We recently received a question concerning tithing on our AskMark page:
What about tithing? And the use of Malichi in teaching it as a minimum amount of giving...
Is this a reasonable teaching or is it a misuse of Old Testament requirement in teaching giving today?
Thanks for the question! It is one that many people are asking right now. As more people begin to see that the New Covenant is based more on the responding to the Spirit inside of us and not threats or demands, questions about things we've done based on Old Testament practices naturally come up.
What Was The Purpose of Tithing in the Old Testament?
The word "tithe" means 10%. It was the basic principle of giving in the Old Testament. It is important to realize that Israel was a nation with all the expenses a nation of people would incur. The building and upkeep of the Temple, the support of the Levites who had no land to farm for their own support, the huge expense of maintaining a monarchy, king's palace, servants, gifts to honor and maintain relationships with other tribes/countries, armies to defend various parts of the kingdom, and many more costs.
In the New Covenant, we are His temple, we are all priests, and we do not maintain a monarchy, palace or nation. But, we do have poor who need our help, we do need facilities and equipment to make it possible to minister, and we do need qualified full time workers to help feed and care for the sheep.
Is Tithing Taught in the New Testament Epistles?
The word "tithe" is not used or taught in the epistles of the New Testament. And to use the "curse" passage in Malachi 3 is a serious misuse of the verse since Christ has clearly "redeemed us from the curse of the law."
However, we should not completely ignore the biblical idea of giving 10% to the work of the Lord. In writing to the churches in Corinth, Paul does refer to what the Law teaches about giving as an example for us to consider. He does draw a connection between giving in the Old Testament for the support of the ministering Levites and giving for the support of those who are fruitful enough to the church to enable them to be "full time" in the work.
1 Cor 9:7-14- Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock? 8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9
For it is written in the Law of Moses, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING." God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13
Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. NASU
So Where Does That Leave Us?
In the New Covenant:
Galatians 6 tells us the law of sowing and reaping is in the New Covenant and we must grow in our ability to use it correctly and benefit from it. Paul made it simple by stating, "He who plants a little, harvests a little."
Sadly, some manipulate people for selfish, greedy reasons. But that doesn't negate the true purpose of the law of sowing and reaping.
The real reason for this law? To grow our faith and trust in God to take care of us. All the trials we face are designed to enable us to grow our trust in His faithful care. But, we have no control over when and how those trials come. But we do have a real measure of control over our giving. Choosing to give or not give is the only way we can actually choose to challenge our faith and grow it by choosing to give more.
The heart of the matter of giving is this:
New Covenant Grace will always lead us to do more than Law ever could.
DON'T HELP!!! What strange advice.
Every lifeguard knows the best advice to give when attempting to rescue a drowning person-
"Don't help, don't try to swim, just go limp,
relax completely in my arms,
and we will both make it safely to shore."
A drowning person must exhaust themselves as quickly as possible. Better yet, just go limp, relax completely, don’t fight their lifesaver, and let the expert do their job. But, that goes against the natural, powerful instinct to do anything in order to survive. And "doing anything in order to survive," causes the drowning person to unwitting fight against the very one who can save them.
What Activates True Grace?
And so it is with the mystery and miracle of New Covenant Grace. The simple, most power truth about how New Covenant grace is activated within us can be found in Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5-
"God must oppose the proud, but He freely gives His transforming grace to the humble."
So, how does this proud/humble idea work?
Throughout Scripture, yeast is used to describe puffed up arrogance, human pride that’s void of power, hot air instead of true substance. At Passover, Jewish families would search the house and get rid of all leaven, all yeast. Jesus warned the disciples to “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” because their pride twisted their view of Scripture and made their teaching arrogant and powerless. (Matt 16:11-12)
Yeast: Powerful, Infecting and Life-Changing
But here Jesus uses the metaphor of how yeast affects dough in a completely new and positive way. “Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." (Luke 13:20-21 NIV)
Here, Jesus uses yeast as a metaphor to describe how the power of His Kingdom spreads from one person to another, infecting and transforming them in the process. When a little yeast is mixed into a large amount of dough, given enough time, the entire lump becomes affected, or “infected”, by the yeast. When the message of His Kingdom is mixed into the human heart it has the power to change lives!
