Last week we looked at ‘What is self?’
We said that self is ‘the natural human nature inherited at birth’ Various versions of the bible call it by different names including ‘sinful nature’, ‘human nature’, ‘selfish motives’ and ‘Mr Flesh’, to mention a few. We concluded that self is just being human. When you behave like a normal human does, you are not behaving as a Christian or disciple of Christ.
Before we go on, we want to give some examples of Mr Flesh that will help drive home the point.
Let us look at Galatians.5:19-21 again (GNB version)
19) What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions;
20) in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups;
21) they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God.
First, it is important to know that what the human or sinful nature does is plain, clear or evident and easily recognisable. If you indulge in sexual immorality such as fornication, adultery, masturbation etc., and you go for deliverance or pray against such is like cutting off the fruits of a tree. In due season it will come up again. When the opportunity presents itself it will result in fornication. The best thing to do is root out the tree. God will forgive the sin if you confess and forsake (1 John 1:9), but better to deal with the cause, which is Mr Flesh.
Same thing too with impure thoughts or idolatry (worship of idols). Idols in the heart are more dangerous than idols in the temple, people bow to. Idols can become strongholds (2 Corinthians 1:.5). Anything that takes up your quality time and attention, and is difficult to do away with for the Lord Jesus, is an idol. Some examples of idols are money (Luke.18.18-24), mode of dressing, jewels, shoes, Netflix, Sports, MOTD, Social media (all forms), Internet, culture or tradition just to mention a few.
What Paul says in Philippians chapter three makes sense now? See what says Paul in Philippians .3:7-8
7) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
8) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.
Witchcraft also is a sign of Mr Flesh. Every form of psychics, occultism or ‘juju’ is witchcraft. It is a form of intimidation in order to gain control over a person or make them submit by force. Many practice witchcraft daily when they intimidate, oppress, manipulate, threaten or take advantage of others because of position or knowledge of a secret. We see this in meetings, offices, homes and everywhere human beings are. Such people who display acts of Mr Flesh will not inherit God’s kingdom.
Do you have an enemy? (I don’t mean the devil!)
I mean some person you have vowed not to see or talk to. That’s Mr Flesh manifesting. Whether its business partners becoming enemies, ministers in church or singers in the Choir quarreling.
Anywhere we see people fighting, though they have their cogent, reasonable, legitimate and acceptable reasons, we know who is behind the fighting. It is Mr. Flesh. He is also behind jealousy and anger. The scripture teaches us also that Mr Flesh, sinful nature, human nature is also behind the constant effort to become better or get the best for yourself. This is also ungodly ambition or self-effort. May the Lord deliver us from self and selfishness!
People who separate into parties or groups or feel that their little group is better or more important than the rest is silently manifesting the flesh. It is the quiet reason churches break into factions and go their own different ways. This is the source of every split- church, family, business etc. When you feel your race is better or tribe is better, it’s also the sinful nature manifesting ‘himself’.
What Does It Mean to Deny Self?
Last week, we saw that there is a difference between a Disciple and a Christian or follower of Christ. Jesus made a big bold statement in Luke.9.23
23) Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Do You Desire to Follow Jesus?
Then you must recognize that it is not just responding to an altar call or simple confession of sin. Now, these things are important, but we must recognize that the person we are following has a condition. The condition from Luke 9.23 if you desire to be His disciple is to
- Deny Self
- Take up your cross
- Follow him
It stands to reason that anyone following Christ today who has not denied self or taken up his cross is NOT following the Jesus of the Bible.
What is Self?
Self is the nature you and I receive from our human parents. It is our human nature inherited from birth. Different Bible versions call them by various names.
- The NIV version of the Bible renders flesh as the sinful nature
- Good News Bible describes the flesh as the human nature
- CEV renders it selfish motives
- God’s Word calls it the corrupt nature
So we see that the flesh is a nature, a way of doing things. For example, some people tell lies by nature, some are wicked naturally, some people cover up their mistakes by giving excuses. It is a nature. The truth is that the flesh means just being human. John. 3:6. See Galatians 5:19-21
19) Now the works of the flesh (sinful nature, human nature, selfish motive and corrupt nature) are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Scriptures is saying here that those who live as normal human beings or by the inherited sinful nature will not go to Heaven. This is heavy stuff, but other scriptures back this up. (1 Corinthians 6:10, 1 Corinthians 15:50, Ephesians 5:5). If you practice the normal human nature you will not go to Heaven. Since we now have an understanding of the ‘self-nature or self-life’, let us look at the first bit which is deny.
What Does it Mean to Deny?
Looking again at various versions, to deny means
- To forget himself
- Give up rights to himself
- Put aside and ignore self
- Say no to himself and his interests
Self is not just a habit to be discarded (that will be like cutting of branches of a poisonous tree) rather it is the totality of the self-life (the whole tree). This totality can be one’s knowledge, understanding, the basis of one’s opinion about himself and others (actually the whole tree).
One thing is clear, we are closer to the coming of Christ than when we first believed (Rom.13.11). With the growing importance of social media and the internet in our lives it has become easy with the click of the mouse for any Tom Dick or Harry to pass, correct and incorrect information, across to large numbers of people.
Unfortunately, this includes things that pertain to Christianity. In recent times, there has been a lot of interest in the issue of tithes. Whenever there is controversy regarding God, His Word or His people, it is always best, not to turn to people, (even God’s people), but the Word of God.
Surely God has not left this important matter without fully making known His will! The Bible is given to be a lamp unto our feet (Ps.119:105) and therefore He cannot have left us in darkness regarding any obligation or privilege in our dealings with Him or His with us.
