Are there any foods Christians should not eat? The New Testament is overwhelmingly clear that there are no food restrictions for Christians.
Table of Contents
- How do we explain that God forbid certain foods, but permitted them later?
- Telling people to abstain from certain foods is “giving heed to doctrines of demons”
- If you do choose to avoid certain foods, please accept these four encouragements…
- There are two restrictions on food…
Consider the following verses:
Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth.”Matthew 15:11
The Greek word for “defile” is koinoō. It means, “to make common, or unclean, or profane.” No food can make you unholy.
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.”Mark 7:18-19
Jesus said all foods are pure.
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.1 Corinthians 8:8
People are not “better” if they don’t eat certain foods.
[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.”Acts 10:12-15
The sheet contained all kinds of clean and unclean animals. God told Peter all animals are clean now.
Let no one judge you in food or in drink.Colossians 2:16
There’s no verse saying, “Let no one judge you in lying, bitterness, or serving,” because these are moral in nature. 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. While Christians might avoid food for health reasons, they don’t need to avoid any for spiritual reasons.
How do we explain that God forbid certain foods, but permitted them later?
The answer is in understanding the ceremonial portion of the Mosaic Law. It was meant to establish Israel as a holy nation. The Church is not under the same restrictions:
To keep the Israelites separate from their idolatrous neighbors, God set specific dietary restrictions regarding the consumption of [certain] animals.With the coming of the New Covenant and the calling of the church, God ended the dietary restrictions.John MacArthur
In determining how much to give some some Christians say, “God expected ten percent under the Mosaic Law, so that’s the guideline I use.” That’s fine (except that God expected much more than 10%), and many apply a similar principle to food: “God is wise. He forbid certain foods under the Mosaic Law, so it’s best to avoid them.” Again, nothing wrong with this approach. Pork is the most well-known prohibited food, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone saying, “Bacon is healthy. You should eat it.”
Watch this sermon I delivered as a guest preacher to better understand holiness and God’s ceremonial commands…
Telling people to abstain from certain foods is “giving heed to doctrines of demons”
The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons … 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.1 Timothy 4:1 and 3
After Paul said people would “give heed to…doctrines of demons” he provided two examples of those doctrines:
- Forbidding to marry
- Commanding abstinence from certain foods
We might expect demons’ doctrines to look more demonic. This makes sense if we consider demons want people focused on amoral, non-spiritual issues like food.
If you feel bound to avoid certain foods, consider this question:
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.Colossians 2:20-23
Avoiding certain foods has “an appearance of wisdom.” There’s a “self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body.” But there’s no “value against the flesh,” which is to say there’s no spiritual benefit.
If you do choose to avoid certain foods, please accept these four encouragements…
First, don’t let your restrictions lead to condemnation of others.
Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”Matthew 15:11
God doesn’t care what you put in your mouth, but He cares what comes out of it. If it’s criticism of others for something the New Testament doesn’t condemn, there’s something wrong.
How you talk to your spouse, children, parents, friends, neighbors is more important than avoiding certain foods. Why is this important to keep in mind? Because it is much easier to focus on the physical (food) than the spiritual.
Second, don’t let your restrictions lead to self-righteousness.
When people think they shouldn’t eat certain foods, sometimes they look down on others who don’t share the same convictions. Interestingly, 1 Corinthians 8:9-11 describes people who feel like they can’t eat certain foods as being “weak.”
Twice Paul said the Law is fulfilled in the word “love” (Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14). People’s view of food makes them unlike Christ when they become contentious and hostile.
Third, don’t let your restrictions be a distraction.
The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit.Romans 14:17
In other words, being a disciple of Christ is not primarily about what we eat and drink. These are secondary issues, versus hills to die on. People obsessed with food are missing the focus of the Kingdom of God.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!Matthew 23:23-24
When people are overly focused on food, they’re focusing on a “lighter matter.” They’re acting like the religious leaders and straining out a gnat (food and drink) while swallowing a camel (pride, self-righteousness, condemnation).
Fourth, don’t neglect the the Law of Christ trying to keep the Mosaic Law.
The church is under the Law of Christ, versus the Law of Moses. Think of the number of times Jesus said, “You have heard it said…but I say to you” (Matthew 5:27-48), as He contrast the Old and New Covenants.
