Introduction: If you were asked about the key to a healthy and long
life, what would you say? Most would say “exercise, diet, good air,
and common sense.” Common sense meaning to avoid dangerous
practices. The Bible says a lot about diet and common sense. Jesus
famously said in Matthew 15:11: “What goes into a man’s mouth does
not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is
what makes him ‘unclean.'” Does this make diet irrelevant? If so,
why does the Bible say so much about diet? Let’s dive into our study
of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Daniel’s Diet

    1. Read Daniel 1:8-10. Did the king care about what Daniel
      and his friends ate? (Apparently.)

      1. Why should the king care? (The king’s representative
        thought that the king’s food would make these young
        men healthy. It was a quest for health.)

      2. Did Daniel care about what he ate? (Yes.)

        1. Why did he care? (He did not want to be

    2. Read Daniel 1:11-14. What did Daniel want to eat?
      (Vegetables – with water to drink.)

      1. Would that be your choice?

    3. Read Daniel 1:15-16. Ten days. Do you think the outcome
      of this test was the result of diet or something else?

    4. Read Daniel 10:1-2. Daniel is now a very old man. This
      text suggests that in his old age he ate meat and drank
      wine. What conclusion are we to draw from the difference
      in his diet when he was young and his diet when he was an
      old and important man in the kingdom? Has he become lax
      in his old age? When you get to be a certain age can you
      say, “Guess it doesn’t matter what I eat anymore?” (Since
      God is still giving Daniel revelations, we cannot
      conclude that Daniel has become lax and fallen into sin
      in his old age. Instead, we get back to the word (Daniel
      1:8) “defiled.” Something about the King’s meat, but not
      Daniel’s meat, was different.)

      1. What do you think was different?

      2. Read Acts 21:25 and Genesis 9:4. What do these
        suggest about meat? (Acts tells us that it is as
        much a problem to eat meat not properly prepared as
        is sexual immorality! Genesis 9:4 shows us that this
        was a concern of God from very early in human
        history. The reasonable conclusion was that the
        “King’s meat” was not properly prepared and might
        have been offered to idols. By the time Daniel was
        old and influential, he could dictate that the meat
        he ate was properly prepared.)

    5. Consider again Acts 21:25. Three of the four prohibitions
      have to do with diet! Had the leaders of the early church
      forgotten that Jesus said ( Matthew 15:11)that it does not
      matter what goes in your mouth?

      1. How can you explain what seems to be a serious
        conflict in the Bible? (Read Matthew 15:16-20. The
        actual issue is unwashed hands, not diet. Although
        Jesus is speaking in broad terms, it appears that
        His point is that controlling your mind is more
        important than controlling your diet. He is not
        saying that diet is unimportant. Daniel and the
        early church leaders teach us that diet is
        important. Next, let’s explore the history of diet
        in the Bible.)

  2. Adam’s Diet

    1. Read Genesis 1:29-30. What was Adam’s diet? (Plants and

      1. What was the diet of the animals? (The same.)

      2. Why do you think God’s original diet excluded meat?
        (The most obvious reason is that before the entry of
        sin in the world there was no death. No death = no
        dead meat.)

  3. Noah’s Diet

    1. Read Genesis 9:1-3. How has Noah’s diet changed after the
      flood? (He can now eat meat.)

      1. Why did Noah’s diet change? Is this because the
        flood wiped out the fruits and vegetables? (That
        seems an unlikely reason, since they also had a
        limited number of animals. If God was worried about
        a short-term problem, He could have given them manna
        or limited the license to eat animals to a few
        months. Something more fundamental has taken place.)

      2. Let’s revisit our thinking about Adam’s diet. If the
        lack of sin and death was the reason for the “fruits
        and vegetables” diet, why do you think that God
        waited hundreds of years after sin to add animals to
        the diet? (That delay suggests that the difference
        between Adam’s diet and Noah’s diet was not confined
        to the sin/death issue. God must have considered
        Adam’s diet to be superior independent of the
        sin/death issue.)

