Clean or Unclean Foods – Are There Prohibitions on What We Are To Eat?
By Let Us Reason Ministries
The majority of Seventh Day Adventist’s today are vegetarian. Many insist that we are to not eat meat because it was God’s divine plan “From the beginning it was not so” (p.248 The Ministry of Healing E. G. White). Some claim meat eating is against God’s law and not in His plan. The flesh of animals such as chicken and fish leads to all kinds of sickness disease, such as cancer. Eat right and you will avoid sickness. While this may be true to a certain extent, and I commend those who have these convictions I have found them to hold a legalistic view that is not scriptural. Often times they look down on others who do not keep the kosher law. White did have some good practical ideas on ventilation and exercise for one to keep healthy. However she held to some very rigid views that go beyond and even against New Testament liberty.
Diet is not part of the 10 commandments, so 7th Day Adventists are faced with accepting and rejecting the laws that they call ceremonial. They forbid eating all unclean foods as found in the Law of Moses. However the New Testament teaching through the apostles explains that all food is now clean to eat, including pork (1 Tim. 4:1-4; Rom. 14; Acts 10:9-16). While they teach we are no bound by the Mosaic Law they teach people not to eat these foods, which are part of the Mosaic law. Why? They say it is mostly for health reasons. But this fact is secondary to the real reason, the Old Testament law. I don’t think the argument of it being the optimum diet from God is a valid one. One should ask whether meat eating is permissible under the New covenant.
There are major components of the law that separated Israel from the other nations. These were Circumcision, the Sabbath, and the food (or dietary laws as some call it) laws. Paul writes that Christ has removed the separation (the barrier) between Jew and Gentile “by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations “(Eph. 2:14, 15). Even the Adventists agree this would be all the law, excluding the 10 commandments. Which means it would include what is termed the dietary law, which is part of the ceremonial law. Yet they insist that we are to have a vegetarian diet, so now we have only some of the ceremonial laws nailed to the cross. I happen to disagree with this position of only the ceremonial laws being removed, as the entire law is addressed, there is no selectiveness with the law in Paul’s writings. However the real issue needs to be addressed.
The Adventists view is “Satan’s first attack against humanity centered around appetite, and he’s still using the same temptation today” (Can we eat anything? 3ABN by Danny Shelton). This is not entirely true, it was not that Satan wanted to destroy our diet but used the one prohibition that God gave Adam and Eve, it happened to be from a fruit tree. If what He is representing is true then we should not eat the same fruit that was used in their temptation. Shelton promotes that we should be eating only fruit and vegetables like in the garden (except that one fruit).
Another argument is “God’s original diet for mankind was a vegetarian diet-fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables” (ibid p.10). I think their argument is weak and non productive. If we are going to go back to Eden then we should all become farmers and work the land and wear clothes made from animal skins too. The first command after the flood was that man can eat meat. “Every moving thing that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you all things” (Gen.9.3) Why go back to the first humans and not go to the new society started by those who survived the flood. Even in Moses’ time God did not forbid meat eating but allowed Israel to eat meat that was of clean animals. Any arguments relative to eating only fruits and vegetables falls on these biblical points.
Paul opposed certain Jewish believers who wanted the Gentile Christians to live as they do. Observing the laws such as the days (Sabbath) and the Jewish food was strictly matter of personal choice. The Gospels concentrate on what Jesus said and did before his ascension to heaven. He did not address the law among Church but commissioned the apostles to do this. (Acts 1:2) It was Paul who was given the commission to the Gentiles, and he addressed (along with the other apostles in Acts 15) the matter of whether or not Gentile Christians should be subject to the Mosaic laws (see Acts 15:24).
The gospel brought liberty in these areas. We are to make every effort to do what leads to peace among ourselves. We are not to be divisive on any of the foods we eat (or days we worship). All food is now clean, the principle left to us is that it would be wrong to eat or drink anything that causes someone else to stumble (this principle was implied in Acts 15:29 with the Gentiles relationship to the Jews). It is better to abstain from eating meat or drinking wine (their custom), if it will cause your brother or sister to stumble. We are to edify each other and act in love. Adventists often ignore the greater principle by making others conform to what they see as advantageous, and make it a requirement when it is not.
The Adventists position of eating under the laws principles can be traced to their prophetess E.G White. Mrs. White states of food “the gospel includes health reform in all its phases.” (Selected Messages Vol.3 p.75 )
So ones diet according to Ellen White was important enough that they could not stand before God. The very thing that Jesus did for us on the cross which involves the gospel itself, then becomes insufficient in itself!
