“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?”
In one of His longest recorded sermons, Jesus spoke of 3 spiritual exercises that every believer should be practicing. He spoke of giving, praying and fasting. Fasting is the practice of giving up food for a period of time in order to learn to deny ourselves and to devote more attention to the things of God. Sadly, instead of viewing fasting as a way to draw near to God the people in Isaiah’s day were treating it as a religious responsibility. It was almost as though it was part of their checklist. They felt that fasting itself made them spiritual and they saw little need for their lives to be affected by their professed relationship with God. Isaiah declares that a real fast will will give evidence of a transformed life.
William Booth was the man behind the Salvation Army. About one hundred years ago he was asked what he thought were the greatest dangers the church was facing in the years ahead. His response is quite intriguing. He said:
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”
In other words he spoke of a form of Christianity that has little impact upon the way a person lives their life. He foresaw churches filled with people who raise their hands in worship, drop checks in the offering box and perhaps even sign up for ministry opportunities yet they fail to allow the Spirit of God and the Word of God to transform their lives.
Instead of emphasizing religious duties we should be seeking to become like Jesus in every possible way. A real commitment to Christ will show itself in a life that is changed.