The Lord God holds the copyright to the earth because he made it (Psalm 24:1). He told Israel: if I were hungry I will not tell you, because the cattle upon a thousand hills are mine (Psalm 50:10). He is the one who made us and the one we should give the highest of allegiance to. That is why the sin of Adam was doubly calamitous. The created spited the creator (Genesis 3). How unwise!?
The bible says that everything we have is given by God (1Corinthians 4:7). So those who say a certain percentage of your money is what God wants by compulsion, making scriptures stand on their head to push their thoughts at you, actually diminish God.
They give the impression that a certain percentage of what you have is for God, while you can do anything you like with the rest. That is why many churches are swimming in lack, because they have not recognised that actually everything that we have is God’s and should be dictated to God. In the Old Testament, the first born “have to be” dedicated to God (Numbers 18:15), but now all the children “should be” dedicated to God.
The Old Testament no longer serves as our standard. In the old testament God could not reach the heart of men, but now he can by the Spirit, so if the preacher emphasises the law and not the Spirit’s influence in the practise of Christians’ giving and generousity, what we will have are people rebelling, unable to obey the law because the new man in Christ is not meant to run on the law but by walking in the Spirit. Therefore we have Christian malfunctioning all over the place, because though we are capable of a higher life, we are forced by preaching of the law to live retrogressively, forced into the mould of the law and unable to flow with the water of the Spirit.
So we are confused, operating in the new life with the oldness of the letter. We would not go anywhere fast with that. We would continue to see spiritual casualties all around us, attempting to fly over spiritual heights without the wings of the Spirit, by the shadow of the law, not the substance of the Spirit of Christ. We see dysfunctional Christians, because we still want to be justified by the law and so fall from grace, even if in a relative sense. No matter the case, we cannot attain to the fullness of the potential of the new creature we are. The maker has made us new creatures, but we still flirt with the law.
Don’t we know that in Christ we die to the law and the law to us (Romans 7:1-7)? How pretty is it that we are still found romancing the dead? We try to live the life of the Spirit in the arm of flesh. The law is established on gaining credits by the arm of flesh, with that we have a ground to boast, but not before God (Romans 4:1-5). The only credit the new creature runs on is the credit of the blood of Jesus, which cannot be exhausted. It is the rest of the people of God (Hebrews 4:1-11), not the achievement/work-based dynamics of the Old Testament.
Christians are confused because they do not know that they should be fully weaned from the law. They do not know that the place of the inheritance is not where manna falls from the sky in law handed down and must be obeyed, but where you have to take personal individual responsibility, not a one size fits all of the manna (law) life, but the experience of the walk in the Spirit.
What do you think Jesus meant when he said that if your righteousness is not greater than that of the Pharisee we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Mathew 5:20)? He wants to impress on the people that there is a higher life that the Pharisee do not model and they (Pharisees) really modelled the percentage giving to God.
Why did Jesus impress it on the people that the greatest command is to love God with everything (Matthew 22:37)? I am not supposed to love God (which is reflected in what I give him), secondary, or partially, but with everything.
Those who make a law of certain percentage of income to be paid to the church deprive you of loving God with everything. They condition you to think in percentages when dealing with God and not in fullness of dedication.
The righteousness of the Pharisees includes the percentage giving of the minutest thing they have (Matthew 23:23). They cannot be faulted, but what about removing the percentage law from your mind, and regard whatever percentage that is in your mind as being the minimum recommended measurement of generousity and not a fix rate of payment? That means you can give below and above it without any sense of condemnation or self-exaltation respectively; of course with the awareness that those who sow sparingly or bountifully will reap in like measure (2Corinthians 9:6), and he who waters shall in turn be watered (Proverbs 11:25); give and it shall be given to you (Luke 6:28).
Some go further and claim, enforce, cajole that in the kingdom of God percentage giving is the taxation. They condition the heart to walk in guilt because no matter what you do many will not be able to obey the percentage giving law. We cannot fully walk with God when we are full of guilt, ask Adam.
These people confuse the kingdom of God with the kingdom of this world and fall into the fallacy that apostle Paul warned against. He said: do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:1-2).
