Many try to mix dietary rules from he old covenant with teachings of the new covenant. This is both unwise and unscriptural since the New Testament clearly defines the dietary principles for believers today. Let us examine from the Bible what God says to our day regarding what we are to eat or not to eat.
- The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-35) – Having heard from God, the apostles instructed Gentile believers to abstain from the following:
- Food offered to idols – New Testament saints are not to eat such foods (1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 10:25-33). This was a problem in the first century, and it is today as well, in certain countries. We can identify three important guidelines in this area.
- There is only one God, and an idol is nothing, yet God still forbids Christians to eat food offered to idols. The reason is that doing so could create a stumbling block for weak believers and unbelievers. They may mistakenly think it is acceptable to worship idols.
- Whatever is sold in marketplaces, we may eat, asking no question. We are not obligated to ask wether the food we purchase has previously been sacrificed to an idol.
- When invited into the home of an unbeliever, we are to eat whatever is set before us, without asking if the food has been offered to an idol. If the host voluntarily informs us that the food was previously offered to an idol, then we are to refuse to eat it.
- Blood – New Testament saints are forbidden to eat blood. Animal blood is to be properly drained, and it is not to be ingested in any form after it has been drained from the animal. Eating meat cooked rare or medium rare is not a violation, because the animal has been butchered and the blood has been drained as much as possible. Eating meat cooked rare is not done for the sake of eating blood; it is a preference in cooking time or preparation. If eating blood were the motivation, then it would be wrong.
- Things strangled – They are not to be eaten by members of the New Testament church, because the blood has been retained. This, anything choked, drowned, or smothered to death is not acceptable for food.
- Creating Offenses and Stumbling Block – God has granted liberty to Christians to eat or not to eat meat (Romans 14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 8:13). If our right to do this offends a fellow believer then we are to refrain from eating or drinking whatever offends him. We should never attempt to create an oddness; on the other hand, we should not allow ourselves to be offered over what others eat and drink so long as it is biblical. We should have personal convictions, but we must not condemn another believer with an opposing view. It is important to respect our brothers and sisters in Christ who have different customs, traditions, and cultures from us.
- Erroneous Doctrines – Numerous false doctrines surface from time to time regarding what we are to eat or not to eat. Commanding to abstain from meats is a doctrine of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-6). Teaching people that they cannot eat certain kinds of meats, such as pork or catfish, or that they can only eat certain foods on certain days is unscriptural.