We have been asking you to submit questions for Mark to answer as part of the new AskMark section of our site, and a few of them we are featuring here in the blog. Here is a recent question I think many Christians struggle with.
I wonder why Jesus spoke some "law oriented" verses in NT. For example, John 14:15 "If you love me, keep my commandments." I assume the answer is Jesus was alive at that time or he was talking to his "law oriented" disciples or Paul was not there yet to start the Grace gospel. Can you help? Jim from PA
Thanks for helping other people who are wondering the same thing.
Your question about why Jesus made so many statements that seem to not only be reinforcing the Law, but raising the bar far higher than Moses did, is very common. In fact, it's one of the most asked questions in our pastors equipping seminars in nations around the world.
I realize you were writing from memory, but it's important to note that what Jesus actually said was, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." I point this out because, as we will see later, this is actually a promise rather than a demand. Think of it as a doctor saying, "If you will take your medicine, you will get well." It's all about cause and effect. So let's wade in.
Jesus Was Born Under the Law
First, we need to see that Jesus was deliberately "born under the Law."
I deeply desire to be a believer who "thinks, meditates, and rolls His Word over and over in my mind." So I was surprised when I first realized that nowhere in the New Testament is the Church referred to as God's Army...never. We are called the Body, family, His building, Church, Bride, etc. But never His army. The angels are called His army but not us. He is the Lord of hosts (angelic armies).
The battle that eternally matters has been won. Jesus declared "It is finish" and embarrassed our adversary by complete defeat through His death and resurrection.
The Eph 6 reference to armor talks about our "struggle" against spiritual powers but it concludes with the purpose of our armor "...so you can stand." Stand, not fight. Each piece of armor refers to what we must believe about Him and what He has done for and in us.
When Paul wrote that the "weapons of our warfare are not carnal" for the "pulling down strongholds", the context shows he is referring to wrong beliefs built in our minds by our adversary.
Paul uses the metaphor of a soldier to show how committed we should be and how others should give so some can "go." Reading Acts, we know he was regularly "run out of town" when riots broke out but he never referred to it as a failure or said, "The devil won." I find it very interesting that when Paul said satan "hindered, blocked our way," he didn't fight but just went on rejoicing!
1 Thessalonians 2:18-20 TNIV
 "For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way."
Now imagine how we might react to that situation. It certainly "sounds" like the devil won. But the next verse shows that it simply didn't matter to Paul because he lived in rest believing that God would make it all work together for his good. Here's the next verse-
 "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy."
And why does this matter?
I suggest that the more we see ourselves as God's army, the more we fall prey to a "works mentality." We feel we must fight and then we view victory and failure through the lens of immediate circumstances. We begin to "lean to our own understanding" about the purpose for suffering and trials.
We start viewing suffering as direct attacks of the enemy and somehow a failure on our part. But James and Peter said we should rejoice in suffering and trials, not fight anything. Then we starting looking at Old Testament verses to explain our view of warfare. War was real for them because they were setting up a literal nation and because Jesus had not yet "disarmed" all spiritual enemies.
Col 2:15 should be our foundational belief. "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
1 Peter 3:21-22 TNIV
 "… It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand —with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."
We are called to a life (not a day) of Sabbath rest, not warfare.
I want to grow in my understanding of the Sabbath-Rest referred to in Heb 4:1- "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it."
Hebrews 4:9-10 TNIV
 "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for those who enter God’s rest also rest from their own work, just as God did from his."
The war is in our minds where we must constantly be renewed so we believe the right things.
Jesus gave us a promise about the life He wants to give us.
Matthew 11:28-30 TNIV
 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light .”
Let's pursue joy in trials, peace in suffering and the eternal reward of enjoying His complete victory! How? By fixing our eyes on Him, all He has done and all His Spirit of grace is doing inside of us right now!
"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Heb 12:2
This is not intended to be criticism of anyone who has used this phrase. It is simply something to think about.
There is a common theme that runs through a lot of teaching about holiness and sanctification. This theme is based on faulty human logic and shows an important misunderstanding of the difference in the Old and New Covenants. And the inevitable result is confidence-stealing condemnation.
I saw this logic recently in a very sincere social media post:
“If you put a drop of sewage in bottled water, would you still drink it? No, of course not! In the same way, one drop of compromise contaminates the ENTIRE vessel of our lives. So we must completely sanctify ourselves so He can fill us.”