There are two restrictions on food…
First, God doesn’t care what you eat, but He cares how much you eat
It’s surprising how much attention is given to certain foods, but how little attention is given to overeating. Gluttony seems to be an acceptable sin. The common argument is, “God said to avoid these foods because they’re unhealthy!” If we’re talking about health, what about obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc?
- Proverbs 23:20-21 Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.
- Proverbs 28:7b A companion of gluttons shames his father.
Some people who wouldn’t consider a slice of bacon will gorge themselves at the table. The New Testament has a lot to say about self-control, and these verses apply to our appetites.
Second, God doesn’t care what you eat, but He cares if fellowship is broken.
When your liberty might stumble a brother or sister in Christ, then you don’t eat that food:
- Romans 14:21 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.
- 1 Corinthians 8:13 If food makes my brother stumble, I will [not] eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
If Christians feel convicted others should put themselves under the same restrictions in their presence to prevent offense. Take the spiritual high ground to maintain unity.
It’s wonderful how God’s Word provides instruction for maintaining health, joy, and peace in the body of Christ!
Discussion Questions to Answer in the Comments Section
- What approach do you take to food? Do you apply restrictions based on the Mosaic Law?
- Have you had to restrict yourself for the sake of unity?
- Do any other verses come to mind?
- Have you ever been under the impression you shouldn’t eat certain foods? Has this post changed (or not changed) your opinion?
Thanks for this Post Scott, I’ve learned some Ideas to share to my Friends..
It is very helpful for me. keep Posting of another topic that can help Christians.
Very informative, Thanks a Lot! God blesses you more!
You’re welcome. I’m glad the post ministered to you. God bless!
thanks to you my son died from starvation!!!! didnt eat for 2 months incase he went to hell. fanks a lot. guna go sacrifice my lamb chops from the freezer to my lord mufassahzion. the downfall of christianity is all your fault. next thing you know youll let women show off their shoulders. dirty little freaks. youre all emos. love from freeda slaves
Please let me know if you’d like to have a serious conversation about Christianity.
Can you go to heaven if you can not forgive someone?
Are you talking about Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:12 when He said, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”?
Jesus is speaking to believers, and He tells us to request forgiveness for our sins, which looks a little confusing since we know we’re forgiven already. The Christian life is a continually repenting life. We’re forgiven at one moment in time, but confession and repentance is an ongoing part of the Christian life, and therefore, a regular part of our prayer lives.
These words teach that forgiven people will be forgiving people. Think of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The servant is forgiven a huge debt, but then he won’t forgive his servant:
The master expected the man to forgive his servant b/c he’d been forgiven, but b/c he was unforgiving he was thrown into hell!
These verses can look as though we must forgive others to be forgiven. That’s not true, since that would be salvation by works, and we know we’re forgiven by repenting and putting our faith in Christ. So how should we understand these verses?
It means that one of the marks of being a Christian is being forgiving. Our capacity to forgive others is tied to God having forgiven us. We can forgive others b/c God has forgiven us. Although none of us forgive perfectly, if we hardly forgive at all it could be evidence God has not forgiven us…or in other words: we’re not really Christians.
I’m sorry, but what’s not true?
no, You cannot to go heaven if you have enemies you haven’t forgiven. Even if they ruin your life, you should forgive them how God forgives you according to the bible
I agree with you that the Bible commands us to forgive others, and that a habitually unforgiving heart could be evidence of being unsaved. Although, it sounds like you are saying that if we don’t forgive everyone completely we are not saved? As though we are saved by being able to forgive everyone. This would be a work. None of us forgive everyone perfectly. Our salvation is tied to the finished work of Christ on the cross, and not our ability to forgive others.
Even atheists know not forgiving someone will have a damaging effect on your body. Pent up resentment can cause mental breakdowns as well.
Well said. This is known as common grace. The idea is God’s principles, including obedience to His commands, benefits unbelievers as well.
No. The Bible is very clear on this issue.
Mark 11:25-26 KJV
 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
In order to make heaven you must be forgiven of your sins because sin cannot enter into heaven.
You are presenting a works-based gospel. You are teaching that people must do something (forgive) to be saved. I understand it could sound that way from Jesus’s words, but we must interpret Scripture in light of Scripture. We know from elsewhere in Scripture, in multiple places, that we are saved by through faith apart from works.
So how do we explain Jesus’s words?
