Monday, 23 December 2013

All Meats Are Clean

Nothing (no food) is unclean of itself.

It's only unclean if you think it's unclean.

Food that has been declared to have been offered to an idol should be refused, not for our own conscience' sake (for an idol is nothing and cannot make food unclean) - but in order not to offend the weaker conscience of others who may see it.

We also shouldn't willingly participate in idolatrous rituals, including food. Because the overall activity really is tantamount to involvement with demons.

But if people know you didn't know, then it can't hurt their conscience. That's why it's better not to ask questions about food sometimes - not for our own sake, but for the sake of the weaker consciences of others who may be offended if they see us eating food which they know had been offered to idols.

But we know the food itself is not unclean in and of itself.

When God created animals, it was all good. Nothing was unclean.

After the fall, some animals came to be recognised as unclean.

But not unclean in the sense that they were unsuitable or forbidden to be eaten - for after the flood God gave to them everything that moves as food. Everything. That moves. Including the 'unclean' animals.

It was mainly for purposes of sacrifice to God that some meats were considered unsuitable.

Later when Moses gave the Law, in order to reinforce the ethic of distinguishing holy from spiritual unsuitability, Moses forbade Israel from even eating such meats - not because the meats were in and of themselves unsuitable for human consumption or sinful. It was just a further way of driving home a spiritual ethic - about holy v. profane.

But in the fulness of time, on the cross Christ removed our sins by becoming the sacrifice for our sins, making us holy. Therefore the goal of Moses' food laws is now fulfilled. Our consciences are cleared in the cross, not by obeying food prohibitions. The issue of distinguishing holy from unholy, and making and keeping ourselves holy, is resolved in Christ.

Therefore nothing is unsuitable for human consumption.

But although we're free to eat, eating might not serve a useful purpose - in the weaker consciences of others around us.

Some animals still seem hideous. Creation itself is affected by the fall, and awaits the redemption at the second coming.

However the sentence of their being unclean - either ceremonially or for human consumption - was nailed to the cross.

The need for bringing animal sacrifices is eliminated. And we can eat anything with a clear conscience.

The only remaining consideration is, How is my eating going to affect the weaker conscience of someone standing by.

So the rule is love. Seek to edify your brother. Do what's best for him not only for yourself.

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