Giving Not Tithing

Between 2016/2017, I was in our local Church and the book of Malachi 3: 8-11 was read during the time of tithes and offerings. In this particular service and time, Mal.3:10 says:“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” .the words “ all the tithes” caught my attention the way I have never seen it before. I was not able to concentrate or follow the reading further rather, I was asking myself, is there more than one tithe? Surely, it must be more than one tithing and I will find this out when I get home. This I did promptly.

After searching the scriptures on this mind-disturbing topic,  discovered the Bible cannot be wrong. Three times in the old testament tithe has been mentioned:

1st. Tithe Gen.14:17-20 “And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

2nd Tithe: Deu.14:22-23 “  Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.”

3rd Tithe: Deu.14:28 “At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

Therefore, in practice, Malachi 3:10 sums up the tithes in Gen.14:17-20; Deu.14: 22-23 and Deu. 14:28.

After the above discovery, my Tithe folder moved into Offering bag .

However, if it's mandatory for you under this law, you must have to pay 30% tithe and not 10% as demanded by modern preachers.

My understanding of above searches have given me grave concern to search more Scriptures and I have discovered improper way tithing sermons regularly misuse the Scripture and the problem is more than just tithing but in many other areas of church life.

In this writing, I may be using extracts and arguments from the Bible and another source e.g, a practical point n    just as Martin Luther used the sale of indulgences as a springboard into Romans and justification by faith.

I am deeply concerned by the way the distinction between law and gospel has been blurred by so many of today's preachers. Proper systematic interpretation of the Scriptures has been replaced by a homogenizing of the OT and NT. The sharp differences between the two covenants and why there was a need for a New Covenant in the first place seem lost in much pulpit preaching and church practice. There seems to be a prevailing cynicism towards theology, commentaries and good hermeneutics and a feeling that "if it's in the Bible I can preach it".

Preachers are imposing rules on their congregations without regard to what the rest of Scripture, particularly the gospels and the epistles reveal about that topic. Along with this, we have seen a resurrection of what can only be called "Christian superstition". A revived concern with holy days, vegetarianism, curses and blessings and even "Christian astrology" and numerology. Much of this comes from still thinking that we are in the OT era with its very different way of spiritual operation. However, I don't want this writing to be all negative. As well as demonstrating the folly and perils of imposing the Old on the New I would like to point out the wisdom, glory and wonder of what God has done in Christ.

Now I'd like to say straight out that I value the Old Testament. It’s "the Bible Jesus read" as Phillip Yancey says. “I also want to say that I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture in the original manuscripts and its authority and inspiration for the Christian.” That's my starting point.

However, I believe that Scripture contains within it some very valuable clues about how it should be interpreted and how much of the Old Testament - if any - is binding on Christians today. So yes, this is about tithing and Christian finances but it's also about circumcision, diets, the Sabbath, festivals and rules in general. Above all, it’s about Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross. You should come out of it with a very clear understanding of the differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament, law and grace, faith and works and a powerful appreciation of the amazing yet radical nature of the gospel.

The Spirit-Filled Believer And The Old Covenant And Its Laws and Practices.

The Spirit-filled believer is not under the Law

The terms used are absolute. The New Testament is unequivocal about it. We have been

separated from the authority of the Old Covenant in the most radical of ways. The believer

has died to the Law (Romans 7:4) is discharged from the Law (Romans 7:6) and is set free

from the Law - (Romans 8:1-6). The Law and its demands have been nailed to the cross and

taken out of the way. (Colossians 2:13-15)

(Rom 7:6 NRSV) But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive,

so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

The Law does not make us righteous but serves to convict us of sin. It is, at best a tutor to

lead us to Christ. Once it has done its job of convicting us of sin and leading us to Christ it is

finished with.

(Rom 3:20 NKJV) Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by

the law is the knowledge of sin.

(Rom 7:7 NRSV) What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not

been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if

the law had not said, "You shall not covet."

(Gal 3:19 NRSV) Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions until the offspring

would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a

mediator.

(Gal 3:24-26 NRSV) Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we

might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a

disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

Observance of the Law cannot perfect the Spirit-filled believer in holiness. It is never faith +

law but from faith to faith.

(Heb 7:19 NRSV) (for the law made nothing perfect); there is, on the other hand, the

introduction of a better hope, through which we approach God.

(Gal 3:1-5 NKJV) O foolish Galatians!... This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the

Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in

the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?..Therefore He who supplies the Spirit

to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the

hearing of faith?; 3

(Gal 2:16 NRSV) yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but

through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might

be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be

justified by the works of the law.

(Gal 5:4-6 NRSV) You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ;

you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope

of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for

anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

We are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus and as sons and heirs we enjoy a freedom

that is based on direct relationship with our heavenly Father and not on religious fear and

punctilious observance of detailed religious regulations.

