The Fruits of Two Errors
Jesus said a tree is known by its fruits (Matt.12:33). What are a few of the fruits of the modern tithing doctrine and other “sacrificial” giving gimmicks promoted by preachers today?
1. By resurrecting tithing, one of 613 laws of Moses and coming back under it, Christians come back under the whole Law and its inherent curse (Gal.3:10).
2. Tithing causes financial hardship and loss of time together for poor families who must take extra jobs to be able to tithe and still survive. This has a ripple effect. Means less time is available for child training and family devotions (Prov.22:6). Makes the child(ren) more vulnerable to bad influence from peer group, as they rush in to fill the vacuum left by parents who work most of their waking hours. Pursuit of the dollar (or other currency) is the legacy of poor people feeling forced to tithe.
3. When parents aren’t able to do a second job, they are forced to choose between bringing in “God’s” tithe or adequately providing for their families. When they cave in and pay tithes (or other offerings) out of what is needed to care for their kids, they are going against Jesus’ warning against making a ‘corban’ (ritual gift) out of what should go to family support (Mark 7:9-13), thus making void the Word of God through observance of manmade traditions. When people use money to pamper rich preachers instead providing for their own household, they automatically become infidels, according to I Tim.5:8.
4. When blessings for tithing fail to materialize, it can cause severe disillusionment in the life of the believer and get him to question God’s faithfulness to His Word. This makes it easier for satan to tempt him to turn the disappointed Christian away from the REAL truths of Scripture!
5. Instead of getting a windfall by falling for the preacher’s “Breakthrough With My Last Buck Blessing” gimmick, those who give to the rich only fall into deeper poverty (Prov.22:16). I’m speaking from experience here. It feels like God is ignoring your prayers for financial deliverance, when even out of ignorance, you “plant a seed to meet your need”. Even a “sacrificial widow’s mite” gift of your last five dollars won’t make God change His mind about being true to that warning in Proverbs. God doesn’t endorse a false gospel of satan with blessings. He hates being treated like a slot machine!
6. Tithing contributes to a rich-poor divide in the Body of Christ. The “standing” of families in church depends on faithful “tithing”, contrary to James 2:9. An unscriptural clergy-laity division among believers is reinforced through tithes being paid by “pew Christians” to “spiritual Levites”. Non-tithers can be excluded from the most exclusive church cliques as big tithers are given star treatment.
7. Non-tithers forbidden to “minister” in church, contrary to I Corinthians Chapter 12. Spiritual gifts of humbler Christians can be ignored, and their personal ministry disregarded because non-tithing is perceived to be a fatal flaw in their relationship with Jesus. Although NO ONE is EVER commanded to tithe by the apostles or ever rebuked for failure to do so!
8. The priesthood of all believers (I Pet.2:5,9) is weakened as “leadership” assumes role of Old Covenant priests and collects an unscriptural money tithe. Tithing under Grace is distorted theology. Preachers call themselves “spiritual Levites”. But most members of the tribe of Levi DID pay tithes in the Old Testament (Num.18:25-28). And they paid them to Aaron the High Priest. The actual priesthood did NOT tithe. We are priests under the New Covenant (I Pet.2:5,9). Jesus is the ONLY High Priest of our covenant (Heb.7:20-28)! And we are made one spirit with Him through faith (I Cor.6:17). So how can we rank lower on God’s totem pole then pulpit preachers? Anyone who collects tithes today from God’s Royal Priesthood (regular believers) is usurping Jesus’ position as High Priest of the New Covenant, even if he is doing it out of ignorance!
9. Even as they accuse non-tithers of “failing God” and “disobeying His Word”, tithe collectors ADD TO the Word of God compulsory “sacrifice” which was never demanded by the original apostles, contrary to 2 Cor.9:7 and Deut.4:2. Sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice is NEVER demanded under the New Covenant! Jesus made ONE SACRIFICE forever, and it is ENOUGH in the sight of God (Heb.10:10-12).
10. Tithe enforcers LIE to God’s people about His merciful, loving nature by painting a grim picture of Him as one who demands continual sacrifice and hardship to “prove your love for Jesus”. Jesus Himself prefers MERCY to sacrifice (Matt.9:13). Like the wicked Pharisees, greedy preachers prefer sacrifice to mercy and condemn the guiltless by making a sin out of failure to keep monetary tithing, a LAW OF MEN imposed on Christendom by the Roman Catholic Church long after the death of the apostles.