Jesus is saying if you don’t forgive others you won’t be forgiven, because you are showing you’re not a believer. It’s not that being unforgiving prevents us from being forgiven; it’s that being unforgiving is evidence that we’re unsaved. None of us forgive perfectly, but every believer should be at least somewhat forgiving. A totally unforgiving person is a totally unregenerate person. This seemed to be the case in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant: that man wouldn’t forgive his servant, and then he found that the Master wouldn’t forgive him.
Pastor Scott: First, I do agree with your conclusion. But my question: is the Acts reference using symbolism to represent Gentiles, not the food itself? I ask this based on verse 17 and 29 of the same chapter.
Good question. Yes, it’s clear the main point to be communicated to Peter by the vision – and thereby communicated to us, the readers, as well – is that the Gentiles shouldn’t be viewed as unclean. In other words, it would be wrong to say the primary point of the vision is about food, when it’s about the wall coming down between Jews and Gentiles. With that said, secondarily it’s about food :). Here’s Acts 10:13-16:
Since Peter asked about food, and since God said food is clean, we can secondarily conclude food is clean/moral. If we only had this account we might be tempted to think it’s not enough, but with the preponderance of other New Testament versus, it’s a simple conclusion. When people want to argue that food is immoral/unclean, and/or we should follow the Mosaic Law regarding food, they’ll claim that this account is about a vision, but I don’t see why God wouldn’t be honest in visions.
So much focus was directed to food. When reading Romans 14:17 The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Does this argument advanced here include drinking or we should ignore the drinking part?
I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what you mean about so much focus being directed to food. Do you mean in the post, or in the Bible? If you mean in the Bible, I think the reason is that eating is such a big part of our lives, spending hours per day doing so. Plus food is often a part of fellowship, so when people disagree about food, it disrupts fellowship.
The post itself is not meant to address drink. Unless the verses I quoted mention drink specifically, I wouldn’t consider them applying. The discussion of drink, is really a discussion of alcohol, which is a different topic entirely.
God bless and let me know if you have any more questions!
What about 1 Corinthians 10:28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience? Foods that are sacrificed to Idols
For the sake of unity we aren’t to do things that offend the consciences of others. The context is God permits us to do what we’re giving up. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with food sacrificed to idols, but if it offends people to eat it, then don’t eat it around them.
Is eating pork a sin if so what scripture coment on it
If you don’t mind me asking, did you read the post? The main point of the post is it’s not sinful to eat certain foods.
After you read the post will you let me know if you have any questions?
What about avoiding Generrically modified ingredients and pesticides and preservatives etc.? I’m afraid that I may have actually swallowed the camel and swatted the gnat and it has become a strong hold in my life that I don’t know how to purge. I love taking part in the finer parts of Gods creation, I have given into contemptuous attitudes onto others in the past. Does dropping the pride include changing my diet or can I continue to eat the way I eat and just drop the pride. Please pray for me
I’m sorry, but I can’t tell if you’re joking or not. If you have a serious question I would be glad to do my best to answer. Forgive me if your comment was serious.
Thank you Scott!
So how is this different from what we call “taboo”.
However, as a Christian, I believe that the issue about dietary restrictions or “taboos”, especially these days is superstitious. For our family it is said that we don’t eat dog, pig,wheat,and certain kind of mushroom. But for me, I eat them all because I see no biblical reason attached why we are told not to eat them. The only reason given me by some members of my family, which I believe is superstitious is that, those animals saved one of them before from danger. On account of this, all members of the family were told not to eat that particular animal. In short, I believe as a Christian that I have nothing like animal or food taboos, except those ones that are universally prohibited. As far as I am concern, God made all animals and foods good and clean for my consumption.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
I wouldn’t use the word taboo in the discussion, simply because it doesn’t occur in Scripture. As a result, it’s hard to define, at least biblically speaking, what it means for foods to be taboo.
There’s a difference between avoiding foods for spiritual reasons, versus health and/or hygienic reasons. For example, while there are living things we have the liberty – spiritually speaking – to eat, I would avoid them for reasons healthy reasons; even common sense reasons. Even though we can eat bacon/pig today, I don’t think anyone thinks it’s particularly good for you.
I’m not sure what you mean about animals saving your family members from danger? Also,you said:
I agree with the first half of your sentence, but not the second half. The point of my post is there are no foods “universally prohibited.” You also said:
I would say “clean” in the spiritual sense, that there’s nothing spiritually immoral about any animals we consume; however, I’m not sure I’d say “good,” since some animals are less healthy than others.
