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Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian: Fasting and Salvation

What would you like to know about the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith? Submit your question.

By Nicholas Damascus

Does the Eastern Orthodox Church believe fasting is required for salvation?

easternorthodoxFalse spiritualism rejects or ignores the body, viewing man solely in terms of his reasoning brain and therefore neglect the positive role played by the body in the Christian spiritual life.  Saint Paul’s affirmation: “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit… glorify God with your body” (Cor 6: 19-20).

Does an athlete need to exercise to become stronger and develop an endurance to “run the good race?”  Much the same way, the spiritual, athletic needs to incorporate spiritual discipline.   Fasting prepares and aids the person to fight the good fight, by strengthening their will through self-denial.

When the body is harnessed by fasting, it brings sobriety, strength, freedom, refinement and purity to the human soul.  Only when our spirit is in such a healthy state can it withstand the unseen enemies.

True fasting is to control the tongue, to abstain from lust, slander, falsehood and perjury, to resist anger.  The fast is not only abstinence from food, but aids in  controlling bodily passions that keep us from loving God and one another.

If you see those who are poor, show them mercy.  If you see an enemy, reconcile with him.  If you see a friend who is receiving accolades, share in his joy and do not envy him!  Should you see a beautiful woman, pass her by.

Let the hands remain clean from stealing and greediness.  Let the legs fast, avoiding roads that lead to sinful engagement, avoid the hearing of evil things or defamations of others.  Strive to change one’s life for the better.  I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved is a process, a journey, and a path of transformation and healing (theosis).

1 Corinthians 9:27 “ But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

Mark 9:29 The Lord said to His Apostles about the evil spirits “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” 

Matthew 17: 21 “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

2 Timothy 4: 7   I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 

In St. Paul’s Second Letter to the 2Thessalonians 2:15   “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by “word” (spoken word) or our “epistle (written word).”


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