What the Bible Says About Food – 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 – “Everything is Permissible, but not Everything is Helpful”

What does the Bible say about food

Thank you for joining me in this search of what the Bible says about food. If you missed the introduction, click here, the first lesson (“Do Not Worry about What You Will Eat”), click here, the second lesson (“Do Not Labor for Food that Perishes”) click here, or the third lesson (“He Declared All Foods Clean”), click here.

Let’s dig in:

Today’s verse:

Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food,” but God will do away with both of them. – 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

In context: Paul is using these verses to set up talking about sexual immorality and how our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Verse 18 says, “every other sin a person commits outside the body” except sexual immorality.

My Thoughts: Have you ever wondered if your food choices were sin? I’m not talking about gluttony or being enslaved to food (in that case the actions are a reflection of a sinful heart condition, not the act of eating itself – in my opinion). I’m talking instead about eating the frozen chicken nuggets or the mac & cheese. I have often wondered, where should I draw the line?

For me, this passage tells me that eating certain foods are not sins against the body. What goes into our mouth does not defile us in and of itself (Matthew 15:11).

But verse 12 also says that not everything is helpful. Perhaps in my eating choices I should not look as much toward avoiding certain foods as much as looking to choose food that is beneficial to my body. But I also understand that if I choose the frozen chicken nuggets one day when I’m in a hurry that I’m not sinning. I simply haven’t chosen what was most beneficial.

Another thing we see in these verses is that eating can become a sin issue when we’re enslaved by it.

We could be enslaved by unhealthy habits. We eat more than our bodies need (the Bible condemns gluttony a couple dozen times). We eat for comfort. We’re addicted to certain foods. We habitually choose the easy, processed foods because preparing whole foods takes too much time that we don’t think we have (raising my hand here).

But perhaps could some of us be enslaved by healthy habits, too? In our hearts, our healthy eating can become an idol itself when we chase after it above all else. We can become enslaved to worry with what we cannot afford to grow ourselves or buy organic.

We can also become so tied up in growing our own food that it leaves us little time to invest in the lives of those around us. I do often wonder, is God pleased that I’ve got this enormous garden that takes up a lot of time? Wouldn’t he prefer my time be more free to serve and invest in the lives of others? Just thinking out loud here.

So, what is the answer? I think it’s an individual one. God knows my tendency to be both enslaved by unhealthy habits and to be enslaved by chasing after healthy ones. And he knows yours. We both should allow God’s word to examine our hearts in this matter – and be ready to surrender to the direction he is leading us.

Chime in: Do you have a tendency to be enslaved to unhealthy or healthy eating habits?

Reflect: How can you put into practice making more “beneficial” choices in what you eat, without becoming enslaved in one area or the other?


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2 thoughts on “What the Bible Says About Food – 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 – “Everything is Permissible, but not Everything is Helpful”

  1. I am a Jew so for me everything is already outlined. I take it a step further and only eat meat a few times a month. When I do eat meat it’s grass fed hormone free and humanely raised meat (and eggs). I eat organic fruits and vegis and filter my water 3 times before drinking…I live in an area where the water quality is less than poor. I make homemade dressings for my salads and have been teaching my children all I know so they can also live a healthy lifestyle once they leave home. That’s really it, making a plan and developing a healthy lifestyle. That will look different for each person. Dark chocolate is my weakness so I really have to keep myself in check when a craving hits. I had a friend tell me once that she went to a fast food restaurant knowing it was horrible and unhealthy food. She sat down to pray and eat. She looked at her food and said, “God I will not insult you by asking you to bless something that I know is truly unhealthy for me and won’t benefit me in the least.” Then she ate.

  2. I also completely avoid anything GMO and artificial sweeteners as they taste bad and cause cancer. Anyone who thinks artificial sweeteners are ok….I can share a story about how artificial sweeteners almost claimed the life of my youngest son so….

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