The possibility for the abuse of the law was very clear in the time of Jesus, which Jesus warning the people against the Pharisees’ practices (Luke 12:1). Elevating the law is the breeding ground for hypocrisy. That is way Jesus came to take the law away. Paul informed that Jesus took the law away which is the enmity between the gentiles and the Jews (Ephesians 2:11-18).
The law was never made for the gentiles; it was made for the Jews. The reason it is the enmity is because the law for the Jews was a means to get the approval of God, to be in his good book, and since the law was not made for the gentiles there was no way for them to come into God’s favour, except Jesus takes away the requirement of the law through the cross, allowing everyone to come through faith to God.
The reason the law was an enemy for the Jews was because they could not obey it. Though they had the law, they could not fulfil the spirit and the letter of it and therefore could not gain the favour of God through it, especially with the hardness of heart they have.
Paul said concerning Jesus that he nailed to the cross the list of requirements, ordinances that was contrary to us, which we could not obey (Colossians 2:13). He fully obeyed the law as the perfect man, tempted on all points yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15-16), he was the holy one (Acts 3:14), all together lovely (Songs of Solomon 5:16). So through Jesus the burden of the law for both the Jews and gentiles was taken away and freely we can come to God, to our maker, riding on the grace available through Jesus; we can come without any pretence or pretext, without claim or clamour to enjoy his favour freely.
He is the maker, he is also the giver. He gave us his only begotten son and packaged in him our portion for eternity. In the Son, we are remade. After our first version in Adam was conditioned by sin, it has to be done away with; the old man was crucified in the cross (Romans 6:6) and remade in the core of who we are.
What do you now need to please the maker is a heart of obedience. Someone came to Jesus, what do I do to do the works of God? Answer: believe in the one he has sent, Jesus Christ; that base of belief for righteousness is compromised when it is replaced by mere observance of a set of rules removed from a living walking flow with the Holy Spirit.
The law is no longer the way for us to reach to our maker as it was under the Old Testament; the way now is a person, Jesus (John 14:6). It is losing battle, trying to defend the law for anything. Christians now have a confused identity, not acting based on the covenant under which they exist, the new covenant. They want to eat their cake and have it; they want to eat their cake of the law with the attached ministration of death (2Corinthians 3:5-18) and have the result of ministration of life in Jesus, which should be walking free from those laws but now living the life of the Spirit. The law, Paul says is only made for the offender (1Timothy 1:5-11). The life of the Spirit may be shaky at first but it is to that we are called and we better get on it soon, so that we can advance on it fast.
In the New Testament, it is about being in close union with Jesus, who God has designed to be the wisdom, righteousness and sanctification for us (1Corinthianss 1:30), all things which the law stands for, for the pre-Christ people of old.
No one studied the law and the scriptures more than the Pharisees, but the problem with them is that they saw the law as an end in itself and not means to an end. Jesus revealed that the end is him (John 5:39, Romans 10:4). He said that the words of the scriptures should show them the need to come to him and experience his life. If not, we are reading it wrong.
This is not an attempt to downgrade the scriptures, but the written word can only make valid sense in the context of the manifest word, which is Jesus; that is why the way Paul and the other apostles interpreted the words of the Old Testament differently from the way the rabbi of Judaism interpret it. It is the same word, but seen from different perspectives.
The perspective that, those words are revelation of Jesus, and not just stories and tools of deriving laws to observe, is what the apostles hold to. They connect those words to the dynamics of the ongoing work of God to create a path of inclusiveness for all men to come to him, freed from the encumbrance of self-imposed limitations of the law and the destructive tendencies of the sinful nature.
While the Judaism hardheads point the words of the Old Testament to the past and the future (for a Messiah different from Jesus of Nazareth); the New Testament writers saw the words fulfilled in Jesus; as the way the truth and the life. And by revelation they know that there will be a day appointed when Jesus, God’s appointed judge will judge the living and the dead- as the maker (2Timothy 4:1). The question will be: did you serve the purpose for which I made you or were you distracted by other things, the law inclusive.
- Blessed are the Poor (cfcspn.com)
- Tithing is By The Law, But Generosity is By Faith (incisivereview.com)
- Developing a Strategy to Cope (davegroberts.wordpress.com)
- Scripture to make your Monday a great one. (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)