We are not given a spirit of fear and slavery but of freedom - (Romans 8:14-21) and are not

to live in fear and dread of spirits, taboos and legal observances but rather to live in joyous

relationship with our "Abba Father". This freedom is an essential part of the gospel and is not

to be compromised as Paul says it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, we are not to be

subject again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1-11)

This freedom is the responsible freedom of sons. We sons of God through faith in Christ

(Galatians 3:26) and we are also sons of Abraham through faith. (Galatians 3:6-9)as sons we

are disciplined for righteousness (Hebrews 12:5-13). We do not live under a yoke of fear as

slaves do but in a disciplined but essentially loving Father-Son relationship of great freedom.

The Law as a system of religious observances required for righteousness has been torn down

by Christ and if we rebuild it we are labelled transgressors. (Galatians 2:15-21) Some of the

things (both Jewish and Gentile) that are no longer required or effective for righteousness

include: The entire burden of the law of Moses including circumcision, diet and all the miscellaneous

Laws. (Acts 15: 5-29, 1 Corinthians 7:17-19, Galatians 5:1-11). Observance of days, months,

seasons and years (Gal 4:9-11). New moons, festivals, or Sabbaths. (Gal 2:16, Heb 4:1-11).

Matters of food or drink (Galatians 2:16, Rom 14:1-6, Mk 7:18-23). Paying religious taxes

(Matthew 17:24-28). The offering of animal sacrifices (Hebrews 10:12-18). The Aaronic

priesthood / human mediators (Hebrews 4:14-10:18). Ritual washings and cleansings.

(Matthew 15:1-20). Categories of clean and unclean foods and clean and unclean persons.

(Acts chapters 10,11 and 15) Taboos such as don't handle, don't taste, don't touch! (Col

2:20-23) Severe treatment of the body (Colossians 2:20-23) Worship of angels, mysticism,

visions (Colossians 2:18) Self-abasement, self-imposed piety, an exaggerated humility (Col

2:18-20) Imposed celibacy - forbidding marriage (1 Timothy 4:3) Compulsory abstaining from

foods (1 Timothy 4:3)

We will spend most of this book looking at the outworking of these practical details in the

Christian life.

Those who seek to reinstate the Law or even some of its more major observances as means of

attaining righteousness are in big trouble they are:

Transgressors (Galatians 2:15-21)

 Under a curse. (Galatians 3:10)

In danger of losing their salvation (Galatians 4:9-11)

Cut off from Christ and have fallen from grace. (Gal 5:1-11)

Preaching another gospel and anathema (Gal 1:6-9)

Some of the most severe languages in the New Testament is used here and the chapter on

holiness will explore why Paul was so concerned about a little bit of circumcision and a few

feast days. We are under a new agreement with a holy God who places His laws in our hearts and we are

to be holy as He is holy. Our obedience is not to of the letter but of the Spirit. We are not

in obedience to laws on stone tablets but to the Holy Spirit who writes the law on our hearts.

We are to use grace as a means of attaining perfection and holiness, not as a license to sin.

We fulfil the law by obeying the royal law of love in the power of the Holy Spirit.

(2 Cor 3:6 NRSV) who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter

but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The new covenant is more glorious than the old - (2 Cor 3:16-18)and brings life and liberty (2

Corinthians 3:16-18). It operates through personal knowledge of Jesus Christ in the power of

the Spirit and transforms the believer from glory to glory - (2 Corinthians 3:17,18).

The new covenant is written on our hearts - (Hebrews 8:10-12)and in contrast to the

performance-based Old Covenant, it is a covenant of forgiveness of sins.(Hebrews 8:12).

However, this does not allow us to be slack. The new covenant is holier in that is made in the

blood of Jesus Christ - not the blood of bulls and goats and therefore it must be treated much

more carefully - (Hebrews 10:29) Grace is given to lead us to righteousness not to allow us to

sin - (Romans 6:1-23, 8:1-14)

The Holy Spirit is our teacher under the new covenant - (1 John 2:20,27, 1 Corinthians

2:10-16, John 14:26, Matthew 23:8) and if we love one another in the power of the Holy Spirit

we will fulfil the righteous requirements of the Law. (Romans 13:8-10, Matt 22:37-40)

The new covenant is superior to the old conferring upon Spirit-filled believers far greater

privileges, status and responsibilities. (Matthew 11:11-13, Eph 2:4-10, Heb 12:18-29)

The Law is holy, righteous and good and useful for instruction in righteousness provided we

use a Christo-centric hermeneutic. It is useful for unbelievers to convict them.

