Incompatible Systems: Tithing v. Holy Spirit

Could you imagine if God told the Israelites to use the laws in the Roman tax code to pay for the Levitical service in the temple? I’m sure a lot of objections come to mind right now. here are a few of my objections:

  • The Roman law does not know how much resources are needed to run the temple operations
  • The Levites have no influence or authority over the Roman laws
  • Old Testament laws and the Roman laws have 2 different duties to fulfill
  • The two different statutes are just incompatible, so there would be no way to merge Roman law with the Levitical laws

Using the laws in the Roman tax code to pay for the services of the Jewish temple seems ludicrous. But, as bizarre as it may seem, the Church today is financing it’s ministries in this same bizarre fashion. We are using two separate statutes that are incompatible with one another to either govern or finance Church ministry. The Church body uses the Holy Spirit as our guide and our counsel. He is responsible for ordaining evangelists, teachers, apostles, and prophets; and yet we use a different tax code to pay for the service of these offices.

Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to finance the same ministries that He governs, we use the tithing tax code to pay for them. Since the law used tithing to support the Levites and a type of priesthood that does not exist today; why do we use tithing to support ministries that have no connection with the law still? Here’s my objections:

The tithing law does not know how much resources are needed to run Spirit led operations.

Let me give a practical example. The U.S. Constitution delegates specific powers to our government. So naturally, our constitution delegates funding for it’s own operations. We couldn’t use the financial data from European laws to pay for U.S. government operations. So, how can we use tithing laws to finance the operations that the Holy Spirit has delegated? Tithing has no ability to predict the amount of resources that the Holy Spirit needs.

Also, what better way to confirm that a ministry was  called by the Holy Spirit, then by the same Spirit calling us to give to support it?

The Spirit led Church has no influence or authority over the tithing laws

Let’s just hypothetically say that in the Old Testament, Roman laws distributed a tithe proportionately to 10 levitical districts. What influence would the Levites have over these Roman laws if they felt a change in finances was necessary? The Levites do not have any authority over the Roman government, let alone any of the benefits of Roman citizenship. The needs of each levitical district varies year after year, but the Levites are stuck with the proportions delegated by the Roman laws.

Today, the Spirit led church has no influence over where their tithe must go. You may think that my claim is biased since the church leaders distribute the tithe and offerings after each Sunday. But I’m not talking about what Church leaders do with what others have given. I’m talking about what you do with what God has given you. You and I are the Church. Pastor Bob and his staff is not the entirety of Church operations.

According to most tithe teachers today, our tithe belongs in the local church storehouse. So, if we were to give our 10% anywhere else besides the local church, then we would be in danger of putting ourselves under the Malachi 3 curse. In some cases, our extended family could use some help with groceries this week, but choosing where our tithe can go is not our decision to make. We have no authority to change where the tithe must go, because neither the Holy Spirit, nor your ambitions have no authority to change it.

Even though Christians are to be led by the Spirit of God, what tithing really means is that once you’ve achievedthe minimum guidelines and standards, you are finally free to be Spirit led. Until then, you are under the authority of something other than the Holy Spirit.

Both the Old Covenant, and the New Covenant operations have different duties to fulfill

I’ve already stated that tithing was used to support the Levitical system and a type of priesthood that does not exist today. Tithing financed the duties of Levites in the Old Testament who held governmental positions, couldn’t own land, were guards, and also treasurers of the cities. The tithe in the Old Testament was their government welfare system and also funded multiple yearly festivals. The tithe did not pay for any salaries, nor did the tithe did not go towards any buildings or programs.

There is no way that tithing could have been integrated into a completely different New Testament system without any instructions in the bible on how to modify or migrate tithing into the Spirit led Church. The new testament Church is not the old testament system donning a new costume; so why should tithing be slipped under the cloak of the New Covenant legislation?

In the Old Testament, worship for the Israelites, Levites, and Priests was instructed through the Law. There was no question as to who was to serve, where you were to serve, and how long. This systematic worship, and governance made it quite simple to use a tithe to finance these straight-forward instructions. If the new covenant had laws that dictated who the ministerial class was going to be, as well as where and when they served; then i could see no problem with implementing a systematic way of financing that legalistic operation.

In the New Testament, because we all participate in the operations of priestly worship, our duties are not clear-cut for us. We are all given gifts that differ according to the delegations of the Holy Spirit. Since we all have duties of the priests, there is no Levitical class, there is no priestly portions. We do not have instructions written on who is to serve, how long, or where. The Holy Spirit is spontaneous, and radical. But please take note, that we have the responsibility to develop plans and create order. Spirit led giving is not the presence of anarchy and chaos.

