commentary: Our Genetically Altered Foods (Part Three)
We Must Be Careful Regarding Judging
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 24-Nov-12; Sermon #1131s; 14 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, acknowledging that the world's food supply has been increasingly contaminated by genetic modification, maintains that any attempt to seek a physical solution is impossible. Consequently, no one should ever permit himself to be in the position of condescending to others who are unable to purchase safe, organic foods. The Biblical proscriptions on food only apply to unclean 'foods' or clean foods offered to idols. The concern on the food issues should always be about protecting the conscience of the other person, especially the one with a weak conscience. The doubtful things do not concern unclean 'foods,' but clean foods offered to idols. What men are doing to our foods (i.e. GMO processed) does not cause a quick death. God provides protection if we trust Him to cleanse our foods.
In the first of the three commentaries regarding out genetically altered foods, I spoke as to what I see as the only means of escaping total entrapment in what Satan, through mankind, is doing. The solution is to live by faith and trust our Savior to make the food acceptable to our bodies. This spiritual solution is based on His promises to supply all of our needs and His example, given in the wilderness, of supplying those those pilgrims during their trek to the promised land. But this in no way blocks His use of this circumstance to use it for our own personal preparation for His Kingdom.
The second commentary was given to show that any attempt to seek a physical solution is impossible because the contamination of our environment is worldwide, and to focus on that sort of a solution will greatly hinder our seeking God's kingdom. One cannot serve two masters.
Each person, then, must choose to live by faith within the circumstances of his family, their location, health, age, work, money availability, and seeking God's kingdom will allow, and this situation creates a circumstance that makes judging each other—perhaps quite unfairly—very easy.
Let us understand that in no case that I bring to you from Scripture is the eating of things that God lists as unclean involved. In other words, what I'm going to give you only involves clean foods. Every—I mean every—example involves the eating of clean, God-created foods, and in each circumstance, idolatry is the closest sin, either directly or indirectly.
The first example is in Exodus 32. It involves the Golden Calf incident. Paul refers to this incident in I Corinthians 10:7, saying this:
I Corinthians 10:7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
All they had, brethren, was clean food, yet they were severely judged by God.
The members in Corinth had a major problem judging one another. Paul winds this subject through—would you believe it?—chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. An important subject in the epistle to the Corinthians. In addition to that, in Romans, I Corinthians, and I Timothy, where food is the subject, it never—and I repeat, never—involves things God created unclean. God never calls that stuff food. You get that? God never calls that stuff food. Men do, but God never does. God never calls pigs, dogs, cats, cockroaches, or caterpillars food, and thus, the subjects covered in these chapters in the New Testament do not involve things unclean by creation, but rather clean foods offered to idols through a religious act that resulted in idolatry.
I Corinthians 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things [clean things] offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
I Corinthians 8:7-9 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. [This next line is very important:] But food does not commend us to God [clean food does not commend us to God]; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
I believe the subject in this chapter involves only church members who are eating clean food, but it was clean food that had been offered to an idol. Its being offered to an idol was the issue.
Now, I Corinthians 10:25-32 has a couple of bell ringers in it:
I Corinthians 10:25-32 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; ["Whatever"? Does God mean caterpillars here, and cockroaches and pigs? No, whatever refers to things that are clean.] for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” If any of those who do not believe [the unconverted] invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. [There is that word "whatever" again. Does this mean here that we should eat caterpillars and cockroaches and so forth if they set them before us? No, it doesn't. The issue for the converted is always that you eat whatever is clean that is set before you.] But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other [the unconverted person]. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? [Notice the word "food" in there. To God, the only food is what He created to be eaten. Anything other than that is not food to God.] Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God
This paragraph involves the unconverted, but the counsel is exactly the same. The concern in these food issues is always the conscience of the other person. Your conscience should be clear because you know what God says.
In these next verses, the issue is still food things that God created to be eaten:
Romans 14:1-4 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. [You see, a new subject is being introduced. It is all clean food, but some of it is meat and some of it is only vegetables. Some people believed they should be vegetarians, and there were others in the congregation who believed they could both meat and vegetables as well. The weak ones were the ones who believed they should eat only vegetables.] Let not him who eats [meat] despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:6 . . . He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Again, here in Romans 14, the totality involves brethren in the church. The "doubtful things" do not involve things unclean by creation, but foods—real foods. Not everybody has the same opinion or a God-given directive to go by. Paul says to just go on and do not judge because Christ can make that person, though they are weak, stand.
I said earlier in this series that I'm not going to get overly concerned about these things. Here is the reason why. It's actually in Matthew 15:17, where God says that what we eat goes into the stomach, and the stomach processes it, and then it goes out the draft. In other words, God made our bodies to have the power, the ability, to take care of something, except if it's overloaded. Christ is again talking about clean foods, and I believe what this verse says. But I am not going to be careless by thoughtlessly overloading my system with corrupt things. Evelyn and I will be careful, but I know that I am 80 years old, and what I have already eaten hasn't killed me yet.
What men are doing to the food does not cause a quick death. Did you get that? What men are doing—what God permits Satan to do through these people—does not cause a quick death. Poison us it does, but slowly. So I believe, based on my experience with God, He is already protecting me, not because I'm a great person and deserve it, but because He is faithful and I am part of Christ's Body. He is providing and will continue to provide, and I have been praying in faith to Him about this general subject at virtually every meal for 50 years. By experience, He has shown me that He can take care of me, and that is where my confidence lies. I am, however, very unsure that men under Satan's sway are giving me the truth that I can trust. But I can trust God's. And so I will continue to pray, thankful and confident about what He has supplied