Andy's New Book
How to Memorize Scripture for Life: From One Verse to Entire Books

Jesus Declared All Foods Clean (Mark Sermon 32)

Series: Mark

Jesus Declared All Foods Clean (Mark Sermon 32)

November 20, 2022 | Andy Davis
Mark 7:19
Covenants, Supremacy of Christ

Pastor Andy Davis preaches one verse in Mark and explains how a statement from Jesus reaffirmed His majesty and the fact the covenant law was powerless to save.



I. The Most Important Parenthetical Statement in the Bible

Turn in your Bibles to Mark 7:19B. I'm going to preach on half a verse today. I did a rough calculation that if I preach the whole Gospel of Mark at that pace, it would take me 30 years or so to preach through the entire Gospel of Mark. This is not my usual pattern to preach on half a verse, and it's certainly not my pattern to preach on a parenthetical verse, one of the most important parenthetical statements in the Bible. I know your outline says the most important parenthetical statement, but I'm not a hundred percent sure that's true, and I am so geeky that I actually searched them all this week. There are 335 parenthetical statements in the NIV and I looked at them. There's some pretty weighty ones, but this is weighty. What is a parenthetical statement?

A parenthetical statement is one that's in parenthesis, a statement of the obvious. In almost every English translation, the verse I'm going to preach on today is in parenthesis, in saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean. Now, a parenthesis is a modern grammatical invention or convention. It's used to add some extra information to a statement, something incidental, something beside the point. Beside the point means it isn't the main point, it's not the main idea. Generally something you can get along without, like a footnote or something for those who are interested, really interested in a lot of extra information. Now, for me as an expository preacher, I've been trained that expository preaching is the main point of the passage, is the main point of the sermon. I agree with that. So for the most part, expository sermons do avoid sidetracks. They avoid burdening the hero with all kinds of extra information. You stick to the main point, a preaching expert would say to a young preacher. 

And what is the main point? The main point of this passage is the darkness of the human heart, the defilement, the spiritual defilement of the human heart. Jesus has been addressing the Pharisees and teachers, the law, the Scribes, the fanatical religious legalists of his day, the hypocrites of his day. They had a whole system, a manmade system of religion in which traditions and regulations are added to the laws of God. They forced these add-ons on people's consciences. They pressed their rules, their traditions, their regulations on people's consciences. And in this case, in this encounter, it was ritualistic hand washing as part of overall system of ritual washings that are nowhere commanded in the laws of God. There are just manmade. There are extra rituals that had been passed on from generation to generation, previous generations of rabbis just like them, and they bound people's consciences with these traditions, these washings.

Look at verses 3-5. The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash and they observe many other traditions such as the washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles. So the Pharisees and the teachers of the law ask Jesus, “Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with unclean hands?”

Jesus exposed their fundamental flaw, which is preferring their manmade traditions over the laws of God. Verses 6-8, He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written, these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain. Their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. God's word is the standard, not manmade traditions.” God exposed that pattern as terrible, as corrupting, deadly for their souls actually. But then Jesus unleashed a bombshell on them and He did it for everyone to hear. He called everyone in. This had been perhaps a private conversation He was having with the scribes and Pharisees, just him and his disciples and them. But now He wanted everyone to hear this.

He calls everyone in, verse 14 and 15, and said, “Listen to me everyone and understand this. Nothing outside a person can make him unclean by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that makes him unclean.” Now, typical of Jesus, He makes this pronouncement to the crowd with no further explanation. That's it. The full implications of this would not be clear for decades actually. The explanation comes a little bit more clear in a moment, but the king of the kingdom of heaven just lays out this timeless principle for everyone to hear, and that is this: Nothing outside you can make you spiritually unclean by coming into you. The spiritual uncleanness comes from inside you. By implication, Jesus will make it clear also, nothing external can cleanse you spiritually either. Nothing outside you can clean you. These ritual washings had no power to do that. Spiritual defilement comes from within. So true cleansing must come from within as well.

"Nothing outside you can make you spiritually unclean by coming into you. The spiritual uncleanness comes from inside you. By implication, Jesus will make it clear also, nothing external can cleanse you spiritually either."

