Lots of people are quick to point-out that by virtue of the New Covenant, we are free from the Law, and rightly so - that we are.
But does being free from the Law mean that God no longer has anything to say about what the New Testament Christian does - like with his money, for instance?
For example, do we still have to pay tithes, under the New Covenant?
Well let me begin by explaining it this way.
I once heard an immature believer claim that he is no longer obligated to pay his bills or his debts - because he is no longer under the Law.
This particular brother had previously bought something from someone on credit, and now he claimed he was under absolutely no obligation to pay them for it - because he is no longer under the Law. And of course he was fully intending to keep the thing he'd bought - but not to pay for it.
Now is that walking in love towards the person he owes money to?
Of course not!
If he was walking in love toward that person, he would pay them.
And can you see that by paying him - by walking in love - he would automatically fulfill the Law?
See the intent of the Old Testament Law was to show sinners what it means to walk in love.
Therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.
Love fulfills the spirit, the intent, the principle of the Law.
And Love is the Charter of the New Testament Church.
"A new commandment I give unto you," said Jesus, "that you love one another" (John 13:34).
Let me use a more blunt example.
Is it okay to steal - just because we are not under the Law?
I think most of us instinctively know that's wrong.
Clearly, by living in the power of the New Covenant - by walking in love - we won't break the Law that says, "Thou shalt not steal" - instead we'll fulfill that Law.
By walking in love, we'll fulfill the intent of that Law - even though we are free from the Law.
Behind every point of the Law, there is a real reason why it was written.
Through each point of the Law, God is showing sinners and lawless people something about what it means to love God and to love your neighbour.
If we love our neighbour, we won't rip him off. We'll pay him what we owe.
That's obvious, isn't it?
So Paul said that the righteousness of the Law is "fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit"(Romans 8:4).
But it is fulfilled in us through a power greater than the Law's own ability; and it is fulfilled in us through a power greater than our own ability. The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us through the power of a new life - through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God (Romans 8:1-3).
All throughout his Epistles, St Paul often takes the principles - or the real intent of the Law - and makes them applicable to us, even as New Testament, New Covenant believers.
That applies not just in basic morals, but also, for instance, the area of finances.
As we shall see in the following New Testament passage, Paul appeals to the Law to back-up his statements about what Christians ought to do with their money.
In the first example, we shall see that Paul said it is our duty as New Testament believers to care for the poor.
Later he talks about our duty to pay the Government; and to pay anyone who does any work for us; and he also says it is our duty to pay ministers of the Gospel.
Now some people almost give you the impression that the word "duty" doesn't fit the New Testament.
But Paul makes it fit - and he appeals to the Law for support in saying so.
We do have duties in the New Covenant - and Paul even uses the Old Testament Law as part of his basis for insisting so.
It is our duty - said Paul - not only to care for the poor, but also to pay everyone who does any work for us – whether they be business operators, or those who are employed in God's service in one way or another, such as the Government and Lawyers – and especially ministers of the Gospel.
Let's look at an example where Paul talks about the believer's financial duties - and observe how he appeals to the Law as support for his instructions.
How Paul uses the Law
6 For this cause pay ye tribute also [that is, don't just be subject to the Government and to Lawyers, but pay them (taxes) for their services also]: for they [the Governors & Lawyers] are GOD'S MINISTERS ATTENDING CONTINUALLY UPON THIS VERY THING [they are actually God's ministers - therefore it’s our duty to pay them.]
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour [that means render to ALL, or pay EVERYBODY, everything they deserve].
8 Owe no man anything [that means, don't leave unpaid any payments that it’s your duty to pay], but to love one another: for he that loveth another HATH FULFILLED THE LAW [here is where Paul begins his appeal to the Law. Notice that Paul calls FULFILLING THE LAW a good thing in a sense - even under the New Covenant!]
