The Fasted Lifestyle
In this post, we will be studying Matthew chapter 11. This topic is so incredibly challenging and yet, to me, critical for this time in history. I have taken this material from a teaching tape series by Mike Bickle entitled, “Forerunners with a Holy Violent Love.”
This teaching helped me to understand some things God has done and is currently doing in my own life and I believe it will challenge you to make some important and necessary choices. This is a very heavy subject. But it is like fire shut up in my bones. It turned me inside out and it cannot be ignored. If it doesn‟t sink in after you’ve read it, that‟s OK. God will bring it back around when it‟s time. We‟re all at different places in the journey and God will grace you to walk in this when it‟s time.
We‟re going to go through this line by line, building the whole subject around verse 12 which says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” This scripture addresses the topic of “whole-heartedness”, which the Scriptures refer to as “spiritual violence.”
Offenses (Verse 6)
First of all, in verse 3, when John‟s disciples approached Jesus with the question that John sent them to ask, “Are You the one or should we wait for another?”, Jesus responds in essence telling them to go tell John that prophecy is being fulfilled. He outlines the fulfillment of Isaiah 35 and Isaiah 61 which told that the Messiah would heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, etc. Every good Jewish boy knew these prophecies. They knew it and Jesus knew John would know it. Then He exhorted them in verse six saying, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:6). The point here is that we cannot grow in maturity and whole-heartedness while offended towards the Lord, having a closed spirit.
The Crowd Defined (Verses 7-10)
“As John‟s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: „What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings‟ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a proph22et. This is the one about whom it is written: „I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare the way before you‟” (Matthew 11:7- 10).
Jesus turns to address the crowd after speaking with John‟s disciples. He asks them three questions:
. 1) What did you go out to see in the desert? A reed swaying in the wind? (verse 7).
. 2) If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in king‟s palaces (verse 8)
. 3) Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you and more than a prophet (verse 9). Jesus is addressing a crowd of people who actually went out to see John the Baptist in the wilderness. Now these people didn‟t make just a little effort to go and see John. To get to John was a five-day journey one way. So they walked five days there and five days back home in the hot sun. These people were sincere. They made a determined response to go see John and it was politically incorrect to go see John. John was causing tremendous trouble in the political arena of Rome by challenging Herod and also the religious arena of the Sanhedrin. It was costly to go see John.
But notice how Jesus asks them three times, “What did you go out to see?” He must have struck a nerve in them when He implied that they went out to “gawk” at the religious sensation of John with no understanding that He [Jesus], the Miracle Worker with Messianic prophecies, and John, the forerunner with the Spirit of Elijah had come together in the same nation at the same time. They didn‟t put two and two together and understand that cataclysmic things were about to break in on the human race in the natural and in the spirit.
A Prophetic Generation (Verse 10)
“This is the one about whom it is written: „I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you” (Matthew 11:10).
We know it was the mission of the forerunner to prepare the way for Jesus to come to a prophetic generation. There are three prophetic generations mentioned in scripture that stand above and beyond all the other generations of human history. All three prophetic generations had the same common factors:
. 1) They were transitional generations. This is where the purpose of God made significant and dynamic changes in the way that the redeemed would live before God. The people related to God differently and experienced Him differently.
. 2) They see the manifestations of the power of God.
. 3) It was required of them to have an unusual dedication to God commensurate with the value and importance of it in God’s redemptive history.
The three prophetic generations were the following:
. 1) The Generation of Moses (Exodus). Most of the people of God witnessed the power of God on a nearly regular basis. It‟s the only generation in Old Testament history that did. It was a transitional generation. They were brought out of Egypt and into the wilderness to cross over to a new land. The fire of God came on Mt. Sinai bringing the entire nation into a covenant with signs and wonders. The power of God was manifest among them for an entire generation.
. 2) The Generation of the Apostles (Acts). The first century church is the second prophetic generation to experience a covenant God made with man. Now every single one of the redeemed would have the indwelling Holy Spirit. This communion with God was not limited to prophets, priests and kings. Anyone who desired could enter into the life of the Spirit.
. 3) The Generation of the Lord’s Return (I believe that’s us). Think about to what this generation is transitioning. The last days, the Bible says, the sky will be filled with fire. One or two billion people will eventually be suspended in mid-air, the new heavens and new earth will descend down into a renewed earth (see Revelation). This last phase of history will be a serious transition. We don‟t just have the indwelling Holy Spirit, but face to face dialogue, the presence of angels (which is on the increase), etc. We‟re talking major transition!
John the Baptist Defined (Verse 11)
“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11).
What is the Lord saying here? He is talking about greater privilege. John was the very last of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus was saying that the one who is least in the New Covenant has more privilege in God than the greatest one of the former dispensation: which was John the Baptist under the old covenant. He is announcing that there are radical changes getting ready to burst on the scene. There is a new dispensation about to begin and the least in the new dispensation has more privilege and more access to Holy Spirit experiences and Holy Spirit ministry than the greatest ones under the Old Covenant.
Now the multitudes were more than likely taken back a bit by this announcement and so Jesus continued with the introduction of the principle of whole-heartedness or spiritual violence. Spiritual violence is a radical pursuit, a refusal to be denied, a refusal to come up with anything less than God‟s best for our lives. Jesus introduces it in a strategic way.
Spiritual Violence Introduced (Verse 12)
“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing (another translation says, “suffers violence”) and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12).
In other words, the new dispensation that is breaking upon you, permits, rewards and honors spiritual violence. As a matter of fact, the spiritually violent lover of God will literally seize and take things by force that would have been withheld from them if they would have been passive.
Response: The Dance and the Dirge (Verses 13-17)
“For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear. To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting In the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance, we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn‟” (Matthew 11:13-17).
Jesus tells the crowd that if they were willing to accept it, John was “the Elijah” who was to come. The Spirit of Elijah rested on John in their generation which was a partial fulfillment of prophecy. Then Jesus compared them to children in a marketplace calling out, “We played the flute for you , and you did not dance; we sang a dirge [a funeral song] and you did not mourn.”
Jesus is saying that the wedding flute didn‟t produce the response of celebration and the funeral dirge did not produce the response of mourning or lamentation. The wedding flute represents the celebration of response to the presence of God. The funeral dirge represents our acknowledgment of the reality of sin in our world and its consequences being dealt with. The redeemed deal with the consequences of sin through self-denial. The unredeemed come under the judgements of God.
