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Tithes, Curses and Blessings

a chapter from Temples and Tithes


This chapter addresses the questions - "Do blessings and curses from God operate in the lives of Spirit-filled believers today? And are Christians blessed if they do tithe and cursed if they do not tithe?"

The simple answer is "No". Curses finished at the cross and we have all the blessings we want "In Christ" - not through tithing. Now for the explanation.

Firstly - what is a curse or a blessing?

Blessings are a lot more than "nice words" and curses are a lot more than mere angry outbursts. Blessings and curses affect the very fabric of life itself. They can and do last for centuries. A "curse" is a lot more than a natural consequence. When Canaan was cursed as a result of Ham's sin it was not just an insult he received - it meant a destiny of national annihilation and the Canaanites were later totally wiped out. Curses and blessings result from the fact that the material realm has as its substrate the spiritual realm and a small change in the spiritual has massive consequences in the material. If you look at Genesis 1-3 you see the beginnings of blessings and curses

Blessings

Blessings are God tilting the order of Creation in our favor. This is illustrated in the very first blessing in the Bible when God blesses the fish and the birds on the fifth day of Creation:

(Genesis 1:22 NKJV) And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."

Be fruitful means that your efforts produce good desired outcomes. It is the opposite of barrenness and sterility. Fruitfulness is being able to produce, being able to perform as you desire and to bring forth that which is within you in a pleasing and satisfying way.

And multiply means that the outcomes are exponential not additive- It is like reproduction where 2 give birth to 4 which then create 8 then 16 then 32 then 64 then 128 etc. Each stage multiplying the next by a factor of two. It is constant exponential growth.

Later on the Lord blessed Mankind :

(Genesis 1:28 NKJV) Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

To mankind God adds the blessing of dominion over "every living thing that moves on the earth" on top of the basic blessing of "be fruitful and multiply". This is to be supernaturally placed at the head of others like Adam was over the animals. Adam wasn't stronger than the lions or the dinosaurs but he was made their Head. When Israel obeyed God it would be "the head and not the tail" and when it disobeyed it would be "the tail and not the head". ( Deut 28). Daniel 4&5 show that God gives dominion to whoever he chooses.

(Daniel 4:17, 25 NKJV) 'This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.'….They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen.They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.

Dominion is the highest of the blessings and the blessing "you shall possess the gates of your enemies" was only given to Abraham after the sacrifice of Isaac. (Gen 22) The opposite of dominion is humiliation and oppression which was particularly the fate of nations that oppressed or betrayed Israel e.g the Amalekites, Babylon and Moab.

So we see that "blessing" in its basic form contains three elements: -

Be Fruitful: not barren, be able to produce good and perfect things, the ability to be a blessing to others. To bear fruit that is good .. Joy, Hope.

Multiply: grow exponentially, don't be static or grow by mere addition, explode into the world.

Have Dominion Over: have authority, be in control and command, rule over, be at the top.

Lets see how this is reflected in God's blessings to Abraham in Genesis 17 &22:

(Genesis 17:3-8 NKJV) Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: {4} "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. {5} "No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. {6} "I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. {7} "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. {8} "Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

Here Abraham is told of great fruitfulness. "I will make you exceedingly fruitful". Abraham would produce great things. He would be a "father of many nations", nations and kings would come from him. He would also be given a land - which by implication would be a source of fruitfulness.

Then in Chapter 22

(Genesis 22:15-18 NKJV) Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, {16} and said: "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son; {17} "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. {18} "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

Abraham is told that his descendants will be multiplied as the stars of the heaven they shall possess the gates of their enemies - they would have dominion. So we see the three elements of great blessing are fruitfulness, multiplication and dominion.

Curses

Curses involve almost the exact reverse of blessings. Curses involve barrenness, futility and difficulty in conception instead of fruitfulness, limits and frustration instead of multiplication and humiliation and insignificance instead of dominion. ,Lets look at Genesis and study the first curses uttered by God.