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; AND IF THERE BE ANY OTHER COMMANDMENT [that means, ANYTHING else in the Law - that would include the Law of tithes, wouldn't it?], it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself [in other words, if we love our neighbour as we love ourself - and make it practical with our finances - we will fulfill the commandment to tithe. Therefore we can say that whatever is the intent or real reason behind the Law of tithing - we will fulfill that - we will still fulfill the spirit of that Law - even though we are not under the Law. I think it would help us to clear-up in what sense we are no longer "under the Law". We are not under the Law as a means to attaining righteousness: however, having received righteousness as a free gift through faith, we are now enabled to walk in fulfilment of the very principles of the Law. We do so not by striving, in unredeemed weakness, to live-up to the Law - but by a new power - the power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus].
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore LOVE IS THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW [once again, Paul commends FULFILLING THE LAW in a sense - even under the New Covenant].
So when it comes to the question of tithing - or to any other commandment in the Law, for that matter: if we learn what it is that God is really trying to show to sinners and to the lawless, through the Law of the tithe - or through any other commandment - about loving God and loving our neighbour - then that is something which we will still live up to - if we are walking in love (love to God and to our neighbour) - even though we are now in a New Covenant.
Love fulfills the commandment to tithe.
Love, like faith, isn't known but by its actions.
That includes our finances.
Therefore love - when shown practically through the way we handle our finances in regard to both God and our brother - will cause us to walk in the commandments of the tithes.
And that love comes from faith. This love doesn't come from frail human effort.
So it all stems back to faith - not to the works of the Law - and yet we fulfill the commandment.
That's pretty clear, isn't it?
It requires what Paul calls "rightly dividing the word of truth" to be able to appropriately apply the intent of the Law to the dispensation of the Gospel.
In attempting to do so, it seems all-too-easy to fall into a ditch in either side of the road.
Some on the one hand have ecome too legalistic; whilst others err on the side of lawlessness - both of which is to miss God's heart which He is trying to reveal through the Law.
I'll open-up the subject of finances a bit more later, but what I wanted us to see first of all in the above passage of Scripture from Romans is how it shows us that Paul applies the principles of the Law as back-up for his instructions to New Testament Christians - in this case in regard to paying the civil Government - even though we are not under the Law.
Now here's a passage where Paul talks about the believers' duty to pay ministers of the Gospel - and to pay anyone else who has done any work for us - and once again Paul uses the same method: he appeals to the Law to back-up his advice:
I CORINTHIANS 9:8-15
8 Say I these things as a man? or SAITH NOT THE LAW THE SAME ALSO?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn [don't prevent the ox from eating some of the corn it’s treading. In other words, even oxen have a right to get paid!]. Doth God take care for oxen?
10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written [this point of Law was written to get across a PRINCIPLE to us; there is an intent behind each point of Law]: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be a partaker of his hope [that is, God was trying to demonstrate the right that every worker has to be directly rewarded from his work - that is, to be paid. Notice also: - that Paul said this principle was written FOR OUR SAKES - he didn't say that it was written just for THEIR SAKES UNDER THE LAW - he included himself and us as New Testament believers in that. So the principle of the Law still applies to us. The principles of the Law were written for our sake in the Church].
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? [No it’s not an extraordinary thing for ministers to be paid by their Congregations – it’s an expected thing - and Paul appealed to the Law in support]
12 If others be partaker of this POWER over you, are not we rather? [POWER, Gk exousia: also translated as authority, jurisdiction, liberty, right and strength] Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 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? [Under the Law, the priests ate their share of the offerings. In fact, the entire tribe of Levi lived off the tithes of the other 11 tribes]
14 Even so [AMPLIFIED BIBLE: "On the same principle"] hath the Lord ordained that THEY WHICH PREACH THE GOSPEL SHOULD LIVE OF THE GOSPEL [Paul alludes to the Lord Himself ordaining, in Matthew 10:10, that the WORKMAN IS WORTHY OF HIS MEAT. Note also: - that the Lord has ORDAINED this, Gk diatasso, to "arrange thoroughly". It’s the same word where Paul said that the Old Covenant Law was "ordained" by angels in the hand of a mediator - Gal.3:19. As strong as was the ordination of the Law by angels through Moses, now the Lord Himself has ordained that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel. And Jesus did this "even so" - that is, Jesus Himself also applied the principle of the Law to a New Testament setting].
