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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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John Calvin On The Christian Diet

Are all foods useful to Christians or are we to continue abstaining from some as found in the Old Testament? We do not subject ourselves to the Law when it is clearly expressed in the New Testament that all meats are clean to us: that is, we may use them freely without wavering. How can this be? John Calvin informs us:

Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him: being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:15-16)

To be short, St. Paul informs us in this place that in these days we have liberty to eat of all kinds of meat without exception. As for the health of the body, that is not here spoken of; but the matter here set forth is that men shall not set themselves up as masters, to make laws for us contrary to the Word of God. Seeing it is so, that God putteth no difference between meats, let us so use them; and never inquire what men like, or what they think good. Notwithstanding, we must use the benefits that God hath granted us, soberly and moderately. We must remember that God hath made meats for us, not that we should fill ourselves like swine, but that we should use them for the sustenance of life: therefore, let us content ourselves with this measure, which God hath shown us by His Word.

If we have not such a store of nourishment as we would wish, let us bear our poverty patiently, and practice the doctrine of St. Paul; and know as well how to bear poverty as riches. If our Lord gives us more than we could have wished for, yet must we bridle our appetites. On the other side, if it pleases Him to cut off our morsel, and feed us but poorly, we must be content with it, and pray Him to give us patience when we have not what our appetites crave. To be short, we must have recourse to what is said in Romans 13: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Let us content ourselves to have what we need, and that which God knoweth to be proper for us; thus shall all things be clean to us, if we be thus cleansed.

Yet it is true that although we were ever so unclean, the meats which God hath made are good; but the matter we have to consider is the use of them. When St. Paul saith all things are clean., he meaneth not that they are so of themselves, but as relateth to those that receive them; as we have noticed before, where he saith to Timothy, all things are sanctified to us by faith and giving of thanks. God hath filled the world with such abundance that we may marvel to see what a fatherly care He hath over us: for to what end or purpose are all the riches here on earth, only to show how liberal He is toward man!

If we know not that He is our Father, and acteth the part of a nurse toward us, if we receive not at His hand that which He giveth us, insomuch that when we eat, we are convinced that it is God that nourishes us, He cannot be glorified as He deserves; neither can we eat one morsel of bread without committing sacrilege; for which we must give an account. That we may lawfully enjoy these benefits, which have been bestowed upon us, we must be resolved upon this point (as I said before), that it is God that nourishes and feedeth us.

This is the cleanness spoken of here by the apostle; when he saith, all things are clean, especially when we have such an uprightness in us that we despise not the benefits bestowed upon another, but crave our daily bread at the hand of God, being persuaded that we have no right to it, only to receive it as the mercy of God. (“The Word our Only Rule”)

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