In Paul's first epistle to Timothy, he informs us:
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
Christians can eat whatever we want as long as we receive it with gratitude.
A lack of context is, once again, the flaw in this objection, so let's start with some Scripture.
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. (1 Timothy 3:16-4:6)
Some will fall away
In this passage we find Paul warning his friend Timothy about apostates who have "fallen away from the faith." They are paying attention to "deceitful spirits" and "doctrines of demons" (verse 1) and forbidding "marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth." (verse 3)
Was Paul instructing Timothy to disregard God's commandments regarding food? By no means!
Paul was warning Timothy about the Gnostics.
Christianity.com describes Gnosticism as having these essential beliefs:
- The material world is bad, the spirit world is good. The material world is under the control of evil, ignorance, or nothingness.
- A divine spark is somehow trapped in some (but not all) humans and it alone, of all that exists in this material world, is capable of redemption.
- Salvation is through a secret knowledge by which individuals come to know themselves, their origin, and destiny.
- Since a good God could not have created an evil world, it must have been created by an inferior, ignorant, or evil god.
Part of Gnostic doctrine includes the idea that, since all physical things were corrupt, the body must be corrupt also. As a consequence, many Gnostics taught that the body must be kept in check by strict asceticism: the severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence or pleasure. Such ideas are clearly inconsistent with Scripture.
Paul is warning Timothy against the teachings of these unbelieving, ascetic Gnostics who forbade marriage (because of the pleasure of marital intimacy) and eating certain foods (because of the pleasure they provide). We also know Paul is speaking about Gnostics because he explicitly describes Messiah as "He who was revealed in the flesh" in direct contradiction to Gnostic teachings.
Foods which God has created
What about the part of the passage that reads "foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth"?
Motor oil, cockroaches, and diapers are not "food" in the eyes of Americans today.
Pork, shellfish, and other things God has declared unsuitable are not "food" to Paul, who is (present tense) a Pharisaic Jew according to Acts 23:6.
Paul's point is that these Gnostics were forbidding people to eat the beef, chicken, fish, and other foods that God has created and said are permissible.
Nothing is to be rejected
What about the verse that says "nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer"?
The word "nothing" in this verse is in the context of permissible food. No Christian can ever honestly say that it is permissible to cannibalize their children "if they were received with gratitude."
We should also closely consider the latter part of the verse. What food is "sanctified by means of the word of God"? Check out Leviticus 11. It's all there.
A final note
Paul warns Timothy about the unbelieving Gnostics who pay attention to the "doctrines of demons." Satan is chief among demons and what was the very first thing he did to invite humanity into sin?
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said you shall not eat...?" (Genesis 3:1)
Satan caused humanity to sin by casting doubt on God's instructions regarding food.