All Legalism brings bondage, and the tithe is no exception. There is a tremendous amount of bondage that comes with this unbiblical, unrealistic, and damaging doctrine! Let’s talk about some of the damage the teaching of the tithe has caused. In one scenario you have a group of people who have acquired wealth. They only give ten percent of their wealth because they are told that is all they are required to give. They believe all they’ve got to do is just give ten percent. Many times they hold off giving more because they believe nothing else is required. They paid their 10 percent.
Luk 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
Luk 12:17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
Luk 12:18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
Luk 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
Luk 12:20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Luk 12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. –KJV
Meanwhile there is another scenario with another group of people who are barely getting by. It’s all they can do to pay their bills. They begin to give ten percent of their income. As a result they don’t have enough to pay their bills or they go without the things they need. Maybe their diet is drastically reduced to beans and rice. They can’t afford food or they have expenses for their family that they cannot meet. In a lot of cases these people are dragged further into bondage. In some cases God supernaturally provides.
There is yet another scenario. There are people who don’t pay their tithes for whatever reason and they believe that they are robbing God. This has a direct effect on their relationship with God. They choose to pay their bills and buy food and they have nothing left over, or they choose to repair their car or take care of a pressing need rather than pay their tithe.
Now these people are under direct condemnation for not paying their tithe. They feel like they are no better than a thief. This affects their spiritual life. They don’t approach God because they believe there is grave sin in their life. They stop praying. They stop reading their bible. And they fall under tremendous guilt due to their personal financial situation. It is bad enough being in need. You should not feel guilty because of it. You should not let your relationship with God suffer because of this false doctrine called tithing! This is heavy emotional bondage. Jesus said
Mat 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. –KJV
There are people under financial bondage. They are taking 10 percent of their income and tithing. Meanwhile no deliverance has come and no devourer is rebuked. They are suffering under tremendous bondage and worry. In a lot of these cases things get worse. How is this a light yoke? How is this a light burden?
All the while the church receives the tithe. It is largely financed by the poor people and the middle class in the congregation. While this may not be true in every circumstance, I believe it is the general rule. Believe it or not, 10 percent to a poor person can be a lot more costly than 10 percent to a wealthy person! This is because the person who does not have much is now got to find a way to suffer through not having the basic necessities to live.
Mar 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
Mar 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
Mar 12:43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
Mar 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. –KJV
Let me tell you about my own personal bondage that came as a result of this teaching.
When I first learned about the tithe I was only 18 years old. Being a new Christian I wanted to do what was right. At the time I had no money and I had no job. Later in life I started working. I was living on my own and I was making a meager amount to live on. I was making a little above minimum wage and I was living in poverty. At the time I chose not to pay tithes. My choice was to pay tithes or to lose the place where I was living or not have food to eat. The first few years were like this. As time went on I was under a tremendous amount of guilt due to legalism. The tithe was one area of legalism that contributed to this dilemma.
I would not approach God. I prayed very little. I did not read the bible or grow in a spiritual relationship. I wanted a relationship with God, but I was under the impression that God was always mad with me. Deep down I believed that God really did not love me. I was just a nuisance. I could not understand why in the world God would even care for someone like me. The reason for this was because I believed I was a thief. I believed God was upset with me for taking ten percent of my earnings and spending it. I was not keeping what was considered to be law by my church. I was not keeping the other legalistic laws very well, either. Sometimes I even worked on Sunday to get extra money.
I lived under constant fear of God. As a result I had an on and off relationship with God. The church simply called it backsliding, but I felt like I was never really close to God to begin with. There were times when I went to church, then there were times when I strayed due to condemnation. Finally I came to the conclusion that I was just fooling myself. I was really lost and there was no hope for me. If I am going to go to hell anyway I might as well leave the church and do the things I want to do.
This is the kind of bondage that legalism can bring. You never really have any security in your own salvation. And the tithe played a big role in that. I left the church for a few years then I came back briefly to make another attempt. Then I left again for 5 years. I ran as hard and as far as I could from God. I studied music and played in bands. I kept busy and neglected talking about the bible and God. Grace to me was always an elusive concept that never seemed to really apply. This is how the tithe affects the gospel of Christ!
