Matthew 4:1-2 — “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”
You thought I forgot about fasting didn’t you? I know the last time we talked about it was day 4, and I’m sure that many of you were probably hoping that it was the last time we would! When we think of athletes facing incredible challenges, they go into training for big matches or tournaments. When they face these challenges they go into strict training, exercising, strength training, studying their opponents — their bodies are machines and what is the fuel for those machines? FOOD!!!
So Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness for his greatest challenge to date — being tempted by, going toe-to-toe with the devil himself! His first move to prepare for this huge encounter…deprive His body of food. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, we know that Jesus is quite literally on the brink of starvation. Physically He is as low as you can get before death occurs. Why would Jesus put Himself in such a “weak” position?
Because our physical bodies cannot help us overcome a spiritual struggle.
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63
“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:23
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:6-7
“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:17, 24
Jesus knew that to face Satan and his temptations with His body full of fleshly, worldly strength would be disaster. When our bodies are weakened through the denial of food, or comfort of any kind really (TV, wealth, sex or pornography — yes these can be used to comfort, gossip, entertainment, etc.), then our Spirit begins to have greater power and strength than our flesh. Jesus knew that fasting was a pathway to protection. When he stepped into the arena with Satan, He was physically at His weakest…but Spiritually at His strongest! When we pray, we are engaging in Spiritual warfare, not physical warfare (Ephesians 6:12). If you want greater protection, weaken your flesh that wars against you by fasting. Fasting brings protection.
Jesus, thank you for the reminder that I cannot win a spiritual battle through physical means. Help me to strategically and consistently weaken my flesh in order to obtain protection and power. Lord, I admit that this scares me. I fear that my body will react strongly, I may get sick, or it may hurt me. Help me to seek the aid of physicians who can help me do this correctly and safely. But please don’t let me talk myself out of this important discipline. Maybe forsaking food is too much for me, help me forsake other fleshly appetites that keep me from spiritual success. God I trust You. And I believe that You will help me to apply this appropriately and successfully in my spiritual walk. Thank You for hearing me and helping me. I love You. Amen.