So Jesus is rebuking them, saying that they neither rejoiced at the coming of a new dispensation nor did they mourn or appropriately deal with the presence and consequences of sin in their generation or personal lives. They were unresponsive. They were passively indifferent. Neither approach awakened them. The celebration nor the warning of the funeral, neither provoked a response.
This celebration/funeral dirge combination is a divine paradox because this love- sickness of whole-heartedness has in it celebration in response to the presence of God and the anguish or mourning over sin. It is two-dimensional. Verse 12 (spiritual violence) is manifested in both the wedding song and the funeral dirge.
Jesus is drawing special attention to His generation. He chose His lineage and His generation therefore making it a prophetic generation or as Paul called it in Galatians 4, “The fullness of time.” The generation of Jesus was a very strategic and prophetic generation. Jesus picked it and therefore sanctified it as one of the most strategic generations of all of natural history.
Jesus is using John as the focal point to wake up His hearers to the fact that they were a prophetic, transitional generation. Their generation saw the fulfillment of two prophecies about the forerunner and the miracle-working Messiah. Jesus was essentially saying, “Can‟t you see that something massive is right in front of you?” What happens when the power of God is being manifested in the person of Jesus Christ in the flesh and the Spirit of Elijah is on the forerunner, John the Baptist? They couldn‟t see it. They didn‟t know.
It was a sign of a significant transition in God‟s economy. Jesus‟ point is that in a transitional generation where God is relating to His people in a different way than at any other time in human historyan accelerated way, a way with higher privileges where His power is released in greater manifestationsuch a prophetic hour requires an unusual dedication to meet the opposition that rises against the transition.
Jesus was trying to warn them that opposition was about to break forth in the natural and in the spiritual realm and God‟s power was going to be loosed to meet the opposition. But unusual dedication is the only answer; it‟s the cause to which God calls His people. Is there not a cause today? Is there any more noble cause then to stand as God‟s servants in the hour of transition of human history?
The spiritual obstacles that come in a time of transition we find in Revelation 12. War breaks out in the heavens. Like then, demonic and occult activity against the people of God in this final transition of human history (this last prophetic, transitional generation) will escalate like at no other time before. And not only will there be opposition in the spirit, but also in the natural.
In Jesus‟ day you had the political structure of the Roman Empire. They killed you if you didn‟t worship Caesar. Equally severe was the religious structures of the Sanhedrin. But even more severe was Judaism; religious ideas that held the common man in bondage and caused him to not pursue God in a right way. Jesus was telling His generation that it would take “spiritual violence” because the opposition coming against them would be more than they had ever known. The Godhead is calling people to an abandonment that is necessary for the generation in which they live.
Matthew chapter 11 is a “dress rehearsal” for this final, prophetic generation. All the issues in this chapter relate to whole-heartednesstransition, the prophetic generation, the forerunner spirit, opposition, passivityall of these same obstacles are realities in the generation of the Lord‟s return.
Going back to Matthew 11:17, the people wouldn‟t dance or mourn and whole- heartedness calls for both responses. Let‟s not misunderstand who Jesus is talking to here. He is talking to the sincere, “conference crowd” who made a sacrificial, dangerous effort to go John‟s conference. They were like a modern-day conference crowd. When Jesus asked them three times who they went out to see, they must have scratched their heads and said, “Well it was a great meeting. We bought the t-shirt. We stood in the prayer line. John even laid hands on us and we fell out. I mean, what else is there?”
Don‟t miss the parallel here between the conference crowd of Jesus‟ day and what probably happens to much of the conference crowd of today. Jesus answered them by making the point in verse seventeen that after the conference you should dance and enter into the celebration of the prophetic transition. You enter into the abounding overflow of extravagant commitment as well as the painful sacrifice of the dirge. You should be abandoned in a different way, more responsive from the heart.
This is the “prophetic conference crowd”, not the Sanhedrin who hated John. These are the very people who were lost in the sensation and the storytelling and curiosity of what John the Baptist was like and they were able to report, “I was there” and “I was in the prayer line” but when they returned home they neither danced or mourned. Their money spending habits never changed and the way they spent their time didn‟t change either. Jesus was warning them that the false doctrines of Judaism were about to crash down in power and He was ready to call forth men and women whom He would anoint to stand in the gap before the conflict and make a difference for the people of God. That is what John did.
That is where we are today. Jesus is talking to the sincere; sincere but unresponsive. It‟s not enough to go to a meeting. Things should begin to change in our lives because of spiritual violence. It takes spiritual violence to enter into whole- heartedness. Whole-heartedness is violent, disruptive, costly, and perplexing to people with unrenewed minds like us. It‟s painful because we‟re unsure. But the Lord says, “It‟s ok, go on the journey.” It will disrupt everything because there is no such thing as a clean birth. It‟s called by the uncreated God, “VIOLENCE.”
Jesus Christ is calling us to something very powerful. Here is the logic. John the Baptist was violent. It‟s not pretty and it‟s not easy. We‟re talking about broken, weak people with very little experience in the deep things of God fumbling the thing in pursuit of it. It doesn‟t come down pretty but it‟s worth the effort to go after it in hunger.
It‟s not military violence. It‟s not political violence. It‟s not the crusaders killing people who don‟t agree. It‟s not bombing abortion clinics. It‟s not even the negative spiritual violence of Luke chapter 9 where John the apostle wanted to call fire out of heaven to consume an unresponsive group where judgment is initiated in the mind of man. It‟s not a man-initiated judgment to speed things up. IT IS AN INTERIOR VIOLENCE. It‟s violence that has to do with the structures of the human mind and heart and the disruptive nature that is required to follow Jesus whole-heartedly. John thoroughly possessed this quality. What about us?
Here is the irony and the power of Jesus pointing to John. John was the greatest of all the Old Covenant people. He was the greatest and most resolute man born of a woman and here is the point: A person in the new dispensation has more available to him than the greatest person in the old dispensation. Therefore, why would John, with limitations and less privileges of the Old Covenant, press into abandonment but people in whom God’s spirit dwells without measure under the New Covenant respond in a lesser way in a time of transition? If a man of a lesser dispensation was whole-hearted, how reasonable is it for people of a new dispensation (with greater access to God) to not be more violent?