After years of not being satisfied with anything in this world and running from God I came back to church to try again. This time I was more determined and I felt as though there was nothing for me to go back to. My life went through a process of repair, and God began to work in my life. In those days I just held on to mercy and hoped for grace. I did not focus on the legalism part. I was living in a different part of the country and all I wanted was a new start.
I got married and we started tithing. After four months of marriage and tithing things began to fall apart. Unrealistic circumstances arose which looked like a direct attack of the enemy. We stopped tithing and we only gave to our local church what we could afford. Throughout the course of this marriage we tried to tithe. Every time we did everything would fall apart after a while. There would be car repairs for strange things that never break or we would have a rash of other odd bills come up. Everything would always fall apart every time we tried to tithe.
It got to the point when we stopped tithing altogether and just gave what we could afford, and all the while I was clinging to mercy and hoping for grace.
Then one day I heard a sermon from my pastor in which he stated that tithing is not a guarantee that everything is going to go well. A lot of times when you tithe things go wrong, or there is a sacrifice involved. Paying a tithe does not mean you won’t go through financial hardships.
Well needless to say this was news to me, as I have always been taught the direct opposite! So I started to think back through my life and reflect about tithing. It occurred to me that every time I tithed my finances fell into ruin! It did not seem to matter whether or not I could afford to tithe. My finances always began to fall apart. I became blessed in my finances when I gave and only gave what I could afford to give, but whenever I tithed I found we were attacked in the area of finances.
When I first got married we were living off finances we had saved, and we paid tithes. Although my wife found a job I had no luck in that area. We were not making much and I could not find a decent job anywhere. I bounced around from prospect to prospect. In order to make ends meet I changed our insurance from full coverage to just what was required by law. It made a difference in the insurance payment and since the car was paid off, full coverage was not required. Two weeks later my car was stolen. The police found it abandoned and completely stripped. A lot of parts were missing from the engine and the stereo was stolen. The wheels were gone as well. I continued to have trouble finding any kind of decent paying work.
Finally after about 4 months I stopped tithing. Once that happened things began to turn around. I was able to find a bicycle to ride around the phoenix area. I not only found a job, I got started in a new career. I still gave money to the church but only what I could afford.
It took a long time to recover from that period of time. I rode the bicycle back and forth to work every day for the rest of the time I was in the Phoenix area. It took a long time to get out from underneath the debt we accumulated during that time frame. It was not an immediate recovery to gain back what was lost.
Every time I tithed I had experiences like this. The worst tithing experience was when we had to deal with cancer. Medical bills started to pile up. And everything got out of control quickly. Every time I stopped tithing we began to recover.
It occurred to me that there was never a time in my life when the devourer was rebuked. The blessings in my life did not come as a result of tithing. I was still giving but I was not giving a full 10 percent. We gave what we could afford. I felt like I should at least give something. As I reflect on that I realized that those were the best financial periods of my life. These are the times when we were blessed the most.
Now when I looked at Malachi chapter 3 I was completely baffled! This really messed with my faith. I began to doubt the bible as a result. After all, no devourer was ever rebuked! God said that He himself would rebuke the devourer and I put that scripture to the test. According to what I was taught, there should have been no opposition. I should not have even needed to pray for God to intervene as he himself would rebuke the devourer automatically. I began to question other doctrines in the bible.
I stopped going to church once more but this time it was different. This was not a question of backsliding. This was unbelief! This was a case of a complete loss of faith. Soon I began to doubt everything about Christianity. I mainly kept these doubts to myself. I never told my wife about them.
We were preoccupied with other trials at the time. Finding the time to go to church seemed difficult as well. I just altogether stopped going to church, and I completely lost faith for a about two years. That is what legalism does. It is very deceptive. You think you are doing right and obeying God by practicing these laws, but all you’re really doing is bringing yourself bondage and despair!
