(Continued from yesterday)
• The references cited for the “no problem” position pertain to all foods or things being “clean”. However, the reason for forbidding eating blood is not “uncleanness”, but because blood stands for life (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:11, 14; Deut 12:23). The “no problem” verses are misapplied. Ceremonial cleanness or uncleanness is not the issue, which in any event have been fulfilled in Christ. The sanctity of life is.
• The prohibition against blood is repeated in the NT, not set aside (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25). The Jerusalem Council under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28) determined that a Gentile does not have to be circumcised like a Jew in order to be saved (Acts 15:1). Nevertheless, it placed 4 requirements on Gentile believers, to abstain from:
o things sacrificed to idols,
o what is strangled,
o blood (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25).
• Some believe the restrictions were cultural to accommodate Jewish sentiments at that time, as the Mosaic law forbade eating/drinking blood. I believe they were more than that. The issue at stake is whether the observance of the law of Moses (Acts 15:5) is necessary to be saved. The answer is clearly “NO”, as we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus (Acts 15:5). Having broken away from the yoke that no one could bear (Acts 15:10), I think it’s highly unlikely that the apostles will muddy the water again by accommodating to the Pharisees’ desires.
• Rather, the 4 practices were common among Gentiles, and the Council’s requirements were that Gentile believers need to make a clean break from paganism. They need not become Jews, but they need to be thorough Christians, not hanging onto pagan practices they’ve left behind. I believe the principle of “abstaining from blood” to be the correct interpretation, though I believe its application need to be contextualized to 21st century.
• Concerning eating of things sacrificed to idols, to someone with knowledge they are nothing in and of themselves, and it is alright to eat them, but we don’t eat them for others’ sake:
o 1 Co 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.
o 1 Co 8:10 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
o 1 Co 10:28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake;
• Fornication comes from the heart and defile the man, so we abstain:
o Mt 15:18-20 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; (also Mk 7:20-21)
• What is strangled does not have its blood drained. Both strangled and blood relate to the sanctity of life which is to be protected. Hence their prohibition.
• None of the underlying reasons are cultural, but moral. That’s why I believe they are still valid nowadays. Having said that, blood is no longer closely associated with paganism as it was, and we have to adapt its application to the spirit rather than the letter of the law. Some eat black pudding or blood soup for their taste. I don’t take them myself for theological as well as personal reasons, but respect others’ preferences provided they do not infringe on others. So enjoy your rare steak. To avoid it is to behave like a Pharisee.