Really? Is this true? Is this a New Covenant truth intended to “Set Us Free”?
To arrive at the right conclusion, we must start at the right starting point. But this kind of thinking, even though it is so prevalent in current teaching, is just plain wrong and very damaging. It is the conclusion of faulty human logic that starts at the wrong starting point and inevitably takes us to the wrong place.
The logic used in the quote above begins with a question.
“If you put one drop of sewage in a bottle of water, would you still drink it?”
The obvious answer is, “Ick! I wouldn’t drink something that has sewage in it!” The logical conclusion is that God wouldn’t drink it either. And if that bottle of water is supposed to be us, then we conclude God would never want to “drink us” if we have “even a drop of sewage in us”. But this kind of thinking is wrong and leads us into condemnation because we are using human logic instead of thinking with a New Covenant mindset.
There is a huge hole in this logic. We began the example thinking about water being used for drinking.
But God doesn’t drink us! We drink Him. And as we do, His water cleanses us.
Heb 10:22- “…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” NIV
Eph 5:25-26- “…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…” NIV
God does indeed pour the pure water of the Holy Spirit into our “dirty vessels”! That’s how He cleanses us so we become more and more sanctified in our minds, our motivations and our behavior. We do not contaminate God’s holiness with our unholiness. His holiness cleanses our unholiness. His holiness is medicinal and it heals our weaknesses.
God is not afraid that somehow we will infect Him with our weaknesses. Our sin and weakness doesn’t infect Him; His grace infects us with His transforming power.
Matt 13:33- "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." NIV
Just a little bit of yeast left in a loaf of dough will eventually “infect” the whole loaf. That is the promise of the New Covenant; Him, in us, changing us from the inside out! This is the right place to start.
New Covenant grace is the infection of transforming power
that spreads through human contact when we simply talk about Him.
2 Cor 3:18- “And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.” NLT
And just to set the record straight, there is at least a drop, a miniscule amount of sewage, in nearly all drinking water. But our immune system usually counterattacks and neutralizes the impurities. As God’s children, we have a spiritual immune system to fight off impurities; Christ in us, the hope of Glory!
Love God and Do What You Want
By Amanda Drake Cromley & Mark Drake
First, a Word from Amanda -
One of the most freeing pieces of advice my father ever gave me was “Love God and do what you want.” At first I was taken aback by its almost jarring simplicity. And it certainly didn’t sound anything like the “super spiritual” words of guidance you hear from most preachers.
But as he went on to explain this revelation that had been so liberating for him and eliminated so much stress and worry in his own life, I realized he was right.
Psalm 37:4 tells us to delight in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our heart. The best possible way for that to happen is for God’s desires to become our own. And as we love God more and more (delight in Him), that is exactly what happens. His desires for our lives become our desires.
And do you know what else I’ve realized? God can handle our mistakes. He knows we’re going to make poor choices sometimes. A lot of times, actually. And since He knows what we need before we can even think to ask, he has already planned a way for us to move past those mistakes and get back on the right track.
The mercy he poured out at the cross already provided a way back from our poor choices. And His transforming grace ensures we don’t remain in our mess. What an amazing Father.
- Amanda Drake Cromley
And, of course, now a word from my dad:
What is our Faith in?
- by Mark Drake
I know this idea of “Do what you want,” scares a lot of people. I have heard it many times. “If you tell people this, they will think it means they can just do any carnal, selfish thing they want.” I used to think this way myself. Until I began asking myself, “How did they do this in the New Testament and what did they put their faith in?”
How did Paul and his team decide where they would go next? They went where they felt like they should go; where they wanted to go. They put their faith in Christ living, by His Spirit, in and through them. They trusted the Spirit leading them from the inside out. And the only time we’re aware of that they had a sign or dramatic “leading,” was when the Spirit told them to NOT go into Asia, yet. It wasn’t God’s timing, yet. Later, when God’s will and God’s timing came together, they traveled into Asia, to Ephesus, and had the greatest numerical success ever. Beyond that they just went where logic guided them.
Paul didn’t teach that there was some kind mystical “perfect will of God” that only the super-spiritual ones can walk in while the rest of us stumble around in some kind of “permissible will of God.” What he did teach was to put our faith in the Spirit living in us to mold our “wants” to His “wants.”