11. Tithe-collecting corrupts a preacher’s motives. Honesty might be the best policy, but it doesn’t always make a guy richer in this world. Money is a highly addictive temptation, just like drugs or gambling. Knowledge of the truth does not automatically set preachers free from serving mammon instead of God (Luke 16:13). Even those who discover the truth through careful objective study of God’s Word might continue to take tithes out of greed, hoping pew Christians never wake up to the truth.
12. Tithing is a very dangerous doctrine. It robs believers both materially and spiritually. Putting confidence in this dead work of the Law to please God (Col.2:14) carries with it the risk of falling from the grace of God and losing salvation (Gal.5:4).
13. Tithing under the New Covenant means someone must take the tithe as God’s representative and place himself or herself between you and Christ, who is the ONE Mediator between God and man (I Tim.2:5). This is sheer heresy! Anybody pretending to be a Levite and wrongfully taking tithes from the people (or performing any other function of a Levite) could have been struck down by God under the Old Covenant (Num.1:51).
14. By misrepresenting God as a vengeful tax collector, tithe enforcers ruin the relationship between God and ordinary Christians. Pew Christians are robbed of their peace through threats of divine retribution for failure to keep this false doctrine of men (Ezek.13:22a; Rom.8:15; Gal.5:12).
15. Money gives a heady feeling of power. Power leads to pride and abuse of the weak. Powerful, rich preachers count on their listeners’ ignorance and use it to create fear in their hearts to extort money. One crowbar used by the worst of the worst is fear of committing the Unpardonable Sin. Such unscrupulous snakes love the Ananias and Sapphira story in Acts 5:1-5. Tithers are told that either they cough up the tithe money or God might strike them dead like he did those two! That terrible tale works like a charm for tithe-collectors so long as verse 4 is skipped over. Ananias’ land, and the money from the sale of that land, belonged to HIM, not the church. Ananias’ sin lay in lying to the Holy Spirit, plain and simple. Tithing is neither mentioned or implied in the context!
What are some possible fruits of legalistic, ritual fasting (as opposed to skipping a meal or two during a period of intense, uninterrupted prayer)?
1. Fasting can be seen as a supplementary sacrifice to what Christ accomplished for us on Calvary, performed out of a feeling of HAVING TO DO IT (same principle as “giving out of necessity” in II Cor.9:7), to earn or keep God’s favor, contrary to Ephesians 2:8-9.
2. Some rely on fasting to “purify” the soul. We are purified and sanctified not through personal suffering and “sacrifices”, but only through the ONE sacrifice of the precious Blood of Jesus alone (Heb.10.14; I Pet.1:2,18-19).
3. Fasting can be performed as a penance (a Roman Catholic doctrine) to punish oneself for sin, when sincere repentance and faith in the Blood of Christ ONLY are needed for being made right (justified) with God (Rom.5:1; I John 1:9).
4. Fasting can be used as a bargaining chip with God to try to get what you want out of Him, in the same way the priests of Baal inflicted suffering on themselves to try to win their god’s favor (I Kings 18:28).
5. Pride in “keeping the flesh under subjection” can cause feelings of superiority over non-fasters (Luke 18:12). Religious rituals can minister pride, not humility.
6. Confidence can be put in weakened flesh (Phil.3:3) to win spiritual battles much the same way a sumo wrestler puts confidence in his strength and bulk to beat his opponent.
7. Compulsory fasting forbids good things God created for our enjoyment (I Tim.6:17). “Commanding to abstain from meats” is part of the old system of doing things, as in the “touch not, taste not, handle not” laws of Moses which are no longer applicable today (Col.2:21; I Tim.4:3.) Putting ourselves under religious restrictions (non-eating) on certain predetermined days is NOT part of our Covenant of Grace. It is Law.
8. “Covenanting” with God to ALWAYS keep certain day(s) of the week as a “fast day” or for any other kind of religious activity runs the risk of failure and condemnation for breaking a self-imposed law. It means that you are BOUND to abstain from eating as a religious duty, just because the earth has rotated on its axis seven more times since the last “fast day”. Routine fasting is a form of “observing days and times” as in Galatians 4:10.