I began to rationalize with myself. There are only two possibilities that I could see. Either the bible is not really God’s word and it is not true, or I did not understand the real meaning of Malachi chapter 3. The tithe was really a doctrinal error, even though I don’t understand why! It really means something other than what I have been taught. I don’t understand the real meaning of chapter 3. If that is the case, then why does every church I know teach the tithe? I began to struggle with this issue as these questions bounced around in my head.
Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Pro 3:7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. –KJV
So that is what I began to do. We started to go to another church and we moved to another city to be closer to church and my job. We slowly began to recover. It was at this time that I also did a detailed study on the tithe. Everything I learned I posted in Tithing part 1. This led to a study on legalism as a whole.
I realized that every time I tithed I was placing myself under the law, and as a result destruction came. I was under a curse! But when I gave cheerfully and simply because I wanted to bless the Lord I was under grace. I was blessed as a result!
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. –KJV
Now finally for the first time in my life I began to experience real freedom. It is sad to say that after 35 years of Christianity and on/off relationships with God, I now know what true freedom is!
The Prosperity Gospel
Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. –KJV
The prosperity gospel has its foundation in tithing. The tithe is preached as an everlasting condition in every dispensation. This is why these false teachers twist the scripture to say that Adam ate the tithe, or that Abraham and Jacob paid tithes. They are trying desperately to show that tithing has always been around since Adam. Scripture is mutilated and twisted to reach their strange point of view.
Then once that is accomplished they make the false claim that the tithe belongs to God. In the Old Testament the tithe belonged to the Levites. It was also God’s way of providing for His priests. Now these charlatans claim that you are robbing God if you don’t pay your tithe. They claim you are a thief for not paying tithes.
Once this is established the next claim is this; since the tithe is not yours, true giving comes only after the tithe is paid. Any giving above a tithe is the offering and that is the “true” giving.
The lie continues; some people are not blessed because they only tithe. The tithe is not the seed. The seed is the portion you pay above the tithe. Some people will be blessed if they only tithe, but not everyone will be blessed. You can only be sure the blessings of God will come into your life if you tithe and give seed offerings. If you don’t follow that then you are under a curse!
Some of the televangelists that promote these lies own multimillion dollar jets. They fly around the world spreading this hype. They claim that God is only going to bless you if you give them money for their so-called ministry. This allows them to continue to preach this prosperity gospel. Meanwhile these same people live extravagant lifestyles.
You are tricked into believing that you’re blessing God, and you will be blessed as a result. All you’re really doing is making these con artists rich. That is why they lie and claim that the original sin was really when Adam robbed God of his tithes. Scripture is twisted because they are desperate for you to believe that you are somehow robbing God just so they can continue to get rich off their propaganda!
God is going to hold every one of these guys accountable! Not only is their sin robbing the people of God, a much deeper and greater sin is occurring here. They are perverting the very gospel of Christ and bringing His people into bondage! I say this from experience!
There are several problems with this line of thinking. First I was under a curse when I was living under the law. I tithed because I believed I owed God a debt. I was living under the law and I was cursed for it. Now we are living under grace.
Because we are under grace salvation is a free gift from God. You could never afford to pay for one drop of blood that was shed on Calvary with your good works or by living under the law. All our righteousness is like a filthy rag! You cannot purchase the precious gifts of God with your money!
Yet we are to believe that if we give 10 percent of our income and then pay a seed offering we can purchase God’s favor and God’s blessing. I’ve got a secret for you. You already have God’s favor! You already have God’s blessing! We can’t buy these things with mere money. But we receive them through faith in what Jesus did at Calvary! Remember Simon the Sorcerer?
Act 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Act 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
Act 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
Act 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Act 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Act 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
Act 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. –KJV
So how does this work? We experience salvation and we become born again. It only costs us ten percent for the rest of our life?!! Is that what we owe for our Salvation?!!. This really cheapens the work of grace. This is another gospel! Look at the proclamation the angels gave when they announced the birth of Christ.