But again, Jesus made none of this clear to the crowds. He just said  it, and then goes inside with his apostles and He gives the fuller explanation to them. Look at verse 17 -23, “After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. Are you so dull?” This translation has, “Are you without understanding?”  “Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean for it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach and then out of his body? And saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean. He went on, what comes out of a man is what makes him unclean for from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” So, that's the main point. The main idea here is all spiritual defilement comes from our hearts. 

Now, that was the main point of last week's sermon. Walked through that last week, the darkness and evil of our hearts is the true problem of the human condition. Therefore, nothing outside a person can spiritually defile them. The human heart is a poisoned fountain, a poisoned fountain. What is the heart? The heart biblically is the part of you that studies and learns and thinks and reasons and plans and loves and hates, feels emotions and makes choices. The Bible says your heart does all of those things. The heart is the center of the entire human experience. Proverb 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” What does that mean, the wellspring of life? Well, everything to do with the human life comes from the heart. It's like into a spring of water, a well spring that flows up and out into everything we do, and we're told to guard it carefully.

But Jesus says in this text, it's already poisoned. It's already polluted. And no foods cause that defilement, nor the uncleanness of your hands physically. No, this defilement is spiritual, deep. It's at the core and no external regulations can make it better or worse. And oh, by the way, this is where the parenthetical statement comes in. Oh, by the way, gospel writer Mark, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, stuck a significant historical banner in this moment, in saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean. Wow. I believe it's difficult to overstate the significance of this statement, of that moment. Interestingly, Mark is the only gospel writer that sticks that historical banner in it. This is the ultimate “Wait, what moment, what just happened?” I don't even know that they noticed it when at the moment it's like, “Wait a minute now, something huge has just happened. Did you hear that? Did you hear what he just said? Do you realize the significance of that?” I don't think they did.

That's amazing because Jesus had been leveling the Pharisees and the Scribes for preferring their traditions to the clear law of God, laws of Moses. But now here Jesus is specifically ending the jurisdiction of some clear laws of God given through Moses, specifically claiming that those laws are now obsolete. Wow. Hence this sermon. Now I'm going to just pause here and say, why am I doing this? Why am I preaching this sermon? Well, two reasons. First of all, in everything I want to do, always in preaching, but specifically here in the gospel of Mark, my purpose is to magnify and exalt the person of Jesus Christ. I want you to think great thoughts of Christ. And there is potential for that here, that we would see the majesty and the authority and the person of Christ to be able to do this. He has the right, he has the right to do this. So that we have a sense of the greatness of Christ by this that's going to achieve my purpose. 

But I have a second purpose, and it's, I would say apologetics, the defense of the faith. We are in a regular pattern of defending our faith to unbelievers. We're surrounded by an unbelieving world. In our country, our culture is becoming increasingly biblically illiterate and increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity. On some specific test case and themes, we seem very much out of step with what is going on in our culture such as homosexuality, such as the significance of gender and gender based roles and other sexual mores in general. We are going to become increasingly seen to be weird. Our views are coming from the scripture, and many of our detractors or opponents on these issues understand that and they seek to denigrate the Bible as an outmoded, archaic or mythological book.

Some of the people that have read some of the Bible think they know the Bible well and bring up are these dietary laws. They'll say things like this, “You can't eat pork, you can't eat shrimp, and you can't eat lobster according to the Bible. And we're supposed to listen to that. You don't even live up to that, but we're supposed to listen to you on homosexuality, or on gender, why should we?” I felt this was a good teachable moment for our church to say, let's address it so we at least understand in-house the wisdom of God and putting the 66 books of the Bible together and how beautiful and perfect that wisdom is. And the ending of the dietary laws by Jesus is part of that equation. So we're going to look at it today. 