15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me... [I haven't demanded my right, nor am I writing this to demand it now].
So we see that the Lord Himself applied a principle of the Law to a New Testament setting – in the area of finances and support of Ministers.
You see “the Law is good..” said Paul – “if a man use it lawfully”.
Here is another example of Paul applying the Law to our finances as New Testament believers:
I TIMOTHY 5:3-4, 16-18
3 Honour widows that are widows indeed...
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
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.
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, [that's the Old Testament - the Old Testament saith...] Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward [Paul takes a point of the Old Testament Law and combines it with a commandment made by Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, then applies it, in principle, to the Church. Note also: - that the words "let not the church be charged" shows that the local church had a recongnized practice of collecting funds which were then distributed at the discretion of its leaders. This was a fund that the members of a Congregation could give to, in addition to their ongoing responsibility to look after their own relatives].
25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints [Gal.2:10, "Only they would that we (the Gentile believers), should remember the poor (in Jerusalem), the same which I also was eager to do"]
26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
27 It hath pleased them verily; and THEIR DEBTORS THEY ARE. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, THEIR DUTY IS ALSO to minister unto them in carnal things [it’s their duty - not an optional grace].
Of course the idea of fulfilling the principles of the Law goes beyond the area of finances, for the New Testament believer:
I CORINTHIANS 9:21
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
Here Paul says he is not under the Law, and yet not totally without law altogether, but he is under the law to Christ.
That is, in Christ, by living under Christ's Law (the New Commandment of "love one another", the “royal law”), Paul was in effect under Law to God.
By fulfilling Christ’s new commandment of love, we automatically fulfill the intent of the Law.
James calls it the “royal law”.
Jesus called it a “new commandment” and then in First John we read, “I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning" (I John 2:7,8).
In other words, all the details of the Law of Moses were given to Israel to show them how to love – how to love God firstly; and how to love their neighbour as they love themself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and Prophets.
And the New Commandment of Love is the fulfilling of the Law.
If we’re walking in love, even though we are free from the Law, we won’t walk in lawlessness. We will actually fulfill the truth that was represented by the written Law.
"Lawlessness" is not a fruit of the Gospel.
Our liberty from the Law is not a license to indulge the flesh but rather, we are to “by love serve one another”.
That’s why, after listing the nine fruits of the Spirit, Paul said, “…against such there is no law” (Gal.5:22,23).
In other words, by walking in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lush of the flesh – we will not do anything contrary to the noble standard of the Law – instead, we will fulfill the Law.
We won't be breaking any Laws by following the Spirit!
The Example of Abraham
Let's now discuss the example of Abraham.
Must we tithe, because Abraham tithed before the Law was given?
Some people point-out that Abraham tithed before the Law was given and therefore so should we - even without any sort of reference to the Law.
Should we do everything that Abraham did though, just because he did it before the Law? Because Abraham also made an alter and burnt an animal sacrifice - should we do that? Abraham was circumcized before the Law was given - should we be? And yes, Abraham tithed even before the Law was given - but is that reason enough for us to do so?
(Don't jump to any conclusions yet about what I'm saying, because I'm explaining something in a round-about sort of way here. Follow me to the end.)
Should we do everything Abraham did, just because he did it before the Law was given?
The New Testament teaches us the thing about Abraham that we are to follow:
12 ...who also WALK IN THE STEPS OF THAT FAITH of our father Abraham.
That's what we are to follow – that faith - Abraham’s faith.
We know that Abraham was circumcized before the law; he also once paid tithes to Melchizedek; he also built an altar and offered animal sacrifices – all before the Law was given.
Well we know we don't have to be circumcized like Abraham was:
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but FAITH WHICH WORKETH BY LOVE [NIV, expressing itself through love].
Even Abraham was justified by faith without works, before being circumcized.
We also know that animal sacrifices aren't necessary any more, having been replaced by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on calvary (the Book of Hebrews explains this).
