Many have grown discouraged and have fled from the faith because human ministers over the centuries have made My easy yoke hard to bear and My light burden grievous. Even today, in this era of self-indulgence and lax apostasy, I disapprove of well-meaning, but Pharasaical preachers complexifying My simple Way to Life.
This will shock many of you but the term “spiritual disciplines” appears nowhere in My Word, nor is compulsory fasting taught in any of the New Testament Epistles. Although the Day of Atonement was the ONLY compulsory regular day of fasting in the Bible, religious scholars thought they’d “clarify” what I REALLY meant by adding many extra fast days to the Jewish calendar. By the time of Christ all good Jews were expected to fast twice a week. If they did not, the self-righteous Pharisees called their love for Me into question. While He was on earth and before the Cross, Jesus did not abolish the authority religious leaders exercised over His God-fearing listeners. Jesus even said to do as the Pharisees say but not as they do (see Matt.23:3). Before the Cross ushered in the New Covenant, Jesus’ listeners were bound to submit to the very religious leaders He loudly rebuked in that very same chapter. But NOWHERE does any NT apostle ever bind fasting on believers. The Gentiles never were under the authority of those doctors of the Law who were presumptuous enough to add their OWN extra requirements to My Holy commandments.
Repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus and Him alone is the ONLY way to obtain justification in the sight of a Holy God. Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal.5:16) and: He who walks in love has ALREADY fulfilled the requirements of the Law (Rom.13:8). What makes you think you can add anything of merit to this SIMPLE way of salvation and following Christ? It only ministers to human pride to complexify the Christian life. Acts chapter 15 plainly teaches that so long as you are led by the Spirit and keep just FOUR (4) simple, easy prohibitions that is enough in My sight.
Many have been broken beneath the heavy yoke of unscriptural tithing regulations imposed by church tradition. NOWHERE in the NT do I ever invent a new tithing tax on poor people’s incomes. I didn’t even do that in the Old Covenant! Tithing was for ancient Israel ONLY, and was ONLY to be done on edible agricultural produce (Lev.27:30-34). Moses did NOT give these ordinances, including tithing, for the rest of the world (Psalms 147:20). Your priesthood abolishes the tithe, where you are concerned. My children, you are PRIESTS under the Old Covenant. Old Covenant priests NEVER tithed on anything! Any minister of greed who pries “tithes” out of your wallet is a thief and a robber. Such a ravening wolf is a spiritual pervert who places himself between Christ and His Bride as a tax collecting overlord. NEVER, I said NEVER, surrender your rights, your dignity or your position as priest in the Body of Christ. Give satan and his servants an inch and they’ll take you for everything they can get, including your spiritual wholeness. Read Galatians chapters 3 and 5. Rather than being blessed for keeping the tithing law, you fall under a curse for doing so. Keep just one point of Old Testament Jewish law, you fall under an obligation to keep it ALL, and automatically incur the penalty for failure to keep it ALL perfectly!
Many have suffered with needless guilt pangs over failure to fast like others in the church who want to be seen as more spiritual than the rest. Many automatically deny themselves food just because Monday or Thursday rolls around and they fear I’ll punish them if they eat something. That’s legalism and coming under the bondage of observing days (Gal.4:10) and denying yourself legitimate things I created for your enjoyment (I Tim.6:17). Touch not, taste not, handle not is of LAW, not grace (Col.2:21).
Some insist that surely fasting is essential for repentance, especially if a serious enough sin has been committed. Indeed, you should have a properly mournful attitude if you’re caught up in sin, because sin will destroy any soul. Christ did not order the woman taken in adultery to fast to prove her penitence, and that was even before He died on the Cross. Even in the case of the man who committed adultery with his own mother-in-law (see I Cor.5:1-6), Paul did not order the man to first fast to prove his worthiness to be restored to the fellowship of the saints. Instead, Paul inflicted worse punishments on the man by turning him over to satan for the destruction of his sinful flesh. He ordered the church to break fellowship with this man to incite him to repentance. But Paul knew the absence of food in the man’s stomach wouldn’t make him feel any sorrier for his sin. It was the absence of spiritual blessings and fellowship which made the man sorry, not a skipped meal or two.
Others worry that they aren’t memorizing enough Scripture verses to keep up with what others are accomplishing in that area. Do hide My Word in your heart because in this life you’ll need it to resist satan. But stop comparing yourself with some other imperfect Christian, that’s carnality (2 Cor.10:12).
Others boast they’re “disciplined” because they always rise by five or thereabouts. But they’re cranky all day because they’re tired and then they end up snapping at someone. Unless I impress upon a Christian to do it, it could do far more spiritual harm than good to deliberately be harsh on the body through fasting or very early rising. It’s prideful to boast that you rise earlier than anyone else to pray. Some people are ill or work weird hours. New parents may feel shattered through and through. Not everyone can “storm the gates of heaven in the wee hours. Where “spiritual disciplines” are concerned, some practices, in and of themselves, are of doubtful spiritual value (Col.2:23). Even in the matter of seeking Me early, there is plenty of room for understanding and compassion. Even Jesus took a nap in the middle of a storm, a time when many would say He should have been wide awake and on the lookout for satan.
Whenever liberty is abandoned and “the leadership” imposes harsh “disciplines” on Christians, that’s contrary to My will and always leads to resentment and spiritual slavery. I came to deliver My people from the old Pharaoh of legalism, to lead them forth into the Promised Land of liberty in Christ.
No matter how “spiritual” some “spiritual discipline” or church tradition seems, fight with a vengeance to hang onto your liberty in Christ. Once you start depending on so-called good works to endear yourself to Me or to stay “on My good side”, you cease to rely on Jesus alone to BE ALL your Righteousness before Me.
This doctrine of “going deeper” can mean just that: falling into a deep cesspit of satanic oppression and discouragement through the beguiling entanglement of legalism.