    2. Skim over Genesis chapters 5 and 11. What do you notice?
      (That the life span of humans drops dramatically after
      the flood – which is the point where Noah’s diet was

      1. Read Genesis 6:1-3 and Genesis 6:5-6. Does this
        suggest a reason for the change in diet? (It seems
        that God may have decided that it would be best to
        limit the life span of humans. I believe the “120
        years” reference is to the timing of the flood, but
        it suggests that God is rethinking the longevity of
        His creation.)

      2. What lesson should we draw from this? (God’s
        original diet has an impact on longevity. We know
        today that a diet which excludes meat has a clear
        impact on longevity.)

      3. Does longevity have anything to do with sin?
        (Imagine a world without books, but a world in which
        you could talk with your great-great-great
        grandparents every day. Longevity would increase
        learning and the transmission of knowledge. If the
        knowledge is about evil, then we can begin to see
        why God might have thought a shorter life-span was

  4. Spirituality and Diet

    1. Read Genesis 7:1-3. On what basis does God distinguish
      between the animals?(He makes a distinction between
      “clean” and “unclean” animals.)

      1. Has this something to do with bathing? (No. Skim
        over Leviticus 11 and read Deuteronomy 14:3-8. Clean
        animals could be eaten and the unclean animals could
        not – they should not even be touched when they were

      2. Read Deuteronomy 14:21. What is the rule about road-kill? (You could not eat it, but you could give it
        to a foreigner.)

        1. What does this suggest about the nature of
          God’s rules about diet? (The unclean things
          were not poison. Instead, they have something
          to do with being in a proper relationship with

    2. Leviticus and Deuteronomy remind us of the sacrificial
      system. Did this idea of unclean = unholy end when the
      sacrificial system ended? (Some would argue that. But,
      there are some very serious problems with that
      conclusion. First, not every clean animal, for example
      grasshoppers and fish with fins and scales, were
      sacrificed. They had nothing to do with the sacrificial
      system. Second, the distinction between clean and unclean
      existed before the flood, before the sanctuary system was
      formalized, and before humans were authorized to eat
      meat. Third, the Acts 21:25 prohibition on eating meat
      with blood (which certainly reminds us of the sanctuary
      system) is imposed after Jesus’ resurrection.)

      1. What are we to conclude from this? (I cannot explain
        it, but God has recommended levels of diet. Best
        diet practice is fruits and vegetables. Average diet
        practice is clean animals, no blood. Alien diet
        practice is roadkill!)

      2. Should a people walking the path to holiness strive
        for the best dietary practices?

    3. Read Romans 14:2-4. Wait a minute! If holy people have a
      holy diet, how can Paul describe them as those “whose
      faith is weak?” How can the alien, road-kill diet people
      be equated with those of strong faith? (This is a puzzle.
      We need to further explore Paul’s thoughts.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-5. What does Paul suggest about
      diet and righteousness? (A spiritual diet and more does
      not mean you are pleasing God.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 10:18. What is the answer? (Yes! Those
      who brought their sacrifice to the temple participated in
      the removal of sin.)

    6. Read 1 Corinthians 10:19-24. Should we eat meat offered
      in a pagan sacrifice? (As a practical matter, we know
      that the idol is nothing. But, it would be “beneficial”
      to avoid eating meat sacrificed to idols.)

    7. Read 1 Corinthians 10:25-33. What does this teach us
      about Paul’s statement in Romans 14 about equating the
      road-kill diet with strong faith? (Paul tells us the most
      important aspect of diet is to use it to advance the
      Kingdom of God. Although an idol is nothing, if you know
      meat has been offered to an idol, it is not beneficial to
      eat it – especially, if in the presence of someone else
      has reservations about it. Thus, the “weak faith” person
      in Romans 14 is someone who has recently exited idol
      worship and does not have the faith to realize that idols
      are nothing.)

    8. What should be our “bottom-line” conclusion about faith
      and diet? (God has consistently given humans instructions
      about diet. There is little doubt that He has a dietary
      recommendation that it would be “beneficial” to follow.
      However, the most important issue about diet is how we
      handle it in terms of the faith of others.)

    9. Friend, what about you? Will you reconsider your
      attitude about diet and be sure it is in line with God’s

  5. Next week: Social Support: The Tie That Binds.