What Foods Should Christians NOT Eat?

Are there any foods Christians should not eat?

The New Testament is overwhelmingly clear there are no food restrictions for Christians

Consider the following verses:

Matthew 15:11 Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth.”

The Greek word for “defile” is koinoō. It means, “to make common, or unclean, or profane.” No food can make you unholy.

Mark 7:18-19 Jesus said, “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, thus purifying all foods.”

Jesus said all foods are pure.

Romans 14:17 The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

“Righteousness and peace and joy” are the weightier mattersPeople obsessed with food are missing the focus of the Kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 8:8 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.

People are not “better” if they don’t eat certain things.

Acts 10:12-15 [There] were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.  A voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

The sheet contained all kinds of clean and unclean animals. God told Peter all animals are now clean.

Colossians 2:16 Let no one judge you in food or in drink.

There’s no verse saying, “Let no one judge you in lying, bitterness, or serving.” These are immoral. But Paul says, “Let no one judge [what you eat],” because food is amoral or spiritually neutral. What Christians eat has nothing to do with spirituality. There are no foods that – at least for spiritual reasons – Christians should avoid.

Continue reading “What Foods Should Christians NOT Eat?”

How much should Christians give?

The New Testament doesn’t command giving a tithe, but it does command giving! So how much should Christians give? Giving requires wisdom, and here are three New Testament principles to help you determine the amount.

First, Christians give according to their income

Two New Testament verses make the point that the amount Christians give relates to the amount of their income:

  • 1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.

Neither verse states how much Christians give, but they do say that giving should be according to our income.

Luke 12:48 For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.

Although this isn’t speaking directly of finances, the principle applies. If God gives you more, He expects you to give more. It’s completely reasonable that some people should give much more than a tithe (10%).

Second, Christians give sacrificially

This is another reason it’s not a good idea for Christians to feel bound to a tithe. For some Christians that would require very little sacrifice.

This principle is important – not just because of what it teaches us about giving – but because of what it teaches us about our relationships with the Lord in general. God doesn’t need our money. His will is accomplished with or without our help. But God allows us to worship Him through giving, and the only way our giving is worshipful is if it involves some sacrifice.

Continue reading “How much should Christians give?”

Do Christians Have to Give a Tithe?

Notice the title says, “Do Christians Have to Give a Tithe?” versus “Should Christians give a tithe…” or “Can Christians give a tithe…” If you want to give a tenth, that’s fine. I know wonderful Christians who say, “God expected a tenth in the Old Testament, so I want to give a tenth in the New Testament.” Many people look at the Mosaic Law for principles to apply today, including in the area of giving, and that’s fine. But if you think Christians have to give a tenth, that’s different and you should keep a few things in mind.

Also, notice the title doesn’t say, “Should Christians give?” The answer to that question is, “Yes!” Please check out this post to see how much should Christians give.

First, Christians are not under the Mosaic Law

Giving a tenth was commanded under the Mosaic Law. Christians are under the Law of Christ, which carries forth the morality in the Mosaic Law: “Do not lie…steal…murder…commit adultery.” You see all these commands confirmed in the New Testament. But the ceremonial commands – including those related to giving a tenth – are not maintained.

Second, God commanded giving a number of tithes

There was a tithe for the Levites, the use of the temple and the feasts, and the poor of the land. This actually pushed the total closer to 23.3%. Continue reading “Do Christians Have to Give a Tithe?”

Israel’s holiness and the ceremonial commands

Why did Israel have to follow the ceremonial commands in the Law?
Why did Israel have to follow the ceremonial commands in the Law?

One of the more common questions I receive relates to the ceremonial commands in the Mosaic Law. People will ask, “Why did Israel have all those weird rules in the Old Testament?”