So what we can learn from Abraham is that the only thing that does any good now - as far as obtaining righteousness goes - is faith.
And yet I want you to follow something here:
Yes the one thing we need - which Abraham exemplified - is faith.
But if we have faith, how will it be expressed?
6 Faith...worketh by love
And love, we have already seen, is the fulfilling of the law.
Therefore if we live by faith, we will also walk in love; and if we walk in love we will automatically follow the principles intent in the Law - even though the only thing that avails is faith.
We could write it like this:
FAITH ---> LOVE ---> FULFILLING THE LAW
So, in a round-about sort of way - through faith alone - we arrive at the same result - we fulfill the Law.
Can you see, that is what Abraham also did? Without the Law - through faith - he fulfilled the Law, even though he didn't have the Law yet.
So shall we - by faith. Though no longer under the Law, we fulfill the Law.
See, our freedom from the Law isn't a license to indulge a lawless, fleshly way of living - but instead it liberates us to "by love serve one another".
Well, if we are serving one another by love, we won't do any harm to our neighbour. Motivated by love, there are certain things we will do dutifully while there are other things we won't do!
See, by faith Abraham intuitively followed the principles of the Law (which was not yet given) in a way that was appropriate to the dispensation in which he lived.
In the same way, we who follow that faith of our father Abraham will also fulfill the principles of the Law (even though we are free from the Law) in a way which is also appropriate to our Dispensation.
As a means of obtaining righteousness, the Law was abolished when Christ brought in an everlasting righteousness that has been obtained without the Law.
But since God is love – and since the Law taught people what it means to walk in love – therefore we fulfill the Law by walking in love.
Here's what I mean by "fulfilling the principles of the Law in a way that is appropriate to our time" or to our dispensation:
Abraham sacrificed an animal and he paid tithes and he was circumcised. In Abraham's time, that was an appropriate application of the not-as-yet-given Law - because Jesus had not yet made the ultimate sacrifice; and because the new birth and baptism into Christ - which circumcision foreshadows - hadn’t been introduced yet.
As for us, we also walk in the principles of the Law like Abraham did – but since we live in a time when Christ has already come, therefore circumcision is now fulfilled through repentance and through the new creation and through baptism.
And animal sacrifice was fulfilled by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Tithing is fulfilled not by paying the Levitical priesthood, but by giving to our High Priest who is made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, Jesus Christ.
If Christ was physically here, we could give Him our cash. But Christ is in heaven. So in what way can we give to Christ?
Some say we fulfill the law of tithing by giving of our lives. Yes of course that's true. But our money is part of our life isn't it? So if we are giving of our life - we will express it practically through giving our money too, as well as our time, and our possessions.
Although the Law of the tithes was a type and shadow of the resurrection of Christ as our forerunner - as the first to rise from the dead - it remains true that part of the intent of the Law of the tithes was indeed to show us our duties to God and to our neighbour in regards to our actual finances.
So how do we give to Christ?
By giving to His house.
By giving to His ministers.
By giving to the poor.
Christ is the Head of the church which is His body. So if we give to the body, we are giving to Christ.
Therefore by fulfilling our responsibilities to our local church; and to Ministers of the Gospel; to Governors and Lawyers and to the poor - we are actually giving to Christ - because you can't separate the Head from the body.
By walking in the Spirit, in effect we end-up doing just what Abraham did to Melchizedek (without the Law), and what Israel did to the Levitical priesthood (under the Law): even though we are not under the Law, but through Christ under law to God.
Even though we are not "under the Law", there are certain things we will still do - and Abraham is correctly used as an example of fulfilling the intent of the law through faith, in a way that was appropriate to his time.
But we don't do everything exactly as they did in every detail - for that is to miss the point for which the Law was given.
Instead, we fulfill the very thing that the Law was trying to teach us - about Christ, about loving God, and about loving our neighbour.
Under the New Covenant, the points of Law are not meant to be ignored totally, as some have said - but rather the points of Law are included, engulfed, embraced in a greater, enhanced, fulfilled in a new, all-encompassing grace, truth, glory and life. And then we walk in that light.