White even taught that the basis for ones acquittal in the “investigated judgment” is their perfect keeping of the laws requirements. “Those who have received instruction regarding the evils of the use of flesh foods …will not continue to indulge their appetite for food that they know to be unhealthful. God demands that the appetite be cleansed. This is a work that will have to be done before His people can stand before Him a perfected people.”
White went as far as to say, “We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or greater variety of food than for other days.” Her reason “in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. A clogged stomach means a clogged brain” “because the mind is confuse by an improper diet”(she is not specifically talking about overeating, though mentioned – but eating different variety of foods?) (The Ministry of Healing p.244)
There was no flexibility in her teaching “But God NEVER DESIGNED THE SWINE TO BE EATEN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES” The heathen used pork as an article of food, and American people have used pork freely as an important article of diet” ( Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4, p.124 also Selected Messages, bk.2, p. 417).
“The eating of pork has aroused and strengthened a most deadly humor which is in the system….NEVER SHOULD ONE MORSEL OF SWINE’S FLESH BE PLACED UPON YOUR TABLE” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, pp. 94, 96)
Mrs. White believed God was instructing her in matters of diet as she wrote to some friends “when the selfishness of taking the lives of animals to gratify a perverted taste was presented to me by a Catholic woman, kneeling at my feet, I felt ashamed and I distressed-I saw it in a new light, and I said, I will no longer patronize the butchers. I will not have the flesh of corpses on my table.” (Prophetess of Health; Ellen G. White by Ronald L. Numbers, p. 172)
This dietary prohibition extended to other foods and substances “You have used the fat of animals, which God in his word expressly forbids”).”Cheese should never be introduced into the stomach” (Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 2, p. 68). “Eggs should not be placed upon your table. They are an injury to your children” (Testimonies to the Church Vol. 2, p. 400). “We bare positive testimony against tobacco, rich cakes, spirituous liquors, snuff, tea, coffee, flesh meats, butter, spice, mince pies…” (Testimonies to the Church Vol. 3, p. 21). “Children are allowed to eat flesh meats, spices, butter, cheese, pork, rich pastry…These things do their work of deranging the stomach” (ibid. p. 136).
This became her definition of following the law “It is just as much sin to violate the laws of our being as to break one of the Ten Commandments” (Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 2, page 70).”
Does it make sense equating eating a slice of bacon or other meat to be as sinful as murder?
This is ALL contrary to the Bible. Jesus Himself ate fish (Luke 24:41-43). The Bible points out that Jesus ate butter (Isaiah 7:15). In John 21:9-12 we find that Jesus Himself prepared flesh meat and said to His disciples, “Come and eat,” “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover (lamb) with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).
Yet White insisted “If we subsist largely upon the flesh of dead animal, we shall partake of their nature.” (Counsels on diet and foods, p.390)
Well that was then what about now? Today’s view although somewhat softened still arrives at the same conclusions. “Let’s be clear though, the Bible is not saying you can’t eat meat. There are meats God created to be eaten with thanksgiving. However, with all the disease in animals today, many are finding that God’s original diet is the best. For those who are becoming vegetarians, it’s best to make a gradual change. God does, however, have laws regarding some meats which He says we should not eat. Basically it is formed of one group. The “scavengers” of the earth, or you might say, the land and sea creatures that are living “garbage cans.” (Bible Health Principles for an Abundant Life p.6)
Today we have mad cow disease, hoof and mouth disease etc. so there is a lot of validity to stay away from such foods. Yet fruit and vegetables are not exempt having many problems as well. Pesticides are used and they are poisoned from spray and from being grown in contaminated soil. So these kind of arguments are mute when we look at the facts.
Gen 1:29 Man was originally commanded to live upon vegetables only is clear. We do not know if there was any change made in the structure of our bodies after the flood to be suitable for other types of foods. It may have been incorporated when man was first created. We can see from Genesis no animal was originally designed to eat another; nothing is given to any beast of the earth for food besides green herbs of the field. Some say of Gen 9:3 That there is no positive evidence that animal food was ever used before this time. Others state of Gen 9:3 “These words do not affirm that man then first began to eat animal food, but only that God then for the first time authorized, or allowed him to do, what probably he had previously done in opposition to His will” (from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament). Gen.6:12 does mention “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” This probably included their diet as well. The new command In Gen.9 to Noah extended to the animal kinds; with two restrictions- only use “that is alive.” This excluded animals that have died a natural death to be used as food. Also “Flesh with its life, its blood, shall ye not eat.” The animal must be slain and the blood drained.
