There are, at least, fourteen reasons why, I think, people remain in error.
1. PRIMACY effect and RECENCY effect as psychological explanations to opinion formation.
The tendency to stick to our initial opinion and to ignore later contradictory information is called PRIMACY effect.
When our opinion is biased towards a doctrine that was first presented to us even when more facts to the contrary are available, we refuse to be persuaded because of PRIMACY effect in opinion formation. This explains why some religious sects still enjoy patronage even when there are overwhelming proofs that they are founded upon wrong teachings. Our Lord Jesus puts it this way: “No one wants a new wine after drinking old wine. ‘The old is better’, he says.” (Lk. 5:39 GNB) So many people do not even try to investigate the present status of the Law because of this primacy effect.
However, studies have shown that if there is sufficient time interval between the initial information and subsequent contradictory information, then the effect may be reversed. That is, the initial information may fade from memory so that we give greater weight to the more recent information. This is known as RECENCY effect. As the name suggests, RECENCY effect refers to the tendency to bias our judgments towards the more recent information. If true doctrines are not studied and preached over and over again, recent false doctrines might overthrow them.
Thus PRIMACY and RECENCY effects can influence the spread of false teachings. When a wrong doctrine is constantly preached and emphasized, just as tithing is, primacy and recency effects combine to make people stay with it.
2. The illusion that miraculous manifestation is an confirmation that God endorses a practice or a preacher.
The Bible clearly states that false Christ’s and false prophets will abound in the last days and show signs and wonders if only to deceive. (Mt. 24:24) It is not every place where signs and wonders occur that the truth is being spoken.
On the other hand, it is possible to speak the truth without showing any miracle. (Jn. 10:41) In 1Cor. 10:1-12, Paul shows us that it is possible to enjoy the miraculous and still be locked out of a glorious destiny. Moses also, whom God used to convey miracles to the people did not fulfill his destiny because of his disobedience at the water of Meriba in Kadesh. (Num. 20:7-13; Dt. 3:26)
It is possible to enjoy miracles or be a vehicle to convey miracles to others and yet fail to get to the kingdom of God. God will not admit anybody into His kingdom on account of miracles performed, but on account of doing His will. (Mt. 7:21-23)
Let us not think that because the preacher of the Law of Moses manifests miracles, he must be on the right path. It is not necessarily so.
3. MINDSET occasioned by human tradition and denominational bias.
Human tradition or sectarian bias may condition people’s minds to rejecting sound and biblical teachings. Jesus Christ indicted the Jews for rejecting God’s word because of their traditions; so, all that Jesus said were not taken because of their mindset. They could not even understand. (Mk. 7:6-9) Paul says, “Go to this people and say, ‘Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see and not perceive’; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing and their eyes they have closed…” (Acts 28:26-27)
Anybody with a mindset normally holds on to deception because he will not investigate to find out the truth from God’s word (Jer. 8:5). It is not easy for such to side with the word of God.
4. Deliberate rejection of truth.
If anyone deliberately rejects truth, it is possible for God to send “strong delusion” to him so that “he will believe a lie” (2Thes. 2:9-11).
In the book of Ezekiel 14:1-9, we could see that if anybody approaches God for direction with an ‘idol in his heart’, God normally allows such to be led astray. Verse 9 is somehow awful, “If a prophet is deceived into giving of false answer, it is because I, the LORD, have deceived him…” (GNB) God can lead a prophet to give a wrong answer to one who comes with an ‘idol in his heart’, and the latter will believe that God is the one leading him.
Many people who think they are being led to pay tithe or firstfruits or keep the Saturday Sabbath are probably being deceived. There is nothing the Holy Spirit will tell anybody now that will contradict the teachings of the New Testament. If it does contradict the Bible, it comes from God’s enemy. Somebody once affirmed that God told him to marry a second wife!
5. Unbelief can make Satan the enemy blind the minds of people. (2Cor. 4:4)
It is unbelief that makes a preacher think that he will not have his needs met if tithes are not collected. It is unbelief that will make somebody refuse to follow the truth for fear of the unknown. One who has faith in God follows His word without any fear. Faith and fear are mutually exclusive.
6. BEWITCHMENT is also a veritable instrument in the hands of false teachers to make somebody hold on to false teachings.
Gal. 3:1 says, “Oh foolish Galatians, who have bewitched you that you should not obey the truth.”
Bewitchment is the art of fascinating others by false representations or the art of exerting a malign or sinister influence by false representation.
Bewitchment can put someone out of his wits, that is, astound or be made beside self. A person who bewitches usually has an irresistible influence over others such that
(a) they would not obey the truth; (Gal. 3:1)
(b) the true way of God would be perverted, (Acts 13:10)
(c) they would be confused and therefore in need of other minds to guide them (Acts 8:9-11).
Bewitchment can occur through the use of sorcery or manipulation.
Preachers of tithe might use witchcraft on their audience. It could be through threatening the people with curses or blaming any negative occurrence on failure to pay tithe.
Others are captivated to side with falsehood on account of special garments like cassock, surplice, hood, mitre or collar worn by preachers.