In our time, we see the standard is raised. It went up one notch in the first prophetic generation of Moses‟ day. It shifted to a higher gear in the second prophetic generation. Now, in the last days generation it goes up again. If whole-heartedness was reasonable in the first century at the establishment of the New Covenant, how reasonable should whole-heartedness be in the generation of the second coming of the Lord when the human race is about to experience a new heaven and a new earth?
What are we doing? If John the Baptist did it within the limitations of the Old Covenant and the twelve apostles did it in the partial release of the first century, how much more should we be abandoned in the hour when the full release of the spirit of Elijah and the full “greater works than these” breaks upon human history? This is the logic Jesus uses because not only is the power of God greater, but the power of the resistance is also greater.
Spiritual Violence: A Doctrine of the Grace of God
Spiritual violence is a clear New Testament doctrine of the grace of God. It is a very powerful foundation stone in the grace of God. Here is the point of what the New Testament grace of God teaches us: God reserves the fullest measure of His blessing for those who are spiritually violent or whole-hearted in their pursuit of God.
The invitation to spiritual violence is an invitation to a lifestyle where you will not settle for anything less than God‟s best. This is specific to the area of intimacy because if we strive for God‟s best in intimacy, it will trickle down into every area of our lives. If our heart touches the burning heart of God, then our wisdom gets connected, our money is redistributed, our time is maximized, our anointing is different, and so on. Everything should flow out of the resource of touching God.
There are two different spheres of divine activity in the grace of God:
1) Romans 5:2This is the introduction into the grace of God. The New King James version says it‟s the initial access into the grace of God. There is a big difference between our introduction into the grace of God and the second dimension.
2) Romans 5:17 and James 4:6The fullness of grace.
This introduction is the one that flows freely to us at the new birth. It is automatic the day you are born again. You are totally forgiven and God totally loves you. You‟re totally secure in the Lord. We receive it freely, just a simple “yes” in faith and it‟s granted to us based on our great need.
The fullness of grace operates on very different principles. It is not an issue of being loved or forgiven. It is not the aspect of grace that is granted freely, it is the aspect that is taken by force. It‟s Jacob in Genesis 32:26 saying, “I won‟t let you go until you bless me!” It is Moses in Exodus 32:11-13 where God tells him, “Leave me alone” after Moses asks God to bless Israel. Moses comes back and says, “No! These are Your people!” It is God‟s will that we prevail with Him and only if we want to bad enough. It‟s called violence and the Son of God affirms this reality. It is the dimension of the grace of God that doesn‟t come automatically. It doesn‟t come as an overflow of compassion based on need, it comes by violence, by aggressive seeking based on hunger. The Lord responds to this. It becomes birthed as a seed and it grows and grows.
That is what happened to John the Baptist in the Old Covenant with very little privilege. The seed of spiritual violence took hold of him. It‟s more than forgiveness. It‟s more than being loved. It‟s more than the occasional healing that happens through the anointing on the new birth. Even if the life of a born again believer is a wreck, they‟ll see an occasional vision, every now and then they will see a sign and a wonder, or lead someone to the Lord. But we‟re talking about the “greater works than these.” This is the anointing to operate in the first commandment to love God with the whole heart. It‟s the greatest commandment restored to first place which is this: the great work of God lived out in the human experience. It isn‟t that we can command the dead to rise. It‟s that the barriers and hindrances to the sinful human heart would be broken and subdued supernaturally. It‟s people in this world walking by faith in abandonment which is the gift of God—that is fulfilling the first commandment and “the greater works than these.” This is what Jesus is calling people to.
Again, with the introduction of the fullness of grace, it‟s not either/or rather both/and. Typical in church history, proclaiming the introduction of grace without experiencing the fullness of grace easily allows people to enter into spiritual passivity and contentedness. God wants the message of the fullness of grace to begin to be established in our midst. However, to proclaim the fullness of grace without the introduction of grace, the people become overwhelmed and give up in despair.
Now there is a strange, very common, and widespread spiritual delusion at work in the earth today and most of us partake of it. A majority of sincere believers (people like those who would go hear John in the wilderness) automatically assume and falsely imagine that they are somewhat in the pursuit of spiritual violence or God‟s best. We mistake our sincerity for whole-heartedness.
Spiritual sincerity is a very valuable and powerful reality. Spiritual sincerity combined with spiritual immaturity (which probably accounts for most of the body of Christ) needs to be carefully guarded. Why? Because the enemy comes against us and when we fail, we assume that we‟re a bunch of hopeless hypocrites or that God doesn‟t like us anymore and we give up. Though we stumble we are not hypocrites and God still loves us. If we don‟t have confidence in God‟s love we don‟t have a chance at whole- heartedness. Sincerity with confidence is not anywhere close to whole-heartedness.
There is another aspect of the reality of keeping the spiritually sincere operating in the confidence of God.
The second reality is the necessity of whole-heartedness entered into by spiritual violence. Whole-heartedness requires the time to search it out. The people of God are very defensive about the subject of wanting God‟s best because we all assume we really want it. But here is the problem: very often we live a lifestyle of carnal ease mixed with spiritual lethargy and somehow we put on the end of the equation that we‟re going for God‟s best. God‟s best is only found in the context of spiritual violence.
The conference crowd of Jesus‟ day was not entering into the paradox of whole- heartedness in any form that substantially changed the way they spent money, the way they spent time, the way they stewarded their heart, the way they spoke their words, or stewarded their sex life. These things were not changed in a significant way. You should live just a little bit different than you used to before. Spiritual violence is serious and the prophetic generation we are living in demands it! This doctrine is necessary for God‟s best.
Jesus Addresses a Sudden Shift in Attitude (Verses 18-19)
“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, „He has a demon.‟ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, „Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and „sinners.‟ But wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Matthew 11:18-19).