I know that eating clean or unclean food as listed in the old testament, has nothing to do with salvation. But some friends of mine (married couple) believe that the food laws of the old testament should be observed at least for good health. Is there anywhere in the bible stating that the food laws were for good health?
I’ve always said that nobody is going to try to convince you that bacon is healthy. I actually read that every piece takes seven seconds of your life :). So if you want to avoid foods for health reasons, that’s completely legitimate.
I would say it like this: food is spiritually neutral, but it’s not nutritionally neutral. There’s definitely some food that’s good for us and some that’s not.
With that said, in answer to your question, no, I can’t think of a verse that communicates the unhealthiness of the foods that were forbidden; however, it does seem like it’s generally unhealthy foods that were forbidden.
If what you are eating kills you, stop eating it.
Come on Terry, you’re a dentist. Aren’t you obligated to tell us the evilest foods are those with the most sugar? Don’t you have some counsel about how any food can be moral as long as it’s flossable?
In all seriousness, since you wrote a book on the Sabbath, I’d love your thoughts on this post: Should we worship on Saturday or Sunday?
Thank you for pulling it all together. It was easy to understand and now I have answers to give to others. I won’t share till I get my attitude adjusted first, promise.
If I’m understanding your comment correctly, you’re seeing the post as a resource with the relevant verses collected together. That’s good to hear, because that was my intention with the post: provide a useful list discussing those verses that make the point clear.
Yes, always good to make sure we’re going to others as 1 Peter 3:15 commands “with gentleness and respect.”
Judith, one thing you can do is direct people to the post. That way it won’t seem personal. I’ve tried to do that with people at times, hoping it would prevent an argument.
It’s funny how Christians who say they believe the whole bible really don’t. God told us what to eat. Should you argue with the Creator? How arrogant.
Thank you for reading my post and responding. Clearly you disagree – and that’s fine – but I wonder what you think about the New Testament verses I mentioned? You don’t think they permit eating previously prohibited foods?
Also, one other question. You mentioned believing the whole bible. Do you put tassels on your clothes as the Law commanded?
Good post! I agree that people obsess more over what they should eat than how they ought to live! We should take care of our “temples” and eat in moderation. There are way bigger fish to fry!
What’s interesting is you actually brought up the area related to food that should be focused on when you said, “eat in moderation.” The issue isn’t what you eat, but how much you eat. Self-control and gluttony are the food topics we should focus on.
1Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” This obviously implies that there are some things we could eat or drink which would not to be His glory. Some of these things were listed in the New Testament in Acts 15:29, “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” Now why would this be required if nothing that enters into the mouth defiles a person? This request was also given to the gentile believers not just the Jews. Then there is this prophesy pointing down to the coming of the Lord from Isaiah 66:17, “They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.” Here the Lord says that there will be people at that time eating what is called abomination and also lists swine flesh and mouse amongst things thus considered. The sad thing is that it says they will be consumed. So your list of verses making an argument that we can eat all things will not avail. Your verses all relate to things such as hand washing, foods offers to idols, and calling the Gentiles unclean. It is easy to see which foods God created to be eaten as they are listed in. Geneis 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.” There were other articles that were “allowed” to be eaten at certain times but only these in Genesis were “created” for the specific purpose to be eaten. I agree that many make this matter of eating and drinking their whole religion but to say that what we eat does not affect how we think or behave or that what we eat does not matter to God is not correct and could turn out to be a deadly error.
Thanks for the comment.
If your interpretation of 1 Cor 10:31 is correct, then it would conflict with so many other verses in the New Testament. That verse doesn’t imply at all that there are foods to be avoided. It’s saying that whatever you’re doing – whatever activity – should be done for the Lord. There’s no relationship to what we eat or drink specifically.
The context of Acts 15:29 is a list of behaviors the Gentile believers were to avoid so as not to stumble the Jewish believers. Yes, a few of the items were immoral, but it had more to do with preventing offense than providing a list of sinful activities.
Isaiah 66 is discussing the Millennial Kingdom and not the Church Age. For example, verse 3 says, “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man.” Do you think it’s sinful when people slaughter a bull?
Thank you. I agree. But the example with peter, wasn’t God really using the different animals as an illustration to communicate something entirely different to Peter? A few verses later Peter explains his understanding of the illustration.
Thanks for the comment.
You’re right that the main point of the dream didn’t relate to the cleanliness of food, but the cleanness of the Gentiles through the Gospel.