Tithing Full Circle - Pt 3
Tithing Full Circle Part 3
DISCLAIMER: This in a three part series on tithing. The purpose of this it to edify, teach, and give better understanding on how we should and should not tithe. Anyone who has the boldness to spew hateful garbage, anti-Christ rhetoric, or say anything disrespectful to the author and the commenters will get a rude awakening (in love). You comment here freely based on a privilege and not a right. Be mindful of that.
From where we last left off, we were in the NT analyzing what the new testament says of tithing. We started in 1 Corinthians 16:2, and that is from where we shall continue. We will, however, dive into the law temporarily to see how that plays into the principle of tithing. Let's continue from there by diving into the law. FYI, this is the longest part of the series, so please set some time aside to read.
Here we go.
Most Christians do understand that tithing was a requirement under the Old Testament. There’s very little to argue or debate about that. The biggest debate among Christians is whether or not the law of tithing transitioned into the New Testament. Let’s view it from that angle (the law). One glaring fact about the coming of Christ in the NT was to save people from sin by bearing our sin and taking it to the cross to suffer God’s wrath that we should have suffered by all rights. He died on a cross and was raised in three days. Another fact about His coming that should glare as well is that He wanted to free people from being slaves to the OT law. The OT law was a ridiculously long list (613 requirements) that you had to obey, DAILY . If not, you were in sin and would be expected to suffer the consequences. The law, however, couldn't save you from sin, it shows us our flaws. The law was a teacher that revealed what God considered sin (Romans 7:7). It was too insufficient; Christ's death and resurrection (and only His death and resurrection) could destroy the power of sin and free us from its influence. Let’s look at some scriptures that prove this.
And everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Therefore, my brothers, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah, so that you may belong to another—to Him who was raised from the dead—that we may bear fruit for God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions operated through the law in every part of us and bore fruit for death. But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law.
Galatians 2:16, 21
Know that no one is justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed.
1 Timothy 1:8-11
But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately. 9We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10for the sexually immoral, and homosexuals, for kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching, 11based on the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was entrusted to me.
So we see the bible has a lot to say about being freed from the law as a means of righteousness. The law doesn't necessarily become evil now that Christ has risen from the grave, it just means that we no longer have to look to the law for salvation. But wait; didn’t Abraham give a tithe to Melchizedek? Doesn’t that mean tithing is pre-law and should we still do it if that is the case? I’ve heard of this theory before, so let's analyze that together.
“Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered”.
So we clearly see that bible says "tenth", so there's no arguing that point. It will be beneficial, however to point out a few things.
1). Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war. The spoils of war consisted of items and belongings that were never Abraham’s to begin with; they were from the residents of the Sodom and Gomorrah.
2). Abraham didn’t have to give anything to Melchizedek. Even though Melchizedek was a priest of God, the actual requirement mandating tithes be paid/given to priests wasn’t established until the law came under Moses and Aaron; well after Abraham died. Abraham gave of his freewill, and because of his freewill giving of the tenth, he was blessed.
3). Abraham gave the rest of the spoils of war to the king of Sodom. Abraham didn’t want the king of Sodom having a reason to say that he made Abraham rich, so Abraham kept none of the spoils of war.
4). As far as the bible records the life of Abraham, he never paid tithes from his own income. I could be wrong concerning this, but from what I’ve read concerning the life of Abraham, it’s not recorded that he used his own income.
Before going on, allow me to briefly expand on #2 by asking a question. If Abraham tithed (gave a tenth) before the law required it, does that mean that he would've been cursed if he didn't give a tenth to Melchizedek? I would have to say...No. Here's why. If you journey with me to Genesis 4, you will see the story of Cain and Abel, the offspring of Adam and Eve. Beginning at verse 3,
"In the course of time, Cain presented some of the land's produce as an offering to the Lord. 4And Abel also presented an offering-some of the firstborn of this flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast."
Here is where it gets interesting. Let's continue from verses 6-7.
"Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you furious? And why are you downcast? 7If you do right, won't you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it."
After reading those passages of scripture, there are two perspectives that I want to share with you.
1). God didn't regard Cain's offering because Cain didn't give properly. Cain gave some of the produce, but Abel gave some of the first born. Giving some of your firstborn from the flock is a signal that Abel gave his best. It takes faith to give your best ( or some of your best). Notice that Cain wasn't "cursed" for not giving his best or in faith. He wasn't blessed by his offering, but he also wasn't cursed for not giving properly either; at least not that the bible records.
2). God didn't command Cain or Abel in Genesis 4 to tithe or give an offering; it was of their freewill (there's that word again).
