Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dietary Restrictions In The New Testament?

  • Defining The Issues:
         -Professing Christian groups such as the Seventh-Day Adventists and Hebrew Roots Movement maintain that the New Testament does not abolish the Mosaic distinction of eating clean meats verses eating unclean meats, which are discussed comprehensively in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. What needs to be understood, however, is that these dietary laws were strictly applicable to Israel. These food laws served as a means to make the Jews a different people from neighboring countries.

         Notice especially the language found in Scripture passages discussing Jesus Christ's fulfillment of the Old Covenant such as Romans 10:4, Galatians 3:24-26, Ephesians 2:14-15, and Colossians 2:13-16. He very clearly terminated mandatory observance of Mosaic customs by His crucifixion at Calvary, which therefore eliminates any possibility of us being under compulsion of adhering to dietary regulations. Moreover, the Scripture is abundantly clear that our Lord Jesus Christ declared all foods, including meats, clean:

         "because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man." (Mark 7:19-20)

         The Scripture teaches that no man may deem unclean anything that God has declared to be clean:

         "But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy. This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.” (Acts 10:10-16)

         We have freedom in Christ to eat anything of our choosing:

         "Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him." (Romans 14:1-3)

          "I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died." (Romans 14:14-15)
       
          "Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense." (Romans 14:20)

          "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin." (Romans 14:22-23)

           "But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat." (1 Corinthians 8:8)

           In fact, the New Testament labels doctrines such as mandating that others abstain from eating various meats as being signs of apostasy. Why? Because everything created by God is good and is to be received with thanksgiving:

           "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

           Moreover, those who wish to reinstate customs of the Old Testament are failing to recognize that they are in actuality threatening to undermine the biblical gospel. If we are going to adhere to dietary laws, then why not also revert to performing animal sacrifices, as well? After all, the Law demands perfect obedience (Deuteronomy 27:26; 32:45-47; Galatians 3:10-11), which is why it condemns us. The point being made here is that we are not under law, but under grace. The Mosaic covenant has been done away with by the one perfect sacrifice of Christ. Nowhere do any of the New Testament books warn us against eating certain kinds of food. We should be much more concerned with managing our appetites, for that is an indicator of how well we practice self-control.

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