The more we become aware of Him in us, the more we’ll realize He is unconsciously leading us. As we learn to walk humbly before the Lord, we can expect Him to open and close doors as He sees fit. And our humility will keep us open to all the ways God can lead us, including through other people.
When Jesus was challenged with, “What is the greatest commandment?” He didn’t respond with one of the Big Ten. Instead, He said, “Love God with all you are.” But that seems to be much too simple. Jesus responded with that answer because He understood what happens when a person truly responds to God’s love for them by loving Him back. What happens when I do this? The miracle of Christ in me begins to grow molding my desires to His.
The reason “Love God” seems too simple to us is because we don’t really believe what they believed in the days of the early church. We must put our faith in what they put their faith in; Christ is in me, changing me and leading me from within. We must believe that when someone chooses to respond to the love of God by loving Him back, a miracle begins! And He who started this miracle, He will complete in you! (Phil. 1:6)
One More Thing…
By the way, no good father says to his kids, “You must do what I want you to do. Your life will only work right when you exactly what I want you to do. If you don’t everything I want you to do, it will go really bad for you. And, oh yeah, you are going to have to guess what it is because I’m not telling.”
So relax, your Father is not just good, He’s the best!
Proverbs 22:6- “Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This proverb, so often taken out of context, has been heaping guilt and condemnation on generations of parents and I think it is time that it stops. If the choices of grown children were dictated by how well their parents raised them, then God would be the worst father of all. Just look at His kids and the choices we repeatedly make.
If parents are responsible for the bad choices their children make, why don’t we blame the heavenly Father for the choices His kids make? Because we know that we have free will; and we know that we each make our own choices, good or bad, and we don’t blame God for our bad choices. The Father is always seeking to teach and guide His children with wisdom, but He always gives them free choice.
From the tree placed right in the middle of the Garden of Eden, to every circumstance we are faced with in our lives, God does not seek to control our behavior by force of His power, but He seeks to teach and lead us by giving us choices. He then empowers us to follow through on our righteous choices and reap the reward. When we acknowledge our bad choices, He even redeems them.
The First Kids
God is not interested in just controlling our behavior so that our actions are always righteous. He wants us to learn how to look to Him for the guidance and empowerment to make good choices.
If God wanted to control Adam and Eve’s choice by force, all He had to do was put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in a place they couldn’t reach. That would have insured good behavior, but it would not have been free choice and nothing would have been learned.
Instead, He placed the tree in the middle of the garden, where they saw it everyday. God wanted them and all their children to learn to look to Him for His wisdom in the choices they made.
So What About Human Parents?
So why is it any different with human parents? Why do we make imperfect, extremely fallible human parents more responsible for the choices of their children than the heavenly Father is for His kids? Ezekiel 18 says over and over- If the father chooses well but the son chooses poorly, the father is not to blame. Conversely, if the father makes bad choices but the child makes good choices, the child bears no guilt for the father’s choice.
Read Ezk. 18 for yourself and plant its truth firmly in your heart. God repeats it over and over, in several different ways; we are all responsible for our own choices. Apparently, He feels strongly about this idea of personal responsibility.
The Law of Sowing and Reaping
Remember, the law of sowing and reaping is in the New Covenant. (Gal. 6) Reaping bad results from making bad choices is not God’s angry judgment. It is actually God’s love working for our good. It is the simple result of our choices. So don’t blame God.
When you tell your child, “Don’t touch the hot stove,” and they choose to touch it anyway, they get burned. But they don’t look at you and scream, “Why did YOU burn me?” Even a child understands that you didn’t do that to them. They caused it by their choice. And this is the most important thing we can teach our children. Choices have consequences!
Genetics or Environment: A Matter of Choice
Does the example of our parents influence us? Of course. Does the environment we are raised in have an affect on us? Absolutely. But in the final analysis, each person is fully responsible for their choices. And when we exercise our choice to make Jesus Christ the owner of our life, we have the promise that we are now a new creation in Him. We have started a new genealogy based on our heritage through Christ, apart from our natural family.
We often see this when two children are raised in the same alcoholic family. One may grow up to be an alcoholic, choosing to repeat the sins of their parents. Yet, the other child sees the destruction alcohol has caused and chooses to never drink. One may grow to be bitter and resentful of the failure of the parents; while the other chooses to have compassion and live in forgiveness.
