Glutted on Pride
Shared by Patricia Backora, author of the book
Tough Love in Christ’s Millennium
Which you can order online from: http://www.publishamerica.com
Don’t parade your goodness before men to seek praise and admiration from them. It was the haughty Pharisee who pointed at his chest with pride and prayed thus from his darkened heart: “Lord, I thank thee that I am better than other men. Not only do I abstain from evil deeds, I fast twice a week. You owe me a great deal of thanks for that. I bet this sinner standing next to me is a real glutton and drunkard.”
Jesus said that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, you could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This saying has filled many with fear that if they don’t fast twice weekly or more, they aren’t exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees. But the key truth is this: Did I Myself require twice-weekly fasting, or did the Pharisees impose it upon themselves? “It is written” ought to be the guide for the definition of righteousness, not manmade traditions added to the Scroll of the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Even under the Old Law, fasting was required only on the Day of Atonement. Extra fast days were later added to the Jewish liturgical calendar by commandment of men. The religious legalism I see in My church is like a rancher who asks his hired hand to go brand his prize bull. But the cowpoke goes the extra mile for his boss, reasoning that his boss is paying him well for making the animal miserable. So he inflicts even more pain on the bull by castrating it. Proud of himself, he goes to collect a windfall paycheck for doing more than it was his duty to do. But all he gets from his boss is a chewing out and his walking papers, not money. Why? Because the rancher required obedience and faithfulness of the cowpoke, not the infliction of needless pain. The Pharisees were little better than the priests of Baal who slashed their own flesh with knives to impress their demon god with their suffering.
Those Pharisees were not accounted as righteous because they added extra requirements to My Law. I never gave them the authority to sit in Moses seat, so as to lay grievous burdens upon My people. They seized Moses’ seat by force because it appeared to be vacant, and SOMEBODY had to keep My people under a heavy yoke! I see the same thing going on today, religious legalists sitting in Moses’ seat and legislating new laws about standards for the observance of “ouchy” areas such as fasting, giving, and sacrifices of all sorts. A modern misconception is this: Those Pharisees were so holy and blameless it would be near-impossible to exceed their righteousness. Don’t deceive yourselves, My people! If the Pharisees were so holy, why did Christ give them a verbal thrashing about their wicked pride, their hypocrisy, and their inner uncleanness painted over by supposed good works? What kind of holy person devours widows’ houses and makes a convert twice the son of hell as themselves? No, you can’t exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees in your own strength, even if the righteousness of the Pharisees was just a farce. In My sight, all of humankind is equally worthy of hell apart from the saving Grace of My Son, the Lord Jesus.
But the legacy of the self-righteous Pharisee lives on and on, even in this Age of Grace. There are saints spare of flesh but bloated with pride that they have trained their own bodies not to need daily bread. A few are so “spiritual” that they forego eating regular meals and fast most days. They look disdainfully at others and say: “If you really loved Jesus and cared about the Kingdom of God youíd lay down your fork and lift up your cross.” My, how My kids love to lay guilt trips on each other!
John the Baptist would have been considered an ascetic saint. He shunned most human contact, except what was needful for My service. Like Daniel did for three weeks, he “ate no pleasant bread”. But John ate in this austere way all the time, even on non-fasting days. Never would you spot John at a wedding feast or other festive occasion. John had no use for insincere ceremony. He kept his distance from a Temple “beautified” by King Herod with Hellenistic designs. He steered clear of the corrupt Temple priesthood. Scorned by other Jews for being bizarre and “having a devil”, John eschewed all the legitimate pleasures of life, mourning for an Israel gone astray from their God. His consecrated life was a rebuke to the hypocrites of Israel who depended on outward ritual to make them acceptable to Me. In order to hear My Voice more clearly, John ate little and cloistered himself in the wilderness, away from societyís corrupting influence.
But Jesus served Me by mixing freely in society to reach out to others. He was even accused of being a winebibber and a glutton, just because He would often dine with sinners who needed his help. Whether the food was rich or plain, He would partake of it with a clear conscience after giving Me thanks for My provision before all assembled at the table.
There were occasions when Jesus fasted, but unlike John the Baptist, eating meals was the norm rather than the exception. Yet I accepted both men as My righteous servants; Jesus because He is My spotless devoted Son, and John, because He acknowledged his own need to be made righteous by Christ. How tragic, the way My children form splinter groups and reject each other over points of practice irrelevant to personal salvation! I don’t expect everyone to be each other’s mirror image in all aspects of life. Let each Christian accept that each saint has his own particular calling from Me. Let My people learn to love, not just tolerate, one another in the Bond of the Spirit, so long as key doctrines pertaining to salvation and personal holiness are faithfully observed.
If youíve discovered fasting works for you, then keep it up, within sensible limits as I lead you. But donít heap scorn on somebody else who finds it a difficult challenge. Some people must eat every day, because of medical concerns or because their jobs are so strenuous. Those people might instead be able to limit their intake to the very plainest food during a fast, and I will not condemn them for being unable to function for 2 or 3 days on an empty stomach. Beware of the self-righteousness of the laborer who was called first to work in the vineyard. At the end of a long day of heat and stress, he felt that he deserved a much bigger reward than his fellow laborer who was hired last and was spared the same degree of wear and tear he himself suffered. While riches and success can induce great pride in a saint, so can suffering and self-denial! No one ever got to heaven by outshining someone else, only through the all-sufficiency of Christ to redeem him from his wretched lost condition.
Yes, I see so many who boast their body is a lean, clean machine and they go from strength to strength even though their stomach is always sitting on empty. But all I can see is their hearts are full of pride, and theyíve got no room to boast. Some starve their body so much they confuse the anointing of the Spirit with a dangerous psychosomatic euphoria, which dissipates after awhile. It is then the “spiritual giant” falls from his mountain top with a crash, both emotionally and physically. Satan has lured many saints to their death by causing them to associate food with sin, and making them fear I’ll punish them for not “filling their fasting quota” for the week. If there was a week during which they skipped fasting to celebrate a festive occasion or entertain guests, they would feel guilty and try to ìmake it upî the following week out of fear. It is then fasting becomes a heavy yoke and a demonic obsession, a religious eating disorder. In the hands of ill-advised, immature, reckless individuals, fasting, like a narcotic, can be lethal.
If you have trouble with fasting, concentrate on prayer in the Spirit, for the time being. Spend whole hours in meditation on My Word and in deep prayer for others as well as yourself. Pray in the prayer language I have given you. Fasting is just one of many spiritual weapons, not the be-all and end-all of Christian experience. You can crack a nut with a rock, you donít need to blow it up with dynamite. Your goal ought to be a heart full of faith and dependency on Me and empty of pride. That is what I am searching the earth to find, much more than a proud, empty stomach sticking out with pride!