(Genesis 3:14-19 NKJV) So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. {15} And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." {16} To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you." {17} Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. {18} Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. {19} In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."

Satan is humiliated, the woman is afflicted with difficulty in conception and Adam is subjected to limits and frustration.

Curses are judgments of God that affect the future of the person (or animal - such as the serpent) in an ongoing way until they are revoked or lifted . They dramatically affect conditions and lower productivity dooming the person cursed to toil, pain, defeat, humiliation and frustration.

Thus we see that blessings lead to "be fruitful and multiply" while cursing leads to situations of toil, pain and a meaningless existence. Cain is cursed by being made a wanderer on the earth while Jacob is blessed with the fat of the land.

Because God is Spirit and His Word upholds Creation then what He says in the spiritual realm affects the whole fabric of the material realm which depends on the spiritual for its very existence. The utter dependence of Creation on God is beautifully illustrated in Psalm 104 - here are just a few verses:

(Psalms 104:28-30 NKJV) What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good. {29} You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. {30} You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.

The Blessings and Curses Of The Law

The Jews "signed off" on the Old Covenant at Mt. Sinai - they undertook an agreement with God which stipulated great blessings for obedience and terrible curses for disobedience. These blessings and curses are listed in Deuteronomy chapters 26-28. The blessings and curses were material and included things such as wealth and health and possession of the land of Israel.

The prophet Haggai shows us how this affected human affairs when the Jews became slack and self-centered in their faith and chose to build their own houses rather than rebuild the temple and how obedience moved them from a situation of cursing to s situation of blessing

(Haggai 1:3-12 NKJV) Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, {4} "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?" {5} Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! {6} "You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes." {7} Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! {8} "Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified," says the LORD. {9} "You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the LORD of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. {10} "Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. {11} "For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands."

The people listened to Haggai and began to obey and when the foundation of the Temple was laid then the curse was lifted.

(Haggai 2:15-19 NKJV) 'And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the LORD; {16} 'since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty. {17} 'I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,' says the LORD. {18} 'Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid; consider it: {19} 'Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.'"

So we see that throughout the Old Testament the system was that God would bless us - that is tilt Creation in our favor so that life became easy and fruitful - if we obeyed and curse us - so that life became miserable and woeful and plagued and meaningless - if we disobeyed. It was like He was training a child with a very direct series of rewards and punishments.

The "training" culminated not in an age of blessing but with famine and sword and expulsion to Babylon. The experiment failed. Human nature was found to be so deeply sinful that the best laws, good kings, powerful prophets and a direct system of curses and blessings failed to keep it in line.

Tithing, Curses and Blessings

Part of this failed Old Covenant was tithing and the blessings and curses associated with it are explained in Malachi - a prophet who came along after Haggai to address the same problem of spiritual lethargy.

(Malachi 3:8-13 NKJV) "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. {10} Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. {11} "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts; {12} "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts.

Thus there was a curse for "robbing God" breaking the covenant stipulations which they had signed off on. This curse involved lower agricultural production (verse 11) and the blessing was unfailing fruitfulness. The end result was that the physical land of Israel would be a "delightful land". However does this contract, this arrangement of blessings and curses for tithing, still apply to Christians?

The New Contract

There has been a change of covenant or agreement with God. The Old Covenant was physical, material and performance based. The New Covenant is spiritual and based on grace received through faith. There are no curses stipulated in the New Covenant. It is a covenant for the "forgiveness of sins" - not their direct punishment. It is a covenant where all the curses due to us have been borne by Jesus Christ on the cross.

(Galatians 3:10-15 NKJV) 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." {11} But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." {12} Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." {13}Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), {14} that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

We are redeemed from the curse of the Law. The curses that came for not following what the Law says (verse10 above). We are redeemed from all theses curses including the curses for not tithing. If we are redeemed from it then Jesus Christ has paid the price, there is absolutely NO ground for any curse to alight. We are free. There are no curses on Christians if they do not tithe.

