Leviticus 11:7-8

And the pig, though it has a split hood completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

Leviticus 11:11-12

And since you are to detest them, you must not eat their meat ad you must detest their carcasses. Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you.

Leviticus 11:19

Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

I haven't come across many Christians that campaign against the eating of bacon, the eating of lobsters/squid or that refuse to wear clothes made of mixtures of cotton and wool.

If a believer doesn't follow every instruction, how do they decide which to follow?

Note: I must credit the excellent book "The Philosophy Gym" by Stephen Law, from which these examples are taken

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    There are some believers that try to observe the law. eliyah.com/law.htm has reasons why and responses to those that do not. They know they can't follow everything perfectly and rely on grace/mercy. The understand they are not saved by observing the law and understand legalism.
    – user16659
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 19:53
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    WaxEagle's answer should certainly be accepted, as testimony to the number of votes it has gathered. This is by no means a new question, and the answer is quite simple, as WaxEagle points out. The Levitical Law did not even bind Abraham, but was instituted for a time (~2500 B.C. - 30 A.D.) to a certain people (the Jews).
    – Narnian
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 13:14
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    In these matters, high # of votes !== accuracy. I actually believe that dleyv3's answer, where he actually provides Paul's responses in the epistles, is more complete. Theology is not a popularity contest :) Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 6:30
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it doesn't seem to belong to any one of the four categories permitted on this site.
    – guest37
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 0:06
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    Possible duplicate of To what extent does the Law of Moses still apply?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 0:37

6 Answers 6


The typical reformed answer on this is that the Old Covenant is fulfilled in the the Death and Resurrection of Jesus and that we are now living under the New Covenant.

Lets look at this specifically point by point.

Leviticus 11:7-8 and Leviticus 11:11-12 have been fulfilled by by Acts 11:6-9

6I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. 7Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

8“I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

9“The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

as far as Leviticus 11:19 is concerned this is pretty much the same line of thinking as above, its less explicit, but its essentially the same thing.

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    Acts 11:6-9 is actually when Peter is told to go and preach to the Gentiles. Read the context of Acts 11. Peter doesn't go out and tell all his brethren they can now eat unclean animals. Instead, he tells others that the Gentiles can now be accepted as Christians. Also, look at the context of the story. (biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%2011&version=ESV) The context is that of Peter telling the church why the Gentiles are now a part of the Christian church.
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 22:19
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    Right the context is important, but so are the actual words. There are plenty of other discussions in the NT (specifically in acts) about no longer keeping the OT law, this seemed like the first reference. I can add a bit more about this later.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 23:25
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    @davie: Wax Eagle is correct, the analogy would have been nonsensical unless Peter also was given to understand that the animals he saw in his vision were now clean to him.
    – user32
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 0:31
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    I find this resolution to be unsatisfactory without any sort of discussion regarding Jesus's interaction with the Law. Otherwise it is just one of those things that leads to the slippery slope of Christian liberty (e.g. "OH. That's the Old Testament - a good set of moral teachings.")
    – swasheck
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 23:14
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    While I most certainly agree, Bruce also notes that "Some Christians divide ..." My point is that there should be some sort of justification for this division. To simply state that this is the case without providing some sort of rationale behind it makes it "feel" like a justification for arbitrary acceptance of God's laws (which is often a criticism).
    – swasheck
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 23:24

Some Christians divide the Mosaic law into three components: Moral, Ceremonial, and Civil.

Moral laws apply to all believers at all times: the Ten Commandments, the Shema, etc.

Civil laws were for the governing of the nation of Israel. They may be valid today but the punishments listed with them might not apply to us.

Ceremonial laws were for the worship of the nation of Israel and are not binding on us. These include the animal sacrifices, which pointed to Christ the ultimate sacrifice.

That said, I have never seen a reliable method for sorting the 613 laws into these three categories without resorting to arbitrary divisions, so this may be merely an intellectual exercise with no practical application.

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    Yet there is no indication in all of scripture of these distinctions. We make proper distinguishments based upon the intentions behind the laws, and their moral teachings, not based upon arbitrary distinctions made up by man.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 5:28

The laws in Leviticus are not separate, individual commands, but rather the whole of the Moses' Law is a unit, "which if a man do, he shall live in them" (Leviticus 8:5). This includes the laws of the temple and the sacrifices. You can't keep some or most. This answer is the entire basis of the Christian's faith in Jesus. In answering this question, I will present the purpose of the Law and the inadequacies of the law, and the expectations that Lawgiver Jesus has for his followers today.

Galations 3:11. Here Paul quotes Habakkuk to prove that the law does not bring about righteousness. This is confirmed in Galatians 2:16. The purpose of the law is not our salvation, but rather it serves as an preface to the coming Messiah. The purpose of the Law is to point to Christ.