The Holy Spirit and tithing are just incompatible

You cannot use water to fuel a combustion engine, and neither can we expect tithing to fuel the Spirit filled Church. The restrictions of tithing make it impossible to coordinate with the spontaneous and radical movements of the Holy Spirit. You cannot expect a dead, static law, such as tithing, to be fully compatible with a living, spiritual organism.

God’s children are born of the Spirit, so the letter of the law is dead. Nothing screams “letter” more loudly than prescribing a mathematical formula for our worship towards God. Seriously, what other aspect of our worship are we obligated to perform a minimum standard? Name me one – praying, serving, preaching, witnessing, attendance . . . ? Also, name me one spiritual gift, besides giving, where there is a minimum standard attached to it? Could tithing be any less discreet about it’s form of legalism? Tithing IS the definition of legalism! The letter and the Spirit do not mix.

Conclusion

Could you imagine if God told the Church to use the laws in the Roman tax code to pay for the ministries in His Church? It sounds ludicrous! So, stop trying to be a church that is governed by Julius Caesar and be a Church that is governed by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God – Jesus Christ.

Jared Bartholomew is the author of www.tithing.com. There are over 300 articles written on research and reviews about tithing information.

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5 comments on “Incompatible Systems: Tithing v. Holy Spirit
  1. Henry says:

    Hi there,
    It is truly a blessing to see there are others out there who are clued up as far as this issue of tithing goes. Your article is very interesting to read but I suspect that many people won’t quite understand what you are talking about. There is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to remotely suggest that the believer is supposed to pay a tithe of their weekly or monthly wage to anyone, not even to the church. The only time Jesus referred to the tithe was when He rebuked the Pharisees under the existing Old Covenant. None of the Apostles taught tithing either. Jesus who started the Church and who is the Head of the Church did not demand a tithe from anyone yet lessor mortals insist upon a tithe. When Jesus called the twelve and sent them out He told them not to take anything with them, not money or even a second suit of clothing. When they returned Jesus asked them if while they were away if any of them lacked anything. They answered no. This is the nature of the church. We do not walk by sight but by faith. Therefore demanding a tithe is not walking by faith at all.
    .-= Henry´s last blog ..The Date of Christ’s Return =-.

    • yeah. you are probably right – not many people understand what i’m talking about.

      I believe that those who are giving practice faith, but those who are the receivers of the tithe are not practicing faith. The reason why this was ok for the levites, was because they were denied a land inheritance while everyone else was.

      – jared
      .-= steward´s last blog ..Misconception about Jacob’s Tithing Vow =-.

  2. Tony Isaac says:

    Hi Jared,

    A very good post actually and like Henry rightly pointed out, many people would not understand what you are trying to say.

    This practice of putting new wine into old wine skins has eaten so deep into the church that many of today’s believers do not know that you can give to God without having to “tithe” and I use that term loosely.

    Anyways keep up the good work. God bless.
    .-= Tony Isaac´s last blog ..Trying to “drive” a bicycle! =-.

  3. Julie says:

    I find it interesting that the churches who place us under the law by demanding “tithe your 10% or you place yourselves and your family under a curse” do not want to address the 3rd year tithe talked about in Deuteronomy. If you are going to demand we be under the law…we have to be under the WHOLE law, right?! The 3rd year tithe came twice in the 7 year (Sabbatical) counting of time. So the tithes collected in the 3rd year and again in the 6th year of the total seven years would be specifically for the Levitical priests, the poor, the widows and the strangers. No part of that money collected was distributed for any other cause..ie. in our day would be mortgages, building funds, salaries, etc. In addition there was NO tithe collected in the 7th year as there was no cultivating of land, harvesting, or otherwise. You cannot chose to follow some of the law and not all of the law, else you are a lawbreaker of ALL of the law! NO! I am NOT under a curse because I choose to be led by the Spirit in my giving…I was redeemed from the curse when Jesus proclaimed on the cross “it. is. finished”!

  4. Frank says:

    Is tithing for the New Testament?
    Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
    Since Jesus said not to neglect the former—being tithing—then no believer should neglect tithing.
    1 Corinthians 9:13-14 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.  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? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
    Law commanded paying of tithes, and Malachi condemns withholding it. We might keep either the law of God or the law of the land because we fear consequences. Under the New Testament we are motivated by love. The things we do now under grace are done when more dedication and love for Christ then we feared judgment. Christians are givers. Tithe law is something a Christian is exceeding is all aspects of life.

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