II. Food Laws Established, Powerless, Fulfilled, Obsolete

I'm going to give you four words about the dietary laws, the food laws. Four words I want to develop are: food laws established, originally established, then the food laws powerless, food laws fulfilled and food laws obsolete. That's the movement that I want to give you on the dietary regulations. First, establish. The food laws were established by God. God set them up. God did in fact restrict the diet of the Jews.  There are many examples. The first mention I think though I could find in the Bible of dietary restrictions is in Leviticus 10. It says in verse 10, 11, you must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean. You must teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses. Then the very next chapter, Leviticus 11 lays out the whole thing, the dietary laws. Leviticus 11: 1-8, “Lord said to Moses and Aaron say to the Israelites of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat. You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof. It is ceremonially unclean for you. The coney, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof. It is unclean for you.  The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof. It is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, it does not chew the cud. It is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses. They are unclean for you.” In addition, the chapter excludes shellfish, as I mentioned. Leviticus 11:9-10, “These you may eat of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or the rivers you may eat, but anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, it is detestable to you.” So that whole chapter, Leviticus 11, lays out what is holy kosher foods. You probably heard that word “kosher". It means from the Hebrew word for “clean or pure,” these are the clean foods. Leviticus 11:47, “You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not.”

The reason given for this distinction was this, to set the Jewish nation apart as holy unto the Lord. That was God's reason for doing it. Leviticus 20: 25-26, “You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds, do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground those which I have set apart as unclean for you. You are to be holy to me because I the Lord am holy, and I've set you apart from the nations to be my own.” I think that's the point, to set the Jews apart from all the nations under God to be his own possession. This is part of a larger set of laws that theologians commonly call the “ceremonial laws". Ceremonial laws are laws that govern the religious life and the social life of the Jews and marked them as a holy, and in the King James version, “peculiar people", I love that word. “You are a peculiar people under me.” The Jews were to be a peculiar people. Exodus 19:5-6, this is KJV.  “Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure under me above all people, for all the earth is mine and ye shall be unto me, a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” or again in Deuteronomy 14: 2, “You're a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasure possession.” So that was his reasoning that the Jews would be set apart as a treasure for God. Central to the ceremonial laws, central to it was the animal sacrificial system, including all of the rules for the priests and the Levites.

The law also included circumcision for all boy babies born in Israel, On the eighth day they were to be circumcised and that definitely marked the Jews apart, separate from the Gentile nation, circumcised and uncircumcised people. It was a huge topic of debate for the early church. By these ceremonial laws, the Jews were set apart as sacred, as a sacred people and a barrier. A dividing wall was set up between them and the Gentiles, these ceremonial laws set up that barrier. The food laws were established by God. 

Secondly, though, we want to note the food laws were powerless spiritually. They had no saving power. The book of Hebrews especially makes this plain, but it's not just in the book of Hebrews, the New Testament also makes it plain.  Jesus has said plainly here in our text, nothing that we eat can defile the heart. Look again at our text, Mark 7: 18- 19, “Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean, for it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach and then out of his body. And saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.” Paul said the same thing about food. First Corinthians  8:8, “Food does not bring us near to God. We are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do.” So food doesn't do anything spiritually for you.

Hebrews says that the Jewish ceremonial laws in general, including circumcision and animal sacrifice and food laws were symbolic and powerless. Hebrews 9:9-10 says the gifts and sacrifices being offered, were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They have no power to cleanse your conscience. Feel guilty, this won't solve it. “They are only,” says Hebrews 9:10, “a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings, external regulations applying until the time of the new order, until the new covenant comes in.” And then in the next chapter, Hebrews 10:4, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.” I'm saying none of these ceremonial laws could take away your sin. They're powerless to do that. Paul says the same thing in Colossians though the context is slightly different there, and we'll circle back to Colossians too, I just want to mention it.

The regulations do not handle, do not taste, do not touch, were all destined to perish with use because they're based on human commands and teaching. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining central indulgence. They have no power to clean up your soul. Strict observance of dietary laws is powerless to restrain lust and it is powerless to cleanse the conscience from guilt, from sin. In fact, the whole law in general was declared powerless to save. Romans 8:3, “What the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of the flesh to be a sin offering.” So the law couldn't save you from sin. The law had no power to do that. That's why God sent his son, Romans 8:3, and then again in Galatians 2:16, “A person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ.” So, because by works of the law, no one will be justified. So they're powerless to save you. So, that's the second point.  