The entire Gospel message which Paul preached makes room within it for an appropriate use of the Law:
I TIMOTHY 1:8-11
8 But we know that THE LAW IS GOOD, IF A MAN USE IT LAWFULLY.
9 Knowing this that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
According to the Glorious Gospel! The Law found usefulness within the all-encompassing, all-expounding, all-explaining Gospel that Paul preached.
Paul taught that any commandment in the Law may be "...briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neithbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law " (Rom.13:9-10).
How Do We Get Love?
Now since love is the fulfilling of the Law – does that mean we must strive in our own ability to love?
No. This love has already been given to believers, as a gift.
The Scripture shows us where we got that love from:
5 ...the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
It’s been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost!
God's love is in our hearts. That's where it is.
When did we get it?
The moment we were born again.
We are created in His image in righteousness and true holiness.
It is easy and natural for us to walk in love now – because we are love. We are in Him.
So when God through Paul commands us: "Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us..." (Eph.5:1, 2), He's not asking us to do something that He hasn't already given us the ability to do.
He has poured out His own love nature into our hearts and made it our nature.
God is love.
Therefore, by virtue of the new birth, you are love too, because you are a chip off the old block!
By nature, you are love; you have love in your spirit.
I'm reminded of brother Hagin’s illustration of a lady who came to him disappointed with herself, "Will you pray for me, because I don't love my mother-in-law," she moaned.
"No I won't pray for you," he said. "Besides, you do love your mother-in-law anyway."
He went on, "You're saved aren't you?"
"Oh yes," she said.
"Well the Bible says that if you're saved, God's love is shed abroad in your heart," he pointed-out.
She felt despondent that she didn't feel any love.
So he said to her, "Say this out-loud, 'I hate my mother-in-law.' "
After she did so he asked, "Now tell me how you feel".
She said, "I feel something on the inside sort of scratching me. " Something inside made her feel uncomfortable about what she'd said.
"That's the love of God in you," he replied, "The love of God in your heart. See, you do love your mother-in-law."
Love is not something out there. It is something already in us - able to be expressed.
Paul said to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Brother Michael Barrett pointed-out that it doesn't say to work for your salvation with fear and trembling - but having been saved, to now work it out, express it, continue in it, grow in it, with fear and trembling.
Growing in Jesus is not a matter of obtaining more things that we don't already have yet. It is more a matter of growing in our understanding of what we already have, so that we can walk in it.
II CORINTHIANS 5:17
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ [that's you], he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things [how many things? ALL THINGS] are BECOME NEW.
What is this new man like?
24 And that ye put on THE NEW MAN which AFTER GOD [after God's image] IS CREATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUE HOLINESS.
So it’s not unreasonable for God to ask you to "put off...the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts" (Eph.4:22) since you have already been created brand new in God's image, inheriting His very nature. His nature is love.
He has also written his very Law into our new heart:
JEREMIAH 31:31, 33
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah...
33 ...I will put my law in THEIR INWARD PARTS, and WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS..."
Well, if He's written His law in our hearts, then if we follow our hearts, we will fulfill the Law.
He has also put his Spirit within us:
EZEKIEL 36:26, 27
26 And a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will PUT MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU, and CAUSE YOU TO WALK IN MY STATUTES, and YE SHALL KEEP MY JUDGMENTS, and DO THEM.
Well if He has placed His Spirit within us, then if we walk in the Spirit, what sort of behaviour will it lead to? To lawlessness, or to fulfilling the Law?
Notice the type of behaviour that the Holy Spirit produces within us:
22 But the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: AGAINST SUCH THERE IS NO LAW.
The Holy Spirit within us produces all the behaviour that fulfills the Law. That's also the reason there is no condemnation possible to those in Christ Jesus:
ROMANS 8:1, 2, 14
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Christ came to bring a law of liberation (Isaiah 42:4), not the old Law but a new law, the law of the Spirit giving life in Christ Jesus, with His new commandment of "love one another", which fulfills the old law (John 13:34, I John 2:7-10).
