Although hardly the primary topic, the Bible has a surprising amount to say about food. Because our bodies are representative of something very important, what we put inside of them on a daily basis can have a great impact on our health and in a symbolic way, on our souls as well.
Many churches have a “health message” they preach alongside of their “spiritual message”, and usually offer some good general health tips but have no spiritual value. The truth is, you cannot separate a “spiritual” message from a “health” message, because Jesus Himself made no separation:
Luke 9:2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
Now while God healed them miraculously and told us to do the same (a future lesson will talk about that in detail), He also told them afterward to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (John 5:14). Sickness is the result of sin (Matthew 9:2-6). The laws that govern physical health are no more flexible than the laws that govern your spiritual health. If you step off a cliff, you’ll hit the ground – hard. If you drink pesticide, you’ll die. If you eat rat poison, you’ll die. These acts are all sins against your body.
Whether you are aware of them or not, sins carry the same price! It doesn’t matter how nice a person you are or how many good deeds you do, the law doesn’t care. Gravity doesn’t care why you jumped... only how far you fell. Whether the pesticide is hidden in your pumpkin pie or someone squirts it in your mouth while you’re asleep, you still pay the full price for that sin, even though it is a sin of ignorance!
So it is in your best interest to get rid of these sins, to learn how your body works and what God commands you to put in it – and what He commanded you NOT to put in it. Live within the laws and you can’t be unhealthy. So ask the Bible about...
LESSON 18: THE LAWS OF HEALTH
The crowning principle of everything you’ll read here all boils down to these verses:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, WHICH TEMPLE YE ARE.
You are the temple of God, if you have the spirit of God in you. God is LIVING in you. And God is very fussy about His temple. When the sons of Aaron brought “strange incense” into the temple, God killed them on the spot (Leviticus 10:1-2). But today the temple isn’t a physical building. God has moved – YOU are now His temple and He holds you, His spiritual temple, to the same standards of cleanliness He required for His physical temple!
You are to be holy. If you defile your physical temple by putting unclean things into it, God will destroy you. It’s that simple. Now there are many ways you can do this; of course, you can visit a whorehouse. That will defile your temple (1 Corinthians 6:15-18). But eating things that God has forbidden you from eating will also defile your temple just as much and force God to destroy you. So it’s time you learned how to keep your temple clean.
MAN’S ORIGINAL DIET
When God made man in the Garden, what did He intend for man to eat? Genesis 1:29. What did He intend for the animals to eat? Genesis 1:30. So no animal flesh of any kind was originally intended to be consumed by man or animals? (Same verse). Will God restore this condition in the world to come? Isaiah 65:25.
In the Garden of Eden, no animals were eaten. Only “every green herb”, which includes fruits and nuts and tubers and so on as well. Simply looking at your own teeth shows they more closely resemble the teeth of a cow than the teeth of a cat. You are designed to cut “green herbs” and chew them, rather than for tearing flesh from a dead animal.
Sadly, many vegetarians read only those verses and ignore the rest of the Bible. As if Genesis 1:30 is the only thing God ever said about food – which of course it isn’t. Is vegetarianism taught in the Bible? Let’s see.
What did God send to Elijah to eat? 1 Kings 17:2-6. Did God command animals to be killed and eaten for sacrifices? (Read any verse in Leviticus). Did Jesus eat the Passover lamb His disciples killed? Mark 14:12. What did Jesus feed the 5,000 men? Mark 6:41-44. What did the resurrected Jesus eat? Luke 24:42.
There are literally hundreds of examples of righteous people, including Jesus Himself, eating meat in the Bible. Even after His resurrection, when He was born again and unable to sin, He still ate fish. Therefore, eating meat is not a sin. However, neither was it God’s original intention in the Garden of Eden. So why did that change? Romans 5:12.
Now while that verse specifically says human death happened because of Adam’s sin, it also says death entered the world at the same time. Thus, animal death began at the same time. Why? And who killed the first animal? Genesis 3:21. Why did God kill the first animal? (Same verse). Had Adam and Eve tried covering their nakedness with something else? Genesis 3:7-11.
To summarize, all animals were “unclean” in the beginning; God had given man all the herbs and fruits to eat, and nothing else. Killing an animal in the Garden before the fall would have been a sin, because God had not given them to man to eat. They were created as friends and helpers for Adam (Genesis 2:18-20), not as food.
But after the first sin, Adam realized he was naked. He had been naked before (in a physical sense), but now his nakedness was embarrassing to him; what does nakedness symbolize in the Bible? Revelation 16:15 (see also 2 Chronicles 28:19, Isaiah 47:3, Lamentations 1:8).
Ephesians 6:13-17 warns Christians of the time spoken of in Revelation and cautions them to put on the armor of God – among other things, to “gird their loins with truth” and to put on the “breastplate of righteousness”. When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost that “breastplate of righteousness”, and the “pants of truth”, since God’s word IS truth.
When you have sinned, you feel ashamed. Watch a small child who has disobeyed his parents, and you’ll see he averts his eyes and tries to hide his shame. As soon as man sinned, he knew he needed a covering for his sin – an atonement (remember Lesson 16!). So man took fig leaves and covered himself. But of course that wasn’t enough – what is required to cover sin? Hebrews 9:22.
Did God know that Adam’s shame and his need for clothes was directly caused by man’s sin? Genesis 3:11. Instead of covering his sin up, what should Adam have done? Proverbs 28:13. If you read Genesis 3:12-13, you’ll see that neither Adam nor Eve considered repenting; they simply passed the blame to someone else, and tried to cover their own sins with fig leaves. What does God say about that? Isaiah 30:1. So by not repenting immediately and by attempting to cover with their own covering (not one that God provided), they added more sin to the first one.
What should they have wanted to be clothed with instead? Isaiah 61:10. Or what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:2-3. But since they didn’t repent, they couldn’t be clothed with that spiritual, New Testament salvation! That is only given to those who are obedient! So what did God clothe them with instead? Genesis 3:21.