Third point, the food laws have been fulfilled. They're fulfilled. God's purpose in them has been met now. Why did God institute these laws to begin with? We've addressed that, to mark the Jews as a sacred or separate holy people. Why did He want to do that? There are a number of reasons, but the main reason I think, was to give the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world, an address among all the peoples and tribes and languages and nations on earth, that we know where to look to find the savior of the world. For Jesus himself said to the Samaritan woman, “salvation is from the Jews.” Who are they? Oh, they're that peculiar people marked out by all of these ceremonies. They're a people apart. They don't live like us, Gentiles would notice. They're just a unique apart people. Therefore, when Jesus comes as a son of Abraham, as a son of David born in the midst of that, He has a locating address. Those ceremonial laws located him in history and among the nations of the earth. Once He was born of a woman, born under the law to fulfill the law, the ceremonial laws didn't need to be anymore, they'd been fulfilled, their purpose was met. That's what it says in Galatians 3:19.

"When Jesus comes as a son of Abraham, as a son of David born in the midst of that, He has a locating address. … Once He was born of a woman, born under the law to fulfill the law, the ceremonial laws didn't need to be anymore, they'd been fulfilled."

What then was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the seed to whom the promise referred had come. Jesus said beautifully in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the law of the prophets, I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” He fulfills all of that.

 Now the fourth point is food laws are now obsolete. They're obsolete. That's what our text says in saying this, “Jesus declared all foods clean.” They're obsolete. What that means is that all foods are ceremonially clean for us. He made this plain to Peter in Acts: 10. You remember this whole story where the gospel's spreading out and it's moving out in the book of Acts from Jew only to Jew plus Gentile. That's the big movement in the book of Acts. It's starting in Jerusalem, going through Judea and to Samaria and then to the ends of the earth. By the end of the Book of Acts, it's in Rome, the gospel spread, and it's moving out.  God shows Peter as an apostle, the apostle to the Jews he's called, whereas Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles. But Peter, the apostle of the Jews, was given the privilege of bringing the gospel to a Gentile named Cornelius and to his family and to his friends. You remember that whole story in Acts: 10 where God gives Cornelius a vision and he sends some messengers to go get Peter and Peter's going to preach the gospel to him. Meanwhile, He gets Peter ready. The way He gets Peter ready is, Peter is hungry and wanted lunch. He is going to have a prayer time while lunch is being prepared. He goes up on the roof and has a vision, Acts: 10, Peter became hungry, wanted something to eat, and while the meal is being prepared, he saw heaven open in something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Anyway, a voice told him, “Get up Peter, kill and eat.”  “Never, Lord,” Peter said. Now that's Peter in a nutshell right there. “Never, Lord,” can I just say something? You should never say never to the Lord. But that's Peter in a nutshell, he did it four times. I'm not going to tell you now , but ask me later the four times he said never to Jesus or to the Lord. That's who Peter was. He's like, “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” Then the voice came from heaven a second time,  “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Now that's a huge moment in redemptive history. The whole thing happened twice, so he had to get this message.

Then he went, this Orthodox law abiding Jew, to a Gentile home,  and preached the gospel. They believe the Holy Spirit poured out on Cornelius and his household as they all believed the gospel, and they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then undoubtedly, and in Acts 11, it's pretty clear, they sat down and had a meal together. They ate together. Paul makes this plain as well in Romans 14: 14, “As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself.” No food has a spiritual virus on it, no such thing.

Paul specifically warns all legalists that seek to impose new dietary regulations, because there's always Christian legalists who are going to come in and come up with food laws, that they're making up on their own. God didn't tell them to do it, but they're going to make up a strict religion that has to do with eating. So in First Timothy 4: 3-5, these legalists forbid people to marry and they order them to abstain from certain foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything God created is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. So we Christians can eat any food we want, anytime we want. There is no spiritual contagion on any food. Those dietary laws are obsolete. They're done. Those are the four words I wanted to give you about the food laws. 