God‟s people who went to John‟s conference in verse 7 were tired of John by verse 18 and they said, “This is ridiculous! What he‟s doing is invasive and intrusive.” Jesus is addressing their accusation that John had a demon. John, living a fasted lifestyle, was accused of going too far. They were saying, “He‟s demonized and he‟s dangerous. It was exciting to buy the t-shirt and spread the report of the experience but this guy won‟t let go. He‟s pressing the issues and it‟s disruptive to our lives. We won‟t accept it!” They were turning their backs on the response of the dirge which addressed sin and their response to it. How is it possible that a man who led a fasted, committed lifestyle could be accused of being dangerous, out of balance, and demonized? Jesus rebuked them by saying that they completely misread John.
Then in verse 19, Jesus went even further and addressed their accusation that He Himself was a compromiser who associated with sinners and down-and-outers. The miracle-working Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the forerunner, John the Baptist, who possessed the spirit of Elijah—(the two signs of the transition in their generation); were called a compromiser and a dangerous, demonized, legalistic, out of balance man. Jesus then assures this generation that the wisdom that John lived in (and by implication his own lifestyle) would be justified and fully vindicated when this life was over. He meant that all generations would see the wisdom of John‟s life at the resurrection. Nonetheless, Jesus was calling that generation to repent right then. He was warning that although the leaders had put John away, it was still not too late for them to enter into John‟s abandonment because their prophetic generation demanded it. But they did not respond and we‟ll see that the Lord goes on to tell them that they didn‟t even know the hour of their visitation.
The Argument Intensifies (Verses 20-24)
“Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:20-24).
Jesus now intensifies the argument. Not only does greater privilege in the Holy Spirit require a greater response, but now if the response doesn‟t come it will result in greater judgment. In other words, it‟s not neutral when God knocks on the door.
We know by verse 16 that Jesus is talking to an entire generation. There are time frames in history that the Lord chooses. It‟s a dangerous thing when the Lord selects a generation and knocks on the door because either that generation goes forward in the glory of God or they go backward in judgment—they do no stay neutral.
When the creator God, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, wants an entry point into human history in a definitive way—that generation is either going to be significantly blessed or significantly judged. They do not stay neutral. Jesus is telling His generation that their time frame has been privileged of the Lord. That‟s good news and bad news. If you become radical in the Lord, you‟ll be crowned in the glory of God in this age and the age to come. If you‟re not radical, you‟ll come under a more severe judgment than the other generations next to you.
We see in verses 20-24 that not only does God visit time frames which we highlighted in the three prophetic generations, but He also visits locations. The logic of this part of the passage is that Jesus picked three cities in Northern Israel just above the Sea of Galilee, where He performed most of His miracles. When God picks a location, it falls under the same principle as when He picks a time frame. If that geographic location does not respond in a commensurate way, more radical than all the others, they will end up in severe judgment because is isn‟t just any old visitor coming to town, it‟s the uncreated God saying, “I want to dance with you, I want to bless you and I demand a response for I am the King.” Well, those three cities did not pay attention.
There are going to be geographic regions that the Lord selects in these last days to pour out His Spirit. The people go, “Yea, the intercessors prevailed and the Lord has sent revival!” We have seen it in Toronto and Pensacola. But for those cities, there is a higher standard of judgment on them right now in the divine economy. When God visits, the standard goes up. [When the intercessors prevail and the power of God is loosed in a greater way in our city, the power of judgment will also increase in the city. Are you listening saints of God?]
The Warning Taken to a New Level (Verses 25-27)
“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:25-27).
Jesus warns them. Then He takes the principle to an entirely different level. He says it is more intense than a time-frame (a prophetic generation) and it‟s more intense than a geographic location (a city that the Lord favors with power or that He judges with greater judgment)—He makes it now intensely personal.
The Lord offers every individual in New Covenant times an invitation to enter into the revelation of God in a new way. Every one of us have been invited by the Lord (verses 25-27) to enter into the realm of the secret mysteries of the Godhead, (i.e. God revealing God to the human spirit). The problem with it is that if the individuals will not respond and go forward into the privilege given in verse 27, He says that there will be a hardness that will overtake them. God will then hide the truth from them and harden their heart. It‟s the essence of judicial blindness. When the Lord gives opportunity and the people will not move into it individually, their hearts become hardened. We see that rampant throughout the church today. That doesn‟t mean their hearts are hardened unto eternal damnation, but they‟re unable to move forward in the Lord. Their hearts have become accustomed to the invitation of the Lord and they‟ve said no time and time again and now the invitation of the Lord looks foolish to them.
Verses 25-27 are staggering in their implications and importance. What is happening is that Jesus is defining the highest place of the new privilege that is available under the New Covenant. In verse 11, we saw that He said those in the New Covenant will have more privilege than the greatest in the Old Covenant. Now in these verses, He‟s outlining those privileges. What is it in the New Covenant that the people have that the people in the Old Covenant did not have access to? He points to it in verse 25—it‟s the realm of divine revelation resonating in the inner man. It‟s the Holy Spirit revealing God in the depths of the inner man—a privilege the Old Covenant prophets did not have.
They could see an open vision, but they did not have the Spirit of God writing it on the mind and on the heart which is the core of the New Covenant (Hebrews 10:16). Supernaturally, God illumines the mind and empowers the heart. Hebrews 10:16 tells us that God reveals God to the mind. This verse also says that God empowers us (writes it on the heart) to love God. So it takes God to love God and that‟s the realm to which Jesus is pointing. This is the privilege the Old Covenant prophets did not walk in.
If this privilege began and was available to every believer in the New Covenant beginning in the first century, this treasure chest of the beauty of God is going to be unlocked for the last days‟ church far beyond the first century church. We will not move beyond the boundary lines of the apostles teaching of the first century, but God will bring us to a depth of revelation of the beauty of the Godhead that will fascinate and stun the hearts of those that will come after God.
Jesus says in verse 27, “I am going to reveal to you, the Father.” Now in the eternal city, when the Seraphim and the Cherubim and all the Archangels of God come before God they say things like, “To Him Who was and is and is to come” (Revelation 4:8) and “Holy, Holy, Holy” (Revelation 4:8). When they address Him who sits on the throne, they address Him in very formal and reverent titles. They are never allowed to call Him Father and they don’t have the revelation and the experience of the first Person of the Trinity as their Father. When the angels sin, they are dismissed forever into perdition. There is no forgiveness. The angels serve at a distance in terms of intimacy. They serve in a legal position before the Lord.
