The following story is fictional, but it is based on disturbing teachings I’ve read on various sites. The story is a composite picture of many mind manipulation games I’ve observed at services. Satan is one sly guy, and he seasons his worst lies with enough sweet sugar to make undiscerning Christians swallow his deception. I noticed no author name or contact details on the particular site I’m thinking of. Seems to me that any author who is sure that his/her viewpoint is Biblically sound wouldn’t be reluctant to post that information in order to get feedback from readers.
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Bless Me, Brother, for I Have Sinned
Time to try a new approach, Brother Love thought. This us-versus-them business has gotten the leadership nowhere.
Brother Love prepared to address his vast congregation. The sea of tired, careworn faces were attached to impeccably dressed, mostly middle-class bodies, but hard economic times were taking their toll and today’s sermon might not be easy to swallow. Many dejectedly hung their heads, for rumor had it the “T” word would (once again) be the preacher’s topic.
After a few introductory remarks, a few frozen faces relaxed into smiles. This time Brother Love wasn’t hollering threats at his flock. As he eased into his sermon his voice was as soothing as ointment on a burn. Could it be he was finally beginning to look at life from THEIR point of view? Brother Love spoke of God being a wonderful Heavenly Father, One Whose compassions failed not, a Refuge in the time of storm, a Mighty Bulwark in times of trouble. Brother Love sensed he was connecting with his congregation and gaining their trust.
Then came the bottom line. “Jesus is a merciful Savior,” Brother Love said, “and He can have compassion on those who are beset by any human weakness. Christ lives forevermore to make intercession for His people so their sins can be forgiven. Sometimes, brothers and sisters, it’s easy to slip into sin because you’re afraid to do what’s just and right in the eyes of God. Many of you have allowed FEAR, that dirty four-letter word, drive you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do. Many of you are so reluctant to believe in God’s faithfulness that you have become robbers of God Himself. Malachi 3:8 asks you this question: ‘Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.’
“You have approached tithing as being a dreaded duty, instead of the blessing God designed it to be. You have allowed pressure from other obligations to come between you and your God. God deserves and expects ten percent of all the money that falls into your hands. Jesus died to pay for your sins. The very least He deserves is His rightful portion of your paycheck.
“My Bible teaches in Isaiah chapter 59, verses 1 and 2: Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
“Ever wonder why you’ve been praying for the boss to give you that raise, or for God to heal Aunt Susie, and the answer just won’t come? My Bible teaches that sin breaks your fellowship with God and hinders your prayers. God simply can’t afford to bless you if you withhold your tithe from His ministers who serve at the altar. Some of you refuse to tithe because you quote I Peter 2, verses 5 and 9 and point out that since you’re part of Christ’s Royal Priesthood and Old Testament priests did not tithe, that lets YOU off the hook as well. By digging into God’s Word and discovering that the Priestly order of the Tribe of Levi did not pay tithes, you have proven yourselves to be diligent students of God’s Word. Still, I question your MOTIVE for digging this information out of the Old Covenant. True, Old Covenant priests did not owe Temple Tribute or tithes because they were at the top of Israel’s social pecking order and the lay people were at the bottom. But you forget, God has called His people to live by a HIGHER standard than Old Testament people. YOU are called to go the extra mile, not out of duty, but out of love. Jesus wants you to be a servant, and even if Scripture does say you’re part of His priesthood, the lay members of this church ought to pay tithes to His ordained ministers who actively serve God.
“If you’ll read I Cor.9:13 it has this to say about your tithing obligation: Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? You cannot use your priesthood as an escape from the Law of Tithing, folks. You might be a priest but we’re the professional ministers of God and so we have a right to eat the fruits of your labor. You say you’re walking in liberty and aren’t obligated to pay any set amount, but don’t you realize you’re bought and paid for through the precious blood of Christ, and you’re God’s bond slaves? Some of you are trying to cast off His yoke and break free of God’s control. You might be part of Christ’s Royal Priesthood, but you do not minister at the altar. You go to your jobs every day and work for secular bosses. There were servant-Levites in the Old Testament who did not approach the altar, and they paid tithes out of the tithes they themselves received from the people. They gave these tithes to the altar priests to live on. We’re your spiritual parents in the Lord, and LOVE demands that you share of your bounty with us even when the going gets rough. LOVE demands that you die to your old selfish nature and tithe to those who break the Bread of Life to you.