III. The Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ

But now I want to just stop and be in awe at the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Let's just stand in awe at the supremacy of Christ to be able to do this. This is Jesus' amazing authority. Over and over in Mark's Gospel, we see Jesus's authority celebrated, his authority celebrated. In Mark 1, the authority of his teaching, just the way he would teach, Mark 1: 22, “The people were amazed at his teaching because he taught them as one who had authority and not as the teachers of the law.” In that same chapter, his authority over demons. He would just speak a word and they'd obey him.  People were amazed, asking, “What is this? A new teaching?”  With authority He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him. 

Then in the next chapter, Jesus's authority to forgive sins, it's linked to his authority to heal, “that you may know that the son of man has power on earth to forgive sins.” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up and walk.” And he did. Later in that same chapter, Mark 2: 28, Jesus said, “The son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Now that's incredible. In other words, “if you have any questions about what you may or may not do on the Sabbath, come and ask me, I'll tell you. I decide. I decide what is right and wrong on the Sabbath,” authority. He's Lord of the Sabbath. Afterwards, Jesus stilled the storm, He just spoke and said, “peace be still”, and in an instant the wind and the waves were quieted. The wind and the waves were silenced and they said to each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him.”  Jesus is Lord of all. And later in Mark's Gospel, when Jesus will cleanse the temple, He will call that holy place, “my house.” “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.” After his resurrection, He'll make this sweeping statement, “All authority, in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” That's who Jesus is. In this declaration that all foods are clean, Jesus is announcing his intention to fulfill all the mosaic ceremonial laws and bring that era to an end. The old covenant era is over. It's ended. Those laws coming down from on high, coming down from almighty God through Moses, the servant of God, those ceremonial laws are fulfilled and obsolete now, because Jesus said so, and He's the only one that can do it.

Now, of all of this authority that I've been celebrating here, the greatest, the most significant for you personally and for me is his authority to forgive your sins, his authority to declare you clean. You should celebrate that on Thursday, this Thanksgiving. I say you should celebrate it every day, that Jesus can look at a filthy, nasty sinner like you and me who have a corrupt dark heart. You look at that list in verse 21- 23, “Out of men's hearts come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, folly.” This polluted heart, and if you're honest, you look at those words and you know that you still struggle with those. They're still in me. But Jesus, because of the greatness of his authority and the greatness of our salvation in Christ has the power to look at you, and if you believe in him and you trust in him, He can declare you clean of all your sins. He has that kind of power.

Remember how God said to Peter, do not call anything impure that God has made clean. I want to think about Romans 8, “Who shall bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” Who is he that condemns? Satan can bring all the accusations. I could hear him saying that to Satan, “Who are you to call someone unclean that I have made clean?” He has that kind of power to declare you clean, and He does this by the message of the gospel. He has that power. It’s in that whole circumcision controversy in Acts 15 where they have to figure out whether the Gentile converts have to obey the ceremonial laws or not, including circumcision. It wasn't just circumcision, it was a doorway into a whole lifestyle of legalism. It was a yoke that neither we or our fathers have been able to bear, Peter says. But Peter said this, in Acts 15: 7-9, “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God who knows the heart showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them just so He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them. Listen now, for He purified their hearts by faith.” How beautiful is that? In an instant, by faith in the gospel, they were made pure. That's justification, that's salvation, instant salvation through faith in Christ, God declaring you clean forever has that kind of power.

Titus 3:5-6 speaks of that washing, “God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on his generously through Jesus Christ, our savior.” He has the power to make you clean actually, so you live a clean life, a cleaner and cleaner life. We know that we'll never be perfectly clean in this world while we live, but He has the power to transform us by the renewing of our minds, to transform us. That transformation of the heart is predicted in that beautiful passage in Ezekiel 36:25-27, “I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. And I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I'll put my spirit in you and I will move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”What laws? The moral laws, the permanent laws which are summarized by Jesus beautifully in this, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” He will move you by his spirit to fulfill those permanent laws which will still be operative in heaven forever, they're permanent and beautiful. Jesus has the power to do that. 

