DECREES FOR THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
THESE NECESSARY THINGS
The Jerusalem Council made a decree for the returning Israelites of four necessary things (Acts 15:29) based upon them continuing to hear Moshe preached each Sabbath in their local synagogues. They stipulated only these four mandatory things on the basis that what they did not already know they would learn as they continued to hear the Word preached. So these four things had a special purpose on being deemed necessary for them to adhere to right away.
The Four Things are:
1. To abstain from things strangled
2. To abstain from blood
3. To abstain from strangling things
4. To abstain from fornication
The question arises - why these four things?
And why are they necessary?
None of them are listed specifically in the 10 commands. They are covered in other parts of Yahweh's instructions for His people and they are the basics of what was required under the Noahic covenant. But is this all that is required for these returning Israelite?
But they are left to grow in their understanding and application of the principles of Biblical living. In other words, what was placed upon them was the mandatory requirements under the Noahic covenant (as children of Abraham), although these believers were brought into the new covenant experience. Abraham was a Noahide before circumcision and they were children of Abraham by faith.
Their growth from thereon was left to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and their conscience before God. But it was assumed that they would go on to adopt all the principles of righteous living, in time as they grew in their faith.
The ten commands and the rest of the Law was not being bypassed here, but as James (Ya'acov) determined, as the preaching of Moshe was heard week by week, they would progress on to these things, most of which required time and spiritual growth to appropriated into one's life. These four were chosen as the basics for acceptance as genuine converts and to establish in their lifestyle the separation from abominable practices which would cause them to become defiled. Yahweh had cleansed their hearts by faith, but their bodies also had to be holy, sanctified unto Him, and therefore there was a need for abstinence from all that would defile it.
"For you are the temple of the living God, as YHWH has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore come out from among them, and be holy, says Master YHWH, and touch not the unclean things; and I will receive you, and I will be an Abba to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Master YHWH the Almighty "Having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the FLESH AND SPIRIT, perfecting holiness in the fear of Yahweh." 1 Corinthians 6:16- 7:1
Believers are to perfect holiness, not only in their spirit, but also in their bodies - the body is to be kept holy, separate from all that would defile it. It is to be His dwelling place - His temple.
"Do you not know that your BODY is the temple of the Holy Spirit which you have from God, and you are not your own ...? 1 Corinthians 6:19
THE FOUR THINGS EXPLAINED
1. Things sacrificed to idols. In the one verse it says "all things sacrificed to idols" and in the other "meats (foods) sacrificed to idols". This is all-inclusive and takes in ALL things sacrificed to idols.
Sacrifice requires energy, time and veneration of the thing we deem worthy of our sacrifice - i.e. the idol. The choice we make is based upon the priority we give it, the cost to our time and energy. Therefore, sacrifice is an act of worship. Whatever we make a priority in our life and takes our time and energy are our idols, whether family, possessions or our profession, this is what we worship unless they have been first dedicated to Yahweh.
John said, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21
In Biblical times continuing through to Paul's day, the enemy had propagated false worship to many gods, to whom sacrificial offerings were made and this formed a part of their daily lives. These were often mandatory ritual offerings and not only formed part of their lifestyle but their work was often dependent upon being part of the allegiance to these deities. It was directly opposed to the worship of the One true God, and so, their abstinence from these things was necessary and it often required a complete change of lifestyle and alienation from friends and family.
The believers were faced with a choice; to partake of the Table of the Lord or that of the idols. Paul says, "are not they who eat the victims participators of the altar?" 1 Cor.10:18-20 "What the pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God and I would not have you be associates of demons.' You..."cannot partake of the table of Y'shua and the table of demons." 1 Cor.10:21-22
There is no liberty here for a believer to continue in these practices, it is question of which god do they serve. Sacrificing to idols is sacrificing to devils - Deut.32:16
Therefore Paul tells them not to eat meat which is known to have been sacrificed to idols, for the conscience of all concerned. Not that the actual flesh of the meat is contaminated by offering it in worship to a false god, but there is a spiritual impartation involved (1 Corinthians 10:28 and again in 1 Corinthians 8).
Something to consider: All the traditions associated with Easter and Xmas are part of the sacrificial offerings to those deities
2. From Blood
"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But the flesh with the life in it, which is its blood, shall you not eat" Gen.9:3-4
The commandment given to Noah is not to partake of blood together with the liberty to eat meat. Again and again, this is repeated in scripture. "And whatever man there be of the House of Israel, or of the gerim (stranger) that sojourns among you, that eats any manner of blood; I will even set My face against that being that eats blood, and I will even cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood". Leviticus 17:10-11
"And whatever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the Gerim (strangers) that sojourns among among you, which hunts and catches any beast or fowl that may be eaten, he shall pour out the blood of it; and shall cover it with dust." Leviticus 17:13
See also Leviticus 19:26; 7:26 Not only is eating of blood intended in this prohibition, but the taking of life also. "And surely the blood of your lives I will require: at the hand of every beast I will require it and at the hand of man: Whosoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God He made him." Genesis 9:5-6 Blood defiles the land Numbers 35:33. He will avenge the blood of His servants Deuteronomy 32:43
3. From things strangled
The Biblical instruction for Israelites is not to eat anything that dies of itself although an alien or a sojourner can eat it. (Deuteronomy 14:7) The point is that it renders your body unclean. This is akin to being strangled, as the blood is retained in the flesh and will contaminate the flesh of the animal to some degree. See Leviticus 11:39-40
Because things that are strangled retain the blood in the flesh, any method of slaughter which does not cut the jugular vein first causes the blood to be retained in the animal's flesh, and is equivalent to strangulation.. "That which dies of itself, or is torn with living creatures, he shall not eat to defile himself with it" Leviticus 22:8
What dies of itself retains the blood and what is torn or mauled may have released a quantity of blood, but the nervous reaction of the animal to the attack would cause it to release adrenalin into the blood stream and that causes blood to be congealed in the tissues. The same thing happens with modern methods of slaughter when animals are stunned first. The animal is already in a state of fear and adrenalin is already active in its system through witnessing the slaughter of others in the line, so there is a high concentration of blood congealed int he flesh of the animal. The other method of shooting them first before cutting the jugular vein, does not allow all the blood to flow out of the body either. Meat killed by modern methods may be koshered by salting or by grilling over an open flame, but all meat that has been lot-fed, is contaminated by additives that are destructive to our bodies, and they are not kosher. This also applies to chickens. Most chickens on the market are diseased and contaminated by many chemicals, as well as being improperly killed.