Man had to have a covering for his sin – an atonement – or man would have to die. Since man’s heart was not able to receive the blood of Christ because he was unrepentant, God gave him a symbol, a type of that blood – an animal sacrifice. This sacrifice could only cleanse the flesh (Hebrews 9:13), it couldn’t clean the conscience (verse 14), and couldn’t fully take away the sins (Hebrews 10:4), but it would cover enough of their sins to allow them to live a physical life without dying immediately.
As a direct result of man’s sins, God took some of these animals whom He had made as “helpers” for Adam (Genesis 2:18-19) and drafted them as sacrifices. These particular animals were killed to pay for Adam’s sins in his place, just as one day Jesus would die in man’s place, and their skins were used as a physical covering for his nakedness just as their blood was used as a temporary covering for his sins.
To eat meat, some cute animal has to die. And God gave man certain animals to eat to remind us on a daily basis that because of our sins, other creatures die in our place so we may continue living. The aforementioned vegetarians would deny this fact and pretend we’re back in the Garden, in a sinless state, and cover themselves with fig leaves and refuse to accept the sacrifice God gave us.
Temporary vegetarianism for health reasons is not wrong; but doing so for ethical reasons denies the reality of sin and thus the sacrifice of Christ Himself. After the sin of Man, God killed the first animals Himself, giving Man an example to show that He wanted them to kill and eat animals. After that, animals began to kill other animals and the cycle of death we see around us today was begun.
BUT WHICH ANIMALS DID GOD USE?
For this purpose of paying for man’s sins, God only chose certain animals. He had specific reasons for selecting the ones He did, but we won’t go into that here. Genesis 3 does not tell us which were used in the original sacrifice, but it was probably a bull, goat or lamb, or all of the above (based on the statement in Hebrews 9:13).
Most animals remained off-limits for human consumption as they had been in the beginning. Sacrificing certain animals, such as pigs, was considered a tremendous insult to God (Isaiah 65:3-4). God called all these animals which were not permitted as sacrifices “unclean”. And part of the job of the priest was to teach the people the difference between the unclean and clean animals (Ezekiel 44:23).
Most people assume the idea of not eating certain animals and calling them “unclean” originated with Moses, but the Bible flatly contradicts that. Read Genesis 7:2, 8. In the time of Noah, a thousand years before Moses, you can see that God made a clear distinction between “clean” animals (the ones which could be eaten and sacrificed) and “unclean” (those which couldn’t).
You probably heard that two of every animal went on the ark; but the Bible says that isn’t true! Two of each unclean animal went on, but seven pairs of clean animals went on. There is no list given here of which animals were clean and which weren’t, which proves this list was universally known among God’s people before the flood.
The complete list is given later, by Moses – but it’s vital you realize Moses merely wrote down rules about clean/unclean animals which were already well known before the flood, and which righteous men had been following since the Garden of Eden!
Following the flood, Noah made a sacrifice which as always, included only the clean animals God had set aside for this purpose in the Garden (Genesis 8:20). Then in Genesis 9:2-3, God made it clear that animals were now meant to be eaten.
This doesn’t mean this is the first time man was permitted to eat meat, or the first time God told man this, because Abel was already a keeper of sheep a thousand years earlier (Genesis 4:2). It merely means that God was restating it for the newly un-cursed world (Genesis 8:21).
Nothing more is said about clean/unclean animals except passing references about sacrifices until the list of clean and unclean animals is given in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. You should read them through for yourself before continuing here. Basically, four-footed animals like cows, deer, sheep, goats, and so on – anything that has true horns, even vestigial ones – are clean. Any animals that don’t, like horses, camels, pigs, dogs, cats, rabbits, etc., are unclean.
All birds commonly eaten in North America are clean – turkeys, geese, chickens, ducks, as well as most songbirds. Birds of prey and carrion are not (vultures, eagles, hawks, etc.). Most fish are clean, the rule being “anything with fins and scales is clean”. The only fish commonly consumed in the US that are unclean are catfish, swordfish, shark, and a few exotic fish like that – none of those have scales. All other seafood is unclean – lobster, crab, crawfish, shrimp, eel, clams and all other shellfish, etc.
Grasshoppers are clean, as are locusts, but most other bugs, ants, all reptiles, and anything else that creeps, slithers and hops is unclean. Note that even though the KJV says “beetles” are clean, they are not; it is a poor translation, the original possibly refers to a cricket. It’s not a big deal since I doubt you plan to eat any of these creatures anyway.
You can download complete lists of unclean animals with modern names on the internet – for the most part, this is one subject most people agree on, which animals are unclean and which are not. By far the most common unclean meats eaten by most English-speaking nations are pork, catfish, and all non-fish seafoods (shrimp, lobster, oysters, etc.).
It should be noted that if anything, such as clean food, touches an unclean animal carcass, both are unclean (Leviticus 11:31, 36). So just pulling the pepperoni off the pizza isn’t good enough for God.
HOW GOD FEELS ABOUT EATING UNCLEAN MEATS
Sure, God said “don’t eat it”, but how serious was it – was it like jaywalking or talking in the theater? See Isaiah 66:17. Get that – eating pigs, which in God’s eyes is the SAME as eating a mouse carries the DEATH PENALTY when Jesus returns.
What does God think of eating these animals which He did not cleanse? Isaiah 65:3-4. And how should we feel about eating them? Leviticus 11:10-12, 20, 23. Notice the word “abomination”; that is the exact same word God uses to describe how He feels about cross-dressing (Deuteronomy 22:5), or consulting a witch, or sacrificing your son in the fire! (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
That’s how God feels about it. He speaks about it with the same terms He uses for witchcraft, idolatry, and human sacrifice! God gave us certain animals to kill and eat, and we have a God-given right to kill them and eat them, spilling their blood on the ground to pay for our sins.
We have no such right to kill a pig, or a lobster, or a crab to pay for our sins. Doing so is rather like using Arab money in modern-day Israel; it is deeply offensive to use such incorrect currency. But not only is it offensive to God, but that blood is not ours to spill for our sins. Killing an unclean animal to pay for your sins is not jaywalking. It is pretty close to murder. God takes it very seriously.
