“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
Early one morning, in the Fall of 2019, I woke up and checked my messages as I normally do. With eyes still squinting, waiting on my coffee to brew, one email in particular stood out to me:
“Matt, I’ve been serving God since 1979. A good friend of mine who wasn’t a Christian came to stay in my home. I witnessed her being attacked by demons. Me, being a Christian, I told her about Jesus and she became one too. However, the demonic attacks went on for years, even when she moved to her own apartment. Satan has no shame in attacking God’s children, he even continued to lure her into the church’s basement, caressing her, and leaving marks. Years went by and eventually she was only set free through prayer and fasting. God is faithful.”
Now, before I understood the New Covenant, I would’ve simply read this, replied “Amen,” and then moved on with my day. However, there’s glaring inconsistencies of what Scripture teaches us based on the covenant Christ brought in at Calvary.
Before I continue with fasting, I want you to know God is paying close attention to you, dear Christian. Not so much your efforts, not so much your works, but you. You’re His child and He cares about you so much. If you’re in a habit of fasting and you want to do that, then do that. But please know that God isn’t sitting back with His hands folded until you start or stop any particular thing. He’s a good Father, and good fathers don’t work that way. He loves you, and fasting isn’t increasing His love nor causing Him to move.
In Mark 9:29, there’s a passage about Jesus casting out a demon. He said such can only be done by prayer and fasting. However, earlier transcripts have been found since this was originally allowed in the canon of Scripture. Earlier transcripts means more accurate text and the word fasting isn’t there. What does this mean? Likely a scribe wrote it incorrectly. It’s been removed since this discovery in many versions of the Bible. The same goes for Mark 16:9-20, which includes these two verses:
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)
This block of text is gone, now that older transcripts of the original manuscripts have been unearthed. What does this tell us? The basis of fasting to cast out demons isn’t biblical and making deadly choices isn’t smart.
Yes, tongues is mentioned in the epistles, which is foreign language speaking; a sign to the unbeliever by hearing the gospel in their native tongue (see 1 Corinthians 14:22). Praying for others to recover from sickness is too (see James 5:14-15). But we must listen to the Spirit’s guidance in all things then look to Scripture to back Him up–not the other way around.
I understand this might hurt the egos of the demon-casters, but such is a good thing! If that’s you, friend, just think about the pressure which has now been taken off you and placed onto Jesus. You don’t have to perform exorcisms any longer. You are free!
If you still don’t believe me, do your own research and I trust you’ll uncover the same. Our job, as Christians, is not to constantly cast out demons but to preach Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 1:23, 2:2). Don’t you think if demon-casting is to be our main objective we would’ve received instructions in at least one epistle? Yet it’s not there–nor is fasting for that matter. Fasting can have physical health benefits but not spiritual health benefits.
These letters are void of a single directive about either topic, all were written subsequent to the Cross and maturity of the apostles:
Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation
Not one lesson or edification to fight demons or fast. In the four gospels? Yes, but fasting in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John was never a command for believers. On the contrary, Christ scolds unbelieving legalists who wanted to be praised for their fasting (see Matthew 6:16-18). This proves fasting was a matter of the Law as those Jews found their “righteousness” in obeying Moses’ commandments not Jesus’. Christians aren’t under the Law but under grace:
“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the Law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)
Some disciples of John the Baptist asked why Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast. The answer was because Christ was still with them and their focus was to be on Him and nothing else (see Mark 2:18-20). This teaches us the true meaning of fasting which is focusing on God alone.
Fasting was never meant to trade off anguish for favor with our Creator. He’s not a vindictive sadist. Fasting doesn’t accomplish anything in the supernatural realm. The reality is, God needs nothing from us. He’s God. Even deeper, His ultimate desire is to give us life, breath, and everything else! (See Acts 17:25).
What about fasting the book of Acts? It’s mentioned twice (see Acts 13:2, 14:23). What we must keep in mind is that Acts isn’t a book of doctrine but of recorded acts of the apostles. It’s a history book of the early, green church; documentation of their unripe actions as the truth began to spread. This is not a letter from an apostle to a church or person for holy direction or firm rebuke. In Acts, everyone was getting their belief of Christ alone in order. We’re reading chronicles of those events. Therefore we cannot use this book to build a theology in the same way we can’t use any history book to build a theology.
Think about it, if we’re going to look to Acts as doctrine then we must circumcise people. Why? Because Paul did this to Timothy (see Acts 16:1-5). He obviously outgrew this immature Law-tradition thinking because Paul was livid with the Galatians for allowing circumcision to sneak into their church (see Galatians 5:2).
Further, if Acts sets the standard for church planting then we must all speak a foreign language and have a flame above our heads when we’re saved (see Acts 2:1-8). However, Paul informed the Corinthians, “Not everyone speaks in tongues, do they?” (See 1 Corinthians 12:30).
What about Ananias and Sapphira? They dropped dead because they lied about money (see Acts 5:1-11). If this were doctrine our churches would be littered with corpses every time the offering plate is passed around. And were they saved? It doesn’t say. And did God kill them? Well does He kill people for lying about money? Earth’s population would drop drastically if this were doctrine. There’s not enough information about this event to make a conclusion based on the facts of the gospel. Luke simply reveals they lied about money and died after they got caught.
Do you see it, friend? Acts isn’t doctrine. Sure, we can glean from it, but we have tons of doctrine after this book; after maturity in Christ came to life in the minds, actions, and attitudes of countless Christians. We’re all learning and growing, the early church did too.
Accordingly, fasting isn’t doctrine for Christians. If you want to fast, fast. That’s your prerogative and you’re free. But if you’re believing you’ll have a “banner year” because you’re starving yourself, friend, no. God is better to you than that. He doesn’t answer your prayers in a greater way because you’re hungry. If that were the case then each time we have a need let’s just not eat until our situation changes. Eat. It might give you a healthier viewpoint because your blood sugar isn’t low, therefore impacting your brain.
So today, my friends, know this: Ignore the demons, eat a sandwich, and focus on Jesus. If you’re having a problem with demons, you’ll be surprised at how they go away when you pay them no mind. As for fasting from food, social media, sex, sugar–whatever–God doesn’t change His mind because you’re giving stuff up temporarily. He loves you and doesn’t barter His love by way of abstaining from what you enjoy. Instead, it’s God who showed His love for you, by giving up His Son.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, the Bible instructs us to hold fast rather than to fast food, according to the New Covenant. Our hope in Jesus is what we’re truly holding fast to. No apostle informs us to fast in order to achieve anything with you, or to appear more holy than others, or to entertain demons. Thank you for this freedom in your Word. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Help them to understand even before the Cross fasting was all about focusing on you by giving up food for a time. Food, festivals, and gatherings were Israel’s primary method of fun and entertainment. They were instructed to give this up so they can concentrate on your greatness–but you turned the tables! You revealed what YOU gave up! Actually WHO you gave up–Jesus! Help us to focus on Him like you have. Amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 3. Check out my other bestselling books here!