Tithe Confusion Part 2

My goal in this message today is to look more closely at the principles and teachings that characterize the tithe system for funding the ministry of the church. I know the challenge we face in teaching about this topic and would never want to undermine the truth that God’s people must be good stewards. So it is my goal to encourage God’s Kingdom purposes of grace and freedom. The Child of God can be equipped to practice their giving under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and with a generous heart toward others.

 Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt. 6:33). 

Those who teach that Christians are obligated to tithe can be categorized into three main groups:

  1. Those who say we are still under the Law of Moses or portions of it.
  2. Those who say the tithe is part of the Abrahamic Covenant which is pre-Mosaic. They say Abraham was a tither and the “father of faith”. Therefore, we should tithe.
  3. Those who say the tithe is what sanctifies our money and offers us a protection against the devourer (Malachi 3:8-12). Notice the tithe in this passage is “food” in the storehouse, not money.

Why not live under the Law of Moses?

The Old Covenant or Law of Moses was a two-sided agreement between Israel and God in which blessing was hinged to Israel’s keeping their part of the agreement and God would curse them if they didn’t. It was an all or nothing package. A person was not allowed to turn this agreement into a smorgasbord of picking and choosing what suited one’s religious diet. They could not choose what to keep and what to throw out.

James 2:10 “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

Almost all denominations of Christianity have valued portions of the Mosaic Covenant and added them to the New Covenant. Without being aware of it, this has made most Christians guilty of the whole Mosaic Law, which says it all must be kept. At the same time, there becomes a growing hypocrisy in our understanding of the New Covenant. We teach about grace and want the guidence of the Holy Spirit, but keep mixing it with Laws that no longer serve the same purpose for the Christian believer as they did for the Jew. This is not to say that we cannot learn many wonderful truths from the Mosaic Law. We are just no longer in covenantal relationship with God through that covenant. We are in covenantal relationship with God through a New Covenant ratified by Jesus Christ, not by Moses.

The Issue is Spiritual Freedom:

The fact that most churches have not understood this vital point, has caused us to loose sight of ”grace through faith” and minimize the very power of the New Covenant itself. Most denominations have become very good at mixing the Old Covenant instituted by Moses with the New Covenant. They have forgotten that the Old Covenant has become obsolete while the New Covenant is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It is our freedom. The problem is that there are consequences to stepping away from grace… a loss of freedom. 

One covenant brought death (and always will); the other brings Life (Rom. 8:2). If you believe any of the Old Covenant is still binding to a believer in Christ, read what the Apostle Paul has to say about the cornerstone of the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments (2 Cor 3:4-18). The central goal of the Old Covenant is to behold our sin and make sacrifices according to how we have fallen from glory (Rom. 3:23), but the goal of the New Covenant is to behold the glory of God as it is manifesting itself in our personal transformation. We are moving from one level of glory to another level of glory by the Spirit of the Lord… its our freedom in Christ.

How Jesus has Set Us Free:

The Holy Spirit is changing us and it effects our behavior, our attitudes and our giving. Yet to live under the law of obligation (like the tithe) actually releases two deceptive realities… guilt or pride. When we find ourselves unable to live up to the standards set by those more mature than us, it releases guilt, shame and issues of condemnation. When we live according to some arbitrary religious standard and find ourselves successful without the need of faith, we become vulnerable to personal pride and boasting. Jesus came to do away with the measurements on all levels and substitute His life for any standard, perceived or real… we become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). He became our standard bearer so that we could walk in freedom, being led by the Holy Spirit and feeling the joy of a living relationship with the Father. Its a freedom to live, grow and serve as God would have us serve.

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