17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.
18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. Mk. 7:17-23
In the Swahili Bible, something is added at the end of verse 19, an addition which is not there in the King James Version of the Bible. This addition reads,
“In saying this, He purified all foods.”
A modern version of this sentence would read,
“In saying this, He permitted all foods.”
Yes, that scripture is in the Bible. Firmly so. It is there, from the Lord Himself.
Many years ago , a small child caught a live cockroach in our church yard and, before anyone could get to him, he put it in his mouth and swallowed it. There were shrieks and screams of horror from all around and by the time people got to him, the bug had been safely tucked away inside the little guy’s stomach and there was little anyone could do.
Everyone was horrified; and his mother went into a sort of spasm. But, although these were church people, apparently they didn’t know the Bible much. They were unaware that inside the Bible they read every day, it is written that the little guy had every right to eat pretty much anything he wanted. The guy could eat a rat if he wanted to. He had every kind of permission and certification that he needed to do this, and he had it from the highest Authority possible – Jesus Himself. Jesus has permitted us to eat all foods.
Actually, the little guy ate this ‘forbidden’ (forbidden by we humans, of course) in the most proper place possible – on the church grounds. It is right and proper to do in the church compound something that Jesus has allowed. Like singing praises to the Lord and eating live cockroaches at the same time.
Today, that small guy is a twenty-something young man, and he is serving God beautifully in the church. Apparently, eating a cockroach did not harm him in his spirit. And nutritionists will tell you that the cockroach is rich in fat, which this growing child badly needed.
There are ‘Christian’ denominations today which are built on the belief that you cannot eat some foods. But here (in the Swahili Bible) we read that Jesus allowed all foods. All.
You can eat virtually anything that your guts can allow. In fact, this freedom to eat anything is so boundless that the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 14:1-3,
“1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
The Apostle Paul calls the one who eats only herbs “weak in faith”. What does that tell you. That single sentence is telling us a profound spiritual truth. It is telling us what our faith can do. It is telling us about the incredible freedom that we have in Christ under the New Covenant. We are no longer under law! Actually – and here I am getting ahead of myself, but it does not matter anymore – anyone who is bound by any law is “weak in faith”. God’s deepest desire for every child of His is to walk in freedom. Not the freedom of the flesh, but the freedom of the Spirit. As far as anything is not sin, you are free to do it.
You are free to do pretty much what you like as long as it is not sin. But we ought to note that to stumble, offend or grieve your brother is sin also (Rom. 15-21). If you do something which you think is part of the freedom that you have in Christ but you are doing any of the above things against your brother or sister-in-Christ, you have moved from the freedom of the Spirit to the freedom of the flesh.
But as long as we are not doing any of these things, we ought to celebrate the freedom we have in Christ. When it comes to foods, for one, the bold in the Spirit eat anything their teeth can crack. The truly interesting thing is that, in this matter of foods, the meats that are prohibited under the Old Testament are especially appetizing. In the region where I live, donkey meat is a rare delicacy. And yet in the Bible eating donkey meat was forbidden under the Old Testament because the donkey’s hoof is not cleaved (Deut. 14:7). Swine meat (pork) is one of the most delicious meat in the world. But under the Old Covenant, in Deuteronomy 14:8, it was expressly forbidden.
Many years ago, some young people in our school went on an official tour in the country of France and when they came back they told us they had eaten some things which I won’t write down here. The whole school had been assembled together in the school assembly hall to hear these guys speak, and when they broke this news, pandemonium broke out as the entire hall went gurgling with revulsion. None of us could not take it.
But the good news is… People all over the world are allowed to eat anything they can get their hands on, and this does not make them sinners in the eyes of God. Who has allowed them to eat everything?
God has. The people under the old covenant paid a heavy price. On judgment day we Christian believers will be judged twice as severely on account of the freedom that we have been given under the New Covenant.
[Church: the most exciting place to be]