Eating unclean animals makes you unclean in God’s sight. And God strictly commands you not to allow yourself to become unclean; read Leviticus 11:43-47 for a quick summary of the command of God.
SO DOES THIS APPLY TO US TODAY?
Most Protestant Christians dismiss all Old Testament rules as “done away in Christ”. But that logic cannot apply here; first, unclean meats did not come into existence with Moses. We have unarguable evidence that they were around at least as early as the time of Noah – therefore, what didn’t come into being with Moses’ covenant can’t be done away with Moses’ covenant.
Second, let us suppose for a moment the sacrifice of Christ replaced the need for the clean/unclean animals. Following that logic, all animals would be unclean! Remember, in the Garden of Eden, no animals could be eaten! Specific animals were cleansed, not made UNCLEAN!
So if Christ’s sacrifice replaced the need for clean animals, all animals would once more be unfit for food – as they will be again when the Earth is truly restored to its condition before the fall! (Isaiah 11:6-9). So Jesus’ sacrifice cannot have done away with the unclean animals. It could only have done away with the clean animals, which no one claims that it did.
Third, remember the rule; if God wanted something changed, God told us clearly and concisely, not cloaked in symbolism. He wouldn’t make a clear command “thou shalt not eat pork”, then later make a symbolic statement which leaves us wondering, “So can we eat pork or not?”
That said, there are a few apparent objections found in the New Testament; all of which are solved as always by simply reading the context.
“RISE PETER, KILL AND EAT.”
Start reading in Acts 10:1-8. The background here is that Gentiles had not yet been allowed into the church without converting to Judaism, which involved circumcision and other Jewish trappings not a part of Christianity. But God had made promises to open the gospel to the Gentiles (Isaiah 11:10, Jeremiah 16:19-21), and now He was going to fulfill them starting with Cornelius.
So start reading in Acts 10:9-14. Right off, this gives us the simple fact that Peter and the early church strictly kept the laws of unclean meats. Second, notice the context! God sent Cornelius to Peter FIRST – then while the men were on their way, God sent a VISION to Peter. Then sent Peter to Cornelius! The vision happened in the middle of that because the vision was about Cornelius!
Now read the rest of the vision in verses 15-16. The second clear fact is that God cleanses unclean things, He doesn’t make clean things unclean! I say that because there is a tendency to look on the unclean animals as something God “took away from us”, making them off-limits so we can’t eat them – and that isn’t what happened at all.
At the risk of repeating myself, God CLEANSED certain animals; GOD NEVER MADE A SINGLE ANIMAL UNCLEAN! God GAVE US certain animals we could legally eat, and left the others as they were – unfit for sacrifice and unclean for human consumption!
Now what did this vision mean? Verse 17. Peter had no idea! Then verses 18-26 tell of Peter’s trip to Cornelius’ place. Now do we need to guess at what that vision meant, like all of modern Christendom does? Was God telling Peter that all those rules about unclean meats were abolished? Was that what the vision meant? Let Peter tell you! Verses 27-28.
Do you SEE! What was that vision about? What did God show him, when he saw a sheet full of “unclean things” that “God had cleansed”? God showed Peter that he should not call ANY MAN – get that, he should not call any MAN whom God cleansed “common or unclean”! If God had cleansed that man, then even if he was a Gentile, he was no longer unclean! THAT was the moral of the vision Peter had!
The Jews had decided anyone not a Jew was unfit to associate with; it was considered a sin to eat with Gentiles, who were called “unclean” by the self-righteous, holier-than-thou Jews of the day. So God sent this vision to Peter to set that straight! To show that if GOD cleansed a Gentile, then Peter had no right to call him unclean!To show them if GOD could associate with a person, SO COULD THEY!
When Peter recounted the story to the other Christians in chapter 11, how did they interpret it? Did they run right out and start eating pigs? Read Acts 11:18! They, too, concluded this vision was about the GENTILES BEING GIVEN SALVATION, not about making dogs clean to eat!
And yet every modern Christian interprets it the exact opposite of what the context clearly, unarguably says! Based on one symbolic vision with, to them, an uncertain meaning, they are willing to dismiss the clear command of God to satisfy their lust for unclean foods! Are you?
“WHAT YOU EAT DOESN’T DEFILE YOU”
This is based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:11, 17-18. Guess what I’m going to tell you to do now? That’s right – read the context. You’ve had enough practice now you should be able to explain this without my help, so go ahead – put the lesson down, read the chapter, think about it, see what YOU think Jesus meant, then continue reading here.
Is unclean animal flesh of any kind the subject here? Think about this! Jesus was speaking to Jews, ultra-strict Jews at that. They would NEVER have eaten anything that had been within a MILE of an unclean animal! Would He really have been talking to them about unclean animals??
No, the subject was given very clearly in verses 1-2. The Jews washed their hands to the elbow before eating. They – not God, THEY – had deemed that all dirt was “unclean”. Jesus explained to His disciples in verses 16-20 that what mattered was obeying the commandments of God, not obsessing over how clean your hands were!
He concluded by saying, “to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” That’s the subject here! That’s what Jesus was talking about, dirty hands, not pork! The same story is told in Mark 7. The point is that obeying God’s commands is what counts. And one of God’s commands is not to eat unclean animals!
NOT MEAT AND DRINK
The third objection comes from Romans 14. Read the whole chapter to get the context in your head before you start reading. First, let’s ask the simple questions; in ANY of that, did Paul say “unclean meats have been abolished”? Did he speak of eating pigs, mice, dogs, or any other unclean animal specifically?
What was the subject of the chapter? What is the context? These questions should always be your first thought when you read ANYTHING. Now starting in verses 1-2, Paul speaks of two types of people; those weak in faith, and those who are not. But what are they “weak in the faith” about? What is the SPECIFIC subject Paul speaks of here? Those who eat meat and those who don’t eat meat! Not a question of pig vs. beef, but beef vs. beets!
As with any part of the Bible, if you read only a few verses in this chapter and ignore the rest of the Bible, you will surely misunderstand it. In this case the problem is very pronounced because in Romans 14, we walk into the middle of an argument and Paul doesn’t say – here – what the real origin of the argument is. But he does elsewhere!
To properly understand this chapter, you must first read the other main passage that discusses this same topic, 1 Corinthians 8. Again, read the whole chapter and get the context. Here, Paul starts at the beginning and lays the foundation for the argument in both chapters; verse 1 sets the context very clearly “as touching things offered to idols”, and verse 4 specifies specifically “the eating of those things offered in sacrifice to idols”.
See, in most pagan cultures around the world it is customary to place food in front of an idol before eating any yourself. This “offers” it to that god, and then later it is sold in the markets. Sometimes a piece is also burned or eaten by a priest. Pagans are very superstitious and won’t eat meat that hasn’t been offered, considering it a sin. This is still done today – go to any Thai, Chinese, or Indian restaurant, and in some corner you will find a shrine to a statue with food and water and candles in front of it. All food served there has been offered to an idol.
In 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14, the problem was that new Christians were trying to leave behind their pagan habits and were avoiding eating meats that had been offered to idols. This was a good sentiment – the problem was, it was very difficult to find meat that hadn’t been offered to idols.
So some, the mature ones, realized eating a steak that had been blessed by a shaman, or had chicken bones shaken over it by a witch doctor, or was placed before an idol of Buddha, was not a sin. Because the idol was nothing, and they were not eating it to honor that god, nor partaking in the pagan customs, so it made no difference.
But 1 Corinthians 8:7 brings up a familiar theme – some with a “weak conscience” – a weak faith – are eating this meat as a thing offered to an idol. They were still so fresh from paganism they didn’t feel comfortable skating that close to the edge of it. Now let me make a modern analogy so you can understand this perfectly.
Suppose you had grown up eating hot cross buns on Good Friday. You believed this brought good luck, blessings, commemorated Jesus, and so on. But these buns actually originated in Ishtar-worship and predated Jesus by centuries. And not only were these buns offered to an idol, but they have one scratched on top! And once you learned this, you would surely stop eating them.
However, the bun itself is nothing – it’s just bread and icing. While I would never make one, if I were hungry and one was handy, I would have no problem eating one because it means nothing to me. On the other hand, you might wish to be SURE that you were avoiding your old idolatrous ways and not eat them. This is the exact situation Paul was addressing.
If you, with a weak conscience, eat this bun as a thing offered to an idol, or if it makes you uncomfortable at all, you shouldn’t eat it (Romans 14:23). Because if you think it’s wrong, it is wrong to you. And if it disturbs you that I eat it, I won’t eat it “while the world stands” (1 Corinthians 8:13). Because eating it won’t make me any better, and not eating it doesn’t make me any worse – it is simply a non-issue (1 Corinthians 8:8). But if my eating it hurts your faith, I would be sinning against Christ (verses 9-12).
Do you SEE? This has NOTHING to do with unclean meats! The context is STRICTLY about “meats offered to idols”, and like any writer once having explained the topic, he abbreviates the thought in the rest of the discussion and simply says “meats”.
Now, to prove that Romans 14 is talking about the exact same subject (and thus, qualifies as “context”), compare the following verses: Romans 14:15, 21; 1 Corinthians 8:9-12. Notice particularly how 14:15 and 8:11 have the identical quote “for whom Christ died”.
The only difference is, while Corinthians was primarily about the eating itself, with the Romans the problem was more about the bickering of the church members about it. Some were mature in the faith and KNEW it didn’t matter – and they were criticizing those who were weak and didn’t eat them. It was this criticism or “judging” that was condemned here.
Do you see how much you miss when you don’t read the context? To just seize Romans 14:14 and use it as proof that unclean meats are abolished is unethical when the context is so clearly about meats offered to idols.
Throughout Romans 14, the context is never unclean meats, but rather whether clean meats offered to idols become unclean! And Paul’s conclusion in verse 14 is that nothing God permits you to eat can be made unclean by being offered to an idol unless you believe it does.
So does verse 17 nullify all the other words spoken about food in the Bible? Or does it say that eating meats offered to idols or not eating them doesn’t matter – what matters is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the holy spirit? Compare it to 1 Corinthians 8:8 before you answer!
And now conclude with Romans 14:20-21. Does the statement “all things indeed are pure”, mean that we can now eat foods God has forbidden? Does it mean we can drink blood, eat human flesh or fried feces? I’m serious! If ALL THINGS ARE PURE, then so are those things!
And if all things are NOT pure, then Paul meant only SOME things are pure; only things GOD PERMITS MAN TO DO ARE PURE! And if using that “liberty” to eat meats offered to idols offends your brother, it’s better not to do even those “pure” things than make your brother compromise his conscience!
TWO MORE OBJECTIONS
Another verse that seems strange is in Genesis 9:3. This appears to contradict the rest of the Bible by allowing ALL animals to be used for food. On the one hand, this verse isn’t relevant because after Noah came Moses, and after Moses came Jesus and the Apostles, all of whom kept the clean/unclean meat laws.
However, if God had special rules for Noah and different ones for us today, that would be very strange indeed (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). If ALL animals are given to us for food, then we should eat skunks, rats and cats. But did God really mean ALL?
It says God gave us “all” animals to eat, just as He gave us “all” plants to eat. So how did He give us “all” plants to eat? Back in Eden, He told man, “every green herb have I given you for food”. Yet in spite of that blanket statement, He elsewhere excepted the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! And He expected us to know that when He said “all plants”, the ones He had already forbidden were excepted!
Likewise, God had told Noah only two chapters before, to make a DIFFERENCE between the clean and unclean animals. Noah KNEW God’s laws about which animals were for food and which weren’t. So when God said “ALL animals... just as I gave you ALL plants”, He knew Noah understood this did NOT include the animals God had already forbidden us to eat!