23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Galatians 3:23-25, KJV

Jesus is the Prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 (See John 1:45). His role on earth was to "wrap up" the Law. This is why Romans 10:4 says that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness." The law was already weak in that it could not provide the Spirit or righteousness through obedience in it. However, in fulfilling the law completely, Jesus is able to say, "It is finished." He did not fulfill it solely by obeying each of the individual laws, he also tied all the loose ends left in the inadequacies of the Law to absolve sin.

1For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins... 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Hebrews 10:1ff

I would like to emphasize that last verse, taken from Hebrews 10:12. In sitting down, Priest Jesus is contrasted to the ever-working priests of Leviticus. He is finished working, and the law is taken care of. Pleasing the Father never had to do with following the minutia of the law anyway. Micah 6:8. Today Christians walk in the Spirit, for "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2. See also vv 3-4). In a sense this is more difficult than following Moses' Law - there is no room for hypocrisy. The law of the Spirit means obedience in everything you do, not just in the 600+ commands in the Pentateuch. The Pharisees of Jesus' day were seemingly the most obedient of people, yet to them He said,

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:13)

  • truly that is an amazing answer with valid references but I still do not understand how it is allowed to eat bacon when it is still evil to lie. How is it that we take one part of the law and not the other?
    – Lordbalmon
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 8:24
  • @Lordbalmon See the other answers for the basics of how eating bacon and lieing are different. Also remember Jesus himself said it isn't what you put in your mouth that defiles, but rather what comes out of it... Lie's are a spiritual problem. I could go on, but this is just a comment.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 8:17
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    At @Adam Heeg it must be noted that Jesus was not referring to unclean animals in Mark 7 but the ceremonial cleaning processes. And if you read the chapter very well you'll notice he was countering the Pharisees sense of self righteousness Commented May 14, 2017 at 6:01

The Apostles themselves, inspired, we believe, by the Holy Spirit, taught that it was no longer necessary to follow all the requirements spelled out in the Mosaic Law:

Acts 15:19–20,24

19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment

  • This is a very good passage to use here. Notice that some commands are still followed, while others are not.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 5:33

The dietary restrictions God gave to the nation of Israel included prohibitions against eating pork, shrimp, shellfish and many types of seafood, most insects, scavenger birds, and various other animals. The dietary rules were never intended to apply to anyone other than the Israelites. The purpose of the food laws was to make the Israelites distinct from all other nations. After this purpose had ended, Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19).

Under the Old Testament Law, not only was eating pork forbidden, but even touching the meat of swine made one ritually unclean (Deuteronomy 14:8). This detail further insulated the Israelites from pagan practices. The Canaanites kept herds of swine and sacrificed them to idols. God wanted His people to distance themselves from all such activity. By following the hundreds of dietary rules and regulations God gave to the Israelites, they would also be protected from disease: “If you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).

Later, God gave the apostle Peter a vision that implied formerly unclean animals could be eaten: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15).

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them (Matthew 5:17)

When Jesus spoke these words he was speaking to a Jewish audience. When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24-26; Ephesians 2:15). This includes the laws regarding clean and unclean foods.

The prohibitions and restrictions detailed in the book of Leviticus do not apply to Christians. Jesus Christ came to establish the New Covenant between God and His people. Romans chapter 8 shows how Jesus is the mediator of this new covenant which is superior to the old one and is founded on better promises. Entering the New Covenant is made possible only by faith in Christ, who shed His blood to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

We are no longer under the Law but under grace (Romans 6:14–15). The Old Covenant has served its purpose, and it has been replaced by “a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22).

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    Surprisingly perhaps, this seems to be the first answer to quote Jesus (Mark 7:19).
    – davidlol
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 8:54
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    Appreciate the reference to Mark 7:19: (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean”.) Matthew 15:1-20 is also worthy of consideration.
    – Lesley
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 9:21

I believe that this passage from Hebrews 9 gives some clarity in that the old covenant was fufilled by Jesus' life and death and therefore not applicable thereafter. All of Hebrews 8-10 give some really important context in my opinion.

"11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,[a] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God!

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant."

Hebrews 9:11-15

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    Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. While I think you're on the right track here, more explicit connection to the question would be good. Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 19:41
  • While Hebrews is indeed helpful, I would caution against over-applying it in imbalance against other scripture, particularly those of Paul and his teachings regarding the Law (mainly in Galatians and Romans). I have seen people do this and it screws with their proper understanding of the Law and also with eschatology, particularly regarding the Millennium and Ezekiel 40-48.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 5:32

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