Using a Q&A format, this short article tries to investigate the controversy of tithe: Should I pay, Should I not pay? Please check out Bible references and know your God’s mind about His tithe and tithing. God bless you.
What is the Tithe?
The tithe is defined as a ‘tenth part’ of your increase. It is holy unto the Lord. God reserves the tithe to Himself, as His exclusive right. It was a practice among believers before the Old Testament laws were given by Moses, (Gen.14.19-20) as well as during the time of the Law (Lev.2:30, 32). The Lord Jesus Himself reaffirmed paying tithes. (Matt.23:23)
What is an Offering?
An offering is a financial gift of any amount given over and above your tithe, as God has prospered you.
What is the Purpose of Tithes and Offerings?
The purpose of tithes and offerings is to support the ministry and the ongoing work of your church. (Num.18:21, 1Cor. 9:13-14)
Where Should I Tithe?
To the ‘storehouse’. The storehouse in Israel was the temple and cities of the Levites, but today it would be the place where you receive spiritual food and help. This is the local church where you are a member or attendee. (Mal.3:10, Deut.12:11)
What Happens if I don’t Tithe?
God calls you a robber and your disobedience causes you to live under a curse. (Mal.3.8-9)
Isn’t Tithing Old Testament Law? Hasn’t Jesus Christ Freed Us From all That?
No, tithing was introduced in the Old Testament, but still was observed and practiced in the New Testament. (For more study read Matt.23:23, 2Cor.9:7-14, 1Cor.16:2, Gal.6:6, Heb.7:1-10)
Seriously, if tithing is so important why doesn’t the Bible say something definite like ‘Thus saith the Lord’- thou shalt pay thy tithes or something?
While it is perfectly true that today we are unable to take the Bible, and place our finger upon any positive commandment from God that His people, in the early Bible days, should either offer sacrifices to Him or keep the Sabbath or give the tithe (there is no definite “Thus saith the Lord” recorded concerning any one of these three things), nevertheless, from what is recorded we are compelled to assume that there must have been such a commandment given, particularly if you read Gen.26.5.
More important than giving tithes, is knowing and understanding God. He expects us to study about things so that we know Him particularly and what He likes or dislikes. (Please see Prov.25:2).
Did Jesus Mention or Infer We Pay Tithes at All?
Yes. Two places stand out
- 23.23 ……where He told the Pharisees that they paid tithes but left the weightier issues such as judgment, mercy faith. They should have done both.
- 22.15-21. Pharisees’ disciples and the Herodians asked Him about paying tax to the Roman government. Should we pay or not. His answer? Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar, and unto God the things that are God’s. The tithes belong to God!
- He did not come to destroy or alter the law. He came to fulfil it (Matt.5.17). He did not come to destroy the laws of tithing, but fulfil it.
Is there Anything Else in the New Testament that Encourages Tithes?
There is one other passage to be looked at, namely Heb.7: 5 & 6. We are told that the sons of Levi, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law. (√.5). We are also told that Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedek. (Gen.14:19-20). However, Levi also paid tithes to Melchisedek, while in the loins of Abraham. (Heb.7:9-10).
Melchisedek is a type of Christ because he had no father or mother, nor do we know his beginning but is like the Son of God – Jesus. (√.3).
Abraham, the father of faith, God’s chosen people, acknowledged the greatness of Melchisedek by rendering tithes to him. If Abraham, the father of the faithful, paid tithes to a ‘type’ of Christ, should we Christians not pay tithes to Christ also since he is our father in the faith. (Gal.3:9).
It is interesting to note that the last place (Heb.7) tithes are mentioned in the Bible, it links it directly to Christ, the Head of the Church.
Should I Tithe on the Gross or Net income?
On the gross!
So, as an example you earn £1350 a week, tax and NI deductions come to £230. Your net income is £1120. Your tithe is £1350 divided by 10. This is £135.
I Heard that Tithing was Only for Jews (Abraham’s seed), and Not Applicable to Christians Today. Is This True?
In the New Testament, all Christians are considered spiritual Jews and children of Abraham. (Please see Gal.3:7, Gal.26-29, Rom.4:24, Rom.9:7-8, Rom.4:11-16)
We hear of lots of Pastors and Christian Ministries who use the tithes to support their ostentatious lifestyles, buying cars, clothes, Jets etc. instead of using it for God’s work. What is God’s Word on This?
On the day of judgement (Rom.20:12) every word uttered will be accounted for. (Matt.12:36). Everyone will give an account of what he has done with God’s money also. (Rom.14.12). Every man’s work will be made manifest. (1Cor.3:13), every secret, whether good or bad (Ecl.12:14, Rom.2:16). Remember though, that you will also be judged on whether you obeyed God by tithing. The excuse that Preachers use it wrongly will not fly with God.
Can I borrow the Tithe and Use it to Help Someone in Need or Support a Ministry that is Truly Hard Up?
One can ‘borrow’ God’s tithe, but it becomes more expensive paying back, as you have to pay 20% extra on top of what was borrowed. (See Lev.27:31)
I am not Completely Sure What to Believe about Tithing. What advice can you give?
Pray about it asking God to reveal His counsel to you. If you are sincere about following His will, he will direct you accordingly. Also, why not prayerfully try the 90-day rule (Heb.11:4)
Tithe for 90 days and see if He will be faithful to His Word (Mal.3:10-11) to rebuke the devourer for your sake and bring increase into your finances.
God bless you!
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