“Who Has Bewitched You?” – Part 7
The theme of the book of Galatians is justification by faith — an essential truth that God makes us right with Him by faith, and not by the works of the Law of Moses.
The purpose of this urgent letter was to refute and rebuke false teachers in Galatia who distorted the Good News message (of justification by faith) by teaching that Believers had to keep the Law of Moses to be right with God.
Sadly, these false teachers were able to bewitch some of the saints in Galatia and turn them away from the Lord who called them by grace through faith, to follow a “different gospel” which actually was no Good News at all.
“I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.”
The Good News message says to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Not repent, believe, AND keep the law of physical circumcision. Or repent, believe, AND tithe.
Once a leader adds an additional requirement to faith in the Person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ, they pervert the true Gospel and create a different “gospel” which is not the Good News at all.
Is it Good News to be falsely accused of robbing God and be told that you are “cursed with a curse” if you don’t give a church or religious leader 10% of your income?
Is it Good News to be told that the devil will attack your marriage, children, job, business, and health if you don’t fork over 10% of your income?
Is it Good News to be told that God will not bless you unless you pay up 10% of your income to a religious organization?
Is it Good News to be told that the reason why you are struggling financially is because you aren’t “tithing” your paycheck?
None of this is the Good News. It is horrible news. And it deters many people from the church and the Christian Faith.
In a world where everything costs money and the economy is failing, people do not want to come to church only to be told to pay another “bill” to earn God’s blessings and avoid being cursed.
The man-made doctrine of monetary ‘tithing’ corrupts the Good News message that Jesus paid it all and salvation is a free gift.
According to Galatians 1:8-9, God’s curse is on those who distort the Good News and preach a different “gospel”, not on those who do not practice monetary ‘tithing.’
“Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)
Those who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham. But those who depend on their ability to perfectly obey the Law of Moses (for example ‘tithing’) to make themselves right with God are under a curse. The Law of Moses demanded perfect obedience: “They must do everything that is written in the law. If they do not always obey, they are under a curse” (Deuteronomy 27:26, Deuteronomy 28:15-68). It is clear that no one can be made right with God through perfect obedience to the Law of Moses, because everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
The righteous person does not live by their ability to keep the Law of Moses. The righteous person lives by faith (Hab 2:4). Yet the Law of Moses is not of faith. It says “keep ALL of the Law and you will be blessed. Break ANY of the Law and you will be cursed” (Galatians 3:10-12).
Thank God that Christ took away that curse and redeemed us from the curse of the Law of Moses. He changed places with us and put Himself under that curse. The Scriptures say, “Anyone who is hung on a tree is under a curse.” Because of what Jesus Christ did, the blessing God promised to Abraham was given to all people, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
We do not receive the blessing of Abraham by keeping the Law of Moses, but by faith. So what was the purpose of the Law of Moses? To show people their sins. But it was designed to last only until the coming of the Seed who was promised to Abraham (Jesus Christ).
If the Law of Moses could give us new life, then we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus did what the Law of Moses could not do. He set us free from the law of sin and death and took away our condemnation. This is why we must stand fast in our freedom, and do not get “entangled again with a yoke of bondage” to the Law of Moses — the Law of Moses brings death and condemnation.
Promoting tithing undermines freedom in Jesus Christ and places people in bondage to an Old Covenant that brought curses, death, and condemnation.
“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (Galatians 5:1)
If you are depending on ‘tithing’ to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by ‘tithing’, you must obey every regulation in the whole Law of Moses, because the Old Covenant was a package deal. You cannot cherry-pluck which parts you want to keep. To receive the blessings of the Law of Moses, a person had to keep ALL of it, not just the part about tithing.
Either live by ALL of the Law of Moses, or live by faith in the Son of God. But if you try to make yourselves right with God by keeping the Law of Moses, you are alienated from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace (Galatians 5:2-6).
Some people claim that “God told them to tithe.” They were misled by their own heart and a false teacher who twisted Scripture. God is not schizophrenic. He does not have multiple personality disorder. He would not inspire Paul to write the book of Galatians, and then tell modern-day Christians that we HAVE to keep an unbiblical ‘tithing’ tradition. He would not tell the Biblical apostles not to put Believers under a yoke of bondage to the Law of Moses and then tell modern-day church leaders to put Believers under a yoke of bondage to tithing. God does not contradict Himself. But people can contradict God.
God has not called us to return to the bondage of the Law of Moses, which brings curses, death and condemnation. God has called us to FREEDOM in Christ Jesus — not freedom to satisfy our sinful desires, but freedom to love one another.
“For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13-14).
If we let the Holy Spirit guide our lives, then giving will not be an issue and no one would lack in the body of Christ because we would gladly meet one another’s needs. “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)
The reason why there is such a huge gap between the rich and the poor in the church, is not because “people aren’t tithing.” But because people are not being led by the Holy Spirit and loving one another.
Let’s say that everyone in the body of Christ practiced monetary ‘tithing’ — that doesn’t mean that the money would be spent responsibly (with the BULK of each dollar spent on poor Believers, widows, orphans, and evangelism). And that doesn’t mean that there would be an equality among the saints. There would still be haves and have-nots in the same church, because of the lack of love and people not being led by the Spirit. Most of the money would still be spent on staff salaries and the building, with very little spent on charity, evangelism, and discipleship. Spending habits would not change.
When the saints gave out of love in Acts 2 & 4, amazing and miraculous things happened. There was an equality among the saints. No one lacked because their needs were met. The apostles did not take the first cut of the money laid at their feet to pay themselves a salary. They selflessly took care of the people first and redistributed it to God’s people. God performed miracles among them and added to the body of Christ daily! Outsiders saw the works of Jesus in their lives and knew that they were followers of Jesus. They knew them by their LOVE.
Can the same be said about today’s church? Do we have the same testimony? Are we known as followers of Jesus by our love, or just church folks who live no differently than anyone else? When someone in our church has an urgent need, do we immediately raise an offering? Or do we ask them if they’re a “member” first and them make them fill out an application and jump through hoops so that MAYBE they might qualify for *some* help IF they’re a “faithful tither”?
This is why I said that the subject of tithing is not about whether we should give 10% of our income or not. It’s about living out the truth of the Gospel and the New Covenant.
In the next blog, we’re going to dive into Hebrews 8 which teaches that the Old Covenant (including tithing) is obsolete.
Click here for the next article in this series.