is not an optional habit or an only-if-you-feel-like-it spiritual discipline. It is essential to our spiritual lives.

Keep in mind that fasting encompasses much more than food. I realize that some people are unable to fast from food due to physical conditions or medications they take. In fact, I urge you never to fast without checking with your doctor first and other health professionals you trust. You want to use wisdom when denying yourself fleshly desires, not jeopardize your physical, mental, and emotional health...

Fasting isn’t something that should intimidate you or make you nervous and that it also isn’t something you should ignore or neglect. Fasting is an essential spiritual practice that will strengthen your spirit in a powerful way as you dull your appetites for the things of this world. As you lean into fasting, you will supercharge your prayer life with a stronger, more focused connection with God and a looser attachment to the world.

Excerpted with permission from Pray First by Chris Hodges, copyright Chris Hodges. 

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Your Turn

We don’t need to be trapped in the bondage-cycle of sin! Christ came to set us free, free indeed! Do you practice fasting? What do you fast? Come share with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily