What exactly are you eating? Gourmet? Organic? Junk food? Walk down the supermarket aisle and you'll see all kinds of foods that claim this one is healthy and that one's nutritious.
Most agree that to be fit and healthy you need to eat good food.
Now take that thought to another realm: To be spiritually fit and strong you must choose what is good.
Now is there a connection between food and holiness?
Prepare to be challenged on Beyond Today as we examine: "You Are What You Eat."
It was just an expression in my life that went in one ear and out the other. You are what you eat. But could my mom be right?
I think I was in college when I learned it's literally true. Every one of the body's cells is replaced in about seven years, and food is what those new cells are made from. So I started to take a different look at what I had on my plate because it was about to become a part of me.
Now what's becoming a part of you? To some food is a religion. Yet did you know that God is most concerned about what we are becoming? No wonder He says a lot about choosing—choosing what's best for you so you can grow. Not just physical growth but spiritual growth.
So the Bible is full of examples of this fact. Go back to the very beginning. Think about the diet that God wanted for Adam and Eve. He set before them the perfect spiritual meal, a wonderful, pure, healthy way, symbolized by the tree of life—an eternal relationship with their Creator. But, what did they choose? They chose the junk food of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And we know the result: Their choice led to spiritual malnutrition; instead of holiness they filled their plate with sin. What an important lesson for all of us! God's plan is for all mankind to choose the best spiritual diet so we can grow to be more like Him.
In 1 Peter:1:15 it says: "but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'"
The New Living Translation puts it this way: "But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you [to be his children] is holy."
You see this word "holy" signifies being 'separated' or set apart. So spiritually speaking, it's being separated from sin and dedicated to God—separated from that sin, removed from it and dedicated to our Mighty Father.
You see He requires us to choose holy conduct, separated from this sinful world around us. And so like obedient children, we're to follow God doing what's according to His will, partaking of His way and following His direction.
Now, we each have the choice of what we consume. So how do you know what standard to judge by?
Well, when it comes to grocery shopping, we look at the label. Is this food really nourishing? Is it made with quality ingredients? Will it have the nutrition that I need to be healthy? The label will tell us quite a bit, if we take the time to read it.
Do you take the time to read the spiritual label so that you can grow? That label is the Bible—it explains the standard of behavior. Showing the ingredients of how to distinguish right from wrong, the holy from the common and ordinary. You are what you eat.
It's also evident in another spiritual example: 2 Corinthians:6:17 says "...Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
God is calling His people and instructs them to separate themselves from this unhealthy world. The influences of wrong ways of thinking are bombarding us all over. God's people must distinguish what should be on their personal menu. Making a distinction between the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, the holy and the unclean—and then choosing right actions. You see we must separate from wrong and dedicate ourselves to God.
So I wonder, how important is this? You know if you claim to be a godly person, you must think differently—think like God thinks. God must be the authority in our daily diet. He says don't even touch, let alone consume anything that's impure. So He instructs us to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians:10:5).
So God's people? His people reflect godly values and God's way of thinking—recognizing the difference between biblically right and wrong behavior. Now this means the only recipe for success is basing your life on the Word of God, the Bible. God says in Ezekiel:44:23 that "They shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the clean and the unclean."
Can you discern the difference? God wants you to be different, to be holy. Since we belong to Him, He doesn't want us to contaminate ourselves through any kind of impurity, any kind of defilement, any uncleanness. Honoring God means choosing a diet of holiness in our thoughts and in our actions. It's true with food, and it's true with God's way of life. God requires it. He requires holy conduct, a good way of life that's distinctly different from the common world around us. So, we distinguish what's right and we extinguish the wrong.
Now, you may not have thought about it like this but even our choices in food help us to do just that. We're going to take a look into this more closely, but first I'd like to offer you a free subscription to The Good News magazine. As God is calling His people to come out of the wrong ways of the world around us, The Good News is here to help you do just that. It's full of articles that give insight into holiness and so much more—articles expounding what the Bible teaches about faith, marriage, family, and why it's important to have a relationship with your Creator.
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You know our life choices reveal much about us. How different are you from the ordinary? Are you choosing to be different? Some choose the TV diet by watching any and everything on TV for hours on end. For others, it's the Internet diet; taking in anything that might catch their eye. And then there's the smartphone diet, ringing or buzzing endlessly into your distracted life.
So even our choices, our choices in food say a lot about us. Isn't it true that the kind of food you choose is a reflection of the kind of person you are?
Now imagine, if we came to your kitchen, if we went to your refrigerator and looked inside, what would it tell us about you? Visualize what a college student's fridge might look like. That would be quite different from what a vegetarian's refrigerator would be like. Now the owner of this one doesn't seem to cook at home very often, does he?
Isn't it amazing how the items we have in our fridge speak to who we are.
Now when we look to the Word of God it provides a pattern for physical and spiritual healthy living. God gives His principles of health and holiness for our good, and they have eternal consequences.
Ephesians:5:5 reminds us of this critical, important idea of making right choices. "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person"—that's someone that's impure—"nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." There it is again. Distinguish what's right and extinguish the wrong. You see only those who have faith in Jesus and have chosen to live the holy will be in the Kingdom of God.
Now in a sense, God wants us to be a spiritual connoisseur. That theme of drawing a line between what's right from what's wrong, from what's holy and sinful, and the way to overcome and partake of that clean and right food. That's a spiritual principle that runs throughout the entire Bible.
You know we see it again in Deuteronomy:30:19 where God tells us: "... I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days."
God has set a table and He says it's up to you to choose right. He doesn't impose His will on us. He doesn't force us. He doesn't make us do what He wants. God gives us the choice on this buffet of life.
Now this is important: Choosing rightly identifies who we are and to whom we belong. Our perfect, pure and holy God wants us to choose to be His holy people in every aspect of life. We are to separate from sin and be dedicated to God.
He makes this a vital point. Jesus Christ Himself gave many object lessons in the Bible—things we can all recognize that we can learn from. He spoke of camels going through needles, workers in the vineyard, reaping and sowing. Or how about the Kingdom of God being like a mustard seed? You know He even gave us lessons about food—real, physical food. Now why is that?
Well, just as any of our choices reveal so much about us, our eating also reveals who and what we are. What we like, what we dislike. Certainly it can identify us and even reflect our culture.
You want an example? Think of this. What do you think of when someone says, let's go out for Italian tonight? Well you probably think of spaghetti or lasagna. Now others might say, I want real American food; so give me a steak or a burger and fries. Now if someone suggests Chinese? Chicken fried rice or Kung Pao chicken, maybe that's what comes to mind.
But here's a vital one: What would you think if someone asked, what's a Christian meal? What should be on a Christian's plate? Now we're talking about actual food, not a spiritual analogy. What should we literally put in our mouths? Would you go as far to allow God to tell you what you should eat and what difference would it make?
Now it may surprise you but God says that your choice of food reflects your identity, your values, and can even reveal your spiritual health.
It's illustrated in an interesting event that took place about 10 years after the death of Christ in the New Testament through the symbol of food. The apostle Peter learns an critical lesson about people.
There's a voice that tells the apostle Peter to kill and eat animals that were not to be consumed. He says: "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean" (Acts:10:14). So here in the book of Acts, Peter, probably a decade after the resurrection of Christ under the New Covenant, says he was continuing to keep God's dietary food laws.
Now was the meaning of that vision to go ahead and eat everything and anything? No. It's a continuation of the object lesson in what is set apart by God as clean and what's unclean. That's why he says: "God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean..." And later Peter said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality" (Acts:10:28). In other words, no favoritism.
So, as Peter was distinguishing between right and wrong actions, clean and unclean conduct, holy or immoral behavior; He was shown that when it comes to people, it's different. Whether it was Jews that had become converted Christians, or Gentile non-Jews; the lesson is that God doesn't discriminate. He shows no preferential treatment when it comes to people. So no wonder the whole Church came to the same conclusion much later in Acts 11 saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (verse 18).
Now what about those dietary food laws of God that Peter and the New Testament Church was still keeping a decade after Jesus' death? Were those done away? Not at all! The object lesson was still there for them and it's still there for us today. We still have to distinguish what's right behavior and extinguish sin, not discriminate against people that God is calling.
So God still wants you to make a spiritual connection to food, to your daily bread. Let's notice this:
There are two main sections of Scripture that discuss it very clearly: Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. These chapters describe animals that God says are good to eat and those that are not to be food. Did you know that God instructs Christians today not to eat pork? No pork products—no bacon, ham, sausage, pepperoni; anything that comes from a pig should not be eaten. It's clear in Leviticus 11. You know He also says to avoid shellfish: so shrimp, crab, lobster, clams.
Now you might wonder, well why would God do that? What's the point? And it can't be important today, can it? Well Leviticus:11:47 tells us—this is God Himself speaking: "You must distinguish between the clean and the unclean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten" (NIV).
God goes as far as to tell us the lesson that's involved, the object lesson that should make the choosing, make the distinction, make the difference. And that choosing to make a separation between the clean and the unclean, even when it comes to the food you eat. Why? Deuteronomy:14:2 and verse 21 says, "for you are a holy people to the LORD your God." You see there it is again. You are to be separated from sin and dedicated to God.
So God's given you a reason to change your diet and avoid unclean foods! It's a reason. It's a lesson in holiness. It's about holiness! It's a reminder to choose God's way in everything we think and in every action.
In the New Testament, Philippians 2:5 says we're commanded to "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." We're to have same mindset, the same attitude. One translation puts it this way: "In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus" (NCV).
So every day, when you choose what to eat, that's your daily reminder to make a conscious choice to select good, clean, godly food—what God says is good and clean. Now by extension, it reminds you that you must make a conscious effort to choose holy conduct as your way of life in attitude and in actions. Since we belong to God and He's purchased us with Christ's blood, He does not want us to contaminate ourselves through any kind of defilement.
So God's given us the perfect object lesson in physical food. He reminds us that we shouldn't let just anything come into our mouths. So in the same way, we shouldn't let just any thought come into our minds and turn into a wrong action. So just like choosing good food to eat, we have to choose a diet of godly actions in our life.
Now this concept is summarized in 1 Corinthians:6:19-20 (NLT): "Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body."
There's much more to say about God's dietary food laws. So in a moment, our Beyond Today panel will be here to give us additional insight into this vital subject.
Now, you may have many questions about this topic so we've prepared this study aid: What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats ? It will help you understand what the Bible really teaches about being separated and dedicated. What is holiness and how can you strive to have it in all areas of your life?
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We're going to continue our discussion on "You Are What You Eat" now with fellow hosts, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty. I wonder if most people realize how this theme of holiness and choosing between the clean and the unclean really does extend all the way into the New Testament.
[Darris] Well it does. Peter says at one point, be holy, repeats Christ's phrase to his people to be holy. You quoted Ephesians 5 earlier in the program where it talks about avoiding fornication, which is immorality, covetousness and greed in that way. That's talking about physical matters of life that certainly touch on God's Commandments but he says avoid those. And to avoid those is to be holy in that sense, and so it doesn't end there.
[Steve] There's a connection!
[Darris]Physical things all the way down to the food we eat as well as the actions that we take define holiness in its full context in our relationship with God.
[Gary] You know Steve earlier you had quoted the apostle Paul who said that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. You have to realize what that really means. When we receive God's Holy Spirit, Jesus said that He and the Father come and they abide in us. So if God is living in us then that should affect the way we think, the way we act. But it should affect everything, down to the way we dress and down to the way or what food that we eat and the food that God tells us we should eat.
[Steve] Really it's unfair then to think that we've got a spiritual life of our life and a secular side. We can't really subdivide our life into categories like that.
[Darris] No we can't. What we do physically does impact us spiritually and defines again that holy aspect of our relationship with God. Maybe I can best illustrate it by an example from my youth. When I was a kid, very young, I picked up language from the neighborhood and other adults, and one day I just popped off and I said something I shouldn't have said. I took God's name in vain. I didn't know what I was saying. I was just repeating what I had heard. My mother grabbed me by the arm, she took me into the bathroom and had a bar of soap and a toothbrush in her hand. She lathered it all up and scrubbed my mouth out with soap! And she said, don't you ever take God's name in vain again! That taught me something. Now it wasn't the soap that cleansed it out of my mouth, it was the action. It was the fervency of my mother. But it's an illustration of when God says don't eat these particular food products because I say they are unclean, He is teaching us something that when we avoid that, we are learning something about a holy relationship with Him. And there's no other way really to get around with what God said there in Scripture and it carries all the way through. The challenge is, to us is whether or not we will do what God says.
[Gary] You go back to the second century A.D. There was a movement, spiritual movement called the Gnostics and one of the things that the Gnostics taught was that the body and the spirit were separate and therefore you had to nurture the spirit but the body didn't matter. Now, when you look at the teachings of both the Old and New Testament there is a concept there that God wants us not only to take care of the spiritual, He wants us to take care of the physical. So we can't ignore the body and clean and unclean meats is a command from God for that very reason. It teaches us control.
[Darris] Yeah. This comes down to a matter of whether or not we will tremble at God's Word. Isaiah 66 says to this man will I look, he who trembles at my Word. You start right where God says. He says don't eat these particular foods. And when you're going on down that cafeteria line, avoid what God says not to eat. Just pick out the right food and you'll stay on the right track and you'll be obeying God and you'll be beginning to tremble at His Word.
[Steve] Because it does come down to choices, doesn't it? What choices are we going to make? Are we going to follow God's direction and choose what He says is the best for our life, in every area, or do we think we have the authority to do that?
I mean it's an amazing choice and we all have that choice. And we want to help you with your choices, remember our free offers today. You'll find them invaluable as you study. What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats? will help you understand God's dietary laws and what it means to live by His standards in every area of your life.
Also request your free subscription to The Good News magazine. Every issue will help you understand God's purpose with practical articles that will really make a difference in your life.
Now you can read them online. You can go to BeyondToday.tv , or download them. Request your own hard-copy even by calling toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's where you can request both publications.
Now's the time to begin to draw closer to God. So every day, when you choose what to eat, remember to make that conscious choice to follow what God says about good food.
It's your daily reminder to make a deliberate effort, not only in the food you choose, but most importantly in choosing holy conduct as your way of life in attitude and in actions every single day.
So you see, it's not just a matter of diet, it's a matter of holiness. Remember you are what you eat!
Now I'll be right back for a final comment right after this.
[Narrator] Two men ran through the streets of the city each trying to be the first to discover if it was so. They turned the last corner and arrived at the tomb. They both stopped. One leaned over and looked into the space and noticed a neatly folded pile of linen cloths. He was astounded and backed away not believing what he saw.
Jesus was not there. He had risen from the dead. All things had changed.
Christ came to earth with a central message of the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Most have never heard or understood what Jesus actually taught on this subject. The United Church of God is hosting free seminars held simultaneously around the world.
[Steve] That Kingdom is coming to earth—that was the message of Jesus Christ. It's not a Kingdom that's off up there in heaven but it's a Kingdom that Christ is going to establish right here on this earth.
[Narrator] God to KOGSeminars.org for details to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars—giving the message of hope for tomorrow, beginning today.
Sign up to attend our informative Bible seminars today. Thanks for joining us and don't forget our free offers and be sure to let your family and friends know about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today as we look at another topic. Join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.