Any other answer is wishful thinking from people who resent God meddling with their eating habits. This verse cannot contradict every clear prohibition against eating unclean foods, nor can it change the plain fact that God gave us certain animals for sacrifices for our sins – and eating any other animal is an abomination.
The other objection is similar; this time in the New Testament, in 1 Timothy 4:4. If you pull this verse out of context and scream it really loudly from the pulpit, it does indeed sound convincing. However, if you read the context, it proves the exact opposite conclusion! So read from verse 1 to verse 5 (verse 1-5).
Paul was arguing a certain false doctrine here, specifically people who commanded other people to “abstain from meats”. Now considering what you just read in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, this almost certainly means “meats offered to idols”, not meat in general.
Now read what Paul said about these meats in verse 3. He said it was WRONG to refuse to eat any meats “which God hath created to be received...”! Not wrong to refuse ANY meat, just wrong to refuse those meats which God created to be received! Did God create pigs to be received? Did He create skunks as food for man?
Now down in verse 5, it says these creatures which we are not to refuse were “sanctified by the word of God”! “Sanctified” simply means “set aside”; were pigs ever “sanctified” for our use? Does the word of God ever set them aside and give them to mankind as food?
So which of these “creatures of God”, does the “word of God” say are “sanctified” for our use? The CLEAN animals! Which foods did God “create”, or “cleanse” for our food? The ones listed in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14!
It is WRONG to refuse to eat clean animals for ethical reasons! It is WRONG to refuse to eat a cute cow because you can’t bear the thought of something dying so that you can live! Because if you cannot accept the sacrifice of a mere animal to pay for your sins, how can you accept the sacrifice of the most righteous man ever to live to pay for your sins?
There are a few other Biblical dietary restrictions still binding on us today; one is found in Genesis 9:4; notice this command was made long before Moses; it was however a part of the Mosaic covenant: Leviticus 7:26-27. See how seriously God takes this! Exile from Israel was the punishment for drinking any sort of blood!
Like everything else that didn’t come into existence with the Mosaic covenant, this continued to be observed after the death of Jesus: Acts 15:20, 29. Why is it so important to God? Leviticus 17:11-14. The reason we are not permitted to eat blood is simple; God cleansed animals so their blood could be a substitute for ours.
The life is in the blood; so when God takes their life as payment for ours, He takes it in the form of their blood. Once the blood is gone, the life is gone, and the payment is made. What is left behind – the flesh – is legal for us to eat.
But in order for their blood to be used as payment for our lives, it must be poured out on the ground and covered with dust, so their “life” can be buried as we would be without their sacrifice. But if we eat the blood instead, then we are eating the payment for our own life.
Imagine that you were on your way to pay a ransom on your own life, but on the way you get sidetracked and spend the ransom – then there is nothing left to buy your life back with, so you die. Eating the blood that is supposed to be spent on our own ransom leaves us naked before God with nothing to pay for our sins but our own blood.
The other one is fat. This isn’t much of a problem for most westerners, since it doesn’t make up much of our diet. See the command in Leviticus 7:22-25. Like all of God’s commands, this is serious. However, it refers only to a specific type of fat. See Leviticus 3:14-16. In every single command where we are told not to eat the fat, it refers strictly to the fat from the chest cavity, not the intramuscular fat that is found in hamburgers and steaks.
So unless you eat fat that comes from the chest cavity, called “visceral fat”, this probably doesn’t apply to you. Notice also that kidneys are reserved for God as well, so we do not eat them either. This also isn’t much of a problem since most people don’t eat kidneys.
Finally, God never says anything regarding the fat or kidneys of fowl or fish being off-limits; thus, chicken fat, even visceral, is clean; as are fish kidneys. It is only on the four-footed animals that God places this restriction.
So why did God do this? The short answer is that it is a sort of tithe; the fat is the best portion of the animal, the portion with the most energy piled into one place, so it is set apart for God. To see proof of that, and the longer answer, request the free article “Why Is The Fat Reserved For God?”, and while you’re at it, request “Why Is The Blood Reserved For God?” as well.
CONCLUSION ON UNCLEAN MEATS
This will be inconvenient to most people. Most of us like at least one type of unclean meat, be they pork chops, catfish, or shrimp and giving those up might be hard; but it’s a simple thus-saith-the-Lord. You either do what God said, or you don’t – it’s your choice. Be a Christian or don’t, but don’t rewrite the Bible so you can have your sin and be a Christian too – more than enough people have done that already.
Once you make the commitment to get rid of all unclean meats, contact us for a list of places you wouldn’t have thought to look for them, like marshmallows, sour cream, and jell-o (often have pork gelatin) and refried beans and Mexican food (often have lard) and Dr. Pepper and Snapple (many flavors are dyed red with beetle juice – literally). As with all the other lessons, this is about getting you out from under a curse you didn’t know you were under.
Even though you don’t know about them, these things are still bringing a curse on you and keeping you apart from God; see Leviticus 5:2-4. Even if you’re ignorant, you’re still unclean; and as soon as you know, you become guilty and need to do something about it right away so you can be forgiven and cleansed.
Read Luke 12:47-48. Ignorance is some excuse, but not a complete excuse. Sin still brings a penalty, regardless of why you sinned. Someday, somehow, someone will have to pay for it – and you are far better off having a cow, a goat, or (better yet) Jesus pay the price, than to pay it yourself. The only way to achieve that is to repent of your sins and keep the commandments of God.
There are many ridiculous ideas in the world today, born out of preconceived notions and superstitious beliefs, but what is taught about wine is among the most absurd. Basically, many denominations teach it is a sin to drink wine – citing the Bible as their source.
Now I could quote a few dozen scriptures that show examples of righteous people drinking wine. But they’ll say the original Greek/Hebrew word can mean either wine or grape juice. They teach that when it is referred to in a positive light, it is grape juice; when in a negative light, it is wine. This is not merely unethical reasoning, it’s nonsensical.
What does Paul tell Timothy to drink? 1 Timothy 5:23. Grape juice is tasty, but has no particular stomach-settling qualities. Wine does. What is one of the great blessing God promises? Joel 3:18, Amos 9:13. And what will people do when they inherit those blessings, with God’s approval? Verse 14. When God prepares a feast, what does He promise to provide? Isaiah 25:6.
