Click here to listen to the sermon. 9mins.
Isaiah 58v1-9a (9b-12) Fasting and righteousness
1 Cor 2v1-12 The Spirit of wisdom
Matt 5v13-20 Salt and light. The fulfilment of the law.
What sort of fasting?
Isaiah is contrasting our internal and external attitudes.
We seek God (through prayer, fasting and worship) while we exploit one another and God says he will not have it.
If we want to seek him and know his favour then we need to love and care for one another, not exploit and cheat each other or rob others of their rights. Isaiah 58.1-12.
The emphasis in OT and NT scripture is always on right living, caring and loving and looking after our neighbour. There is no merit in regular worship of God if we are not loving our neighbour.
Jesus asks the people if they think he has come to abolish the burden of the law. Matthew 5v17.
No, he says he has come to fulfil it!
The expectation of the law is that people will be guided by this external measure to live right lives internally, in a good loving relationship, respecting and caring for each other, and also with God.
The law is redundant if we do this naturally via our love of God in Christ.
True fasting is like true circumcision, it’s an internal attitude of the heart, not merely an external act of the flesh. Romans 2v29b.
We know that God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16v7. And measures faith and righteousness according by what he sees a person doing. ?
Jesus’s is speaking against the hypocritical Pharasaical legalism that kept the laws externally while braking them inwardly, following the letter but ignoring the Spirit. He teaches a righteousness that comes only by faith and he gives six examples of Pharasaic externalism. Matthew 5v21-48.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen…….?” Isaiah 58v6-12. (Read the passage)
We are called to live righteous lives, loving others, through Christ, and to let our lives, our good works shine like a lamp on a stand.
That includes looking after the poor and oppressed.
So as God’s people and the church, are we involved in looking after the needs of the poor and oppressed?
And are we involved in oppressing others?
To think about
What sort of fasting will you be doing this Lent and beyond?