Jesus also frees us from enslavement to sin itself, hand washing the rituals, the traditions that didn't have any power to set you free from wickedness. But Jesus does.  Jesus said in John 8, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. So if the son sets you free, you'll be free indeed.” Jesus has the power to make you free from pollution, free from wickedness, free from sin, so you don't sin anymore. Someday you won't. I'm looking forward to that day. No more sin ever for all eternity we’ll be done with it. In the meantime, we can be increasingly living lives of freedom from corruption and lust and wickedness. Jesus has the power to do that. As Roman 6: 18 says ,”You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” It's not religious rules and regulations and strict dietary laws that set us free from sins defilement, it's faith in Christ. Jesus has the power to set you free from religious legalism. Let's never become a legalistic cult.  Many religions in the world have strict dietary laws. They're part of religion. I think it's because most normal non-religious people, it's said of them, “their God is their stomach.” They live for appetites and they glut themselves on things. So religious people don't and then they become strict about those things. So there's all manners of that kind of strictness in various types of man-made religions. Hindus, for example, are very strict about what they will eat and will not eat. Obviously the eating of all beef is forbidden because of the cow is sacred, but many go beyond it into the principle of non-violence. They're just vegetarians, they won't eat any meat. Hindus and  Buddhist follow similar patterns. Muslims follow essentially the kosher laws of the Old Testament. They don't eat pork and they have a whole month, Ramadan, devoted to fasting in which they will not eat during the daylight hours.  Jews, of course, observant Jews, will only eat kosher foods and there are rabbis that determine what's kosher and what's not. Some Roman Catholics still fast during lent, they won't eat meat on Fridays. I was in a bind growing up as a Catholic because I hated fish, so I was a “grilled cheese” guy on Fridays. That was my go-to. So it was a problem for me. But there's still these dietary laws that many cults follow. The Mormons have dietary laws that they follow. Seventh Day Adventists have them.

"Jesus also frees us from enslavement to sin itself, hand washing the rituals, the traditions that didn't have any power to set you free from wickedness."

As we already said in Colossians 2, Paul addresses Christian legalism there. I think that's what he is addressing more than mosaic legalism or laws of Moses. He says the regulations do not handle, do not taste, do not touch, are destined to perish with use because they're based on human commands and teachings. God didn't tell them to say it, they made it up. Such regulations have an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, that's asceticism, but they lack any value in restraining central indulgence. So strictness in eating is hard to achieve and therefore people can feel spiritually proud of it. It's part of their religion. We Christians are free from all that, it’s not what we do.

Now, I feel like I need to like make a public service announcement now. That doesn't mean that everything we eat is good for our physical health. That's a different matter. I'm talking about spiritual defilement. Some foods can make us fat or have heart trouble. If we are good stewards of the body, we'll be careful of not only what foods we eat, but how much we eat like on Thanksgiving, next Thursday. You need to be a good steward of your body, be careful what you chew and swallow. That's a different matter. But here I'm talking about spiritual defilement. Isn't it beautiful to consider that Jesus will someday complete our perfection? All foods are destined to perish with use, Paul says. First Corinthians 6:13, “Food for the stomach, and the stomach for food, but God will destroy them both.”

Whatever you can chew and swallow, all of it's temporary. It's not what life is about. No matter what we eat, at some point we're going to die and our bodies will be destroyed in the grave. But Christ will raise us up in glorious resurrection bodies, and those bodies will never perish, spoil, or fade. Described in Philippians 3: 21, “Jesus by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” In heaven we will eat whatever they serve and will enjoy it.

Let's close in prayer. Father, we thank you for the time we've had to study this half a verse. We thank you for the incredible power of the word of God. We thank you for its depth and its richness. Help us to not ever be ashamed of your word. Help us to not wilt when people make mocking comments about it. Help us to be prepared now if they bring up the dietary laws that we know what to say, but bigger, bigger, bigger than all of that, help us to see the greatness of the saving work that Jesus does for sinners like us who are so defiled naturally and who could not save ourselves. But Jesus does have that power to declare us clean and then to make us so, in Jesus name. Amen.

Other Sermons in This Series