We even see this in non-believers who make these choices by human will power. How much more should it be true for those of us who are empowered by Christ’s life within us?
The Prodigal Son – Who Is To Blame?
Look at the story of the prodigal son. This story tells us about a series of choices a young man made because he was given the right to choose for himself. And he made some terrible choices that brought painful results. However, he knew that when he was ready to make a new choice, the door to home, and his father’s heart, was always open.
How much blame did the father in this story deserve? None. Jesus gives no indication that he was a bad parent. No doubt, the father heard the stories about his son’s foolish decisions. But he never protected him from the consequences. It was the consequences that brought the son to his senses. Was it painful to watch? I am sure it was. But was it worth it? Absolutely!
Remember, the elder son had all the outwardly righteous behavior, but his heart was filled with bitterness. Forgiveness and restoration came to the younger son who learned through his consequences and came to fully embrace the father’s love. We don’t know if the elder son, who’s outward behavior seemed good, ever came to enjoy the unconditional love of his father.
Be Good Parents…Unto The Lord
Should we seek to be the best parents we can be? Certainly. Not so much for the sake of the children, but to walk pleasing to the Lord for ourselves. My wife and I have eleven divorces and remarriages between our four parents. They did not set a good example. But we made a different choice. And the power of God’s grace living in and through us has enabled us to set a completely different example.
After over forty years of marriage, we have set a very different example, but we have been far, far from being perfect parents. Nonetheless, it is always up to our children to decide the choices they will make for their own lives.
Let Them Fail
Be glad when your children make a bad choice because now they will have an opportunity to learn important life-long lessons. Don’t be so quick to protect your children from the consequences of their poor choices. Certainly, this must be age-appropriate, but let your children learn that choices have consequences. Let them know you love them too much to insulate them from these valuable lessons.
Pray for your children. Do not pray that God will force them to serve Him, because God will not answer in that way. But pray that the goodness of God will overwhelm your children and that they will choose to respond by loving Him back! “Do you not know that is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4)
If you feel you have been a poor parent, then humble yourself, repent to your children and ask their forgiveness. And, regardless of their response, be free of fear, shame and condemnation…because Jesus paid for that sin just as He paid for all other sins!
I strongly recommend Danny Silk’s book, “Loving Our Kids on Purpose” as one of the very best resources on how to parent children through the power of true grace and truly represent the nature of the Father to our children.
When the movie, American Sniper, quickly became a box office smash, Michael Moore (film maker and extreme critic of anything conservative) sarcastically said, "Since it is Sunday, perhaps we should ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’, or, ‘Who would Jesus snipe’?" Although I don't know or judge his heart’s motive, I doubt that Mr. Moore makes it a habit of asking “WWJD” about any area of his life.
To ask, "What would Jesus do?" in view of the politics of American Sniper or any civil government function, is a very misguided and erroneous way of thinking. It's a great mistake to try to apply the principles of the New Covenant to actually governing our country or any other. New Covenant principles should govern the way we live our lives, regardless of what we do for a living or where we live. But they cannot be used to run a civil government made up of unregenerated people.
Agape love is both the overriding guide and the internal power that enables believers to live by New Covenant principles. Everything commanded and expected in the New Covenant relies on “Christ in me”. Only He, living in and through us, can produce the ability to live together as the people of God. You cannot run a civil government that requires the miracle of “Christ in me” if the Spirit of Christ is not living in every citizen.
Civil Government Is Not Part of The New Covenant
The apostles NEVER taught how to run a civil government. The Kingdom of God is meant to flourish in any nation, any tribe, any form of civil government, because it is a spiritual kingdom where Jesus rules as King in the hearts of people, growing His image and character within them, no matter where they live. Jesus never taught how to run a civil, secular government. And other than for a relatively short period of time in Old Testament Israel, all nations are civil and secular governments.
When Christ returns, ALL nations will become His and ALL unrighteousness will be banished forever! Until then, Paul's instructions in Romans 13 are a good place to start in understanding how to be a good citizen in any civil government.
Caesar Is Lord or Christ Is Lord
Nero was Caesar over the Roman Empire from 54-68 AD. He believed he was a “god” come to earth to be worshiped as “lord”. Statues and images of Nero were built for objects of worship and allegiance. He despised Christians because of their allegiance to Christ as Lord.
