Common statements used to promote tithing. Click item–to read In-Christ perspective.
We have a completely different and much better relationship with God than Abraham had. It calls for a totally different way of living and giving—led by the Spirit and tailored to each person uniquely and individually.
Consider the differences between a believer in Jesus Christ and Abraham:
See Notes for scriptural references for each statement.
Tithing is not for the church. It was never intended for men and women who are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. It is considered to be a mark of spiritual commitment, but it's not spiritual. The devil doesn't mind tithing. He welcomes anything that will take our attention away from the truth in Christ.
Tithing is an emotional subject and passionately proclaimed to be many things: an eternal law of God, a divine principle of prosperity, a matter of honor, a financial duty, an expression of gratitude, an act of obedience. Every one of those positions is held with complete sincerity, but for a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, who lives under the New Covenant, they are all sincerely wrong.
The cross of Jesus Christ not only established a New Covenant, it also gave birth to a new kind of spiritual person. The new man in Christ is in a new spiritual realm and relates to God in a way that is totally different from anyone who lived before the cross. The church has failed to understand the new way of living that God initiated in Christ. Tithing is just one aspect of the failure, but it is highly emphasized and it creates a great distraction from the truth.
Most of the church today is living by an Old Covenant paradigm—their spiritual perspective or theological framework for thinking and relating to God. Although they say they are not under the Old Covenant, most Christians are trying to relate to God from a perspective that is based on the Old Covenant. They take all the facts they know about Jesus and try to fit them into spiritual patterns they see in the Old Testament books of the Bible.
The church needs to make a complete paradigm shift from the Old Covenant way of thinking and living to the New Covenant way. Mixing the two doesn't work. It's like putting new wine into old wineskins. The result is a dysfunctional system of religion, which most people consider to be normal Christianity, but is not what God intended. Tithing is one way that Christians mistakenly try to express their new nature in Christ through an obsolete system of worship and financial stewardship.
Tithing is not part of the New Covenant. There are many scriptural reasons why it isn't, why it can't be, and why God's plan for New Covenant giving is far superior in every way. Tithing is not an eternal principle or mandate from God to be followed today. It has been misinterpreted to be those things because the church has failed to comprehend the new way of living that began at the resurrection.
Tithing is a carnal way of living. It's an external regulation. It doesn't originate in the new spiritual nature of a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. You don't have to be spiritual to tithe. Many people tithe who haven't been born again. Some people tithe for honorable reasons, but that doesn't make it right, and it doesn't excuse the church for teaching it. The church hinders itself and the kingdom of God on earth by perpetuating a mentality that keeps Christians carnal and immature.
It's no surprise that most of the church lives on a low spiritual level. The New Testament has much to say about Christians being carnal, being babies, and needing to grow up spiritually. The same issues that hindered the New Testament church are still present today.
One of the main causes of low-level Christianity is that the church has followed Old Covenant patterns of living. The church has focused its attention on learning and applying principles, rather than knowing Jesus Christ, abiding in him, and expressing his life by the power of the Holy Spirit. That's why it falls so short of the biblical standard of Christianity. The church at Jerusalem, in the book of Acts, was deeply entrenched in both the Law of Moses and Old Covenant mentalities. So is the church today. The carnal religious mind is infatuated with Old Testament paradigms and is addicted to carnal ways of living based upon them.
Tithing is not a threat to the kingdom of darkness. The devil knows the church would have much more power, as well as money, if Christians were taught how to live like sons of God, who are in a spiritual union with Jesus Christ. He also knows that Christians could grow up spiritually and begin to reign in life if the confusion that comes from mixing the Old Covenant and New Covenant spiritual paradigms was removed from the church. That is more frightening to him than the increase of money that would flow into the church if the tithing mentality was abandoned.
From Greek legend we have the story of the Trojan War. The Greeks laid siege to the city of Troy for ten years. Failing to succeed by direct attack, they devised a brilliant strategy. Boarding their ships and sailing away, they left behind a huge wooden horse filled with soldiers. The Trojans brought the horse into their city, thinking it would give them special power. That night Greek soldiers exited the horse and attacked. Troy was conquered.
That is how Satan works against the church. He can't defeat it by direct attack so he uses deception. Power and victory come to believers through abiding in Christ with faith in his finished work. Satan's strategy is to get their attention on other things that promise results but cannot deliver. The devil's wooden horse is made of laws, rules, principles, formulas, and other ways of living, borrowed from men who were not in spiritual union with Jesus Christ. Tithing is one of those things.
Certainly there is some value in understanding biblical principles; even those who don't know God can benefit by applying them. But the church has continued to relate to God in the manner of Old Testament men, who were not born again and spiritually re-created in union with Christ. The church has exalted biblical principles to take the place of Jesus Christ because it doesn't know how to abide in Christ and live by his new nature within.
Knowledge of biblical principles has become an idol for Christians to trust in and build their lives upon, instead of building them on the person of Christ, who lives within them. The church has been taught to depend on principles. That has kept it from knowing Jesus and entering into the glorious life in him that is available here on earth.
Jesus didn't come to earth to give us a good life based on biblical principles. He came to give us life—his own divine, self-energizing, resurrection life and nature—through a living union with him. A way of life that is focused on laws, rules, and principles is carnal and cannot produce or experience what Jesus promised. Tithing is a carnal way of living. It cannot produce the glorious life that God provided for us in Christ.
Many Christians are satisfied to live like natural men: following laws, trying to please God, and seeking blessings. But that wasn't God's plan. He wanted to elevate us to a place of actual sonship in his family, seated at his right hand. And he did it through the cross.
The blood of Jesus was a perfect redemption, by which the Father now treats us as if we are perfect, as if we are Jesus. Jesus' resurrection was our resurrection, into an eternal destiny enthroned with him at the Father's right hand. The life within us by which we live is Jesus himself. We now live and relate to the Father identically as Jesus because we are one spirit with him.
The life that Jesus gave the church cannot be expressed in words, but it can be observed in actions. His followers lived and died to share the life they had received. Hot roads, rough seas, dirty prisons, and meager rations didn't stop them. Beatings, whippings, and stonings proved there was something in them that was greater than any obstacle they encountered.
The life that empowered the church to go and preach the gospel also compelled them to spare no resources to get the job done. Those who were not carrying the message were living to send others. Their giving was not motivated by enticements of earthly gain nor by fears of divine punishment. The followers of Jesus were sons of their Father in heaven, showing it by their actions. God was now living in man, expressing his nature through him. Laws and principles of giving were unnecessary. Love had taken over. Tithing was irrelevant. It was weak and beggarly compared to the glory of Christ in operation.
Where was the glory lost? How did we get to the place we are today? That is a long and complicated story. There were many twists and turns in the road, many tricks and traps and wiles of a deceiver. In the process many extra things were woven into the fabric of Christianity. Tithing was one of them. But Jesus Christ is working in his church to make it glorious. He is taking it to a place of maturity and authority, and the tithing mentality will have to be removed.
Many people say, “Tithing was before the Law, during the Law, and after the Law.” That statement comes from taking all the references to tithing out of context, rolling them together, and creating a faulty doctrine. The following chapters will examine what the Bible actually says about tithing, some of the common misunderstandings, and God's new paradigm of giving and financial stewardship for the New Covenant.