But they would respond that all those things could be grape juice. Surely that stretches plausibility, but nonetheless there is absolute proof it is fermented wine, not grape juice. Grape juice doesn’t make you happy. Not any more than pineapple juice or apple juice or ice cream. The fermentation of wine gives it the power to make people happy, something no unfermented drink can do.
What does wine do? Ecclesiastes 10:19. How does Solomon say to drink your wine? Ecclesiastes 9:7. What does God command to give to the dying and to the sad? Proverbs 31:6. Does grape juice even cheer GOD? Judges 9:13. Grape juice can’t cheer up the heavy heart, or take away the pain of the dying! Only wine can do that, and God specifically recommends that treatment! In fact, God says He uses it HIMSELF!
For one final example, read John 2:1-10. Jesus did not turn water into grape juice, as the context clearly shows. First, weddings, then as now, always have alcohol at them. It’s part of feasting. Second, verse 10 clearly says that the new wine is brought out after “men have well drunk”. Because after they have been drinking for awhile, they are usually too tipsy to know the difference!
Second, even if the new wine here were grape juice, which it certainly isn’t, here we have a reference to “old wine”. Supposing that to mean “old grape juice”, then it still means it’s wine! Because old grape juice automatically turns into wine without refrigeration! You cannot preserve grape juice long enough for it to become “old” without it turning into wine! It simply isn’t possible!
Jesus Himself drank wine. See Matthew 11:18-19. The point of the statement is that John drank no wine, so they called him possessed; Jesus came drinking moderate amounts of wine, and they called Him a drunk. If He never drank wine, like John the Baptist, they’d not have called Him a drunk.
Drinking wine is permitted, indeed encouraged in the Bible. Being an habitual drunk is not (1 Corinthians 5:11). Drinking and becoming violent is not (Romans 13:13). Overdoing wine to excess is not (Ephesians 5:18). Drunks will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21).
Drinking in the temple – i.e., ministers giving sermons drunk – is wrong (Leviticus 10:9). But at the same time, Timothy was a minister and Paul clearly told him to drink wine (1 Timothy 5:23). On the other hand, they shouldn’t be hooked on liquor either (Titus 1:7). The key is, they must not be in the habit of drinking a LOT of wine (1 Timothy 3:8).
Wine can make you do stupid things. There are many verses in Proverbs which I won’t quote here – a simple search for “wine” will show them. Although actually, wine doesn’t “make” you do anything, it simply lowers your barriers and lets you do what you already wanted to do in the first place.
Angry or violent drunks simply have many unresolved issues they should have dealt with when they were sober, and the alcohol gives them the courage to express feelings they didn’t have the guts to express otherwise.
The same goes for habitual drunks – there is nearly always some personal problem they are unwilling to resolve. Alcohol lets them avoid the issue. Regardless of the reason, if you fall into the bottle, you’re covering up for some deeper problem and have lost sight of the way of God. On the other hand, alcohol now and then, or even a moderate amount daily, is not a sin.
There is no statement in the Bible, “thou shalt not smoke”. Nonetheless, it is quite easy to prove that smoking is a sin. Smoking kills. That’s not even up for argument anymore, everyone knows it, and it’s written on every package of cigarettes. It’s less painful, but not really any different, from cutting off a piece of flesh every day. You will eventually lose so much you die.
If you don’t believe smoking is harmful to your health, then read up on it. No thinking person can argue it. On the other hand, if you do acknowledge that it is harmful for your health, then you cannot avoid the conclusion that it is a sin. Here’s why: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. You are the temple of God. Your life is not your own!
Most smokers acknowledge the risks and conclude “well, it’s my life, if I want to throw some of it away it’s my right”. And you are correct – when it was your life that was your right! But when you become a true Christian, you sign your life over to God at baptism (more on that in the next lessons!). And at that point, your life is no longer your own!
God owns your life, not you. It belongs to Him, not you! For you to harm yourself no longer affects only you, it affects GOD, the owner of your body. You are slowly, knowingly killing someone else’s body when you smoke! That makes it premeditated MURDER, not suicide!
When you are a smoker, cigarettes OWN you. You HAVE to have them. They control you, you don’t control them (Romans 6:16). Being a slave to this addiction is in a very literal sense, being a “servant of sin unto death”. And that means you are serving another master (Matthew 6:24), dividing your loyalty between God and cigarettes. And if you obey the addiction, then you lose the battle (2 Peter 2:19).
Your body is God’s temple. There was incense in God’s literal temple that created smoke, but it wasn’t tobacco. Offering any other smoke in the temple carried the death penalty, God considered it “strange fire” or “strange incense (Exodus 30:9). What if He feels the same way about tobacco in His temple?
And finally, one last point; if you smoke around anyone else, or if anyone ever gets into your car, room, or in any other way is exposed to your smoke, then your second-hand smoke contributes to their sickness. You could actually be giving a loved one cancer because of your habit. Surely the royal law “thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself” forbids you from doing that.
Smoking is an addiction; a very hard one to break. But God will help you break it. God will heal you of your addiction! He won’t take cigarettes off the planet. He won’t rip them out of your fingers. He won’t keep you from being tempted. But YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP SMOKING.
You don’t need a patch or a pill, you need to decide you want to stop slowly torturing and murdering God’s body, COMMIT TO QUITTING and then ask God to heal you of your addiction and walk away and never look back. If your faith isn’t strong enough on your own, ask someone who has more (James 5:14-16).
But until you stop smoking, you are living in sin, actively murdering God’s body and defiling the temple of God.
The Bible talks a lot about food and health, but it isn’t primarily concerned with teaching you how to eat. However, by studying the clear statements it does make, you can extrapolate a great deal about true health from the Being who made Man and KNOWS how we work inside – something your doctor doesn’t really know.