What he couldn't understand was that the very allegiance he despised would actually make Christians better citizens in the Empire because of their love for the poor, their desire to live justly and their honor of authority. Both Peter and Paul wrote, "Honor Caesar". How to actually do that requires allowing the King to rule within our hearts and guide us through the complicated process of being a "good citizen", no matter where we live.
If you live in a voting democracy, then you should vote as wisely as you can. You are not electing a national pastor, but someone who has quality character AND the ability to lead, negotiate AND the ability to compromise for the "greater good in a fallen world".
“What Should We Do?”
John the Baptist, preparing the way for the King, was asked by sincere, repentant people, "What should we do?" In Luke 3:10-14, he answered, "Share what you have with the poor". To tax collectors working for Rome he said, "Collect no more than you are ordered". To Roman soldiers he said, "Don't take money by force, or accuse anyone unjustly and be content with your wages". What he didn’t say, to any of these groups, was “quit”.
We hear rousing sermons about David who “killed his ten thousands”. And when told the price of Saul’s daughter was “100 foreskins of the Philistines”, David brought back 200! We are told to honor David’s mighty men who were ranked by how many enemies they personally killed. The unsanitized truth is that those were extremely bloody times. But human history, because of the Fall, has always been bloody; and will be until the true King returns!
Love, Understanding and Suicide Bombers
As a young, inexperienced and naive hippie, newly converted in 1968, I thought our country should respond to international aggression and force with flowers, love and understanding. Oh, the shallow musings of the inexperienced and naive. How do you show love and understanding to people who believe eternal paradise is theirs if they slaughter us; all of us? How do we “turn the other cheek” to those who highest aim in life is to kill all who do not agree with them?
I’ve been around the world several times in the past few years and I’ve seen many different forms of civil government. I love my country and I am deeply grateful for being born in America. I do my best to be an informed voter and I do hope our elected officials will do whatever is necessary to keep us safe.
The Return of the King!
But after 65 years of living in a falling world, seeing the failure of both Democrats and Republicans, the collapse of the USSR, the fall of the Berlin wall and the horrific rise of Islamic extremists, I do not fool myself into thinking any human politics will bring the Kingdom of God. Only the return of the King will do that.
And though I have no idea when (and neither does anyone else!), I am absolutely convinced He is returning to earth. And when He does, the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdoms of our God. Until then, Romans 13 gives us important guidelines no matter where we live, no matter what kind of government we live under.
1 Tim 2:1-3- “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. 2 Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity.” NLT
For years I taught what had been taught to me- “When God looks at you, He doesn’t see you, He only sees Jesus.” That may sound sweet in some religious way but it is just plain wrong. And what it really says is that if God did see you, as you really are, He wouldn’t like you at all! The good news is the Bible actually teaches the exact opposite.
This mistaken belief is often coupled with the statement that God is so holy He cannot “look” upon any unholiness. Of course, this is not true. If it was true, God could not see any human being on earth nor the very creation itself which has been plunged into a fallen state, groaning in travail, until the “restoration of all things”. (Acts 3)
But what does the scripture actually tell us? (Remember, this is in the New Covenant)
Heb 4:12-13- “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” NASB
This passage, and many others, tells us that God sees everything!
This should be tremendous news to us because it also says that He sees our thoughts and hearts! This means we are not judged by our actions but the intent, or faith, of our heart. Jesus paid for our sins, all of them, and God sees the faith of our hearts as we trust in His free gift of righteousness based on the actions of Christ.
This is why the very next verse says…
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” (Heb 4:14) NASB
Our confession must be that we are made righteous through the action of our high priest, Jesus, the Son of God. God sees us, everything about us. He understands our present weaknesses and loves us completely because He also sees us completed in eternity through the work of Christ.
So what must we be doing now?Listen to the final statement of this passage in Hebrews…
“Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16 NASB)
What should we be doing now?Drawing near to Him with confidence because He sees us and loves us; AND He is completing the work of sanctification in us. He who has justified us is the One who is presently sanctifying us from the inside out. This is the work of true grace!
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6-7) NASB
For much more on this subject see Mark’s book, “God’s Brilliant Cure…for fear, shame and condemnation”.
Mark Drake is an internationally known author, teacher and leader. He focuses on equipping leaders around the world in New Covenant Grace.