Jesus said to believers on the earth, “When you pray, say ‘Our Father who art in Heaven'” (Matthew 6:9). He says the He, the enlightened Son, would unlock our hearts and that we would understand the first person of the Trinity beyond a way that God has not given in any other time in history. Jesus, the enlightened Son, is going to reveal God, the King of the Universe, as our Father by revelation. Jesus promised that He would reveal God to us! It’s worth a violent pursuit of God. If you want it, you can have it and you won’t just know about God, you will know Him in a way the angels don’t know Him—you will call Him, “Father.” Jesus said He would tell us things about Him that the angels can never enter into and He is pointing to the highest privilege available to any of created order. He says in verse 25 that this knowledge is hidden but that He is going to unlock it if we would but come after Him.
That is not all. It’s not only that God the Son is going to reveal the Father, but God the Father is going to reveal the Son. Who knows the bridegroom King like the Father? Who is better qualified than the one who planned the wedding and the one who enthroned Him as King? He says that He Himself will teach us of His Son if we will come after Him. We must understand the hour in which we live and we must come after Him. This is what He is developing in verse 25-27.
As there was judgment on the cities in verses 20-24, so also is there a judicial blindness; a hardness of heart God will cause to come on the people who take this privilege and cast it away with no interest.
Jesus, in verses 25-27, is inviting us to come after God if we want Him and He will grant us the highest privilege, the highest experience we can have in this age or the age to come the vast treasury of the beauty of Jesus; the realm of God revealing God to us.
Now understand that in all this, Jesus is creating a reason why spiritual violence is a reasonable thing to do. If John was violent limited by the Old Covenant privileges, how much more should we be violent in the New Covenant? And even greater, how much more should we be violent at the end of the age?
The wedding song and the funeral dirge have begun in the Spirit. We’re in the generation of Isaiah 4:2, where the Father is going to reveal the beauty of the branch of the Lord. There has never been a greater hour where the getting is available if you want the deep things of God. These things began at the inauguration of the New Covenant. But the final prophetic generation, where the Messiah comes back in the sky in fire and Elijah literally appears and his spirit is upon the forerunners, and all the promises and the commitment to unveil the beauty of Jesus as in verses 25-27, is massive in it’s implications. But God will hide the truth if we don’t want it.
Here is a very important principle (verses 25-27 making the point): God hides this from the “wise” meaning the arrogant and hard-hearted who do not want the things of God. He’s talking about the religious leaders of that generation. The wise He is referring to are the men who have been schooled in the Scriptures for years and years but they think Jesus and John the Baptist are demonized. That is who He is talking to and that is hardness at its highest level.
Here we find that the good news can also be the bad news. The good news is that we are in the last prophetic generation because it’s going to be more severe if we say no to the invitation of God. That is also the bad news.
The good new is that we are in a location that God has sovereignly indicated that He is going to release tremendous activity of the Spirit and we are in trouble if we do not respond. That is also the bad news.
The good news is that as individuals, God has pointed to that great, vast treasure chest and said to us, “You can have it!” But we’re in trouble if it does not interest us. That is also the bad news.
Spiritual knowledge is dangerous because it is powerful. Spiritual knowledge is like taking nitro-glycerin. If you disturb it, it’s trouble. Spiritual knowledge is not like natural knowledge. Spiritual knowledge has life and power and when you interface with it, you’re not left neutral. You are left fascinated or on the road to it, or you’re left hardened. We’re not talking about one hour before the Lord on Monday morning, we’re talking about a lifestyle before the Lord. We are not talking about having a bad month. You cannot interact with the Logos of God and come away neutral, you’re either harder or softer. You are moving in one direction or the other. To pursue spiritual knowledge without a heart posture of devotion ends up hardening the people who pursue it.
To pursue spiritual knowledge as though it were a neutral piece of data without heart devotion will leave you hardened and emboldened in pride against the things of God like the Pharisees. It is dangerous! There are a number of negative things that happen within our spirit. When we handle the Word of God without the desire to move into the heart of God to experience love it actually locks up our hearts. When we pursue a study of the Bible to get information to boast in, to make our ministries more exciting, to get information to win arguments, to put people down, or to satisfy curiosity rather than pursuing it to have our hearts inflamed, we end up hardened after a few years of doing that. Our hearts become calloused, dull, and unresponsive to the Word of God.
This is what Jesus is telling them. “I AM the living Word of God. You don’t want to approach Me as a way to just have a little more exciting ministry. I AM the Logos of God. Come to Me but know that I am the very fountain of burning love and I AM here before you for love as a bridegroom. I am here for voluntary love to get ignited in you. I want you. I want you yoked to Me” (see verses 28-29). “In the dance and in the dirge, I am calling you to Me; to become yoked to Me. I want you married with me in love. I don’t want you just studying the Bible so you can promote your carnal cause using Bible information, even if you call it a ministry.” To study the Scriptures without devotion causes harshness because we get a false sense of possessing the truth. We get a religious arrogancea false boldness to judge other people. We have a sense that we know and we don’t need a mandate from the Lord to confront others.
We confront without prayer and without tears and we tell everyone. We are confronting for show. But when the Word of God has touched us, we confront only by divine permission, we confront only after we have prayed, we confront only in tears, and we confront in silence and secrecy and do not unveil it before others. But we are so used to the Word of God bolstering our carnal confidence that we move in information and miss out on understanding the whole purpose of the Spirit of Truth and Jesus is warning us that we do not want to do this thing lightly.
But when we come before the Lord with a heart of love and we drink at the river called Desire, which is the Lord Himself, the cold heart begins to melt supernaturally. God wants to inflame us. He wants to tenderize our hearts.
The Fantastic but Misunderstood Invitation (Verses 28-30)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
He now calls them to come to Him. What He’s really calling them to come to is the treasure in verse 25-27. It is not just for the prophet alone, but also for people with everyday jobs.
Here are two important principles:
1) No one is outside the call of this invitation. Everybody can have deep things in God if they will come. 2) No one who wants to come is too entrapped in sin to be disqualified. We tend to think we are too trapped and therefore we are disqualified. We may be trapped in pornography or whatever but the Lord says, “You’re the very one I want. You’re not too bad.” Someone else says, “I‟m sixty, seventy, or eighty and I‟ve already lived my life.” NO! It is not too late! You might say, “I’m untrained. I don’t have any skills.” But it’s for babes, you can come! Everyone can come, weak ones with nowhere else to go.