“Some of you may have offended deeply in this area of trying to wriggle out of your tithing obligation. Yet God has promised to forgive those who are truly contrite in heart. Confess your sin of withholding God’s tithe today and He will pour out His forgiveness upon you and restore His blessing upon your life. Jesus will forgive you if you tell Him you’re sorry for withholding His tithe. Oh, what a merciful Savior!
“Our choir is going to sing ‘Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me’. Let this hymn minister to your hearts the grace and love of our God as you search your souls. Ask God to purge you of the greed and selfishness which has robbed you of your love for Jesus and caused you to rob Him of what is rightfully His. As you search your hearts for hidden sin, come up front and let me and the elders of the church pray for you. As it is written, confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. So come up front, brothers and sisters, and I’ll help you seek God’s forgiveness so you can be greatly blessed by Him. Far from robbing your families of the necessities of life by paying ten per cent of your paycheck to the church, God has promised that if you do this, He’ll open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing so there won’t be room to receive it. Mom and Dad, be a good example to your kids. Don’t just tell them you love Jesus. SHOW them by opening your heart, and your wallet, wide.”
The stirring music swept over the congregation as Brother Love continued wooing “God-robbers” to come up and confess. The faces of the white-robed choir glistened beneath the stage lights. To work-weary, everyday folks too busy to join any choir, they sounded like angels. One after another of the church members went forward, gave the preacher his or her hand, and choked out confessions of some alleged sin. Brother Love’s smooth hand touched one waiting head after another in the prayer line, as he urged each person to pour out their guilt and shame to the Lord.
A widespread rash of weeping broke out as people fell under the spell of the ethereal choral singing and the hypnotic, polished rhetoric of the preacher. The atmosphere was so soggy with sadness that some even knelt between the pews, sobbing their hearts out. A very few got up and quietly left to clear their heads outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
Brother Love stooped down beside one frail old lady who appeared to be in her 80’s. “You’re SUCH a holy man, Brother Love, even if you ARE young enough to be my grandson. Please pray for me to the Lord that he’ll forgive me for being stingy with my Social Security checks! I could lower my thermostat in the winter time. But my old flesh wants to be comfortable. Oh, the devil gets after me, Brother Love! I need to fast more often so I’ll have more to give to his work! Please pray that I’ll have the grace to skip a few more meals so I can afford to tithe. If I really loved Jesus I’d be willing to wait till I got to heaven to get my good things. I’m willing to burn out in the service of the Lord.”
“Of course I’ll pray with you, Sister Withers,” Brother Love said with a cheesy smile. “Jesus gave His all for you, so now it brings you great joy to give more of yourself to Him.” After repeating a melodramatic “prayer” after the preacher, Brother Love gently raised the old lady to her wobbly feet as she steadied herself with her cane.
Brother Love bragged on the woman to the rest of the church. “This little lady has made Jesus her PARTNER IN PROSPERITY!” he cried. “She says she’s even trimmed her grocery budget so she can give the Lord a big thank offering! Sister Withers walks to church and does without heat in the winter to prove her devotion to God. Lots of you out there should be ASHAMED of the way you live, with all your extra fat and fancy cars! As the ushers come forward to pray the offertory prayer, let Sister Withers be a bright and shining example to inspire everyone here to give of their all to the Master. Open your wallets wide to sow a seed of faith! Lots of weeping has been done in our midst today, but your tears are as precious diamonds in the sight of God and He treasures them. Godly sorrow leads to repentance. God is doing a marvelous work in our midst. Choir, please continue singing softly as we ask our ushers to come forward and receive the Lord’s tithes and offerings.”
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So what’s wrong with this preacher’s sermon?
