Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Which Foods Are "OK" to Eat?

There was an ancient religious belief that what goes into a person defiles him spiritually. Likewise in our modern, scientific world, we’ve come to believe that the germs or foods that go into us make us sick. The idea is that sickness comes from the outside and goes into the body. But here is what Jesus taught.

After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, "Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. ["If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."] When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He *said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 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. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. "All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." (Mar 7:14-23)

The Pharisees and all the Jews did not eat unless first they carefully washed their hands. This was one of the traditions of the elders that they observed. But in doing so, they invalidated the Word of God. Nothing outside a man can defile him if it goes into him. This includes germs and foods. Jesus declared all foods clean. So what defiles a man?

You've heard the saying, "You are what you eat"?  Fitness and nutrition expert, Jack LaLanne, used to say, "The food you eat today is walking and talking tomorrow."  It's true that what you eat is used by your body to build cells, so that food you put into your mouth becomes part of your body.  But Jesus said it’s what proceeds out of the man that defiles him. It’s about the heart. This includes things like evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. So perhaps we should coin a new phrase, "You are what comes out of your mouth." 

Whether we wash our hands before we eat is not the primary concern. Instead our concern should be bringing glory to God. This is why Paul taught, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Co 10:31). If you are doing everything for God’s glory, including your eating and drinking, then you will be aware that while all things are lawful, not all things are beneficial or profitable (1 Co 6:12).  That means that even though you are permitted to eat any food, not all foods are good for you to eat.

For example, as the first century Jerusalem Council decreed, you should "abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood." (Ac 15:20). That means you will do well to avoid eating meat that is either sacrificed to idols, or comes from strangled animals, or has the blood still in it. In fact, you should not eat any blood, even if it is no longer in the meat, as in the case of blood sausage and blood pudding. Likewise, there are other things that you may choose not to eat, because they are unhealthy for you, even though you are permitted to eat them. If you live this way, you will be careful about what you eat, but you won’t need to be focused on what goes into your mouth.  Instead you will be Christ-centered.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. 

Author's note: This post is part of a series.  If you enjoyed it, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. You may also access my blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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