9. Preoccupation with fasting can cause a neurotic fear of accidentally ingesting a tiny amount of food on “fast day”. This can be fear of God’s punishment, however subconscious, or fear of “driving away the Spirit” through having eaten or drunk nourishment. God will never leave nor forsake His children (Heb.13:5).
10. A negative attitude toward food and eating can arise by designating these earthly concerns as selfish or carnal, although Jesus taught people to pray “Give us this day our DAILY bread (Matt.6:11), and fed the crowd literal bread after feeding them spiritual bread (Mark 8:1-9). Jesus plainly says that things we eat don’t spiritually defile us (Mark 7:15). Whether we eat or don’t eat doesn’t affect our standing with God (I Cor.8:8).
11. Frequent fasting can sap a believer’s general health and vitality, as well as cause depression and a souring of the disposition. Joy attracts lost souls to Christ much more than appearing miserable in fasting.
12. “Sanctifying a church fast” can make those unable to fast (the ill, expectant mothers, etc.) feel guilty, because the verb “to sanctify” implies the fast is holy and MUST be observed by ALL. “Sanctifying a fast” is an Old Testament concept (Ezra 8:21; Joel 2:15), done in time of emergency. Christians banded together and prayed for Peter to get out of jail (Acts 12:5). But NOWHERE is a “church fast” ever called in the New Testament. Just two cases of fasting occurred among the apostles in the Book of Acts when they were praying about sending out missionaries (Acts 13:2-3;14:23). Cornelius MAY have fasted, but ancient Greek manuscripts differ on whether the word “fast” was originally included in Acts 10:30. Some texts read merely that Cornelius was observing the Jewish hour of prayer (the ninth hour, or three o’clock). Other than these isolated examples NO OTHER CASE of religious fasting (only periods of hunger due to hardship or food shortage) are recorded in the New Testament. The apostles were Jewish men still attached to some of their old customs (e.g. Paul’s shaving of his head as part of a ritual vow in Acts 18:18). Cornelius the centurion was a Gentile “God-fearer” who would have kept some of the Jewish practices of piety even before his conversion to Christ. Acts 10:2 mentions his frequent alms-giving, a Jewish custom.
13. Keeping a compulsory church fast burdens some more than others. Salaried church leaders are free to pray and fast all day without extra responsibilities to distract them or tire them. They can enjoy a “more spiritual” environment than those who must fast (and barely pray) in an hectic, unedifying secular workplace. Some people must work strenuous or highly repetitive, fast-paced jobs during “fast days”. Health and safety can be jeopardized as fatigue sets in while running heavy machinery, lifting, etc.
14. Ritual fasting creates a different kind of relationship between God and the Christian. When a sinner is saved there is “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Pet.1:8). It feels like a spiritual honeymoon. But once legalism enters into the equation, the glow of divine joy begins to fade and fear sets in. Instead of continuing to rejoice over what Jesus has done and glorying in it, the Christian begins to think: God will do this for me only if I show myself worthy of it.
15. However subconsciously, the believer thinks God enjoys having us suffer and we pay for His favors (or our sins) in fasting installments, much like a child thinks he pays for his pranks in spanking installments.
16. Some think that unless they “fast for miracles”, their prayers won’t be answered and they will get nowhere with God. But does fasting prompt God to pour out more miracles? John the Baptist and his disciples fasted much more often than Jesus and His disciples (Matt.9:14). Jesus “came eating and drinking” (Luke 7:33-34). But NOT ONE miracle is attributed to John the Baptist personally, though John did much more fasting than Jesus! NOT ONE incident of fasting is recorded in the Bible before Moses. Fasting is not attributed to such righteous men as Seth, Noah, Enoch, Abraham and Isaac. Without his fasting to earn it, Enoch walked with God and was taken to heaven without first dying (Heb.11:5).
17. Satan knows believers can’t focus on more than one thing at one time. When good things happen, fasting can easily get the glory due to Jesus alone. In an of itself, fasting has no eternal merit. In order for one thing to take the primary place in a believer’s faith and practice, something else (faith in Christ alone) must take a lower seat at the table.
Christians are rebuked for many faults and sins in Scripture. But, interestingly, NOT ONCE is anybody ever rebuked in the New Testament for failure to tithe or fast!
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