What about blessings for tithing? Why did Christ become a curse for us "that the blessings of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith". Blessings in the New Covenant are not received through law-keeping but through faith. As we saw earlier, because of our sinful nature law-keeping does not work, we only end up under the curse for law-breaking "for as many as are the works of the law are under a curse". Works of law only end up in condemnation not justification. A new way to be blessed had to be found - the way of Abraham - the way of faith.

Ephesians 1:3 is an astonishing and mind-boggling verse:

(Ephesians 1:3 NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

It's past tense- we already have received "every spiritual blessing"! Itstotal "EVERY spiritual blessing". It's exalted "in the heavenly places". It's Christ-centered "in Christ". We have the blessings of Abraham through faith and all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms through being in Christ Jesus.

Tithing simply cannot add to those blessings. Law-keeping such as tithing cannot reach half-way. Performance and sacrifices are out as means of blessing. Tithing, sacrificing, law-keeping and spiritual performances in the Temple are Old Covenant and no longer apply for attaining righteousness which is the source of all true blessing. Let me explain that last phrase a bit more.

Blessing is God's favour resting on your life. To have God's favour you have to be in right standing with God. You have to be righteous. The Jews valued righteousness because it brought blessing from a holy God. "According to my righteousness you have rewarded me" is a common theme in Psalms for instance. (Psalms 18:20 NKJV) The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

Under the Old Covenant blessings would come to the righteous and punishment and cursing to the wicked. A God who blessed the wicked or who failed to reward the righteous was unthinkable. Tithing was a righteous act which brought favour and blessing. This is still taught in Judaism today.

In Christ however we receive our righteousness - in fact we receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself - through faith, and not through the performing of righteous acts such as tithing. Because we have the very righteousness of Christ we also receive the blessings appropriate to that level of righteousness - "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms". We have Christ's righteousness and Christ's blessings through faith and therefore we do not need to tithe in order to be blessed.

The Christian life is "from faith to faith" we are blessed because of our faith and we appropriate those blessings by faith - no by performing works of merit such as tithing. The Galatians tried to add works of merit (in this case circumcision) to faith and this is the response they got from the apostle Paul.

(Galatians 3:1-5 NKJV) O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? {2} This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? {3} Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? {4} Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in vain? {5} Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?;

Paul's challenge to the Galatians "Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" is very appropriate to tithing. We don't go up a notch as a Christian by tithing. We are not perfected by the flesh - by works of merit, by works of the law. Miracles do not occur by works of the law - but by "hearing with faith". Hebrews says' for the law made nothing perfect". (Hebrews 7:19) So if the entire law made nothing perfect, one segment of it, - tithing certainly will not perfect you!

Righteousness is from God , in Christ, through faith. Therefore blessing, which in a just world must be based on righteousness, is from God, in Christ, through faith.

Magical Tithing

Tithing is practiced by groups such as the Mormons, followers of Maitreya, and most New Age cults. Just do a search under "tithing" on the Google search engine and you will find DOZENS of cults sites listing tithing as a way of manipulating spiritual forces to give the person wealth and happiness. Tithing is taught as a mechanism that "releases blessings" to the giver. The money is sometimes called "seed money" and as this is "sown" financial prosperity grows and funds are eventually "harvested". Mostly tithing is seen as a "law" that operates like karma. You do good and good will come back to you. You give to the cult and you will be made wealthy by the Universe, God, or Life Force.

Such false teachers use a principle sometimes called "ex opere operato". This means that the mechanism works by itself. The operation is efficacious whether or not the person doing it has any righteousness whatsoever. By this principle tithing is a "law" and will work for everyone independent of their character. Tithe and the windows of heaven will be opened automatically and the finances you give away will be a seed of great prosperity to follow. This causes people to say things like "I believe in tithing.." with great passion. They are believing in a mechanism, a law. Give some away and more will come back. However they are not necessarily believing in a personal God. While they are "believing in tithing" they are not necessarily believing in Jesus. They are believing in a law or a principle not in a Person who loves them and is providing for them. This is not Christ, it is karma. It is not God, it is Mammon.