White stated, “Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables second hand” (P.249 The ministry of Healing) Didn’t God know this when he gave the ok to Noah in Gen.9?
As good intentioned as 7th day Adventists are in this area of diet Rom 14:2 states “For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. “It was a matter of faith and practice as Paul gives the principle that those who have the freedom should not exercise it if it will stumble those who do not have that freedom. But what of those who do not have that freedom by being convinced the bible says we can’t. They then legislate it to others saying they are breaking God’s law? It may not have dawned on some, but a strict vegetable and fruit diet may not be good for some people.
Adventists insist God’s original diet was vegetarian (no argument here), but the question needed to be asked is do we go back to this diet? Is it a command or a preference?
“In the beginning God gave to man the best diet. Genesis 1:29, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” God gave a simple diet of fruits, grains, nuts and later vegetables. After the flood, man began to eat meat. But note these amazing facts. The first eight generations before the flood living on God’s original diet lived a long time. Adam lived 930 years, Seth lived 912 years, Enoch lived 905 years, Canaan lived 910 years, Mahaleel lived 895 years, Jared lived 962 years and Methuselah lived 969 years.”( Bible Health Principles for an Abundant Life)
The real question that needs to be answered is whether they lost their long life from bad diet of eating flesh or from the changing of the worlds conditions after the flood. Biblically we see mans decline in age because of the consequence of sin and Before Noah we find that Lamech lived a few hundred years less than his predecessors (Gen.5:30). The sin factor would take time to decrease mans lifespan. The age of man was already in decline but the flood speeded the process up as the protective layer over the earth let the ultra violet rays and other detrimental conditions in, it decreased the life span. If age was directly reduced to meat, than those cultures who eat the most meat would always be the most diseased and have the smallest life span. But this is simply not true, what is most beneficial is moderation in what we consume.
Adventists teach “As God foresaw the destruction of the earth by water resulting in no plant life after the flood, He made provision for Noah to eat meat. But note, there were clean animals and unclean. Notice this was established long before Moses law and the Jews. You may say, “How do we know the difference between clean and unclean?” Leviticus 11:2-8, (Bible Health Principles for an Abundant Life prophecy seminars)
What did God mean when he said for Noah to have the unclean and clean animals collected into the ark. Gen. 8:20 tells us every clean animal was used for sacrifice, not for eating. This is not in reference to dietary laws as with the nation Israel. So again the Adventists misrepresent the Bibles account. These were separated as unclean for the sacrifices that were to take place from the instruction of God to Adam. The reason is obvious, no one was told to eat meat before the flood. In Gen.9:3 God (specifically commanded) every living thing as food for them the only prohibition, don’t eat it with the blood. “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” This would be all animals not some of them.
Clean animals according to the law of Moses were those that chewed the cud and had divided hooves (Lev 11:3). Some forbidden foods did serve as health precautions. An example is Pork. It must be cooked at high temperatures or the deadly parasites would not be killed. The people at this time never heard of trichinosis, but they were protected from it as they traveled by their food laws. Animal fat was also forbidden as food (Lev 3:16-17). We know fat is essential to good health, but when too much fat is eaten it becomes dangerous causing a buildup of cholesterol. Insects that had legs and leaped, such as the grasshopper, were allowed for food. Certain types of Fish could be eaten (Lev 11:9-12). A total of 20 different species of birds was rejected (11:13-19). The prohibition of “unclean” animals in Deut.14.2 in the Mosaic law were to separate Israel as God’s Covenant people “…Out of all the peoples on the earth…chosen…to be his treasured possession.” It was not that “unclean meats” are bad food, but are unclean to the Jewish people. God is not instructing the Jews to become healthy and the Gentiles to be sick. He gave them numerous instructions that would separate them from the other nations: in the way they dressed and conducted themselves. Israel was kept under the law of Moses until the Messiah would come (Galatians 3-4).
Some people disregard this teaching by the apostle Paul and want them to obey the law of Moses. The 7th day Adventists hold to foods being unclean today. “Many individuals have quoted from Peters vision in Acts 10 in an attempt to prove that it is all right for New Testament Christians to eat the unclean foods. Here is a prime example of how a text can be lifted out of its context and made to teach something that the original writer never had in mind. Let’s notice the vision: Acts 10:9-17, “On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, what God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice; and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.”
