ESV - 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
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The flesh of swine was forbidden under the dietary regulations of the Mosaic law (Lev 11:7,8). The Jews therefore considered eating of pork as ceremonially unclean. But under the New Covenant, by holiness God does not mean ceremonial cleanness but spiritual sanctity. The emphasis shifted from the outer to the inner, from the material to the spiritual. Jesus explained it this way: "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man... whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated" (Mt 15:11,16-18). Apostle Paul understood this truth much quicker than others. He declared, "I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is NOTHING unclean of itself" (Rom 14:14). Having learnt this truth from Christ (Jn 1: 17), he warned Timothy, "In latter times some will depart from the faith... 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" (1 Tim 4:1-4). But Peter had difficulty in accepting this dispensational change, as several Christians today. Eventhough the so-called "unclean" animals were imported right from Heaven, and God Himself asked him to kill and eat them, he sternly refused. The voice from above corrected Peter, "What God has declared clean you must not call unclean" (Acts 10:10-16). The Jerusalem Council wanted to keep the Peter-like Jewish believers comfortable while fellowshipping with their Gentile counterparts. Moreover during that transition period, the traditional reading of the Law of Moses was continuing in the synagogues every Sabbath. Therefore the non-Jewish believers were given a couple of dietary regulations also (Acts 15:19-21). Otherwise, under the New Covenant, because we have died with Christ, we don't need to subject ourselves to regulations like "Touch not, Taste not and Handle not!" Paul calls these as man-made doctrines and self-imposed religion (Col 2:16, 20-23). Food habits however have deep cultural roots. In missionary work we must stay sensitive in this area lest we "destroy the work of God for the sake of food" (Rom 14:20). For example, in the list of animals permitted for food under the Law of Moses, the ox comes first (Dt 14:4). But eating of beef is highly objectionable to many Hindus and tribals in India. But they have no problem with pork! We therefore suggest to the missionaries working in such regions not to eat beef as a consideration to the people and the work (Rom 14:15-23). The decision of the Jerusalem Council concerning foodstuff was made on these lines only. Otherwise, in the absolute sense, we can eat any meat after giving thanks to the Creator God. Some Physicians feel that there were also medical reasons why God forbade the eating of the meat of certain animals and birds. This may be true. For example, pork-eating is definitely harmful to those diagnosed for high cholestrol. One should choose the right kind of food to keep his body, the temple of God, healthy.
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