Luk 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Luk 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Luk 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. –KJV
The Gospel of Christ is a free gift, and because of this gospel there is good will towards men. So are we to believe that this good will has a price of ten percent? How much does it really cost to purchase the blessings of God?
History of the Tithe
Nowhere in the bible are there any examples found of anyone ever tithing on wages. There were many occupations that are found in biblical times.
Exo 35:35 Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work. –KJV
Lev 25:6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee, –KJV
The Apostle Paul never tithed on his wages as a tent maker. Peter never tithed from the fish he caught. Jesus never paid tithes from the wages of being a carpenter. There are no records of anyone ever paying tithes from money!
The tithe was never practiced or taught at any time during the first-century church. Instead, the New Testament scriptures are teaching giving as a free will offering. This was used as a means to support any needs the church may have. New Testament discussions about the needs of the church always centered on giving. there are no scriptures that even mention tithing.
1Co 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
1Co 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
2Co 8:11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.
2Co 8:12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
2Co 8:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
2Co 8:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
1Ti 5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
1Ti 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
1Ti 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
Act 11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: –KJV
When you look at writings from the early church and the apostolic fathers you will discover that there is no mention whatsoever of tithing in the early church. During the 4th century and throughout the Council of Nicaea there is no mention of tithing.
“A Constitution of the Emperors Leo I (reigned 457-474) and Anthemius (reigned 467-472) apparently expected believers to make voluntary payments and forbade compulsion.” -Wikipedia
Tithes were first introduced in councils at Tours in 567 and at Mâcon in 585. Even though these councils rejected the tithe they were formally recognized under Pope Adrian I in 787. At this time the tithe is still based on harvest.
“A study of church history will show that at some point, probably around the year 600, the churches brought back the teaching of tithing, but only as voluntary giving, and still just on the crops, herds, and flocks, right out of the Old Testament. Since they didn’t teach it as a “biblical tithe,” they were able to change the rules to make it fit the needs of the church. By the middle of the 13th century, the Church’s claim to tithes was extended to include the poultry of the yard and the cattle of the stall, to the catch of fish and the game of the forests. Had tithing in the Old Testament been on everything as some have claimed, there would have been no need to expand the definition.” -Wikipedia
According to this link
“My research shows that tithing was first taught and collected by churches in the United States during the second half of the 1800s. Had tithing always been required, why was it not until the late 1800s that the churches in the United States started collecting tithes? And even then, the teaching of tithing was not consistent between churches. It wasn’t until recent years that churches started teaching that you tithe on your income, or gross income.”
“My research shows that during the late 1800s some churches taught that men were to tithe a larger amount than women, that no tithing was required for those under the age of 18, and once you reached the age of 65 you no longer were required to tithe. At times tithing was based on the value of property owned. Those who didn’t own property didn’t tithe. They gave freewill offerings. In one case I found the church council members voted to change tithing to income because it would bring in twice as much money. The problem is, all this was taught as biblical.”
In most cases today the tithing teacher is only teaching what he or she was taught. Tithing is a tradition passed down from men. It was never part of the early church writings and it was never taught by the early church.
If you are paying ten percent of your income or more to a real ministry then please know that it is not my intention to discourage you from doing this. If your church is reaching out to the lost and feeding the poor and spreading the gospel then by all means give. Give 10 percent, 20 percent, even 50 percent! Support the church you attend because they minister to you and your family. They need resources.
There is nothing wrong with giving sacrificial offerings. If you sacrifice something you want to buy or you go without so the gospel can be spread and the poor can be fed, then you have done a good thing. That is called compassion.
Don’t think that you are robbing God if you can’t afford to give ten percent of your income to your church. This is simply not true! God owns 100 percent of everything you own. He even owns you. He blesses you in order to provide for your needs. We are to be a blessing to one another.
You should no longer be burdened with condemnation if you can’t afford to give 10 percent. Give what you think you can afford cheerfully and bless the Lord. This is what God really wants.