According to the apostle Paul, God created all food, He created all food good and He intended all food to be gratefully shared in by those who believe the truth.
"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." —1 Tim. 4:1-5
Paul says that deceitful spirits command abstinence from foods which God has created to be gratefully received by those who believe and know the truth. What foods are forbidden by such teachers? Paul doesn’t say, but he contrasts the prohibition by the false teachers with the blanket permission God has given to eat any and every food.
In verse 4, Paul says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.” The words “everything” and “nothing” are broad, comprehensive words. If Paul had meant that everything was good to eat except the unclean foods of the Mosaic Law, he could have said so. But he did not. He said everything created by God was good. If by “nothing is to be rejected,” Paul meant nothing except the unclean foods of the Mosaic Law, he could have said so. But he did not say that. He simply said that nothing is to be rejected.
So when certain religious teachers today tell us to abstain from pork, milk, soy, beef, chicken, sugar, salt, or any number of other foods, they are contradicting the Word of God in the New Testament. They are setting themselves up above the Word of God and claiming to be wiser than the Bible. When they invoke “scientific proof” that certain things are bad for you, they are saying that the so-called findings of modern science (findings that frequently change from year to year) are superior to God’s Word. They are implying that God didn’t know that such foods were bad for people back then, or that He didn’t know they would one day become bad for people and thus invalidate His Word.
This is the same line of reasoning that theological liberals use to justify homosexuality and evolution. They invoke science to trump the Word of God and teach people that the Bible is antiquated and unable to speak to the issues of the day. Those who have a low view of the Bible have a low view of the God who wrote it. According to them, God was apparently not smart enough to write a book that would be sufficient for all people for all time. Instead He wrote a book that is frozen in antiquity and was only helpful for the people alive at the time at which He inspired it. Consequently, modern people have to look elsewhere for truth. But, according to Paul in verse 3, those who believe and know the truth are the ones who gratefully receive all the food that God has created, not those who prohibit various foods.
In this chapter we will look at the freedom God has given Christians. The first reason that all food is good, according to the text above, is because God is the creator of it. The second reason it is good is because it is sanctified by means of the Word of God and prayer. We will look at both of these reasons in reverse order.
What does Paul mean when he says that all food is sanctified by the Word of God? The word “sanctify” means to “to consecrate or set apart for God’s purposes.” In the Old Testament, several foods were unsanctified (unholy or unclean) in the sense that God forbade the consumption of them. All other food was sanctified. We must remember that nutrition was never the concern of these passages. Such foods were merely declared by God as unclean for worship and consequently unclean for consumption under the Mosaic Law. They served to separate the Jews from the Gentiles, even in their diet.
Therefore, when Paul tells us that all food is sanctified by the Word of God, we should not assume that it was once nutritionally bad and now is nutritionally good by means of the Word of God and prayer. He simply means that what was previously unlawful is now permissible because the food laws have been fulfilled.
In what sense then is all food sanctified by the Word of God? The answer is found in Acts 10, a passage in which we saw that God sanctified all food by His word. Peter was told to kill and eat the unclean animals that he saw. Peter’s response in verses 14-15 was as follows: “ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.’ Again a voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’" In Acts 10, we have a record of the Word of God that sanctified and cleansed all food. All food was sanctified by God’s very words, declaring that it was now clean.
When Paul says above that food is sanctified by the Word of God, he is likely referring to Acts 10. Again, nutrition has nothing to do with this sanctification of food. It is not that God suddenly changed the nutritional properties of pigs and other animals that were declared unclean in the Old Testament. He simply declared that animals that were once unlawful to eat are now lawful to eat. The reason is because Christ has fulfilled the Law, abolishing the ceremonial aspects of it, and has broken down the dividing wall that formerly existed between Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:11-21).
In Genesis 1:29-31, it is written,
“Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Among those who take the Bible literally, even among the adherents of Nutritianity, it is universally agreed that God made all things good. In fact, many use this very point to argue for an all-vegetarian diet. But this passage actually proves too much for such a view. If God made everything good, then the animals were also good. There was nothing wrong with them. They were not nutritionally bad. And so it is then obvious that God didn’t command vegetarianism for Adam and Eve because animals were bad.
God did not prohibit the eating of meat because of nutritional deficiencies in meat. If someone were to argue that meat is now bad because of the fall, then several other questions would follow. First, why did the fall not have the same effect on the plants and trees? Secondly, why were Noah and all his descendants granted permission to eat meat, since that was also after the fall? Thirdly, why are the Israelites permitted to eat meat under the old covenant—a covenant under which various foods were prohibited? Fourthly, why does Paul, in 1 Timothy 4:1-5, speaking thousands of years after the fall, say that God created all things good?
It is clear that Paul does not think that a fallen world has changed the goodness of all food. When Paul said that everything created by God was good and nothing was to be rejected, he was talking about food in his own day, not referring to food in the Garden of Eden. This is obvious, since the goodness of food at the beginning is not disputed by anyone. Furthermore, Paul was correcting false teachers in his own day who advocated abstaining from some foods. What relevance would the goodness of food prior to the fall have to his argument against those in his own day who taught that some foods were bad? Paul’s point is that people in his day, thousands of years after the fall, could eat anything, because God created it good—a creative act not ruined by the fall!
The food eaten in Paul’s day was created by God. The food we eat today is still created by God. Theistic evolution and deism are false teachings. The idea that God spun the world into motion and then let it run according to natural laws is an unbiblical and anti-Christian system of thought. According to the Bible, God is involved every day in everything that happens in this world. He works all things out after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11) and no sparrow falls to the ground apart from His will (Matt. 10:29).