What does the Bible say about oil? Is it bad for man? Psalms 104:15. What about bread? Does it cause sickness or cure it? (Same verse). Is salt bad? Luke 14:34. Is wine unhealthy? 1 Timothy 5:23. Is fat good to eat? Genesis 45:18, Ezekiel 34:3. What did God feed Elijah? 1 Kings 17:2-6. Is milk good? Genesis 49:12. What is one of the greatest blessings of God? Numbers 14:8. Is butter bad? Isaiah 7:21-22.
You can’t believe the Bible and also believe salt is to blame for mankind’s illness, for Jesus personally said “salt is good”. All of these things praised in the Bible have been thought to cause illness by doctors, only later to find they didn’t cause them after all. No diet that does not take these scriptures into account is valid. Some can have temporary benefits, but no diet can offer long-term, ultimate health unless it teaches you to eat by “every word of God”.
God said “bread strengthens a man’s heart”, not “bread strengthens a man’s heart unless it has gluten in it – or unless he is a certain blood type, or is on the Atkin’s diet, or...”. He didn’t say those things because those things are not true.
However, when God spoke of bread He didn’t mean white bread that had all the vitamins removed with the bran. He meant whole-wheat bread the way He created it. You can’t apply the statement “bread is good” to the white bread everyone eats today. That bread is most certainly not good.
For that matter, when God said wine was good He didn’t mean wine that came in a plastic bag or a cardboard box is good. He didn’t mean wine that had sulfites added to kill bacteria was good. He meant homemade, un-poisoned wine made from homegrown, organic grapes was good. While the others may not be bad, you can’t blame God if they cause you sickness.
When He said butter was good, he meant raw butter that came from cows or sheep or goats that ate good, healthy grass – not pasteurized butter from frankencows raised in a feed lot who never saw a blade of grass in their life and were so full of hormones they produced ten times the amount of milk a cow should produce.
The “land that flowed with milk and honey”, didn’t flow with pasteurized, homogenized milk. It flowed with pure raw milk from healthy cows. Nor was the honey diluted with sugar water or made by bees who were sick from pollinating pesticide-covered flowers.
When He said salt is good, He didn’t mean Morton brand table salt with aluminum and iodine added to it was good; He meant sea salt – the only salt that existed then. True sea salt contains all trace minerals known to man. Modern salt, even most salts called “sea salt” have had all those minerals extracted and only the sodium chloride is left. God didn’t say “sodium chloride is good”. He said “salt (whole, unrefined, sea salt) is good”.
Oil “makes the face to shine”. Notice He didn’t say “trans-fat infested, partially hydrogenated soybean oil makes the face to shine”. The oil used almost exclusively in those days was olive. This doesn’t mean other natural oils are bad for you, but this is the only one God specifically praised.
Everything traditionally believed about diet today is wrong. Fat, cholesterol, salt, wine, bread, gluten, milk, meat and oil are ALL good for you, if eaten in the amounts and in the form God intended you to eat.
God didn’t intend for you to rip off the bran and outer covering from the rice, wheat, barley, or corn and then eat the pure starch that was left. Those layers are where you find nearly all the vitamins and minerals. Throwing that away is like reading Psalms and the gospels and throwing away the rest of the Bible. Which, not surprisingly, is exactly what most people do.
All the food spoken of in the Bible was organic, because no one had invented Malathion and DDT and Roundup; nor, for that matter, genetically modified corn, soybeans, or fish; and most of it was home-grown (1 Kings 4:25, Zechariah 3:10).
Obviously, we don’t live in that world and cannot fulfill these ideals; we inherited a diseased, depleted Earth, wrecked by hundreds of generations of sins. But any true diet must incorporate these principles God gave us, and the farther you get from these ideals, the more unhealthy you will become.
PERSONAL DIETARY HABITS
Above, I mentioned the word “amounts”, which is important when you try to understand what God said; just because salt is good, doesn’t mean eating a cup at a time is even better. For example, honey is good: Proverbs 24:13. But too much honey is not: Proverbs 25:16, 27. Meat is also good; but when the Bible said that, it didn’t mean several pounds of meat three times a day. See Proverbs 23:1-3. Only kings could afford to eat the amount of meat the average American consumes today. There was no refrigeration then. Meat was reserved for special occasions, large parties, or holidays. As little as 75 years ago in this country even chickens, which are much cheaper and easier to raise than cows, could only be eaten once a week by most of the nation.
So when God said “meat is good”, you have to not only factor in the way the meat was raised, but the amount and frequency that it is eaten. Proverbs 23 says you should “put a knife to your throat” when you eat these rich foods to curb your appetite. Practice portion control, in other words; try eating half of what you ordinarily eat, then force yourself to wait and see if 30 minutes later you really want the other half or not.
And if you do get sick, God’s prescribed cure-all is found in Isaiah 58. Read the whole chapter. The point, in and amongst berating Israel for hypocrisy, is that when you fast – and for the right reasons – “your health shall spring forth speedily”, and God shall “make fat your bones” and you will “be like a watered garden”.
However, for fasting to work properly for health, in between fasts God expects you to be eating properly, following the principles the Bible gives us.
Do the disciples of Jesus fast today? Mark 2:18-20. Did Paul fast? 2 Corinthians 11:27. Why should we fast? Ezra 8:21, 23. If you have sins to repent of, what is the best way of doing it? 1 Samuel 7:6. If you want to seek God, how should you do it? Daniel 9:3-6. If you’re in trouble, what should you do to seek guidance? 2 Chronicles 20:2-4, 12.
Even the most horrible people in history, when they have fasted, have been able to change God’s mind. For example, Ahab is one of God’s least-favorite people in the Bible. He was a murderer, idolater, and did all sorts of evil (1 Kings 21:25-26). Yet when God sent Elijah to inform Ahab of God’s punishment (verses 17-22), Ahab humbled himself, and fasted (verse 27). How did God respond to that? Verses 28-29.