Verse 28 is very similar to Revelation 3:20 where Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock.” The reason I compare these two verses is that there are two applications. When Jesus stands at the door and knocks, He invites the lost to come in the church AND He invites the Church to enter into the deep things of God; to be at the table of intimacy with Him. Revelation 3:20 is talking about intimacy. Now, Revelation 3:20 is really about the Church coming to Jesus in a deep way. But the Lord anoints us to use it to invite the lost. It’s a powerful verse to use for the lost, but He is really talking about the Church.
When He sovereignly knocks on the door of a generation, a city, or an individual‟s heart, it’s good to open the door because He is going to feed you beyond anything you could imagine (Rev. 3:20).
Now verse 28 is similar. He is asking those to come to Him who labor. He is talking to the conference crowd of verse 7. He is talking to those that have been baptized; those that He is trying to woo into spiritual violence. He is not talking to people who are not interested in Him. He is talking to people who are showing up at the meetings but have not understood that it is more than a sensation. He wants a violent response. He looks them right in the eye and says, “Now you come to Me.”
Now we understand the ungodly labor of sin that has no grace in it. We come to the Lord and we have the rest of salvation but He is not really talking about unbelievers being saved right here. It is very appropriate to use this passage for that because the Lord will anoint it. But He is talking to people that have already said, “Yes.” Entering into the labor of coming into the Lord whole-heartedly is what He’s talking about right now. He is calling them into the abandonment of John the Baptist. It is more than the “rest” of forgiveness that He is promising them. He is promising them the “rest” of intimacy. He is promising them the experience of verses 25-27; this entering into the deep things of the knowledge of God where the Father reveals the Son and the Son reveals the Father to the heart.
Jesus uses the same language in John 6:27 where He tells them to labor for the food that endures to eternal life; and that laboring He’s talking about here is that process of spiritual violence and of removing every obstacle. And the same is spoken of in Matthew 7:14 in the Sermon on the Mount. He says it is difficult to enter into this door. There is a labor involved.
Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2 to labor or be diligent to present himself to enter in. The exact language is used in Hebrews 4:11 where the writer tells Christians to labor to enter rest. He is saying, “Go on that journey. Labor to put your flesh down. Labor to enter into the realm of God called inward rest.” It is talking about entering into a life with an overflowing heart (Hebrews chapter 3 and 4). He is talking about rest to born again people who still need rest in the deeper things of God. Paul the Apostle talks about this in Philippians 3:14 where he presses into the prize of the upward call. He says in Ephesians 3:9 that the free gift has already been given to him, so now he presses and lays everything aside; the things that are permissible and the things that are lawful to him; he leaves them all aside to press for the one thing: the prize of the upward call in Jesus because he wanted to lay into the highest things for which God laid hold of him. It is a magnificent passage describing the invitation we are looking at in verse 28.
God calls us to labor and when we begin the journey into spiritual violence, the first thing that we initially experience is pain. We get that vision and we are going all the way for God’s best and the first thing we usually experience is this realm of unfulfilled desire and perplexity and our heart hurts more than before we had the vision to go all the way. Jesus knew what He was talking about. There is a labor. There is a place of being heavy laden. It is getting the vision to get God’s highest and yet running into all these
inward obstacles. It is painful and perplexing, but He says, “Come and keep coming to Me. I promise you, pay the price and you will enter in. Follow the example of an Old Covenant man who did not even have the same privileges you have; namely John the Baptist. Come to Me. It’s a prophetic hour and you will enter into a dynamic of rest.” That rest is abandonment. It is freedom.
Why is it so painful in the front end of this journey? When we come, the first thing we enter into is the burden or the heaviness of not attaining and the unfulfilled desire of an awakened heart. Do you know what an awakened heart feels like when it is unfulfilled in desire? It feels far better to be unawakened. To be dull and to go without is one thing, but to be awakened and to go without is like raw nerves. There is that dimension.
Now we have this paradox Jesus introduces in verses 29-30. It’s the labor/easy paradox. In Matthew 7:14, He said that it is difficult and here He says it is easy. Well is it difficult or easy? Jesus is not confused. He says it is difficult to enter the narrow way and the deep things of life but it’s easy. Well, which is it? It is difficult on the flesh but our spirit soars and is invigorated on the inside. When we press through and when we seek the Lord and remove all these props and painkillers that we dull our life with, things are better spiritually. This pain was intended by God to be there to drive us into abandonment and we just dull it and kill it with sinful painkillers and with legitimate, permissible painkillers. When our spirit is awakened and we recognize the raw emptiness in our spirit, instead of pressing in we just go to a movie and silence it. We take a painkiller. We just eat something, get on the phone and talk to somebody, or get busy when that raw pain was supposed to make us confront something in ourselves that says, “I can’t live this way anymore.” It causes a revolution if we’ll face it, but in the 21st century we have so many painkillers that we do not ever let that thing touch us, we just feed it. We take the pain away and it just dulls our spiritual appetite. The Lords says, “It’s hard. There is a labor in the flesh. But I tell you in a little time the dance will get stronger than the dirge. Press in and don’t give up. I will reveal My Father to You and He will reveal Me to you. This is a prophetic generation, press in! Take my yoke upon you. Enter into the dirge and the dance, the yoke of a whole heart.”
It’s hard on the flesh. The fasted lifestyle makes the flesh weak, but it makes the spirit soar. But it is a strange thing because the paradox of the dance and the dirge and of the labor and the ease is both/and. There is pain on the front end, but there are those moments of soaring that grow with frequency and intensity. It’s called “the romance of the gospel” or the “superior pleasures.” It is the ease where the heart is released in lovesickness where inside your saying, “Oh God, don’t take the fasting anointing off of me. I want this. I’m flowing in an inner river.” It is where the whole paradigm of pressing in changes from being costly to something you cannot live without—that abandonment to the Lord.
