|"Beware of false prophets ..." -- Jesus|
The words of Jesus are unmistakable and striking. The audacity of false teachers is stunning. How do they get away with it for decades, even centuries?
· How is it that Mormon leaders prohibit coffee and tea?
· On what basis to Seventh-day Adventists prohibit the eating of pork and other foods?
· By what authority do Jehovah's Witnesses prohibit blood transfusions?
Jesus' words in Mark 7 could not be more clear: “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him"
Jesus elaborates on this further to his disciples in private who were likely shocked by this sweeping statement. "Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”
And, as if this were not enough, we have the Gospel writer Mark's inspired commentary (which Mark likely got from Peter) that immediately follows it -- "Thus he declared all foods clean" (Mark 7:19).
Is there any person who has the authority to trump the clear teaching of Jesus? Prohibitions on externals that are tied to what makes us acceptable to God should be recognized as man-made additions that arrogantly set aside the ultimate authority of Jesus. They are best rejected, as should be the person who teaches them. This is further reinforced by other New Testament teaching like Peter's vision of the sheet with "unclean" animals in it (Acts 10:15), and Paul's teaching that 'food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do" (1 Cor. 8:8).
In addition, Paul's teaching in Colossians 2:16-18, 23, is especially applicable to the movements founded by Joseph Smith and Ellen White which claim a visionary basis for the external restrictions and commandments they impose on their followers:
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind „, these indeed have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism
Pride if you succeed -- false guilt if you fail
The saddest part is perhaps the damage done to those who attempt to follow such false teachers. If they succeed to some degree in holding to these externals, they are proud of their accomplishments and often look in disdain or contempt on those who cannot or will not comply. If they fail to completely adhere, or simply give up after trying for so long, they then are made to feel guilty, defiled and unworthy of God's love and acceptance.
Meanwhile, Jesus stands with arms open wide saying "I've already earned perfection for you, come take it from me. Trade your true moral guilt, the stuff that comes out of you - your pride, envy, hate, coveting, lying, murder and adultery - trade your sin for my righteousness, for only my perfection taken as a gift in faith, will make you acceptable before God the Father." (See Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13-14; Titus 13-7; I Peter 2:24).
Any movement, religion, teacher, or self-claimed apostle or prophet that ties our acceptance before God to external prohibitions related to food, drink, religious observance or medical practices has, either in ignorance or intentionally, set aside the clear teaching of Jesus and his apostles. In doing so, they show themselves to be a spiritual charlatan that will cheat us out of authentic, intimate relationship with the God who created us to enjoy Him both now and forever.