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Law Thinking Drives Us Deeper Into Ourselves and Away From God

Law thinking drives us deeper into ourselves, relying on fleshly resources rather than the kind and infinite resources of our Heavenly Father.

For example, it is commonly taught in the church that God requires a tithe — meaning a tenth of all. Then people get into all sorts of debates about what God requires: do we tithe off gross pay or net? What if I’m unemployed? What it I can’t pay my bills?

Meanwhile, statisticians tell us that less than 10% of church-going people actually do tithe. Some recent reports put it at well below 5%*

Malachi 3:8-9 says:

[8] “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
[9] You are cursed with a curse,For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation. (NKJV)

According to Malachi 3:8-9, 90% of the church is robbing God and are under a curse.  That certainly is law thinking: “Do and be blessed, don’t do and be cursed!” (Deuteronomy 28 & 29)

So how do people react toward God when they think they are under a curse? Do they approach God or avoid Him? Scripture is abundantly clear that man under law is cursed, self-centered, in bondage to sin! When Adam and Eve fell, they ran from God, were ashamed and resorted to their own devices (fig leaves) to deal with it.

So, in our example of greater than 90% of the church not tithing, they therefore conclude:
  • I am under God’s curse.
  • God won’t bless my finances.
  • Therefore, I can’t expect God’s help and resources for my finances.
  • Therefore, I can’t rely on God’s help and resources for my finances.
  • Therefore, when it comes to money, I am on my own.
  • Therefore, somehow, someway I have to make ends meet. Whatever it takes.
As a result, many Christians resort to debt, overloading themselves with work, getting trapped in dubious financial schemes and so forth.
The reason for all of this is very plain: the law — including tithing — was never meant to bless people and draw them close to God. The law is meant to bring a curse (Deut 28:15). It is a ministry of death and condemnation (2 Cor 3:7 and 3:9). Galatians 3:10 clearly states:
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”  (NKJV)
 And James 2:10 says:
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.  (NKJV)
The whole purpose of the law is to hold the whole world guilty of sin (Romans 3:19) by proving to sinners just how much of bad sinner they really are (Romans 7:7-24a), leading the sinner to Jesus Christ, their only real savior (Romans 7:24b, Gal 3:24-25).

The “I am cursed” mindset is the inexorable result of operating, even in the slightest measure, under the law. It breeds avoidance of God, an orphan mentality and reliance upon fleshly resources to meet our needs. This leads to failure and sin.

Yet the whole approach of the new covenant has the opposite effect on man: it causes him to understand “If God is for us who can be against us” (Romans 8:31) and causes him to confidently go to God as loving Father in their time of need. The glorious new covenant gives us the same perfect standing with God that Jesus Christ has. It promises blessing, not based on our performance (pass or fail) but on Christ’s perfect performance on our behalf, already accomplished. This breeds the confident boldness of a little child coming to the father.
Hebrews 4:14-16 brings out the full dimensions of this so well:
[14] Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.[15] For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.[16] Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NKJV)

The definite result of Jesus’ doing all perfectly for us is that we come boldly:

  • To the throne of grace. Grace is God loving us, accepting us and blessing us, not because we are so good and earned it, but simply because of God is that good and gives it. What a contrast is this throne of grace to the throne of judgment (Rev 20:11-15)! The throne of grace causes us to boldly and confidently approach God. The throne of judgment causes even earth and sky to flee away (Rev 20:11)
  • That we may obtain mercy. Only the guilty need mercy. The word presupposes that we have committed wrong against God. Yet here at the wonderful throne of grace we obtain mercy. God deals with us, not according to our sin and failure, but with mercy.
  • And find grace to help in time of need. At this great throne of grace we find the greatest source of help in our time of need: the riches of God’s grace. The endless storehouse of His generous provision!
What a great difference this makes! This is the way God always intended our relationship with Him. Like the little children who came to Jesus to blessed by Him (Mark 10:13-16). Why did the little children come? That He might touch them and bless them. And what did Jesus do? “He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16). What tender love! What blessing!
Did these children have a law and curse mentality? If they did, they would have been afraid of Jesus and never approached Him. They knew that Jesus had come to bless them. And so they freely came to Him!
This changes everything. It frees us from ourselves and our fleshly resources to confidently enjoy our Father God and look to Him for His generous provision, given to us without finding fault (James 1:5).
Back to the example of giving. Now, through Christ, we are free from the tithe guilt and condemnation and brought into an exhilarating, joyful place of giving out of the abundance of God’s generous provision. That’s what 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 are all about.
Look at 2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (NIV)
Hallelujah! What a great God we serve! Isn’t this verse amazing? Look what GOD is able to do for us:
  • To make all grace abound to us. Not just a little grace, but all grace. As if that isn’t enough, God makes all grace abound to us. Full and overflowing!
  • SO THAT. Here’s the inevitable effect of God’s ability and abounding totality of grace in our lives…
  • In all things. No matter the circumstance, situation or demand.
  • At all times. It never lets up. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Any time. All the time.
  • Having all that you need. Not “will have”, but having. It is already ours, in our possession, right now.
  • Now the incredible consequence of all this: you will abound in every good work. This is the outcome of God’s amazing ability, grace and riches, given freely through Christ in our lives: we have more than enough for ourselves, so that we can bless others. This is ultimate generosity, creating joyful givers who don’t give under compulsion (2 Cor 9:7).
What an amazing difference between law and grace. One leads to bondage, selfishness, sin, condemnation and death, resulting in even more bondage, selfishness, sin, condemnation and death. The other leads to freedom, a God and others focus, righteousness, justification and life. Now, at last, we REALLY LIVE. This is truly the abundant and overflowing life that Jesus promised in John 10:10:
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”.

*Christian Post, “Tithing Hits Record Low; Churches Spend More to Make Congregants Happy”, October 15, 2011
CC by-nc-nd 2016 Mark D. VanOuse
This article is under a Creative Commons copyright license.
*Christian Post, “Tithing Hits Record Low; Churches Spend More to Make Congregants Happy”, October 15, 2011