Now here is the problem. People have done the math wrong. People would rather have it easy on the flesh and hard on the spirit. Not really, but they just haven’t thought it all the way through. They say, “I will let my flesh soar and let my spirit be weak. I’ll make it hard on the spirit and easy on the flesh.” But NO! There is a price to discipleship. They say, “Count the cost to discipleship” but we need to count the cost of non-discipleship because it is far more taxing than the price of discipleship. Having a quenched, dead, human spirit with our body alive with desire is a devilish, depressing, prison to live in. To have our body alive and our spirit dead and weak, do you think that is freedom and the easy way to live? The Lord says, “I tell you, there is an easier way. Yes it’s hard at first because there is a labor to put the flesh down. But when your spirit begins to soar, the difficulty begins to take a second place and the labor is not that important anymore.” In 21st century, Western Christianity, we are so afraid of missing out on a legitimate physical comfort that we have forgotten that we are missing out on a soaring spirit. Even a little bit of a soaring spirit begins to convince us why we would rather have a fully invigorated body and dead spirit when we could have a soaring spirit and our bodies a little weak. That is what Jesus is calling them to. Burnout, which is so prevalent, is so costly. What it costs us in our relationships, in our family lives, in our ministries, and in our life with God to live with dead hearts and alive bodies is an absolutely terrifying thing if we really could measure the price of this.
He says, “Come to Me. Remove the props and come to Me My way.” It is time for us to come. We do not need to be afraid of this. We don’t need to so quickly settle for soaring in our flesh and being dead to our spirits. We say, “But I‟m not dead in my spirit. I pray for a few people and they get healed. I lay hands on a few and they fall down, I even get Words here and there and I lead a small Bible study and it’s pretty good.” No, no, no, I’m not talking about that. I am talking about verse 27: the Son of God willing to reveal the Father to your spirit. It is a gold mine! It is more precious and valuable than real gold. When God reveals God to the human spirit and we put our cold hearts before the bonfire of the Lord in a spiritually violent way, we deal with the props and remove the hindrances. We put our cold hearts with a resiliency in front of the fire and then we ignite and begin to live!
Spiritual Violence = The Fasted Lifestyle
What was the wisdom about John the Baptist that Jesus said would be validated at the end of the age? Spiritual violence is only sought in the context to fasting. Fasting is not just food because it comes in all dimensions. There is a spiritual dullness that is only confronted in the violence of a fasted lifestyle.
The fasted lifestyle means something different to every person in every season. We must be skillful in our approach to this. When you let this word sink in you need to know that you‟re confident in your sincerity; that when you stumble you know you‟re not a hypocrite and that God‟s love has not lessened as a result of it. But now we need to be challenged to seek out spiritual violence. It does not happen in a meeting or a day, a week, or a month. John the Baptist could not produce it with the anointing of Elijah that was on him in that generation.
By the end of the age, the book of Revelation and other places show us that God is going to have a spiritually violent bride mature in love.
Fasting increases the amount of revelation you receive freely. Fasting not only increases the amount of revelation, it speeds up and causes the impact to touch your heart in an accelerated, catalytic way. The impact is deeper, it comes faster, and is in greater amount. The Lord is calling His people to fasting that awakens us because many of us have already been awakened in celebration to the wedding song. The wedding song will lead you into fasting. The funeral dirge will lead you into fasting. The celebration of what God has made us to be to Him makes us so overflowing and lovesick that we have to have more-quicker, and more-faster; it‟s that lovesick response to celebration causing you to fast to get more. And the funeral dirge; the real grappling with the consequences of sin in our own hearts and in the world makes us desperate to speed up the process. Both dimensions of the romance of the gospel calls us to fasting. One is a response of overflow, the other is the pain of sacrifice. Both dimensions go the same way.
Do we dance and mourn when the message of God touches our hearts producing radical changes? It may take a while to sort out how to work spiritual violence into our lifestyle but if we ask, God will show us the way.
Summary of Spiritual Violence
Spiritual violence is an interior violence that removes all the internal barriers and resistance to the grace of God. There is the kind of man and woman that gets a vision and then says, “There is no stone I will leave unturned dealing with the resistance in my inner man towards the grace of God.” The Creator used a very appropriate word to describe “disruptive.” The very journey to understand this is disruptive. We have to figure out what it looks like. Then we have to try to pursue it. And finally, we try to attain it. It‟s just disruptive to the norm. It is easier to preach it than to walk in and embrace spiritual violence. It is troubling because you do not want to live without it. But it is troubling to even grapple with it. It messes up all the equations that we have already settled.
Three Main Activities that Summarize the Fasted Lifestyle
This is not a comprehensive look at the fasted lifestyle because it is very hard to define as an across-the-board prescription for everyone. But here are three practical lifestyle activities that summarize it found in Matthew 6 in the sermon on the mount. These are the three things that we do in secret and Jesus tells us to do them continually. I am not offering these concepts as a warning or a rebuke, I am offering them as a glorious lifestyle of the romance of the gospel. I am offering these an on-ramps into the river of pleasure. These are ways the heart is unlocked to experience the river of divine pleasure that David talks about in Psalm 36.
1) Giving money to the poor. This is an issue of investing money in people who do not have money as an expression of a love for God. When we give money under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, our emotional chemistry is disrupted and it changes us. I would love to understand all the emotional processes that God understands that happen when we sow into the lives of others. So many dynamics are loosed on the inside of us when that happens. But God does not share those dynamics with us, He just commands us to give to those in need so that we can discover them for ourselves. We say “no” to Holy Spirit dynamics and lock our hearts when we refuse to give.
2) Prayer. I‟m talking about prayer in the Word; the devotional heart takes the Word and uses it for devotion with the Lord.
These three activities do not require a certain calling (you do not have to be a prophet), you do not have to be educated or have a lot of money, be well known or have special abilities. Almost anyone can do any of these at any time. There may be some exceptions for a season.
Fasting is actually a call to endure physical weakness. Fasting seems like the discomfort of not having food but the hunger part is actually a very small part of it. The real burden of fasting is enduring physical weakness. That is the call to fasting. In fact, every one of these activities are a call to weakness in the natural realm. We invest our time in the invisible God instead of developing our opportunities to increase our sphere. It takes time to pray and when we‟re praying we cannot build our own kingdom. It takes up our time. A prayer life is a voluntary submission to weakness because when you are weak, you cannot be out doing things. Giving is a form of weakness. You are minimizing your economic strength when you give. Fasting is a form of weakness to your body.