Something similar happened with the evil king Manasseh; his evil acts are documented in 2 Chronicles 33:1-9. God’s punishment is recorded in verses 10-11. Manasseh’s response, and God’s impressive change of heart is found in verses 12-13. (Note: the phrase “humbling himself” always involved fasting in the Bible). Even pagan kingdoms scheduled for immediate destruction by God, when they fasted, attracted God’s favorable attention: Jonah 3:5-10. This is a VERY powerful tool. But why is it so powerful? Why does it work?
Fasting allows you to get closer to God than is ordinarily possible. How? Well, you should remember from Lesson 4 that faith is a result of knowing three facts: that God is, that God rewards the righteous, and that you are righteous (Hebrews 11:6, 1 John 3:19-22).
By now you should have significant experience applying these facts to your life and building your faith. And if so, you will have discovered that being completely pure in conscience is very difficult. A thousand things happen every day that have to be judged in your mind, and keeping yourself beyond the reproach of your own mind takes a lot of effort.
But God judges you, not based on what you were, but on what you are (Ezekiel 33:10-16). In other words, it’s less about what you did than what you’re doing. So to put it simply, fasting is an opportunity to be completely perfect and absolutely beyond reproach of anyone.
How should you fast? Esther 4:16. What time should you start and end your fast? Leviticus 23:32. When should you end it? Judges 20:26. Besides food and drink, what should you deprive yourself of? Daniel 6:18. What else? 1 Corinthians 7:4-5. Should you wear sackcloth and ashes and make a big show of fasting? Matthew 6:16-18. What is the POINT of fasting? Is it just about not eating? Joel 2:12-15.
Fasting is a time to set aside your life; set aside your routine, your entertainment, and do nothing but what is absolutely pure. No food or drink of any kind. No work. No music, TV, or games; just you and God. In a sense, it’s like when your parents told you to “go to your room and think about what you’ve done” – here, you are voluntarily putting aside your activities and thinking about your faults and seeking guidance for the future. On this day you can have perfect faith because, at least for this 24 hour period (or more), you are doing absolutely nothing that can in anyway be reproached.
Why weren’t Israel’s fasts “working”? Isaiah 58:3. Is it possible to fast for the wrong reasons, and accomplish nothing? Verses 4-5. What does God say you should do instead? Verses 6-12. If you fast for some other reason, does it earn you anything with God? Zechariah 7:5-6.
Fasting is not a hunger strike you go on to get God’s attention. Fasting is not a way to show off your righteousness to other people. Nor is fasting a way to force God to take vengeance on your enemies. Fasting is a way to humble yourself and put aside the way of life that separates you and God, at least for one day. God is always on the watch for people who are going out of their way to get their heart right (2 Chronicles 16:9). Fasting is a way to get noticed when His eyes “run to and fro throughout the whole Earth”.
When you need help and nothing you’re doing is working; when you’re lost, physically or spiritually; when you don’t know what to do with your life; fasting is a way to get guidance. When your prayers aren’t being answered, when you are in over your head for whatever reason, fasting is a way to supercharge your prayers.
God gets inundated with requests on an hourly basis. If you’re on His short list, yours will get through; but if you’re not His favorite person right now, fasting is a way to move your prayer up the queue. It’s too easy to just ask God for things. You probably ask God for a dozen things you don’t need for every one that you do. But fasting shows that it’s not only important enough to you to pray about it, it’s important enough to give up your routine and food over it! Fasting is a day to do this: Isaiah 55:7.
If you want to fast, start at sundown; eat no food or drink, do no work, no entertainment, no partying. This is a day to humble yourself, to “think about what you’ve done”. A time for reading and praying and meditating. Settle in your heart before you start how long you will fast; generally, never less than 24 hours, sundown to sundown, is a Biblical fast – up to 40 days and 40 nights (not recommended for the average person!).
If you’ve never fasted before, one day is a good start. You will not die if you miss a meal or two. You might think you’re dying, but you won’t. Do you really think God will let you die of starvation while you’re seeking His guidance? I know many people who have fasted with no food or water for several days straight and only have better health to show for it. Jesus’ disciples fast. Thus, if you don’t, you aren’t His disciple.
Fasting is a powerful tool to perfect your faith and get you through rough spots; it should be handy in the toolbox of every true Christian.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Most people’s God is their belly (Philippians 3:19). So to give up an item of food that they have always loved will not be easy – even if God does say it’s unclean, and call it an abomination. On the other hand, there is a reason your life has been a mess and what you’ve tried before obviously hasn’t worked, or you wouldn’t still be looking for answers. Maybe it’s time to try doing ALL that the Bible said?
You can be a wonderful person, take care of widows and orphans and go to church every week but if you eat pork you are unclean in God’s eyes. You can’t obey God in all points except one and expect that to be good enough for Him (James 2:8-12). To extend the metaphor and paraphrase it a bit, He that said “thou shalt not kill” said also “thou shalt not eat catfish”. Now if you obey the one and disobey the other, what is the point in being a Christian? You’re still guilty of breaking the whole law, because God’s law is a package.
The true Christian lives by EVERY word of God (Luke 4:4). That is the problem with Christians today – they live by 10% of the word of God, or 50%, or even 85%; but that isn’t enough. You can live by 99.99% of the words of God and rebel against that one tiny word – and that tiny little .01% of the word of God will keep you out of the Kingdom of God!
This doesn’t mean you have to be PERFECT, but it DOES mean you have to do your BEST to obey all the words of God. If you knowingly rebel against a single word in the Bible, there can be no sacrifice for that sin (Hebrews 10:26). If you steal a PENNY and then stubbornly refuse to repent God will lock you out of His kingdom!
But if you’re going to do most of what God says, why not go all the way? It’s well worth it, to inherit the blessings God promises in this life and in the next. If you’ve been studying these lessons, you know “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18), and you too will be happy to give up a few things that your belly wants, in order to gain the riches of God.
I mean, think about it; you’re trading the freedom to eat catfish now, the freedom to smoke and be a drunk... the freedom to eat blood sausage and pork chops and shrimp... you’re trading that for the blessings of God now and for eternity. Is that really such a bad trade?
If it is, then maybe your belly really IS your god. And no man can serve two masters.