Analyzing Abraham's tithe a little deeper, we see that it indeed was of freewill. The act and principle of tithing was well before the law, but in both of those cases, we don't see a command (Abraham) to tithe, nor do you see a curse (Cain) for not tithing/giving properly. Tithing from the Abraham perspective, was freely given, which ironically, is how the NT says we should give.
Let’s continue with the main observations of the law that left off from part 2.
Observation 1: As we can clearly see, we are no longer under the law (for salvation); Christ was the end of the law (Romans 10:4). We don’t have to submit to a bunch of laws daily to be considered righteous in God’s sight. All we need for righteousness is Christ; nothing else. You might be thinking that's all good, but how does that relate to tithing? Take a look at all these scriptures again. Christ became the way for righteousness; we see that. Doesn’t that include the requirement of tithe or suffer a curse as well? If tithing was a requirement under the Old Testament for righteousness and right standing with God, and Jesus ended that condition (Romans 10:4), then doesn’t that mean tithing as a requirement was also ended? This is truly something we should ponder, but let’s look at Galatians 3:10 again.
Observation 2: For those who operate under the works of the law for righteousness, you’re under a curse. This statement seems true across the board for various reasons.
1) Christ ended the law with His death and resurrection, so there is no need for the law for right standing. Going back to the law is to put yourself back in bondage (slavery).
2) Using works of the law instead of being justified by faith in Christ is like saying His death wasn’t enough to rescue us from God’s wrath and sin (came in vain).
3) You can’t pick and choose which laws you want to abide by. In other words, if you're going to follow the law for tithing, you have to follow the law completely; meaning ALL the other laws that were required for right standing with God in the OT.
We see that all these teachings are from Paul. Some want to know what Jesus said about tithing in the NT, as He is the final authority on anything. That statement is absolutely correct, so why don’t we see what Christ had to say about tithing in the NT.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.
Observation 3: Some people will take this scripture and use it as justification that Jesus promoted tithing. Well, He did, but it wasn’t in the aspect that we think. Christ promoted tithing here, but he also called the Pharisees to the carpet for ignoring the weightier things of the law (judgment, mercy, and faith). Even in Christ promoting it, tithing still wasn't the major issue He was focused on.
When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Observation 4: We clearly see in this scripture that Jesus himself was born under the law. What does that mean? That means that Christ knew the law very well. Tithing was a requirement under the law, so presumably Christ had to tithe under the law; however, I haven’t seen anywhere in scripture where Jesus paid tithes (maybe He did and it wasn’t recorded, but that would be speculation. I can’t go off of speculation, I and all Christians can only live and teach from what was actually recorded). **If you find anywhere that Jesus tithed, please let me know.
Observation 5: This scripture also says that Christ was born under the law to redeem those under the law. He didn't come to teach salvation through the law.This was, at first, confusing because of what Jesus said in the next passage of scripture.
“Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.
Observation 6: He didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. Before I could really understand this, I had to lookup the definition for fulfill. There are five definitions that are given for the word fulfill and we will look at the first four.
1). to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise
2). to perform or do, as duty; obey or follow, as commands
3). to satisfy (requirements, obligations, etc)
4). to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time
What's beautiful about these definitions is that Jesus did all these things based on scripture evidence, but I think what’s key is the fourth definition. The third and fourth definition seems to be in line with what Jesus said in v18.
For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.
We see here that Jesus is referring to a time when all things would be accomplished, leading to the completion of the law. The law (and all of its demands, requirements, and curses for disobedience) were satisfied when He died on the cross, ushering in the new covenant between God and man. Christ came to not only to free us from sin, but to free us from the law that couldn’t save us. If you don't think so, take a look at Colossians 2:13-23 (particularly v14-15):
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. 16So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. 18Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. 20You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21“Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.
Thoughts: Did Jesus tithe? He could very well have, but the bible doesn’t record that (from what I’ve researched), so debating that wouldn't help anything as of now. Did Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection put an end to the law for salvation? It would seem so based on His own words and the scriptures above. Just to recap, Christ’ death and resurrection satisfied the demands of the law. In other words, since Christ satisfied the demands of the law, we no longer have to be bound to the law for salvation or right standing with God. The law was fulfilled, satisfied by Christ, so He alone is all we need for forgiveness, grace, mercy, justification, sanctification, and salvation. Christ alone; NOTHING ELSE. The new system(NT) that we are under is one dependent upon and orbits what Christ did, not the law. I hope my fellow saints can understand this.
Secondly, we see that tithing was required under the law, so when the law was satisfied, doesn’t that mean the law of requiring tithes was also satisfied and completed? Reason would seem to align with this. Now I know some would debate this and imply that I’m saying we shouldn’t give. On the contrary, giving is a must for the Christian, just not under the legalistic way.
You will see what I'm talking about next time.
Until then, grace and peace.