“Most interpreters read the vision this far, stop and then devise their interpretation of the vision. But such is only man’s interpretation. How much better to let the Bible explain itself.”
“First of all, notice that this was a vision, and not an actual occurrence. Peter did not literally eat these unclean animals. He merely saw them IN VISION. Second, notice in verse 17 that Peter did NOT understand the vision. He did NOT know what it meant. One thing he DID KNOW, and that was that it DID NOT MEAN that it was all right to eat the unclean foods. In the days when the early church was just beginning, most of the converts to Christianity were from Judaism. At first, there was no thought that the gospel message must also go to people of other nations. The Jews regarded anyone who was not a Jew as ceremonially unclean. They felt that such people had no right to have the gospel brought to them. The early Christians still had these same ideas.” (Bible Health Principles for an Abundant Life p.9)
Now this is a complete contradiction since they claim the ceremonial laws are done away with in Col.2, but they bind them to their own people, just as they do the Sabbath Day. So if these food laws are still in effect then why not all of them? Why not the cleansing laws as well? The answer is simple because they pick and choose indiscriminately what they want to obey. Using no biblical guideline on how to decide (except on the basis of their prophetess’ teachings). When it comes to Col.2:16 they say that’s the ceremonial laws nailed to the cross. Well! What are the diet laws? (kosherut) Not just chopped liver! Either they are done away with it or not!
Yet the Adventists insist “However, God did not want the Christian Church to be restrictive. He did not want them to think that salvation was only for the Jews, that all others were unclean, and therefore could not have the gospel of salvation brought to them. Thus God chose to give Peter this vision to teach people the great lesson that NO PERSON, NEITHER JEW NOR GENTILE, should be considered unclean. Notice how the force of the vision comes to Peter in verse 28: “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call ANY MAN COMMON OR UNCLEAN.”
“Here then was the explanation of the vision. They were not to call ANY MAN COMMON OR UNCLEAN. God wasn’t talking about food at all when He gave the vision to Peter. He was talking about the Jewish practice of calling anyone of another nation unclean. This is the Biblical interpretation of the vision. Any other interpretation stands in direct contradiction to a plainly interpreted passage of Scripture. To attempt to apply this text to the unclean foods is a great misuse of Scripture, and certainly reveals the flimsy evidence that there is for attempting to justify the use of the unclean foods today. (Bible Health Principles for an Abundant Life p.10)
“So you see this vision isn’t talking about food at all, It is talking about people and how God accepts anyone who will turn to him…” (Can we eat anything? 3ABN by Danny Shelton p.17).
What Peter did not understand at first he did later through witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles. They had to learn about the new covenant which affected both foods and people. What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. God was speaking of food and using it as an example of what Peter already was familiar with as unclean to move him to the area of what he did not know yet about the Gentiles. Just because Peter not understanding immediately what was clearly meant does not give credence to canceling what God was saying to him.
The Bible’s Refutation
Now that we have heard what 7th Day Adventism says, let’s go to the Bible and in context with the whole New Testament Scripture see what it actually says.
Some of the apostles were fishermen, Jesus ate what was served to him (this included meat and drinking wine-though it was more diluted than today’s wine). He also served them fish and bread and cooked for them fish after His resurrection. There is not any incident in the New Testament where someone ate what they were not supposed to and got sick or died from eating meat. When Jesus comes back, there is no teaching that we will become vegetarians as Adam and Eve were in the garden.
What is written to the Church in the epistles after Peters revelation Col. 2:16 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, … they are a shadow of things to come.” This is speaking of the Old Testament practices of Moses where they were judged. If the Colossians died with Christ they are not to controlled by the elemental things of the world. Paul questions their keeping these regulations like food, since these things will perish– why live as if you are still under them? Don’t let them influence you and bring you into the bondage where you think you have become more spiritual by observing them. These often foster a false spirituality. Paul is saying not to let anyone pass judgment upon them for not keeping the the Mosaic Law, because the Law was transitory to the real relationship with God that was to come through Christ. V:19-23 “and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations–“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using– according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” If you participated in the cross with Christ the law has no benefit for your spirituality. The observance of Jewish ceremonies, which were only the first elements, a shadow of the substance, the beginning of the alphabet ABC, Christ is the alpha and the omega. He nourishes our spiritual life.
