The apostle Paul was very sensitive toward the conscience of fellow believers–especially those who were new believers in Christ. Recent converts to Christ would have experienced a new-found freedom in Christ. They came from either strict Judaism where rules and regulations binded them, and if from paganism, Gentiles would have had little or no rules. Jewish beliefs about eating non-kosher food or drinking alcohol would have diverged from Gentile beliefs. Thus, the church may have been quite diverse.
Paul instructed Christians in Romans 14:20-23,
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
I am reminded about my fellow brothers and sisters of Asian cultures who eat solidified pigs blood (blood curd) like my Filipino friends. Deuteronomy 12:23 advises not to eat pig’s blood,
But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.
What about after it’s been cooked? When I was a younger Christian, I would have judged because others in the church were judgemental. I guess it was a form of devout piety and a sincere but twisted desire to bind others with biblical rules. Today that’s changed. Hopefully, some of the church is changing too. Does this mean I’m going to start eating blood curd? No. It’s just not in my taste in food. But I do love eating pork chops, pork cutlets, and pork bone soup (Korean). Yum yum.
The freedom that we are given frees us from the consequences of external laws–liturgical and ceremonial law. It is the life of the Spirit in which we live–the interior life–which is not visible to human eyes but is spiritually discerned.
Laws are not disregarded or thrown out. Laws are holy and good because they are given by God and inform us of what is moral and ethical. They inform us that we are still sinners; while the gospel transforms us into saints. Laws help correct us and steer us toward living a better life but they do not save us. We thank God for good laws, but we also thank God more for freedom in the Spirit.