The Holy Spirit has set this up in such a way that to move in any of these three activities will cause you to experience a multitude of emotional dynamics. It sets off a domino effect on the inside of us and it unlocks our hearts in strange ways. We do not fully understand it until we do it in secret on a consistent basis. In order for the heart to be unlocked, we have to say “yes” to these three things in secret and consistently. It is a very different dynamic in operation when we do them before men from when we do them in secret. A whole new emotion is stirred up when it‟s in secret because it draws out whole new observations about our own hearts. Jesus, the great Psychologist of the human heart, points to the activity without explanation and says, “fasten your seatbelt and go for it and you will be surprised at what these three things will unlock in you.”
Jesus introduces these three things right in the middle of Matthew chapter 6 and all believers do these things at least in an introductory way. All believers do a little bit of giving, a little bit of praying, and a little bit of fasting. This is the kingdom lifestyle. But the fasted lifestyle—the call to spiritual violence—is doing these things beyond the introductory way. All believers are expected to do this. It is the invitation to spiritual violence. It is going the step beyond the introduction to the fullness.
People, out of human nature, cry out for detail and definition of how you go about living a fasted lifestyle. They want specific definitions. They want measurements. They want a code. I say to them a thousand times, “no.” Why? I can‟t! Because it‟s different for every person in every season. Once we have barely figured out what we are supposed to be doing in this season, God comes along and changes it again because it is time for the next season. But He is inviting us all to do this.
It is presumptuous to define the fasted lifestyle as a code or a formula. Throughout history, there has always existed pressure to create a code or a predictable pattern. People want one. They do not want to be thrown into the mercy of the Holy Spirit for direction. Let me tell you what happens when the details or the code are given: it creates and equips the people of God for judgment. The code creates a standard of religious judgments and equips people to use them. A code sets a whole energy of religious comparison into motion. A code, throughout history, has been disastrous. A code does not work, because the fasted lifestyle is driven by desire from within. It is power is desire. What I encourage people to do is to be willing to put their heart in front of the fire and then follow their desire as far as God will take them. The river called “Desire” is a very mysterious and powerful river. You just bend down and put your hand in it and the power will pull you right into it. If you spend a year or two living a secret lifestyle in these dynamics, you will begin to drink at that river a little bit. A year or two is not that long when you think about a fifty to seventy year life span as an adult. If you follow the desire that is imparted to you by that river, then you will not need a code. People want you to give them a “list” of what not to do regarding entertainment or recreation, but it needs to remain open ended so that the Holy Spirit can lead each person within their own season by His grace. What God calls me to in this season will be different from what He calls me to do in the next season.
Answers are beyond my legal ability to give you. How much money is giving? I know that tithing is the introduction; it is “Giving 101.” But I would never be content with just tithing. Let me challenge you to not become content with that level of grace. It is for beginners. God has more for us than that. Open your pocketbook and say, “Unlock my heart, Oh God. I will carry Your desire.” Just do not become content in “Christianity 101.” You have to give enough to unlock your heart. It is giving that identifies your heart with the heart of God.
How much time should one pray? When is prayer really prayer? Is it a certain amount? I don‟t know, it is different for every person. And if anyone tries to tell you, I can assure you, unless it is a very unusual exception in a personal relationship, it is probably wrong. When is fasting really fasting? It is different for everyone. The Holy Spirit is jealous to reserve the right to tell you these things. Any code equips us for pride that is based in comparison.
The fasted lifestyle is the way to live life with power on the inside. It is not a drudgery, of which I am standing before you warning and rebuking you if you don‟t. I am pointing to a solution to make life spiritually pleasurable from the inside out. I am just echoing what the Creator has already said.
Every power in hell will come against you to try to get you to do these things before men instead of before God with an unlocked heart. This is not about dancing in front of people. This is about the “dance of the Lord” in the private place of the heart. There will be a lot of pain in not doing it in front of people at first. When I first began to say, “yes” to some of these things, it was very painful to not be discovered. I still struggle with it at times. But the dynamics do not work effectively if we do it in the arena of man. This is about unlocking the heart, not about spiritual gymnastics.
Jesus is asking us if we are willing to receive the unusual? It is not the intellectual ability, but the willingness of the heart. At first, that seems a little bit strange. It‟s the call to leave what is considered orthodox. But if you are willing to receive the invitation to spiritual violence, you have to change your lifestyle because it will draw you into that conflict where you cannot be at peace until you line up. You will have to take a stand, because today, just as we read in Jesus‟ generation (verse 25), the Bible-PREACHING (not Bible-believing) people will look at you and say that you are insane because everything you stand for is disruptive. It will cost you in many ways to stand for what God is doing in this final generation. Right now, we are trying to convince ourselves that we are radical while enjoying respectability in all the secular
arenas or even in the church. We try to figure out how we can have the “feeling” of being radical and still be respected in the church world. Jesus‟ answer to that might be, “Well the Bible preaching community called Me demonized and I told you in Matthew 10:25 that they will call you demonized much more because they are not afraid of you. You‟re not emptying hospital and graveyards.”
Here is the typical scenario: Whenever I see someone more radical than myself I analyze the situation like this:
I say to myself, “Wait a minute. If they‟re doing it, then theoretically I can do it too.”
“If I do it, then I have to change things.”
“If I change things, then I‟ll have to make sacrifices and people will get mad.”
So my conclusion is, “You know what? They must be wrong. They are wrong. I always knew they were wrong.”
Now I find Bible verses to dismiss them as being wrong. It started slow, but eventually they called Jesus demonized. It didn‟t begin this way, it was a process. You have a problem when you see someone else living radically for God. You then wrestle with what they are doing and ask yourself, “How come I‟m not doing it?” Then the disruption starts and we have so many ways to respond to it. When Christians are not willing to do it, they find Bible verses to support the fact that it‟s a demonized thing. Willing Christians follow it in different degrees, but it is disruptive not only to them but to the people around them. Being radical and living a fasted lifestyle is a issue of willingness. Jesus asks if we want to be radical in Matthew 11:12. Then he asks in verse 14 if we are willing to believe the things that set the heart on fire? Because if we do believe them, we have to make changes and bear the stigma. Are we willing to believe things that will set us on fire?