Note: - the new commandment is the same as the old commandment - it seeks for us to arrive at the same place, which is love.
Therefore anyone who is in Christ Jesus through faith has a new heart, has the Spirit and has the love of God in his nature.
Even though the Law is done away with, he fulfills the principles of the Law anyway because he walks by faith, by the Spirit and by love.
When you love, you won't hold back wages from those to whom they are due. When you love, you will clothe the poor. When you are led of the Spirit, you will honour appropriate people with your finances.
You would want to, because you love them.
Not just because it’s a law, but because you love them.
The law of love will make your behaviour supersede the written law.
Pastor John Pasterkamp once shared with us an illustration he had heard:
Imagine a couple where the husband really loves his wife. It is so easy for him to love his wife that he has no need for anyone to tell him that he must love his wife.
Now if there is a law in the land with consequences for domestic violence, laws like, "Don't beat up your wife," this particular husband doesn't need to know about the law because he automatically fulfills it anyway. His love causes him to do no harm to his wife. By love he fulfills that law.
In the same way, the Law couldn't change us because of our sinful nature, so God gave us a new nature and a brand new way of living, He wrote His Law of love in our hearts, then gave us His Spirit to dwell inside us - by which we keep the law of God.
I PETER 1:3
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath BEGOTTEN US AGAIN [born again - John 3:3] unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
You see, if a person goes to hell, he doesn't go there just because of what he has done, but because of what he is.
Without Christ, man is a sinner by nature. He sins because he is a sinner. Fallen man has Satan's character in his spirit. He is dead in trespasses and sins.
But just as a sin-nature came upon all men through the transgression of one man, Adam - so a new-heart and righteousness comes upon all who believe through one man, Jesus Christ. And this is a free gift!
Brother Hagin said you can take a donkey and try to put it in a horse race. But even if you do everything you want to it - you can file its teeth back; you can put racing shoes on it; you can saddle it perfectly for the jockey - but when the gate lifts and off the horses jolt down the track, that old donkey will still be a donkey. The only way it can ever be a race horse is to be born one.
And thank God – we have been born again - and become children of God, who inherit all the promises of God.
Originally all of Israel were invited to Horeb, the mount of God. But Israel was too afraid to draw near, so Moses alone went up into the glory. God originally intended for the whole nation to be a kingdom of priests; but instead, only the tribe of Levi became the priests. God consented to allowing the other tribes to keep a distance. And what they got instead was the Law, the written Law, which Moses brought back from the mount.
The Law came from the glory. It came from the holy mount of God. It came from God's heart.
"The Law is good," Paul said.
The law is "beautiful", David said.
It expresses the heart of the Father. God is love. Love is the fulfilling of the Law.
Nevertheless the written Law was a substitute for entering the glory.
God's intention through the Gospel is that we be "brought unto glory."
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
But through sonship, God has now brought us to glory, having sanctified us and made us joint-heirs with Christ of the same promise.
So the Law is no longer a barrier between us and the glory like it was for Israel. We are brought unto glory.
But for the lawless and for sinners, the law is still a representation of the standard of love, God's nature.
We are free from striving to keep the law. Instead, we have nothing left to do but just to praise God and thank God and express our faith – through love - effecting every area of our life.
And in the area of finances, the faith and love of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit within you will make you want to support your local church; your Pastor; will make you want to give to missionaries; will lead you to care for the poor; will lead you to be honest in paying your taxes; will lead you to be fair in paying for goods or services rendered; will also lead you to want to give even when you feel you can't afford it, as a token of your faith.
Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek because he had received the promises. Our giving is a faith token that we believe we have received the promises; in fact, we that we are the fulfillment of the promises made to the forefathers, in Christ!
Levi paid tithes in Abraham’s loins to Melchizedek. Christ is made High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. So it is evident that the principles of tithing that existed under the Levitical system are not now discarded by virtue of the New Covenant – rather the principles of tithing are now encompassed and caught-up into the life of the New Covenant believer - through our sanctification and future resurrection; and also through our giving to our new High Priest under a new order, the order of Melchizedek.