4. From Fornication
Fornication covers all sexual impurity - both spiritual and physical, but in the sense it is used here, the application is meant to cover all sexual impurity. Paul says, "I wrote to you not to mingle with sexual sinners" 1 Corinthians 5:9 This is meant in the sense of not fellowshiping with them and not eating with them.
"Flee from sexual sin. For every sin which a man commits is external to his body, but he that commits sexual sin, sins against his own body" 1 Corinthians 6:18 Joining oneself in harlotry defiles the body. The two become one flesh - the defilement is transferred from one body to the other. 1 Corinthians 6:16
It is included in the list and prominent in the sins which exclude one from the kingdom of God. The commandment is not to eat with such a person 1 Corinthians 5:11 As Paul says, "fornicators, adulterers, the effeminate and homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul gives another list in Galatians 5:19-21 of sins which exclude one from the kingdom.
Now the issue behind the Jerusalem Council decree was that anyone who practiced these things was defiled and unclean in their bodies. Not only was their spirit defiled but the flesh of their bodies was also rendered unclean. Therefore others would be defiled by contact with them.
REASONS FOR DEFILEMENT
With sacrifice to idols the participant became a partaker of the spirit of the demon by fellowship at the altar of the idol, just as one who partakes of the Table of the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. Therefore, one partaking of the demonic altar has imbibed the spirit of the demon and imparts that to the Body of believers if he sits in fellowship with them. Idolatry is one of the sins listed by Paul that excludes one from the kingdom of God.
The person who eats blood is taking in the soul-life of the animal, as the life is in the blood, as well as other impurities and diseases. By eating blood, Yahweh says that He Himself will set His face against that person and cut him off from his people. If He does it, then it must be a spiritual separation and invoke a curse. Spiritual separation from the congregation - a blockage in the ability to be a partaker in the fellowship of the Body? With things strangled, here again it is the physical defilement of the flesh and becoming unclean until evening, with the need to take a Mikveh.
As fornication is listed as excluding one from the kingdom of God, it also excludes one from Table fellowship with the saints. As Paul said, do not eat with such a person (1 Cor.5:11) Here again, the physical flesh is defiled by spiritual contamination.
So the whole issue of the Decree was for believers to become and maintain holiness in their body as well as their spirit, so that they would not be defiled and unclean and partake unworthily of the Table of the Lord; also that they would not contaminate others by their defilement.
It was because of the concerns regarding the practices of these former idol worshipers who ate all manner of unclean food and engaged in temple prostitution, that the righteous living Jews had such a problem. With such a high standard of physical purity and honoring of the body, as His temple, it was a big issue to accept these unclean believers from among the nations coming into their midst, and therefore the necessity of the elementary ordinances of ritual cleanliness.
There were many other ways in which a person could be rendered unclean, such as by contact with a dead or diseased body, or by any other types of uncleanness which is defined by torah instructions. In Jewish communities, it is etiquette to not engage in physical contact, flesh to flesh, so as to avoid touching anyone in a state of uncleanness, unknowingly. This practice also allows for personal privacy. Anyone who does become unclean for whatever reason, is instructed to take a Mikvek (a ritual bath).
Agreement was reached in the decision to send out this decree to all the congregations throughout the world as the standard practice by which all incoming believers were to be accepted into fellowship. This decree by the apostles, has been cast aside and neglected with nothing more being required than the "sinners prayer", which doesn't amount to anything scripturally, as faith always has to be proven by our works.
Faith without works is dead! .... .... .... and so, there needs to be evidence of one's change of life and separation from the old lifestyle to be accepted into a covenant community, according to scripture.
The scriptural standard hasn't changed. The Body of Messiah is meant to be a fellowship of people who commit to covenant relationship with their Messiah and with one another.
FOOTNOTE This list refers to sins which cause separation from the people of God and His kingdom. While these things are not a criteria for entering the kingdom, they will exclude anyone who continues in them and so they are just as important as those four things for entrance into the covenant community.
They are: Sexual impurity, adultery, lasciviousness, homosexual sins, impurity, drunkenness, theft, envy, strife, avarice, heresies, witchcraft, jealousy, anger, extortion, revelry, witchcraft Taken from 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21