The simple answer is so Israel could be a holy people. Now the longer answer…

The Mosaic Law contains 613 commands divided into two categories:

  1. The moral – or “common sense” – commands. You shall not murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie. These commands are based on God’s holy nature. God doesn’t change, so these commands are unchanging as well and carried into the New Testament. They are part of the Law of Christ and are still binding for Christians today.
  2. The ceremonial commands are not obvious or common sense:
    • Killing a perfectly good animal for a sacrifice. All the sacrifices and offerings are ceremonial commands.
    • The feasts and festivals.
    • Abstaining from certain foods, such as pork and rabbit.
    • Farming a certain way.
    • Wearing – or not wearing –clothes a certain way, including not mixing certain fabrics together.

The purpose of the ceremonial commands causes the most confusion. Nobody wonders why God told Israel not to murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie. But people wonder why Israel wasn’t supposed to eat certain foods or combine certain fabrics.

The ceremonial commands deal with holiness, not morality.

Continue reading “Israel’s holiness and the ceremonial commands”

The Law of Christ: The Law Christians Are Under

Christians are no longer under the Mosaic Law, but we are under the Law of Christ.

“What is the Christian’s relationship to the Old Testament, or Mosaic Law?”

Not only is this one of the most common questions I receive, it’s also one of the most confusing. Since we’re under the New Covenant instead of the Old, this makes some people think we’re under no law whatsoever. This practically implies license to sin.

The Old Covenant Contained a Law and so does the New Covenant

As much as the Mosaic Law was the Law of the Old Covenant, the Law of Christ is the Law of the New Covenant:

  • Galatians 6:2—If we bear one another’s burdens, we fulfill the Law of Christ.
  • In 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 Paul said he was not under the [Mosaic Law], but he was under the Law of Christ.

The Law of Christ is summarized in three New Testament passages:

  • Matthew 22:37-39—Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
  • Romans 13:8-10—He who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
  • Galatians 5:14—All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Law of Christ is a condensed version of the Mosaic Law. Rather than try to remember 613 commands, Christians focus on loving God and loving others. In doing so we fulfill the Law of Christ. Continue reading “The Law of Christ: The Law Christians Are Under”

Balancing Liberty & Holiness

From the administration of the sacrifices to the setting up and tearing down of the tabernacle, the precision of the Mosaic Law was really amazing. With 613 commands (365 negative, telling people what not to do, and 248 positive, telling people what to do), the question was never, “What should or shouldn’t we do?” the question was, “How perfect can we be?” and the answer was, “Far from perfect.” Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a result, God graciously provided the New Covenant, so we are no longer under law but grace (Rom 6:14). We breathe a deep sigh of relief and it’s like, “Ahhh…grace.”

The problem though – and truthfully I almost feel a little bad saying this – is we lose the exactness of the Law. With the New Covenant comes the responsibility for each man to be fully convinced in his own mind (Rom 14:5). We have to decide for ourselves what our consciences allow (1 Cor 8:7, 10). There are times I almost wish I didn’t have the liberty afforded under the New Covenant; I wish I had a tutor in the language of Galatians 3:24 telling me what to do and not do. I wish I had the clarity of the Old Covenant helping me navigate certain situations. The Law might have felt like an “unbearable yoke” in the words of Paul in Acts 15:10, but I bet people didn’t walk around saying, “Hmmm…how do we handle this grey area?

I know the New Covenant actually calls us to a higher standard than even was found under the Old Covenant. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus repeatedly said, “You have heard it was said not to _____ but I tell you not to EVEN _____” (Matt 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-34, 38-39, 43-44). The Law forbids physical murder and physical adultery, but Jesus forbid committing those sins in our hearts…the Law was an eye for an eye, but Jesus said turn the other cheek; He was setting an almost exponentially higher standard. A verse I’ve really been meditating on is: Hebrews 12:14 Without holiness no one will see the Lord. I read this and think: “I can’t see God without holiness? No salvation without holiness? Holiness is pretty serious.” I don’t take the verse to mean our salvation is earned by being holy, as that would conflict with the Gospel; however, I do think it means holiness is a byproduct of salvation; it’s something salvation produces. Saved people strive for holiness. The absence of holiness would seem to be evidence of being unsaved. Jesus called His disciples to a higher level of obedience, but what I’d say He really called us to is a higher level of holiness…higher than even the Law commanded.