Abstinence as a discipline
Most Relevant Verses
And the Lord said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, You shall eat no kind of fat, of ox, or sheep, or goat. The fat of the beast that dies of itself and the fat of one that is torn with beasts may be put to any other use, but under no circumstances are you to eat of it.read more.
For whoever eats the fat of the beast from which men offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, that person shall be cut off from his people. Moreover, you shall eat no blood of any kind, whether of bird or of beast, in any of your dwellings. Whoever eats any kind of blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.
You are the sons of the Lord your God; you shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead, For you are a holy people [set apart] to the Lord your God; and the Lord has chosen you to be a peculiar people to Himself, above all the nations on the earth. You shall not eat anything that is abominable [to the Lord and so forbidden by Him].read more.
These are the beasts which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, The hart, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. And every beast that parts the hoof and has it divided into two and brings up and chews the cud among the beasts you may eat. Yet these you shall not eat of those that chew the cud or have the hoof split in two: the camel, the hare, and the coney, because they chew the cud but divide not the hoof; they are unclean for you. And the swine, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud; it is unclean to you. You shall not eat of their flesh or touch their dead bodies. These you may eat of all that are in the waters: whatever has fins and scales you may eat, And whatever has not fins and scales you may not eat; it is unclean for you. Of all clean birds you may eat. But these are the ones which you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the ospray, The buzzard, the kite in its several species, The raven in all its species, The ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any variety, The little owl, the great owl, the horned owl, The pelican, the carrion vulture, the cormorant, The stork, the heron of any variety, the hoopoe, and the bat. And all flying insects are unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. But of all clean winged things you may eat. You shall not eat of anything that dies of itself. You may give it to the stranger or the foreigner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to an alien. [They are not under God's law in this matter] but you are a people holy to the Lord your God. You shall not [even] boil a kid in its mother's milk.
The next day as they were still on their way and were approaching the town, Peter went up to the roof of the house to pray, about the sixth hour (noon). But he became very hungry, and wanted something to eat; and while the meal was being prepared a trance came over him, And he saw the sky opened and something like a great sheet lowered by the four corners, descending to the earth.read more.
It contained all kinds of quadrupeds and wild beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him, saying, Rise up, Peter, kill and eat. But Peter said, No, by no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unhallowed or [ceremonially] unclean.
So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified them [set them apart for God], and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, Be ready by the day after tomorrow; do not go near a woman.
It shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month [nearly October] on the tenth day of the month you shall afflict yourselves [by fasting with penitence and humiliation] and do no work at all, either the native-born or the stranger who dwells temporarily among you. For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord. It is a sabbath of [solemn] rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves [by fasting with penitence and humiliation]; it is a statute forever.
And the Lord said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, When either a man or a woman shall make a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, that is, one separated and consecrated to the Lord, He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar of wine or of strong drink, and shall drink no grape juice, or eat grapes, fresh or dried.read more.
All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing produced from the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.
Wherefore the Israelites shall keep the Sabbath to observe it throughout their generations, a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the Israelites forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased and was refreshed.
And you shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month a holy [summoned] assembly; [it is the great Day of Atonement, a day of humiliation] and you shall humble and abase yourselves; you shall not do any work in it.
Then Ezra came from before the house of God and went into the lodging place of Jehohanan son of Eliashib [for the night]. There he ate no bread and drank no water, for he mourned over the returned exiles' faithlessness [and violation of God's law].
And they said to me, The remnant there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire. When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven,
Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn and keep on coming to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning [until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored].
So the people of Nineveh believed in God and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth [in penitent mourning], from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Now in the church (assembly) at Antioch there were prophets (inspired interpreters of the will and purposes of God) and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger [Black], Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.
Then Jesus was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry.
Then Jesus, full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led in [by] the [Holy] Spirit For (during) forty days in the wilderness (desert), where He was tempted ( tried, tested exceedingly) by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they were completed, He was hungry.
Then the disciples of John came to Jesus, inquiring, Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, [that is, abstain from food and drink as a religious exercise], but Your disciples do not fast? And Jesus replied to them, Can the wedding guests mourn while the bridegroom is still with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were observing a fast; and [some people] came and asked Jesus, Why are John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fasting, but Your disciples are not doing so? Jesus answered them, Can the wedding guests fast (abstain from food and drink) while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and they will fast in that day.
Then they said to Him, The disciples of John practice fasting often and offer up prayers of [special] petition, and so do [the disciples] of the Pharisees also, but Yours eat and drink. And Jesus said to them, Can you make the wedding guests fast as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; and then they will fast in those days.
And there was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having lived with her husband seven years from her maidenhood, And as a widow even for eighty-four years. She did not go out from the temple enclosure, but was worshiping night and day with fasting and prayer.
He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [ cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].
And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [ joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me].
And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [ disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [ cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].
Let us live and conduct ourselves honorably and becomingly as in the [open light of] day, not in reveling (carousing) and drunkenness, not in immorality and debauchery (sensuality and licentiousness), not in quarreling and jealousy.
Therefore it is my opinion that we should not put obstacles in the way of and annoy and disturb those of the Gentiles who turn to God, But we should send word to them in writing to abstain from and avoid anything that has been polluted by being offered to idols, and all sexual impurity, and [eating meat of animals] that have been strangled, and [tasting of] blood.
The right thing is to eat no meat or drink no wine [at all], or [do anything else] if it makes your brother stumble or hurts his conscience or offends or weakens him.
And whenever you are fasting, do not look gloomy and sour and dreary like the hypocrites, for they put on a dismal countenance, that their fasting may be apparent to and seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full already.
Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do] you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor. [The facts are that] you fast only for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Fasting as you do today will not cause your voice to be heard on high. Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord?read more.
[Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house -- "when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood?
[And the Lord replied to Jeremiah] Thus says the Lord to this people [Judah]: In the manner and to the degree already pointed out have they loved to wander; they have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will now [seriously] remember their iniquity and punish them for their sins. The Lord said to me, Do not pray for this people for their good. Though they fast, I will not hear their cry; and though they offer burnt offering and cereal offering [without heartfelt surrender to Me, or by offering it too late], I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.
Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to pray and entreat the favor of the Lord And to speak to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and to the prophets, saying, [Now that I am returned from exile] should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself as I have done these so many years [in Babylon]? Then came the word of the Lord of hosts to me [Zechariah], saying,read more.
Speak to all the people of the land and to the priests, saying, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years you were in exile, was it for Me that you fasted, for Me? And when you ate and when you drank, did you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?
The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men -- "extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers -- "or even like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain.