I hate Lent. From the outside looking in, I see no other time of the year where Christians are the most self-righteous. A growing number of Protestants are now practicing it. Jesus never ordained this activity, no matter how well one twists Scripture to validate it. When He did His 40-day fast, it was by the direction of His Father, a part of the testing (subjugation of flesh and soul) before starting His ministry.
Because so few are hearing from Jesus Himself or making sure others hear Him, we have fruitless practices that give a self-gratifying, outward appearance. He warned us about that:
Matthew 6:16-18 And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Self, Not Sin, Is the Problem
Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Since self is what invites the sin, shouldn’t self be put to death? The concept, “death to self,” means that we die daily to the influence of the world and give our souls—our entire lives—over to Him. The flesh goes on the altar for Him to burn up what He wants. Anything left, we can have. The soul—mind, heart, willpower—goes on the cross. The only thing coming down from that cross is the husk, the child-like faith—trusting that He will take care of us as we grow into the Body. Everything else will be replaced as stated in Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 24:7, Jeremiah 32:39, Ezekiel 11:19, Ezekiel 36:26, Ezekiel 37:14, Mark 9:47, John 3:3, 2 Corinthians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Peter 1:23.
Luke 14:26-27 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
No, doing good will not net you any favors with Him. Demanding blessings simply because you believe Jesus is Lord and Savior will actually drive you further away from Him. He refuses to be manipulated or cajoled. He is not a cosmic Santa Claus. He is your Father Creator and King; serve Him, not self.
So few are actually seeking what He wants or giving Him the one thing He desires most of all—complete control over the path to the Father. It is not about being good in the eyes of self and men, but His supernatural work in you. When does a person allow His supernatural Will and Word to take over from the control of men and institutions?
This process of salvation, or dying daily so He can live within us, continues until He calls us home. Yes, we will mess up, but He knows that. Trust Him. Are you ready to start your lifelong fast from self yet?
Other great writings on the subject: What Is Fasting?