Peters vision included “Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air, And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, what God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”
If this is not what the Lord meant then when Peter argued that he would not eat anything unclean, the Lord should have corrected him by saying “you misunderstand me.” Was God saying only food or both food and people are cleansed? God said EAT- the Adventists say do not eat!. Nowhere does he take the command back and furthermore, the institution of grace gave the people new freedoms they had need to understand. To say this vision had nothing to do with food is just ridiculous. Why did Peter need this vision? According to Adventists he already understood that the ceremonial law was done away with at the cross. The fact is that Peter (nor Paul) did not separate one type of law from another. And from this vision and his meeting with Cornelius he understood all things that were once forbidden are now clean. As v.12 states the Spirit told him to go into the house doubting nothing.
Peter records in Acts 10:28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
If the foods that were unclean are now clean so are the Gentiles who the Jews considered unclean. This is what binding and loosing was all about, permitting what formerly was not permitted. So the vision had a double meaning; the foods that were prohibited are now permissible because they are no longer under the Old Testament law, and the people that were forbidden to be part of the congregation and needed to be go through numerous rituals of cleansing were now allowed in by faith.
Jews were not to eat things offered to idols either but we find this changed in the New Testament as well. 1 Cor.8:10-13: “For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” This is the spiritual principle, instead of lawful requirements it becomes a matter of conscience. Vs:28-31 “But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Levitical law had forbidden certain foods to keep the Jews separate. Paul in Rom.14:2 tells us For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak (in the faith) eats only vegetables, nothing could be clearer in this statement, he is comparing meats with vegetables.”Little faith means little freedom.” Rom. 14:14-15 “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.” Vs.17 tells us the kingdom of God is not food or drink.” If someone thinks they may not be able to eat a certain food or worship on a certain day, it may not be for someone else. The Law of Moses tells us not to eat pork or shelled seafood. The Law of Christ gives us liberty to eat it all, as long as it is by thanksgiving. It was Peter’s vision that gave him a revelation that all are clean, both the former foods and the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-16). It was this event that opened the Church to those outside Judaism and finally fulfilled what Christ taught the apostles in his great commission. The epistles do not record teaching food laws of the Old Testament anywhere; except in reference to having liberty to eat all and stumbling someone who does not have this faith.
1 Cor. 8:7-13 “However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” Paul’s solution 1 Cor. 10:27-31 “If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake- the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” If you eat whatever is put before you that means all kinds of meats.
“Do not be lead away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents” (Heb.13:9) The writer is teaching us that people who promote special diets as doctrine who go back to the old testament covenant are teaching diverse and strange teachings. The ascetics had renounced certain foods and pleasures for their spirituality. The Colossian Heresy was a mixture of Jewish law and pagan elements. Scripture teaches that diet has no spiritual benefit for our sanctification or salvation. As Paul states the kingdom of heaven is not food or drink. Paul states “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things”(1 Tim. 4:7-8) He doesn’t say not do it but this should not be our concentrated effort, for it yields small results. This was said in the midst of the Greek culture that was very body conscious.
Yet the Adventists position is “Many in attempting to justify their usage of the unclean foods quote this text as far as verse 4 and then conclude that it is all right to eat anything, as long as we thank the Lord for it. But does this mean that it is all right to eat a mouse or rat, or cat, or bat? Yet this is the inevitable conclusion, if such an interpretation is held. But notice the last verse, verse 5. Here we are told what creatures may be eaten with thanksgiving: namely, those that the Word sanctified or specifies should be eaten. Does the Word of God sanctify the usage of the unclean foods, such as pork or shellfish? Absolutely not! That’s why this text cannot be used to support the eating of the unclean foods.”
Paul states 1 Tim 4:1-2 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, V:3-4 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.” Notice the words ‘every’, ‘nothing’ making the explanation as clear as possible. The element of faith is what gives one freedom to eat everything.
The very text that is clear is then distorted “For IT IS SANCTIFIED BY THE WORD OF GOD AND PRAYER.” (what is set apart is what Rom.14 tells us, not as the Old Testament covenant tells us. They run to the Old Testament to prove their point of the New Testament)
Mark 7:15-20 “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man…So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, “because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, “thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark was mainly writing to the Roman gentiles who would not have been familiar with the Jewish kosher laws.