We can't just throw the Old Testament away. It is still useful for teaching and for instruction

in righteousness (1 Timothy 1:8-11, Matthew 5:17, Romans 7:12, 2 Timothy 3:16). However, it

is primarily a tool for evangelism to convict unbelievers of God's standards and how far they

fall short. It is a tutor to lead us to Christ. It is useful for "murderers and slave-traders" as

Paul tells Timothy. It is also "the Bible Jesus read" and Paul uses it constantly in his epistles

however he interprets it according to the gospel revealed in Jesus Christ. Therefore we must

pass the OT through the cross and not impose its observances on Spirit-filled believers but

learn its principles.

 However, this chapter probably raises as many "but what about" questions as it has just

answered and the rest of the writing will seek to answer them. First of all we have to look at

how the Old Covenant operated using blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. To

bring it to a point of understanding I will use tithing as the practical example as we often hear

it preached as a source of blessing. Please read on..

Tithes, Curses and Blessings.

This chapter addresses the questions - "Do blessings and curses from God operate in the lives

of Spirit-filled believers today? And are Christians blessed if they do tithe and cursed if they do

not tithe?"

The simple answer is "No". Curses finished at the cross and we have all the blessings we want

"In Christ" - not through tithing. Now for the explanation.

Firstly - what is a curse or a blessing? Blessings are a lot more than "nice words" and curses

are a lot more than mere angry outbursts. Blessings and curses affect the very fabric of life

itself. They can and do last for centuries. A "curse" is a lot more than a natural consequence.

When Canaan was cursed as a result of Ham's sin it was not just an insult he received - it

meant a destiny of national annihilation and the Canaanites were later totally wiped out.

Curses and blessings result from the fact that the material realm has as its substrate the

spiritual realm and a small change in the spiritual has massive consequences in the material. If

you look at Genesis 1-3 you see the beginnings of blessings and curses

Blessings

Blessings are God tilting the order of Creation in our favor. This is illustrated in the very first

blessing in the Bible when God blesses the fish and the birds on the fifth day of Creation:

(Genesis 1:22 NKJV) And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters

in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."

Be fruitful means that your efforts produce good desired outcomes. It is the opposite of

barrenness and sterility. Fruitfulness is being able to produce, being able to perform as you

desire and to bring forth that which is within you in a pleasing and satisfying way.

And multiply means that the outcomes are exponential, not additive- It is like reproduction

where 2 give birth to 4 which then create 8 then 16 then 32 then 64 then 128 etc. Each stage

multiplying the next by a factor of two. It is constant exponential growth.

Later on, the Lord blessed Mankind:

(Genesis 1:28 NKJV) Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill

the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and

over every living thing that moves on the earth."

To mankind, God adds the blessing of dominion over "every living thing that moves on the

earth" on top of the basic blessing of "be fruitful and multiply". This is to be supernaturally

placed at the head of others like Adam was over the animals. Adam wasn't stronger than the

lions or the dinosaurs but he was made their Head. When Israel obeyed God it would be "the 6

head and not the tail" and when it disobeyed it would be "the tail and not the head". ( Deut

28). Daniel 4&5 show that God gives dominion to whoever he chooses.

(Daniel 4:17, 25 NKJV) 'This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by

the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the

kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.'….They shall

drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make

you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass

over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to

whomever He chooses.

Dominion is the highest of the blessings and the blessing "you shall possess the gates of your

enemies" was only given to Abraham after the sacrifice of Isaac. (Gen 22) The opposite of

dominion is humiliation and oppression which was particularly the fate of nations that

oppressed or betrayed Israel e.g the Amalekites, Babylon and Moab.

So we see that "blessing" in its basic form contains three elements:

Be Fruitful: not barren, be able to produce good and perfect things, the ability to be a blessing

to others. To bear fruit that is good .. Joy, Hope.

Multiply: grow exponentially, don't be static or grow by mere addition, explode into the world.

Have Dominion Over: have authority, be in control and command, rule over, be at the top.

Let’s see how this is reflected in God's blessings to Abraham in Genesis 17 &22:

(Genesis 17:3-8 NKJV) Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: {4} "As

for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. {5} "No

longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you

a father of many nations. {6} "I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of

you, and kings shall come from you. {7} "And I will establish My covenant between Me and

you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be

God to you and your descendants after you. {8} "Also I give to you and your descendants

after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting

possession; and I will be their God."

Here Abraham is told of great fruitfulness. "I will make you exceedingly fruitful". Abraham would

produce great things. He would be a "father of many nations", nations and kings would come

from him. He would also be given a land - which by implication would be a source of

fruitfulness.

Then in Chapter 22

(Genesis 22:15-18 NKJV) Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of

heaven, {16} and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this

thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son; {17} "blessing I will bless you, and

multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which

is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. {18} "In

your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." 7

Abraham is told that his descendants will be multiplied as the stars of the heaven they shall

possess the gates of their enemies - they would have dominion. So we see the three elements

of great blessing are fruitfulness, multiplication and dominion.

Curses

Curses involve almost the exact reverse of blessings. Curses involve barrenness, futility and

difficulty in conception instead of fruitfulness, limits and frustration instead of multiplication

and humiliation and insignificance instead of dominion. , Let's look at Genesis and study the first

curses uttered by God.

(Genesis 3:14-19 NKJV) So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this,

You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you

shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. {15} And I will put enmity between

you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you

shall bruise His heel." {16} To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your

conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And

he shall rule over you." {17} Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of

your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat

of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.

{18} Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the

field. {19} In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out

of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."

Satan is humiliated, the woman is afflicted with difficulty in conception and Adam is subjected

to limits and frustration.

Curses are judgments of God that affect the future of the person (or animal - such as the

serpent) in an ongoing way until they are revoked or lifted . They dramatically affect

conditions and lower productivity dooming the person cursed to toil, pain, defeat, humiliation

and frustration.

Thus we see that blessings lead to "be fruitful and multiply" while cursing leads to situations of

toil, pain and a meaningless existence. Cain is cursed by being made a wanderer on the earth

while Jacob is blessed with the fat of the land.

Because God is Spirit and His Word upholds Creation then what He says in the spiritual realm

affects the whole fabric of the material realm which depends on the spiritual for its very

existence. The utter dependence of Creation on God is beautifully illustrated in Psalm 104 -

here are just a few verses:

(Psalms 104:28-30 NKJV) What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are

filled with good. {29} You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they

die and return to their dust. {30} You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew

the face of the earth.

The Blessings and Curses Of The Law

The Jews "signed off" on the Old Covenant at Mt. Sinai - they undertook an agreement with

God which stipulated great blessings for obedience and terrible curses for disobedience. These

blessings and curses are listed in Deuteronomy chapters 26-28. The blessings and curses were 8

material and included things such as wealth and health and possession of the land of Israel.

The prophet Haggai shows us how this affected human affairs when the Jews became slack

and self-centred in their faith and chose to build their own houses rather than rebuild the

temple and how obedience moved them from a situation of cursing to s situation of blessing

(Haggai 1:3-12 NKJV) Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, {4} "Is

it time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" {5}

Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! {6} "You have sown much,

and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with

drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to

put into a bag with holes." {7} Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! {8} "Go up

to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be

glorified," says the LORD. {9} "You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you

brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the LORD of hosts. "Because of My house that is

in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. {10} "Therefore the heavens above

you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. {11} "For I called for a drought on the

land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground

brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labour of your hands."

The people listened to Haggai and began to obey and when the foundation of the Temple was

laid then the curse was lifted.

(Haggai 2:15-19 NKJV) 'And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone

was laid upon stone in the temple of the LORD; {16} 'since those days, when one came to a

heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty

baths from the press, there were but twenty. {17} 'I struck you with blight and mildew and

hail in all the labours of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,' says the LORD. {18} 'Consider

now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that

the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid; consider it: {19} 'Is the seed still in the barn? As

yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from

this day I will bless you.'"

So we see that throughout the Old Testament the system was that God would bless us - that

is tilt Creation in our favour so that life became easy and fruitful - if we obeyed and curse us -

so that life became miserable and woeful and plagued and meaningless - if we disobeyed. It

was like He was training a child with a very direct series of rewards and punishments.

The "training" culminated not in an age of blessing but with famine and sword and expulsion to

Babylon. The experiment failed. Human nature was found to be so deeply sinful that the best

laws, good kings, powerful prophets and a direct system of curses and blessings failed to keep

it in line.

Tithing, Curses and Blessings

Part of this failed Old Covenant was tithing and the blessings and curses associated with it are

explained in Malachi - a prophet who came along after Haggai to address the same problem of

spiritual lethargy.

(Malachi 3:8-13 NKJV) "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what

way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. {9} You are cursed with a curse, For you 9

have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. {10} Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That

there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not

open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be

room enough to receive it. {11} "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will

not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,"

Says the LORD of hosts; {12} "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful

land," Says the LORD of hosts.

Thus there was a curse for "robbing God" breaking the covenant stipulations which they had

signed off on. This curse involved lower agricultural production (verse 11) and the blessing was

unfailing fruitfulness. The end result was that the physical land of Israel would be a "delightful

land". However does this contract, this arrangement of blessings and curses for tithing, still

apply to Christians?

The New Contract

There has been a change of covenant or agreement with God. The Old Covenant was physical,

material and performance-based. The New Covenant is spiritual and based on grace received

through faith. There are no curses stipulated in the New Covenant. It is a covenant for the

"forgiveness of sins" - not their direct punishment. It is a covenant where all the curses due to

us have been borne by Jesus Christ on the cross.

(Galatians 3:10-15 NKJV) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for

it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the

book of the law, to do them." {11} But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is

evident, for "the just shall live by faith." {12} Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who

does them shall live by them." {13}Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having

become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), {14} that

the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive

the promise of the Spirit through faith.

We are redeemed from the curse of the Law. The curses that came for not following what the

Law says (verse10 above). We are redeemed from all theses curses including the curses for

not tithing. If we are redeemed from it then Jesus Christ has paid the price, there is absolutely

NO ground for any curse to alight. We are free. There are no curses on Christians if they do

not tithe.

What about blessings for tithing? Why did Christ become a curse for us "that the blessings of

Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of

the Spirit through faith". Blessings in the New Covenant are not received through law-keeping

but through faith. As we saw earlier, because of our sinful nature law-keeping does not work,

we only end up under the curse for law-breaking "for as many as are the works of the law are

under a curse". Works of law only end up in condemnation not justification. A new way to be

blessed had to be found - the way of Abraham - the way of faith.

Ephesians 1:3 is an astonishing and mind-boggling verse:

(Ephesians 1:3 NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed

us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 10

It's past tense- we already have received "every spiritual blessing"! It's total "EVERY spiritual

blessing". Its exalted" in the heavenly places". It's Christ-centered" in Christ". We have the

blessings of Abraham through faith and all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms

through being in Christ Jesus.

Tithing simply cannot add to those blessings. Law-keeping such as tithing cannot reach

half-way. Performance and sacrifices are out as means of blessing. Tithing, sacrificing,

law-keeping and spiritual performances in the Temple are Old Covenant and no longer apply for

attaining righteousness which is the source of all true blessing. Let me explain that last phrase

a bit more.

Blessing is God's favor resting on your life. To have God's favor you have to be in right

standing with God. You have to be righteous. The Jews valued righteousness because it

brought blessing from a holy God. "According to my righteousness you have rewarded me" is a

common theme in Psalms for instance. (Psalms 18:20 NKJV) The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

Under the Old Covenant blessings would come to the righteous and punishment and cursing to

the wicked. A God who blessed the wicked or who failed to reward the righteous was

unthinkable. Tithing was a righteous act which brought favor and blessing. This is still taught

in Judaism today.

In Christ however we receive our righteousness - in fact we receive the righteousness of

Jesus Christ Himself - through faith, and not through the performing of righteous acts such as

tithing. Because we have the very righteousness of Christ we also receive the blessings

appropriate to that level of righteousness - "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms".

We have Christ's righteousness and Christ's blessings through faith and therefore we do not

need to tithe in order to be blessed.

The Christian life is "from faith to faith" we are blessed because of our faith and we

appropriate those blessings by faith - no by performing works of merit such as tithing. The

Galatians tried to add works of merit (in this case circumcision) to faith and this is the

response they got from the apostle Paul.

(Galatians 3:1-5 NKJV) O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey

the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? {2}

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by

the hearing of faith? {3} Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being

made perfect by the flesh? {4} Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in

vain? {5} Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He

do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?;

Paul's challenge to the Galatians "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect

by the flesh?" is very appropriate to tithing. We don't go up a notch as a Christian by tithing.

We are not perfected by the flesh - by works of merit, by works of the law. Miracles do not

occur by works of the law - but by "hearing with faith". Hebrews says' for the law made

nothing perfect". (Hebrews 7:19) So if the entire law made nothing perfect, one segment of it,

- tithing certainly will not perfect you!

Righteousness is from God , in Christ, through faith. Therefore blessing, which in a just world 11

must be based on righteousness, is from God, in Christ, through faith.

Magical Tithing

Tithing is practiced by groups such as the Mormons, followers of Maitreya, and most New Age

cults. Just do a search under "tithing" on the Google search engine and you will find DOZENS of

cults sites listing tithing as a way of manipulating spiritual forces to give the person wealth

and happiness. Tithing is taught as a mechanism that "releases blessings" to the giver. The

money is sometimes called "seed money" and as this is "sown" financial prosperity grows and

funds are eventually "harvested". Mostly tithing is seen as a "law" that operates like karma.

You do good and good will come back to you. You give to the cult and you will be made

wealthy by the Universe, God, or Life Force.

Such false teachers use a principle sometimes called "ex opere operato". This means that the

mechanism works by itself. The operation is efficacious whether or not the person doing it has

any righteousness whatsoever. By this principle tithing is a "law" and will work for everyone

independent of their character. Tithe and the windows of heaven will be opened automatically

and the finances you give away will be a seed of great prosperity to follow. This causes people

to say things like "I believe in tithing.." with great passion. They are believing in a mechanism,

a law. Give some away and more will come back. However they are not necessarily believing in

a personal God. While they are "believing in tithing" they are not necessarily believing in Jesus.