In other articles I go into great length to explain why monetary tithing (or any other kind) is not for the church. Before we pick apart that awful sermon, I’ll give a synopsis of important points I’ve discovered about the tithe in Scripture:
God clearly stipulated what He wanted tithes to be collected on in Leviticus 27:30: ‘Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S; it is holy to the LORD. NOT ONE Scripture in either Old or New Testament commands tithing to be done on money, only on agricultural products! It is a sin to add commandments to the Word of God (Deut.4:2). Compulsory tithing was part of the Law, and it was given FROM MT. SINAI BY MOSES TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, not to the children of the Eskimos, the Japanese, Chinese, or Apache Indians. Only the children of Levi had a commandment from God to take tithes (Heb.7:5). No Gentile believer today is authorized by God to collect ten percent of another man’s paycheck to support his ministry. Far from being cursed for non-tithing, the danger lies in trying to keep the Old Law of Moses when Christ has set you free (Gal.5:1). If one law is binding, all the rest of them are, including animal sacrifices, pigeon offerings, kosher food laws, etc.(Gal.5:3). Galatians 3:10 warns us that going back to the Law of Moses carries a curse, not a blessing!
There’s a multitude of things wrong with that sneaky sermon:
1. It’s professionally polished and pre-calculated to get the people to lower their guard and accept lies as truth. God’s people have a right and a commandment to prove ALL things (I Thes.5:21). Resorting to mind-bending tricks to control others is a form of witchcraft. Any preacher who plays on religious sentiment to get what he wants out of people is committing a terrible sin and is usurping of the Holy Spirit’s place to lead and guide His people from their innermost being. The Jezebel of Revelation persuaded God’s people to do unscriptural things (Rev. 2:20). You don’t need to sound like a scary gangster to tell a lie. Satan used smooth talk to deceive Eve (2 Cor. 11:3) and he still does this today through ministers of darkness who, by cunning craftiness, lie in wait to deceive and toss the children of God to and fro with false doctrines (Eph.4:14).
2. Brother Love appealed to the greatness and mercy of God to justify his tithing doctrine, not correctly applied Scripture. He even appealed to Jesus being a merciful Savior willing and able to forgive non-tithing. Truth is mixed up with error. Jesus IS merciful, loving and forgiving. But tithing is NOT a commandment to New Covenant Christians, and is nowhere commanded to the church by any apostle. Jesus told the Jewish Pharisees UNDER THE LAW that they should continue to tithe their garden herbs, with no mention of money (Matt.23:23). Jesus forgives mean-spiritedness and stinginess of heart, but how can Jesus forgive non-payment of tithes if He never ordered NT believers to tithe to begin with? It’s the ravening thieves in the pulpit who need to ask Jesus’ forgiveness for stealing, not non-tithers! Whenever a preacher ministers false guilt, he’s denying the power of the Blood of Jesus to sanctify souls and make them righteous.
3. Brother Love presented himself as one who praises Jesus to the utmost. That’s like a burglar hiding behind an innocent baby to avoid being shot. The devil hates Jesus, but doesn’t hesitate to hide behind Him to avoid criticism! Get thee behind me, satan!
4. Brother Love has all his bases covered. Unscrupulous preachers know that some “laymen” have SOME Biblical knowledge, but count on the fact that John Q. pew-warmer has to go to work every day and can’t spend endless hours digging out ALL the facts in Scripture. So sooner or later, the “theological experts” will be able to trip the wise-guy “un-ordained” Bible student up and get that one to give in and give more! Brother Love admitted that some had figured out that they were priests under the New Covenant, and since OT priests did not pay tithes, they shouldn’t have to either. But Brother Love insisted that “out of love” NT believers should “go the extra mile” and tithe anyway (where does the NT teach that you can keep any unscriptural doctrine “out of love”?) Because Brother Love praised the goodness of Christ in the same breath as he taught his bad doctrine, it would make Christians feel like crumbs if they stood on God’s truth and rejected his lies. This is called doing a “snow job”. Remember those old black and white TV sets where you’d get “snow” on the screen and couldn’t see the whole picture? All some Christians can see is the preacher’s fake whiteness, not the grunge underneath his indoctrination.
Even the demon-possessed damsel of Acts 16:17 knew how to say good things about Jesus in order to achieve satan’s purpose. The devil doesn’t even mind if God’s people give away ten per cent of their hard-earned cash to their preachers so long as it serves his purpose. And what is Satan’s purpose? To get us back under the old Law and its condemnation.