And how do we give money to Jesus?
He is the head of the body. Therefore giving to the body is giving to the head. Therefore we can give to Jesus by walking in love and fulfilling our financial duties to the body.
When I was a wage-earner, I enjoyed calculating my tithe and giving it, and I also enjoyed giving over and above the tenth in many different ways too. I always gave 10% to my local church – which was my “storehouse” (Paul called the local church the “house of God”), then on top of that I gave regular, consistent amounts and occasional one-off amounts to other needs both within my local church and elsewhere. I included these amounts in my budget when I also calculated amounts for paying board, loan repayments on my house, study, travel etc., out of my wage.
Then the time came when God called me to give-up my source of income and live by faith and enter a life-style of being led of the Spirit in ways perhaps uncommon, calling me into a full-time traveling ministry which took me to different churches and situations. I now had to believe God for every need of mine to be met.
I was living from day-to-day, yet I noticed that I actually ended-up giving away more - comapartively speaking - than I did when I was still on a full-time wage.
In those days I felt it was somewhat obsolete for me to spend time calculating my tithe, since I was confident that in my joy and faith I was already giving away much more than 10% anyway.
Sometimes it even seemed that I gave away more than I got, and yet still had my own needs met. Of course that's impossible, but you know what I mean.
So in those days, the principle of calculating the tithe was for me swept up in a much larger way of operating – the way of faith, the way of love and the way of the Holy Ghost! And yet if I sat down and took the time to calculate it, I'd find that I was tithing, and more!
Tithing wasn’t neglected: rather it was swept-up and included in a bigger vessel; in a new and more grand modus operandi.
I was on a real roll - just giving hilariously.
My travels took me from town to town; city to city; State to State; nation to nation; into jungles and climbing up to mountain top tribes and at times I was away from "home" for days, months and years on end. Much of the time I had no access to the developed world - so obviously it wasn't possible for me to send my tithe back to my local church in Australia. Therefore I gave locally to whichever church I was serving at the time, or to wherever I was visiting.
But in those days nothing about my life was preprogrammed or budgeted, it was all out there in a realm transcending and exceeding the ordinary, so I guess its natural that my giving would also operate in a not-so-ordinary way.
Not that this is for everybody - or even that I operated like this all the time from that time onwards. It's just the way the Lord led me - and the only way I could practically fulfill the principles of the tithe, given my extraordinary circumstances. And there have been seasons after that where I became more settled within one local church again; and times when I did once again deliberately calculate the tithe.
Before I was separated into this ministry - when I still lived at home; when I still earned a wage; and when all of my service to Christ was performed exclusively within my local church - in those days it was my practice to give atleast 10% of my income to my local church before I directed any funds to any other place. In fact, I didn't feel I'd actually given anything until I'd already given my tithe to my local church.
But during those years of fulfilling many missionary adventures, the principle of being filled with the Holy Ghost and being led by Him, actually resulted in me fulfilling of the Law!
Even though I wasn't sitting down and calculating my tithe and sending it back overseas to my local church, my conscience bore witness in the Holy Ghost that I was fulfilling the requirement of the Law anyway. I was actually tithing anyway. The way I was sowing it was good and acceptable in the sight of God.
If it hadn't been – if my heart was trying to deceive me into not walking in love and quenching the Spirit and not keeping the flame of faith burning - then my conscience would have convicted me in the Holy Ghost. If so, that use of the Law by my conscience would have been good and lawful.
Now if someone who reads this decided to start sowing the way I did during my years of expeditions - and as a result started giving less and stopped supporting their local church - well that is altogether a different spirit to this.
Have you ever noticed that Malachi actually said to bring all the tithes into the storehouse or else Israel would be cursed with a curse?
