“Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11).
The subject in Matthew 15:1-20 is eating without first washing the hands (verse 2). The focus is not on eating, but on washing. The scribes taught that eating any food without a special ceremonial washing defiled the eater. Jesus said the ceremonial washings were meaningless as far as cleansing the heart from evil. In verse 19, Jesus listed certain evils–murders, adulteries, thefts, etc. Then He concluded, “These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Verse 20).
As for the clean and unclean meats, the Bible has ample evidence that there were clean and unclean animals from the very beginning of time. Noah lived long before any Jews existed, but he knew of the clean and unclean, because he took into the ark the clean animals by “sevens” and the unclean by “twos” (Genesis 7:1, 2). And after the flood, Noah‘s sacrifice of a clean animal (Genesis 8:20) shows that he understood the difference between clean and unclean.
The death of Christ did not change or alter the health laws that were given in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Revelation 18:2 refers to some birds as being unclean just before the second coming of Christ. Further, the Jew’s stomach and digestive system in no way differs from that of a Gentile. These health laws are for all people for all time.
In His service,