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Robert Morris Epic Scripture Twisting to Support Unbiblical View of Legalistic New Testament Tithing

by | Feb 20, 2024 | heresy, News, Opinion, Religion, Social-Issues, The Church, Video | 0 comments

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I certainly believe that it is the duty of all believers to give faithfully and sacrificially to their local churches. Yet, a myriad of voices, not least among them the prosperity charlatans, have twisted the Scriptures repeatedly to serve their ends, often leveraging passages out of context for personal gain. One such misused passage is Matthew 23:23, where Jesus admonishes the Pharisees for their misplaced priorities.

Proponents of first-fruits tithing, especially those of the prosperity gospel bent, like Robert Morris, have wielded this verse as a weapon over their congregations to manipulate them into giving no less than ten percent of their monetary income to the church. Yet a closer examination within the context of the Scriptures reveals a profound nuance missed by these people.

Here’s one example of what the Bible refers to as “smooth-talking”:

Let’s take a closer look at this verse. At the heart of Matthew 23:23 lies Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees and scribes, not for their practice of tithing, but for their glaring omission of “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.” This important distinction illuminates Jesus’ critique—it wasn’t the act of tithing, or the lack thereof, that He found fault with but rather their neglect of fundamental moral imperatives. The Pharisees meticulously tithed even the smallest of their possessions, yet they turned a blind eye to the core principles of God’s law. Christ’s admonition, “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others,” is not a directive to the New Testament Church. Rather, it is a condemnation of the hypocrisy of those under the law.

Yes, Old Testament Israel was commanded to tithe—but the tithing in this context served a distinct purpose, acting as a system designed not merely for religious ritual but as a means to sustain the Levitical priesthood, support the temple, and care for the poor and needy within the community. This system served as a means of stewardship and communal responsibility, reflecting God’s concern for the holistic well-being of His people. The meticulous tithing of herbs by the Pharisees, as spoken of by Jesus, was an outward adherence to this system. However, it was their failure to grasp the underlying spirit of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness—that Jesus condemned.

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In critiquing their actions, Jesus was neither dismissing the practice of tithing per se nor was he commanding it. Instead, He was pointing out the Pharisees’ oversight of the law’s deeper ethical and moral demands. This context teaches us that while tithing under the law served specific practical and spiritual functions, its ultimate purpose was a sort of civil tax to a theocratic government meant to foster a society that lived out the statutes of the typical kingdom of God which the Pharisees had neglected in their legalistic approach.

This passage also demonstrates a paradigm shift from legalism to a life of grace and faith. Jesus’ critique unveils a deeper truth, teaching us that true obedience flows from a heart aligned with God’s justice, mercy, and faithfulness. The New Testament ethos, particularly as it pertains to giving, is not anchored in the compulsion of law but in the freedom of grace. The apostle Paul echoes this sentiment in 2 Corinthians 9:7, urging believers to give not “reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Thus, the essence of Christian giving is transformed from a legal requirement into an expression of love, gratitude, and faith in the providence of God.

This discussion reveals the broader New Testament teaching on the believer’s life under grace. In Christ, we are called to a higher standard, one that transcends the mere external observance of religious duties, inviting us into a relationship where our actions stem from a transformed heart. This transformation is the hallmark of true discipleship, reflecting a life that honors God not only in adherence to His commands but in the embodiment of His love and grace in every aspect of our lives.

The misinterpretation of Matthew 23:23 as a blanket endorsement of tithing within the New Testament church misses the mark of Jesus’ teaching. His words were a pointed rebuke to those who prioritized ritual over righteousness, law over love. For the believer living under the grace of the New Covenant, our giving is a reflection of our freedom in Christ—a freedom to serve, to love, and to give, not out of obligation, but out of a deep sense of gratitude and commitment to the values of God’s Kingdom. This understanding not only liberates us from the chains of legalism but also invites us into a richer, more authentic expression of worship and discipleship, where every act of giving is a testament to our faith in God’s sovereign grace.

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