They are believing in a law or a principle not in a Person who loves them and is providing for

them. This is not Christ, it is karma. It is not God, it is Mammon.

Manipulating spiritual forces to give you financial blessing without accompanying personal

righteousness, or the imputed righteousness that comes from Christ, is evil and magical. It is

rewarding the wicked and blessing the unrepentant. Godless people can become blessed and

wealthy simply through tithing, no repentance required, no Christ-likeness needed - just

money. It is a systematic denial of God's pathway to blessing through faith in Jesus Christ.

Blessing that is attained apart from righteousness is attained through magic not through God.

God is resolutely opposed to magic in all forms. In the end such "blessing" will bring a judgment

on the person that will far outweigh any temporary financial gains.

What About The Terrific Testimonies?

Tithing websites often feature amazing testimonies of how Joe Smith started tithing and then

became rich and famous. These testimonies simply say that "for them" tithing appeared to

"work". Here are six reasons why you need to take such testimonies with a "grain of salt".

1.The testimonies of the people who DIDN'T see any prosperity despite faithful tithing over

many years are never published.

2.Testimonies are not the same as "clinical trials" or a properly run research experiment.

They are indications at best.

3.It may be an exception. To establish a principle you have to look at many cases and

average them out. Look around your local church at the faithful tithing Christians. How

many of them are experiencing way above average prosperity for their level of gifts and

intelligence? Most Christians that tithe seem to be living average normal lives. On

average the blessing from tithing seems to be about the same as that for not tithing. It’s

a plain fact that tithing Christians are not living in exceptional prosperity compared to 12

non-tithing Christians of the same ability level.

4.Testimonies may be false or exaggerated or solicited in a way that indicates that giving

to "ministry X" is the sure road to blessing. Be cautious of any testimony that does not

indicate that the person can be contacted for comment.

5.What else did Joe Smith do that may more rationally account for his becoming rich and

famous?

6.Testimonies may be the result of personal self-delusion. This is very common with people

starting a new business who see prosperity everywhere when in fact their debts and

taxes are piling up. They are also common in the "I believe I am healed" testimony when

in fact the person is still unwell. People are so unprepared to believe they have been

ripped off that they will believe they are more prosperous than ever when in fact they

are pretty average in prosperity.

Reminder

There is no blessing for tithing and no cursing for not tithing. Blessings are obtained by having

faith in Christ Jesus. Curses were taken by Christ on the cross. Tithing is not magical and does

not lead to prosperity in an ex opere operato fashion. Neither does it justify us before God.

The terrific testimonies about tithing need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Curses and Blessings and OT Practices

What applies to tithing applies to the other OT practices. There are no curses for eating pork

for instance and no blessing for being circumcised - which was a big issue in the early church.

Let’s hear what Paul said about people who tried to add OT practices onto faith in order to be

blessed. It’s in chapter 3 of Galatians:

(Galatians 3:1-5 NKJV) O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey

the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? {2}

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by

the hearing of faith?{3} Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being

made perfect by the flesh?{4} Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in

vain? {5} Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He

do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?;

(Galatians 3:10-14 NKJV) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for

it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the

book of the law, to do them." {11} But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is

evident, for "the just shall live by faith." {12} Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who

does them shall live by them." {13} Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having

become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), {14} that

the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive

the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Thus Paul is saying that OT practices CANNOT add anything to faith. Having begun in the

Spirit we cannot be perfected by the flesh - that is by rituals such as Sabbath keeping,

circumcision or tithing. Not only that but the law places under the curses of Deuteronomy 28

and makes us live a "performance-based' spiritual life in which we are sure to fail. In fact 13

striving to be blessed by the law places us under a curse! Paul gets even more vehement a

few chapters later:

(Galatians 5:1-4 NKJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,

and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. {2} Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if

you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. {3} And I testify again to every man

who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. {4} You have become

estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

In this very blunt warning to the Galatian Christians Paul spells out the danger of trying to get

right with God by performing OT practices. You can't just take one practice in isolation Paul

says - if you get circumcised you have to keep the whole law - and you can't do that - you

will fall under its curses! Not only that but Christ will profit you nothing, you will be estranged

from Christ and you will have fallen from grace. Paul calls such compulsory OT practices a

"yoke of bondage".

The Paradox

So here is the paradox - if we seek to gain blessing by external actions such as Sabbath

keeping, circumcision, keeping feast days, or tithing we are estranged from Christ and under a

curse!

The Stoichea (Measured Out Things)

The key concept in this chapter is the "stoichea" often translated as the "elemental things" in

modern translations but probably better translated 'the measured out things". This latter usage

is retained in Chemistry the ratio between elements in compounds -which is the art of balancing equations. The stoichea are the measured out "abc" building blocks of the spiritual realm.