He said to bring all of the tithes - not just part of it. See, under the law, there was the second tithe and the third tithe every three years. According to Samuel Rushdooney in "Institutes of Biblical Law", Israel's prescribed giving under the Law amounted to something more like 14% of his income. In fact, if you include support for the Levites and funds which a family was to put aside in order to travel to the House of God for the set feasts throughout the year, and also funds for the poor etc, it could amount to around 23.3% - and that's not including burnt sacrifice.
So I've often pointed out to the legalists among us that if they want to be justified by the Law today, they have to keep the whole Law of the tithe, not just part of it. The law of the tithe went beyond a simple 10%.
But thank God - when we allow that love nature that is within us by faith – when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us – we will find (if we took the time to sit down and calculate all of our giving) that we are walking in everything, in the full requirement of the Law even beyond the initial 10%.
If we added up our support of our local church; our Pastors; our giving to Evangelists and Missionaries; and the money we spend taking our family to Conventions and church camps etc; and helping the poor - we would probably find - if we are walking in love and walking in the Spirit - that we have equalled or exceeded the whole tithe.
Even so, of course there is still a place for mentioning about tithing as a principle - or else the Bible wouldn't include it. Teaching a Congregation what the Law said about the tithes, and teaching them that Abraham and Jacob tithed even before the Law, could be considered like a safety net. While preferably the people are flying high above the safety nets in the tops of the circus tent, swingin' on the high trapeze of faith, love and the Holy Ghost - the safety net is there, just in case - as Paul said, for the sinner and the lawless.
Faith, Love and the Holy Ghost make us care for our relatives, pay our taxes, pay what we owe to everyone, support our Pastors, give to our Ministers, give to our local church, give to Missionaries and their work, spend money to attend Christian events, and give to the poor - and more.
This is the law of Christ! It puts us under the Law of God. But the old (written) Law is still good for the lawless.
God spared not his only Son but gave Him up for us. By the Spirit of God we have that same nature of giving!
The Law showed people what they ought to want to do. Thank God, under the New Covenant, we have been enabled both to want to and to do it. So it is therefore now no longer a commandment of "do this" - but it is a power of a new life - with the result that we end-up doing it anyway.
Christ has brought a Law to the Gentiles.
“The isles shall wait for thy Law” said the Prophet.
This is a Law that frees from sin and death, bringing hope to all nations - to be manifested in fullness at the Second Coming of Christ. In the meantime, we can experience healing, provision, righteousness - and even society itself can be shaped by Christ's Law. The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus enables us to walk in love - with the result that society can becomes a better place, even though the children of the wicked remain alongside the children of the Kingdom, until the last day.
The Old Testament commandments become promises by virtue of the New Testament power".
There is another meaning to the tithe which is beautifully fulfilled in Christ. The tithe was a kind of "firstfruits" which Israel gave to God. By giving the firstfruits, the remainder also became holy. Giving the tithe was an acknowledgement by Israel that they all belonged to God and that He had made them holy.
Christ is the firstfruits. He was the first to rise from the dead. He ascended to God like the firsfruits of the earth or like the tithe of the remainder of the harvest. If the firstfruits are holy, so is the rest of the crop. Since Christ's resurrection was God's stamp of approval on Christ - then are we also the approved of God. Since Christ was attested to that He belongs to God - so have we been attested to by the inner witness of the Spirit that we belong to God. Since Christ is justified and made holy by His resurrection, so are we accepted in the beloved and holy. And since Christ rose from the dead - so shall we, at His coming. He is the tithe - now God is getting ready to reap the remainder of the harvest.
I’m not under the Law nevertheless I fulfill the Law.
I am a believer. I am born again. The love of God has been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost. I am free free from the Law; yet I express my faith through my love. As Christ is holy, so am I, in Him. As Christ has risen from the dead, so shall I at His coming. Christ is the firstfruit of the new creature - and now God is getting ready to reap the rest of the harvest. I am part of His fruits. I belong to God. And one way that I express my faith and love is through giving. I give in faith; I give in love; I give in the Holy Ghost, by the inner leading of the Spirit. I love to give. I am a hilarious giver! I honour others through my giving. I love God with all that I have; and I love my neighbour as I love myself. And I fulfill the law.