5. Throughout his sermon, Brother Love heaps condemnation on the parishioners and reminds them that they are of an inferior status to “professional ministers” (there’s no such thing as divinity degrees or seminaries in the early NT church). The preacher abuses God’s love and forgiveness to soften them up so they’ll accept blame for an act (non-tithing) which is not a sin under the New Covenant. By having Brother Love remind his flock of their OBLIGATION to tithe he devil binds them to a burden God has not placed on them. Satan uses the preacher to fill God’s children with false guilt and He uses his false ministers to bring them back under the Law. The whole book of Galatians is devoted to Paul’s effort to set his brethren in Christ free from religious bondage. There is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus and walk in the Spirit (Gal.8:1). Brother Love insists that his people owe him an ongoing debt of ten per cent of their paychecks. But believers are instructed by God to owe no man anything but to love one another (Rom.13:8). Believers are not to give out of necessity (obligation, or HAVING to give), but out of love to REAL needs in the Body of Christ (2 Cor.9:7).
6. Brother Love makes believers feel ashamed for spending their hard-earned money to properly care for their own personal needs. He tries to make them feel they are being selfish by doing this. Paul, one of the chief apostles, said that he labored to provide for his own needs as well as those of others (Acts 20:34). Today’s ministers of deceit won’t stoop so low as to earn their own bread with their own hands, even when they have lots of time on their hands to do fun things. They want others to slave in order to provide luxuries for them. Predatory preachers hunger for the widow’s mite. They expect elderly people, the poor and the sick to do without so they can indulge their own dreams and lusts.
7. Brother Love downplays the priesthood of every believer, saying that “laymen” do not minister at the altar like so-called professional ministers. There are no laymen in the Body of Christ, and the word isn’t even in the Bible! Brother Love grudgingly admits there is a priesthood of all believers, but he demotes them from full-fledged priests to being the counterparts of Old Testament Levites, who did the menial chores of the Tabernacle. Ordinary Levites ranked beneath the actual priestly clan of the Tribe of Levi. Being under God’s judgment for sins of their ancestors, subservient Levites could not directly approach God’s holy things (Ezek.44:11-16). Instead, they had an outer court ministry as being doorkeepers and housekeepers for the Tabernacle, while the priests held the most honorable position.
Much confused teaching is going on about “spiritual Levites” (why don’t preachers spiritualize the OTHER twelve tribes of Israel too?) All priests belonged to the tribe of Levi, but not all Levites were priests, just like all Alabamians are Americans but not all Americans are Alabamians. NOT ONE NT scripture says that paid professional ministers outrank other sons and daughters of God in His Royal Priesthood. Hebrews 4:16 says we can now come boldly before the Throne of Grace. Far from being inferior to paid preachers, all God’s children can enter the very Throne of God!
Old Covenant Levites could not enter into the Holy of Holies, only Aaron the High Priest. We are made one spirit with Christ the Lord (I Cor.6:17). So when preachers try to pry tithes out of you, they’re trying to get them out of Jesus Himself! And when you pay them you’re agreeing with their lie that professional ministers outrank you and stand between you and your Lord. You’re denying your spiritual union with Jesus, the only High Priest of the New Covenant.
8. Many Protestants poke fun at Catholics for confessing their sins to a priest who stands between them and God. But Brother Love urges those who commit supposed sins to confess them to HIM, so he can give them the same absolution a Catholic priest gives to Catholic parishioners! Scripture teaches that there is only ONE mediator (go-between) between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (I Tim.2:5-6). So just like Catholics go to their human priest and say: “Bless me, father, for I have sinned”, the Protestant parishioner will agree with their preacher that they are guilty of sin, real or imagined, and will depend on their preacher to make things all right with God again. Brother Love claims money tithes from his people because he’s their “spiritual father”. Jesus said to call no man on earth your father, because you have ONE Father, who is in heaven (Matt.23:9). Jesus is the ONLY High Priest of the New Covenant (Heb.7:26). When preachers take tithes and “first-fruits offerings”, not only are they denying that Christ fulfilled the Old Law and its types and nailed them to the Cross of Calvary (Col.2:14), they’re usurping Christ’s position of preeminence over His people! And even if that preacher were your “spiritual dad”, Paul states in 2 Cor.12:14 that the children shouldn’t provide for the parents, but the parents for the children.