Once again the Adventists circumnavigate around this teaching. “In order to correctly understand this text, we must carefully examine the context of the passage. Mark 7:1, 2 indicate there was a contention between the Pharisees and certain of Jesus’ disciples because the disciples did not go through the ceremonial washing of hands before they ate. The Jewish leaders (Pharisees) in the time of Christ had added significantly to the commandments of God by instituting all kinds of ritualistic washings and ceremonies that had to be performed before a person ate. Jesus’ disciples did not perform these ceremonies. According to Jewish law, what they ate was therefore unclean.”
“Please note that this discussion has nothing to do with clean and unclean animals as described in Leviticus 11, but instead is talking about the ceremonial washing of hands that made foods clean ceremonially. God never commanded His people to do this; it was a Jewish tradition.”
“The kind of food the disciples ate (verse 2 and 5) is not even referred to, but the way in which they ate it! Throughout, Christ is dealing with the commandments of God versus the traditions of men. To make this verse refer to the clean and unclean animals of Leviticus 11 is to ignore completely the meaning of the Greek and the context of the passage.” (Bible Health principles for an abundant life).
I agree we should examine the text carefully. Yes it was the Pharisees who added laws to the Mosaic law, some were about washing. But we should always read through to grasp the context and how the event was used. After Jesus rebuked them about their washings He turned to the crowd in v.14 “There is nothing from without the man, that, entering into him, can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man, those are they that defile the man.” He used this opportunity to explain more than what they specifically challenged him on, as Jesus always went to the real intent of a matter. In v.17 when he enters the house away from the crowd He explains what He said to the disciples about becoming unclean from what one digests. Clearly indicating it is food he is including with what he is speaking about. It is true Jesus is not declaring that all foods are then ‘clean’ thereby setting aside the Levitical laws distinction between the clean and unclean. This does not happen until after the cross and resurrection. He used the Pharisees external interpretation of the law to explain the true intent of Moses. That Foods cannot make one a sinner nor can they as a religious observance purify someone. Jesus is clearly saying foods or anything from the outside do not enter the heart (the inner man) but the stomach. It has nothing to do with living a spiritual life. What is thrown out of the body is non-nutritious, the food taken into the stomach is to support our physical life. While certain foods (and tobacco) are bad for the body they do not defile the spirit. I’m not suggesting one has the go ahead to smoke cigs all they want, Christians die like anyone else. What I’m trying to get across is that it is not what we eat that will affect our spiritual life.
Contrary to their interpretation, the Law was not an external system in which the outward things affected the inner man. The law was mostly made to address mans moral nature. It was to guide and convict his heart and conscience.
Why did God establish clean and unclean foods for the Jews in the Mosaic law? To give them a good diet? No the intention was not for health reasons, it was to keep them separate from other nations. Where does defilement begin? It is the internal keeping of the law that mattered, not the outside. Anyone can put an outside show, which the Pharisee’s did well.
This is proven by the first command to eat meat that God gave man Gen.9.3. “Every moving thing that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you all things.” This shows us two things 1) that the dietary laws as they called were not until Moses’ law or God would be going against his own command. 2) God has not ever forbidden the eating of meat like E.G White or Adventists claim. At first He also made not distinctions, they could eat everything as v.2 clearly states, all the flesh was allowed.
Heb.9:8-11 “the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience-( unable to clear the conscience of the worshiper) concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.( external regulations applying until the time of the new order.) “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.” Notice the contrast the writer is giving of the old being related to the external and the new related to the internal.
Paul’s teaching in the New covenant makes it clear.1 Cor. 9:3-4 “This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink?” Like those who came to Galatia some challenged Paul on their freedom to eat what was forbidden in the Law of Moses.
Rom 14:20-23 “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.” Here in lies the freedom we now have under the covenant of grace that was not available under Moses. We can choose what to eat.
“Do not be lead away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace (favor), not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents.” (Heb. 13:9) What adherents? The ones who made up the dietary rules. How have they not benefited? Spiritually speaking they did not make them better people, and vegetarianism can actually be harmful to certain peoples health.
Rom.12:9-10: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another.” To eat what one wants is good, it is our freedom by faith. If one chooses their own diet there is no problem, if they want to be a vegetarian a fruitarian that is between them and their Lord. But when they legislate that one should not eat meat as a biblical precedent, and they are condemning them they are wrong. And this is what this article is about. Not to condemn but to show a correct biblical balance. I hope this was accomplished on this subject.
It was Moses’ law that separated the clean from the unclean foods. Acts 13:38-39: “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.”