Manipulating spiritual forces to give you financial blessing without accompanying personal righteousness, or the imputed righteousness that comes from Christ, is evil and magical. It is rewarding the wicked and blessing the unrepentant. Godless people can become blessed and wealthy simply through tithing, no repentance required, no Christ-likeness needed - just money. It is a systematic denial of God's pathway to blessing through faith in Jesus Christ. Blessing that is attained apart from righteousness is attained through magic not through God. God is resolutely opposed to magic in all forms. In the end such "blessing" will bring a judgment on the person that will far outweigh any temporary financial gains.

What About The Terrific Testimonies?

Tithing websites often feature amazing testimonies of how Joe Smith started tithing and then became rich and famous. These testimonies simply say that "for them" tithing appeared to "work". Here are six reasons why you need to take such testimonies with a "grain of salt".

The testimonies of the people who DIDN'T see any prosperity despite faithful tithing over many years are never published.

Testimonies are not the same as "clinical trials" or a properly run research experiment. They are indications at best.

It may be an exception. To establish a principle you have to look at many cases and average them out. Look around your local church at the faithful tithing Christians. How many of them are experiencing way above average prosperity for their level of gifts and intelligence? Most Christians that tithe seem to be living average normal lives. On average the blessing from tithing seems to be about the same as that for not tithing. It’s a plain fact that tithing Christians are not living in exceptional prosperity compared to non-tithing Christians of the same ability level.

Testimonies may be false or exaggerated or solicited in a way that indicates that giving to "ministry X" is the sure road to blessing. Be cautious of any testimony that does not indicate that the person can be contacted for comment.

What else did Joe Smith do that may more rationally account for his becoming rich and famous?

Testimonies may be the result of personal self-delusion. This is very common with people starting a new business who see prosperity everywhere when in fact their debts and taxes are piling up. They are also common in the "I believe I am healed" testimony when in fact the person is still unwell. People are so unprepared to believe they have been ripped off that they will believe they are more prosperous than ever when in fact they are pretty average in prosperity.

Reminder

There is no blessing for tithing and no cursing for not tithing. Blessings are obtained by having faith in Christ Jesus. Curses were taken by Christ on the cross. Tithing is not magical and does not lead to prosperity in an ex opere operato fashion. Neither does it justify us before God. The terrific testimonies about tithing need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Curses and Blessings and OT Practices

What applies to tithing applies to the other OT practices. There are no curses for eating pork for instance and no blessing for being circumcised - which was a big issue in the early church. Lets hear what Paul said about people who tried to add OT practices onto faith in order to be blessed. Its in chapter 3 of Galatians:

(Galatians 3:1-5 NKJV) O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? {2} This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?{3} Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?{4} Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in vain? {5} Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?;

(Galatians 3:10-14 NKJV) Foras 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." {11} But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." {12} Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." {13} Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), {14} that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Thus Paul is saying that OT practices CANNOT add anything to faith. Having begun in the Spirit we cannot be perfected by the flesh - that is by rituals such as Sabbath keeping, circumcision or tithing. Not only that but the law places under the curses of Deuteronomy 28 and makes us live a "performance-based' spiritual life in which we are sure to fail. In fact striving to be blessed by the law places us under a curse! Paul gets even more vehement a few chapters later:

(Galatians 5:1-4 NKJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. {2} Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. {3} And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. {4} You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

In this very blunt warning to the Galatian Christians Paul spells out the danger of trying to get right with God by performing OT practices. You can't just take one practice in isolation Paul says - if you get circumcised you have to keep the whole law - and you can't do that - you will fall under its curses! Not only that but Christ will profit you nothing, you will be estranged from Christ and you will have fallen from grace. Paul calls such compulsory OT practices a "yoke of bondage".

The Paradox

So here is the paradox - if we seek to gain blessing by external actions such as Sabbath keeping, circumcision, keeping feast days, or tithing we are estranged from Christ and under a curse!

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.