9. Brother Love paints God as a mean bill-collector who will shut off the lights in a Christian’s life if he doesn’t pay his tithes. God’s sons are turned into fearful, cringing slaves. Instead of setting preachers over God’s people as tax-collecting lords, Jesus said that the greatest among the Christians would be the one willing to be a servant (Gk. doulos, bondslave). Instead, predatory preachers (not all preachers) tend to make slaves out of their congregations by demanding tribute from them.
10. Brother Love mixes truth with error when he correctly states that Paul declares his right to financial support because he’s serving the Lord full-time. But Paul does NOT ask for any kind of tithes, or even mention the word “tithes” in I Cor. chapter 9. Paul merely states that he has a right to eat and drink (even so-called “laymen” have a right to such charity). It is a sin to ignore the needs of true ministers of the Lord when you’re able to financially help them (just “praying for them” is an easy cop-out). But it is also a sin to tithe when God teaches you that you’re free of the Old Law and its curse (Gal.3:10).
11. Brother Love perpetuates the false class system of clergy-laity distinction in the Body of Christ, which began in the early Middle Ages long after the death of the Biblical apostles. Jesus taught that we were to all relate to one another as brethren (Matt.23:8). Paul, far from demanding ten per cent of everybody’s paycheck (that would have made him wealthy) taught EQUALITY of well-being within the Body of Christ (2 Cor.8:14). In your own body, your foot doesn’t starve your hand so it can have more nutrients than it actually needs. God doesn’t want the “professional minister” driving a Rolls Royce while the poor widow starves. The worst swindlers (like Brother Love) don’t care if the poor widow cuts back on her cat chow and winter heating to “finance the work of the Lord”. Jesus lambasted preachers who devoured widows’ houses and warned them they’d go to hell for it (Matt.23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47).
12. Brother Love plays on parents’ guilt by telling them that they’re setting a bad example for their kids if they don’t tithe. What parent wants to fail their own children? Preachers know their cash cows have cash calves who grow up to be a new crop of money trees to be picked from.
13. Brother Loves teaches that Malachi 3:8 is God’s rebuke to Christ’s New Testament Church. WRONG! The entire book is addressed to the sinful priests and “sons of Jacob”, not the sons and daughters of other nations (see Malachi 2:1 and 3:6). Old Covenant Law was given to Israel ONLY (Lev.27:34; Psalms 147:20). God didn’t order non-Israelites to keep His kosher food laws. Israelites were allowed to feed foreigners meat that had died of natural causes, rather than being slaughtered (Deut.14:21). It was even okay for God’s people to sell such road kill meat to the Gentiles to eat. Now, if God didn’t command Gentiles to keep His dietary laws, then why would He have expected them to keep other Old Covenant laws, such as tithing?
14. Brother Love teaches a ten per cent standard of surrender to God. Well, if God needs ten per cent of your money (He already owns you and all you have), then what about other areas of your life? Does God only own ten per cent of your love, devotion, talents and time? If preachers are so eager to grab ten per cent of your paycheck then why don’t they demand ten per cent of the veggies in your garden (the true Biblical tithe)? They’re after other kinds of lettuce!
15. Throughout his sermon Brother Love insinuates that people who don’t tithe don’t love Jesus. In this way he puts a spirit of shame and guilt on them, which is spiritual voodoo. What Christian wants others to doubt his own love for Jesus? So when the plate goes around, more goes in, which supposedly testifies to love for Christ instead of the greed of the preacher!
What IS Satan’s sneakiest tithing lie? That disobedience to an unscriptural commandment (tithing on wages to non-Levites in the Age of Grace) is a sin which needs God’s forgiveness. Soul-damning lies can enter the church clinging onto the coat tails of the most profound truths. It’s the lying, stealing thieves in the pulpit who should weep between the porch and the altar for their sins, as in Joel 2:17).
What spiritual misery merchants are doing today is forcibly breaking into the tender souls of God’s people to overcome them with waves of emotion, which has been generated not by the Holy Spirit’s conviction for sin, but by polished, professional preaching and music manipulation. That’s spiritual rape of the Bride of Christ, plain and simple.
Satan’s most dangerous lies are shrouded in misapplied scripture.