The BIG difference between OT and NT is the end of the "stoichea". The end of having to have

a faith that is measured out, regulated and precise. In the OT everything was precisely

allocated. Judah lived in this bit of land, Simeon over there, only people from Levi could be

priests, this bit of temple furniture went here, the other over there, behind the curtain was

certain death, this food was clean, that was unclean etc.

The cross ended that "measured -out-ness" and we can now move the church furniture and

eat pork and lobster. To us that seems very ordinary but it was a revolution back then. In fact

it was one of the hardest lessons the early church had to learn. There were no more add-ons,

no circumcision, no taboos, no lists, no 613 laws.

The "stoichea" - the taboo things, the measured out things, were spiritually enforced and a

certain dread and awe accompanied them. People had fear and trembling about them and

would say "You CAN'T do that." The stoichea were enforced by angelic beings in Judaism and

demonic beings in Gentile religions (more on that soon). For instance if you intruded on the

temple of Diana of the Ephesians and broke her taboos you were in great danger. For a

fascinating read try the Idylls of Theocritus which is filled with the dread of breaking minor

taboos e.g a shepherd would never play his pan-pipes at noon as Pan rested then and to wake

him would arouse the god's wrath and cause great harm.

Taboos ruled the life of Jews and Gentiles alike. Quite a few times in the NT we hear the 14

phrase about "the law that came through angels" e.g.

(Acts 7:53 NRSV) You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you

have not kept it."

(Galatians 3:19 NRSV) Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the

offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels

by a mediator. The role of angels in enforcing the taboos is shown in:

(Exodus 23:20-21 NKJV) "Behold, I send an angel before you to keep you in the way and to

bring you into the place which I have prepared. {21} "Beware of him and obey his voice; do

not provoke him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in him.

This even applied to where they should go to the toilet!

(Deuteronomy 23:12-15 NKJV) "Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may

go out; {13} "and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down

outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. {14} "For the LORD your God

walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore

your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from

you.

These verses imply that God would turn away from them if they did not cover up their excreta!

Full relationship was very conditional. It was a world of regulations, taboos, and limitations.

The main religious systems are "angelic" in origin. Both angels and demons operate in similar

ways because, before the Fall, they were the same category of creature. The pagan religions

had temples, and priests and tithes and taboos, and festivals and laws and ceremonies etc -

and so did the Jewish religion. They had very similar modus operandi because they were both

under the angelic (good or fallen) realm and its dominion. Everyone was a slave of the system

from the High Priest to a commoner and the system was run by spiritual beings who inspired

dread and awe. In the New Testament the authority of the angelic and demonic realm over

human beings is broken. A key concept here is the "heavenly realms" and our new place in

them so I will take a paragraph or two to explain that.

Heaven is a plural word in fact it should be "heavens" because there are at least three levels

to Heaven. Paul in 2 Cor 12 ascends to the "third heaven" and heard mysteries from God. The

angels in Revelation fly in mid-heaven or the Second Heaven which is also where the great

battle with Satan takes place. The first heaven is where the "birds of the heaven" fly . Satan

started out in the Third Heaven as a guardian cherub then was "cast down" to the second

heaven (Isaiah 28). During the ministry of the disciples Jesus saw another fall "Satan fell from

heaven like lightning" this was further enforced by the cross and resurrection and by the time

Ephesians was written Satan was now "prince of the power of the air" down another notch.

Satan tries to move up back from the first to the second heavens and a great battle against

Michael and the angels takes place in Revelation 12 . Satan loses his place in the first heaven

and is "cast down to earth" where he incarnates as the Anti-Christ in Revelation 13. After

Christ returns he is taken down a notch further and cast into the Pit. After 1000 years Satan

again tries to claw his way back into the heavenly realms and comes to earth to deceive the

nations and Armageddon takes place then Satan has his final downfall into the lake of fire. So

we see that there are multiple levels to the spiritual realms and spiritual beings can move up

and down between them but God is ultimately in charge of who goes where. 15

After His resurrection Christ ascended "through the heavenly realms" and we ascended with

Him and are placed in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus(Ephesians 2:6) and there we receive

every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms (Ephesians1:3) and can wrestle against the very

same powers and principalities that once dominated life (Ephesians 6:10-18). Captivity

(domination by spirits and their taboos) is taken captive and spiritual gifts are lavishly

distributed (Ephesians 4:10-12). A clear sign of the change in status is the common casting

out of demons by Christians. This did not happen in the OT because we were under the angelic

realms. We can do it easily in the NT because we are over the angelic and demonic realm. One

day we shall judge angels ( 1 Cor. 6:3) and they are our servants now (Heb1:14). Their power

over us has been broken.

Along comes Jesus and breaks the power of the spiritual beings on the cross (Colossians

2:13-15). He introduces a new way of being where no-one is a slave of the system any more.