Usually those who bewitch others do not prove their points from well balanced scriptural passages; they may repeat only one verse of the Bible with undue emphasis. False visions, oratory powers, ‘good’ organizational structure, high sounding titles and others like them can make people hold on to false teachings.
7. Wanting to please people:
Somebody can reject the truth if he is the type that likes to play to the gallery. It is not common to see people who desire to please human beings to side with the truth; because, in most cases, God’s truth is not popular with men. (Lk. 16:15) Paul said that if he wanted to please men, he would not be able to serve Christ. Of the twelve spies Moses sent to the land of Canaan, only two sided with God; the other ten, (majority) got the approval of the people.
Somebody can reject the truth that tithing is not a NT ordinance because he wants to be in the good books of his pastor, overseer or bishop. “Even then, many of the Jewish authorities believed in Jesus, but…did not talk about it openly…they loved the approval of men…” (Jn. 12:42, 43)
8. The Veil of Moses is another hindrance to people accepting the truth.
It is a pity that the veil, which Moses used to cover his face, has negative spiritual implications on so many people such that they cannot see the truth. Moses actually intended to help the people come nearer him; so, he veiled himself because the glory on his face scared the people away (Ex. 34:29-35). This is how the Holy Spirit interprets the episode:
“…We are not like Moses, who had to put a veil over his face so that the people of Israel would not see the brightness fade and disappear. Their minds, indeed, were closed; and to this very day their minds are covered with the same veil as they read the books of the Old covenant…Even today, whenever they read the Law of Moses, the veil still covers their minds.” (2Cor. 3:12-15)
This covering of the mind is what happened to some people in the Acts of the Apostle who believed the Lord Jesus, and still were zealous for the Law of Moses. (Acts 20:20-24; 15:1) This veil of Moses still works till today, preventing people from seeing that firstfruits, tithing and other OT practices are not ordinances to follow in the New Testament.
9. Lust after unrighteous gain:
One who is covetous or who lusts after unrighteous gain will normally reject the truth. If someone profits from wrong teachings, it will be very difficult for him to leave them to embrace the truth.
It is difficult for many preachers to agree with the fact that there is no tithing and firstfruits in the NT, because they really gain sure and easy money from people’s tithes and firstfruits. The Bible says concerning such that: “They have left the straight path and have lost their way; they have followed the path taken by Balaam son of Beor, who loved the money he would get for doing wrong…” (2 Pet. 2:15-18)
10. Pride can also prevent somebody from siding with the truth, especially if he is of a higher social standing than the one who shows the truth.
One who has gone to the seminary and who has a chain of degrees, if filled with pride will, most likely, not agree to the truth shown by an ordinary, unlearned ‘layman’. Even if he sees that it is the truth, he may, out of pride, reject it. Many people reject the truth simply because the person showing it is not a well recognized person or a popular preacher.
11. Familiarity sometimes makes somebody look down on a teacher of truth.
John 1:11 says, “He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him”.
John 7:5 says, “Not even his brothers believed in him.”
People sometimes reject the truth unconsciously because they seem to think that the preacher of truth looks ordinary, without any myth surrounding him. They will gladly accept a lie being peddled by somebody who surrounds himself with myths.
A person may be close to you, but endeavour to check the veracity of his claims from scriptures and don’t reject him just because he is familiar.
12. The Thessalonians’ kind of faith: The Thessalonians were not like the Bereans. The latter would cross-check Paul’s teachings from the then available scriptures to see “if what Paul said was really true.” (Acts 17:10-11) Many people are like the Thessalonians who will not bother to establish the truth of whatever they hear from scriptures. In most cases, people like that accept teachings based on the status of the person who teaches. Many take in what the “old prophet” says more readily than what the “small prophet” says; but God, many times reveals to small prophet what is not revealed to “old prophet.” (1Kgs. 13:1-32) By the time God started speaking to little Samuel, he had abandoned old Eli.
Tithe preachers may be “old prophets” who had lost touch with God for one reason or the other.
13. Reading the Bible with a guided tour:
Most false teachings arise from quoting Bible passages out of context. Many denominations that err from the apostolic foundations pick references here and there to buttress their doctrines.
People who endeavour to read the Bible book by book and chapter by chapter will discover the truth better than those who use guided tour.
14. Using coercion to keep people under falsehood:
Many people enjoy being ruled with iron hands; hence protagonists of tithing feel that putting people under the law of tithes will help them to be blessed.
It is believed that human nature cannot do right under liberty, hence the need to coerce people. This assertion could be true, but God does not want people who desire to serve him to be coerced.
Paul the apostle observed that people found it easier to obey those who exerted a lot of burden on them than those who were liberal and caring. (2Cor. 11:4-21) Let us see verse 20 from the Good News Bible.
“You tolerate anyone who orders you about or takes advantage of you or traps you or looks down on you or slaps you in the face.”
The people at Corinth probably set aside Paul’s teachings and embraced those from more aggressive preachers. But Paul insisted that he would not change his method because of that; he would not rule them by force and he would not bother them for any monetary help. Paul never collected tithes from what we see in 2Cor. 11:7-9.
Many people stay quietly under false teachings because their teachers are terrible enough to keep them under.