Is it a Sin to Eat Meat?

 

COPYRIGHT ©2017 - James M. Frye

All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.

 

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Is eating meat a sin? Does the Bible call us to be vegetarians? When looking to the Bible for an answer to this question, it is important to understand the time and circumstances in which we are living. What do I mean by this? Well, if we were living in the garden of Eden prior to the fall of mankind into sin, God said that only plant life such as fruits, vegetables, grasses, etc. were to be eaten (Gen. 1:29). So, it would have been a sin to eat meat then. But, if we were living after the flood but prior to the giving of the Law, God said that, in addition to plant life, people could eat ANY and ALL of the animals (meats) upon earth (Gen. 9:3). So, it would not have been a sin to eat meat then.

When we come to the time of the giving of the Law, God said that the Israelites could still eat of the plant life, but their meats were to be limited to only certain land animals, certain fish, certain birds, etc.. (Lev. 11). So, at that time it would depend upon what type of meat we were talking about. It would have been a sin to eat some meats, but not a sin to eat others.

But, we are not living in any of those times or places. The question we really need to ask is, “Is it sinful to eat any foods NOW, under the New Covenant (N.C.)?” Let’s look at what the NT teaches us regarding these things.

Here is what Jesus said.

·                            Mark 7:18-19 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; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

Jesus said that there is not a single food which a person could eat which could defile them, and make them unclean. God gave Peter a vision of a sheet let down from heaven containing all sorts of animals which were not lawful for a Jew to eat under the Old Covenant (Acts 10:9-12). Peter is then told to eat them.

·                            Acts 10:13-15 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

In other words, all of these animals which were previously unclean for God’s people to eat under the O.C. are now clean and are okay to be eaten under the New Covenant (N.C.). Ham for example was forbidden under the O.C. but is now okay under the N.C.

The NT warns about false teachers who would come and say that it is not okay to eat all foods today.

·                            1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

·                            1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

·                            1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

·                            1 Timothy 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

·                            1 Timothy 4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

The NT tells us very clearly that the false teaching that it is not okay to eat meat today is a doctrine of devils. That is, this teaching was originated by Satan and his fallen angels (demons/devils).

So, is it a sin to eat meat today? According to the Bible, no. In the time we live, and under the covenant we are under, all foods are to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. Nothing is to be refused as being sinful to eat. All foods are sanctified by the teaching of the word of God (the Bible) and by prayer (praying for God’s blessing upon our food before we eat).

·                            Romans 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

A WORD OF CAUTION -- Although the Bible clearly teaches us that all foods are clean today, some people cannot bring themselves to eat certain foods with a clear conscience. Scripture teaches (Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 8) that even though eating such foods is not sinful “of itself”, it is sinful for a person to violate their conscience (Rom. 14:23). Even though their conscience it programmed wrongly, to violate it is a sin for them.

The goal is for a person to have their mind renewed by Scripture (Rom. 12:2) so that they no longer feel guilty doing things which the Bible says are okay. But until such a time that they can do so with a clear conscience, they should not do it.

·                            1 Timothy 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: