Hi La Vista Church and Mr. Jeff,
Hope everyone and yourself are doing well. I just came to know your website while browsing today and I shared it to my social media accounts and messenger groups.
I am fasting and what a great blessing to feast upon your articles and answers to different questions being raised. Then, here I am, inspired to send an email.
God spoke to me through your articles. I have stopped eating pork one year ago. I'm a Catholic but now a born-again follower of Jesus (what I call myself with the new creation given to me by God). My workmates and some friends knew I had stopped eating pork due to my personal conviction on how I can manage my fleshly desires.
I didn't get to explain it well. However, as I continue to seek the Lord, He never fails to give me grace, direction, and wisdom. Thus, He continued to increase in me
I had stopped eating pork but I was still eating seafood. I had this dilemma in my mind and heart that what I was doing is not from faith; thus, I could be sinning.
Today, I have accepted my weakness. The Holy Spirit made me understand that truly: Happy is he who does not condemn himself for what he approves. Thank you for being an instrument for my healing.
Though, I am now having a problem on how to explain to people my newfound freedom against my own self-claimed "sound conviction." Should I let them know I will now eat pork again? Will I cause them to stumble? How can I explain it better?
What you have been doing is creating your own personal religion. Instead of heeding what Christ and the apostles actually said, you imposed extra rules on yourself.
Pork was forbidden under the Old Testament laws. However, Jesus explained that when we talk about spiritual uncleanness, it isn't the physical things that cause the problem. "And He said to them, 'Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?' (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, 'That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man'" (Mark 7:18-23). Paul again mentioned this in his writings, "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, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 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. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer" (I Timothy 4:1-5).
Men have long thought that giving up things is a way to show piety, but they are "sacrificing" things that God never commanded. There was only one day of fast under the Old Testament laws, but the Israelites had continually added more days. God pointed out, in Isaiah 58:3-10, that while they claimed to be doing this for God, they were spending their days doing things contrary to what God really wanted. In truth, their fasts were really about them and not God. "Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted? When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves?'" (Zechariah 7:5-6). This is why Paul said that these "sacrifices" are nothing more than for show. "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) -- in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence" (Colossians 2:20-23).
True following of God means submitting my will to God. It is no longer what I want, but obedience to what God wants. That is the sacrifice that God desires.
How do you explain your change to others? Simply admit that you were wrong; that someone pointed out what the Bible really said, and you realized that you needed to change. What is stopping you is your pride.
Being a Christian involves growth (I Peter 2:1-2) and that growth means that at times I'm going to realize that I was wrong and need to change to align myself to the will of God. That is what all of us need to do, so you are setting an example of humility and obedience. In explaining this to others, show them the passages that changed your mind. This again sets the standard that it is God who has the final said and not a personal opinion.
Thank you, Mr. Jeff. That was eye-opening. Thank you. Glory to God for your life and preaching.