Taboos are gone and so is fear and dread. Our position in the spiritual realms is so high and

the power of taboos so completely broken that we are "dead" to any requirements to live by

superstition and taboo.

(Colossians 2:20-23 NKJV) {20} Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of

the world (the stoichea), why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to

regulations; {21} "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," {22} which all concern things

which perish with the using; according to the commandments and doctrines of men? {23}

These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and

neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Attempts to reintroduce the stoichea aroused such great concern in Paul that it caused him to

accuse people of apostasy over things that at first may seem to us to be minor such as

observing a religious calendar. He saw such things as placing us back under the authority of

minor spiritual beings such as angels and demons.

(Galatians 4:8-11 NKJV) But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those

which by nature are not gods. {9} But now after you have known God, or rather are known by

God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements (the stoichea), to which

you desire again to be in bondage? {10} You observe days and months and seasons and

years. {11} I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

We can see that Paul saw "observing days and months and years" as so grievous that it

involved enslavement to "those who are not gods" and "bondage" and he was "afraid for them"

lest they had become apostate. Letting traditions and ceremonies and Sabbaths and diets

govern life was a huge backward step.

It was stepping out from the heavenly realms where we were placed in Christ and back under

angelic or demonic dominion. It was spiritual disaster. In Colossians when Paul writes of Christ's

triumph over the demonic powers he notes that it had, as its first and foremost outcome,

release from having to observe dietary regulations and feast days!

(Colossians 2:15-17 NKJV) Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public

spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. {16} So let no-one judge you in food or in drink,

or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, {17} which are a shadow of things to

come, but the substance is of Christ. 16

We are not to live in the "shadows" - of ritual observances but in the reality which is Christ.

To the Greeks this was a striking analogy to Plato's cave illustration where a person chained

(for life) to a cave wall and looking away from the entrance saw all reality as shadows cast

upon the wall by the fire. Pagan or Jewish religion is just these shadows - the substance is

Christ. Thus Paul pits stoichea-enslaved religion against Spirit-empowered Christianity.

This even applies to the "good bits" of the Old Covenant. As we saw in the last chapter to

observe ANY of the practices of the Old Covenant was to place one's self under a curse and

cut oneself off from Christ. (Galatians 3:10-14, 5:1-4) The old religious system of stoichea

operated via "curses" for disobedience and "blessings" for obedience. When the Jews agreed to

the Law at Sinai they also agreed to the curses and blessings that were listed in Deut 26-28.

However Christ put an end to curses for disobedience (Galatians 3:10-14) and gave us every

spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3, Romans 8:31-32).

Therefore under the new Way in Christ there are no taboos, no curses and no striving for

blessings. The old religious system is killed stone dead.

The New Way is not the way of effort and earning but the way of faith and trusting. It is no

longer "if I am good and keep the rules God will bless me" but it becomes "as long as I abide in

His love I am abundantly blessed".

To summarize :Religion is bondage to the stoichea and systems. It's being a servant of a

system ruled by a spirit. Christianity is sonship, freedom and Spirit-led and joyous. There is NO

system. There is only faith worked out in love. Praise the Lord!

To wind up this writing, let’s look at a few observations and questions for further discussion.

1.When we create taboos in church we are re-instituting the yoke of bondage.  According to Galatians that seriously imperils the salvation of people. It is in fact "anathema".

2.When we teach that ANY part of the old Jewish law is binding on believers we

imperil them - and that includes Sabbath keeping, tithing and religious festivals.

3.Christmas, Easter and worship are not required of believers in fact their

current form is a carry-over. All feasts days, religious calendars, days, months, seasons and years -not just those on the dates of ancient pagan festivals.

4.Church formalism with spiritual overtones. This includes robes, furnishings etc where such formalities are given clear spiritual overtones. If you like robes - wear them, there is nothing wrong with that per se. However, if you have to have a robe on before you can minister - then you are subjecting yourself to elemental things. That would be going back to the days of Aaron, high priestly garments and immovable furnishings. It is nothing like Jesus ministering to a hill full of people or Phillip sharing the gospel in a moving chariot in

the desert.

5.There is no blessing for tithing or cursing for not tithing. We give freely as God leads. We give as God prospers us. Give [offering]what you have in your hand [after tax} with a willing mind [11cor.8:12-13]. If you have a release of conscience when the coin drops into the bag or plate you have put yourself under the Law and enslaved yourself to a ritual.

It is the blood of Christ that cleanses your conscience not a gold coin.

God's grace, faith and works and a powerful appreciation of the amazing yet radical nature of the

gospel by faith and a willing heart and mind. Giving without compulsion to the work of the Lord [missionary] is the fruit of righteousness. [11cor.9:7-10]