What does it mean to have a religious spirit ?
That phrase is thrown around a lot in some Christian circles today so let’s just examine it from a Biblical perspective.
What does the Bible say about religion? According to Acts 26:5
Religion means (thrēskeia )ceremonial observance or traditional way of doing things.
Paul was a Pharisee who practiced the religion of a particular sect. (Heresy is the Greek word for sect.) A sect is a choice, a party, disunion.
In other words the Pharisees were a formally constituted by choice, and religious group that formed a ruling body over the society.
A Pharisee is a separatist belonging to a sect. One who separates in religious observance from other groups.
Galatians 1:13 scripture tells us that Paul practiced the Pharisee sect which transferred the precepts and traditions of ceremonial ordinances and laws according to their sectarian disunion from other groups.
Now that we know what a religious Pharisee is let us find out why Jesus was in conflict with them.
John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducee vipers. ( Matthew 23:33 ) A viper strikes suddenly and injects poison into the body of its victim. So John was pointing out that these sects injected religion or their ceremonial observances into people which he considered to be poisonous.
In other words what the religious people of his time were doing was indoctrinating their deadly heresy into others rather than the pure word of God.
What was the deadly heresies that the Pharisees were teaching?
Jesus pointed out some of them.
In his parables and encounters with the religious people of his day he pointed out that the Pharisees were separatist elitists in their practice. They had ridged ways of doing things that did not have grace for any one else’s method.
These religious people looked down on any one who did not conform to their way of thinking. The Pharisee or religious spirit is a practicing elitist. One who separates in form from any one different than they are.
The religious spirit hates non conformity. If you are different with a different gift or calling watch out because the religious spirit will strike like a viper! The religious spirit is very territorial.
The religious spirit separates from non conformists and does not like to keep company with them. If you don’t do things their way then you are not welcome.
Jesus many times pointed out to the religious leaders that they were hypocrites. Claiming to belong to God the religious spirit in actuality is serving Satan. Why? Because self will, self exaltation, and self centerness is Satan’s nature, not God’s nature.
True Christian’s are led by the Holy Spirit not by a sectarian rule book. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin in order to bring change in the heart by his love while the religious spirit brow beats and tries to force conformity to their way of doing things.
Another thing scriptures point out about the religious or Pharisee spirit is that it is jealous of those who walk closely with God . The religious spirit will always attack the spiritual person because of jealousy.
Why is the religious spirit jealous? Simply because the true Christian is led by God and not by them. The religious spirit can see that those who walk in the Holy Spirit are led of God and non conformist to the agenda of someone else . This infuriates the religious spirit.
The religious spirit will always cherry pick the Bible for their own agenda. Jesus said that the Pharisees strained at gnats while swallowing camels. They fussed over every dot and crossing of T’s in the Bible but didn’t seem to see the more important things that Jesus tried to point out to them like loving people and helping them out.
The religious spirit prefers ceremonial practices and while this may be in a traditional frame work it can also come from a Corinthian mind set as well. The religious spirit in a Corinthian church setting also has rules and ways of doing things according to their way of thinking.
Many times the religious spirit in the Corinthian church will reject the more practical type of Christian who loves to serve and wait on tables but will also oppose others not conforming to their agenda. The Corinthian religious spirit will look down on others as being less spiritual than they are.
The Pharasee according to Jesus will also put burdens on others that they won’t carry themselves. The religious spirit will many times require you to live a certain way or do a certain thing that they themselves don’t do. In other words the religious spirit doesn’t practice what it preaches.
The religious spirit will also brow beat others in their religiosity but fail to apply mercy and grace. Their ways are higher than God’s ways! They have all the answers and if you don’t like their way of doing things well you are just not welcome into their little camp.
We Christian’s throw around the religious spirit doctrine alot when we don’t like to listen to someone else’s view point and have our own heart examined. Sectarianism is a principle attribute of the religious spirit.
Finally, the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus the Bible tells us. Sounds pretty harsh but the religious spirit hates the agenda of the kingdom of God. Notice how the Pharisees conspired to take Jesus and hand him over to Rome because they were afraid of loosing their place! (John 11)
The religious spirit on pretence will attack a true Christian because of their perverted version of truth but in reality it’s because the religious spirit knows when the Holy Spirit comes on the scene it’s got to get out of the way. The religious spirit loses its place!
No more running the show! No more praises of men! No more fleesing the sheep! No more control !
So how do you know if you are really dealing with a religious spirit?
Look for the signs !
You will be disliked, trying to control you and conform you, jealous of your walk with God, nit picking you with scriptures taken out of context to brow beat and condemn you, telling you to do something they don’t do and finally rejecting you if you don’t conform to their way of thinking.
The religious spirit is a crafty one. Residing in churches, institutions and even family and friends but be of good cheer because just like Jesus overcame the religious spirit so can we !
How? Jesus resurrection power put the religious spirit in its place. Oh, the religious spirit may deny Holy Spirit power and come against it but will never be able to counterfeit it. The religious spirit will never be able to stop Holy Spirit power either for greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world !
The best way to deal with the religious spirit is to depend on the Holy Spirit !
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