A religious spirit is a force that tries to get you to act pious, self-righteous or super spiritual. Before you can guard yourself from this spirit, you first have to understand what it is. Some of you may have never heard of a religious spirit. Others of you may think being religious is a good thing, mistaking religion with right relationship with God. You may even ask, “What’s wrong with being religious?” Or “So what if there are religious spirits? How can they affect me if I am a born again believer in Christ Jesus?”
In order to find truthful answers to these questions, let’s look into what the Bible teaches about religion. First, exactly what is religion? Scripture says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26-27).
So we learn from the above Scripture that religion in itself is simply...
to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.
to keep oneself free from worldly influences.
That sounds like a good thing on the surface – and it is. However, if we examine the sum of God’s Word, we will soon discover that there is a religious spirit that is quite different from what the Bible describes as “pure religion.” It is this different spirit that challenges our understanding of Jesus and endangers believers.
THE SPIRIT OF RELIGION
The Lord would not have us ignorant to the spirit of religion. The Bible gives us many examples of the operations of religious spirits throughout the Word including:
The scribes and Pharisees were ready to stone the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, yet there was no mention of stoning the man who was with her (John 8).
Apostle Peter and Barnabas would not sit and eat with the Gentile believers in Antioch when Jewish brothers came to visit from Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11-13).
The scribes and Pharisees challenged Jesus because His disciples did not wash their hands (ceremonially) before they ate (Matthew 15:2).
Jesus taught His disciples not to pray long prayers like the scribes, who prayed only for show (Luke 20:46-47).
Saul guarded the garments of religious murderers as they stoned a righteous man named Stephen to death (Acts 7:58).
After a notable miracle, a religious council, motivated by fear, reprimanded the Apostles Peter and John for speaking the name of Jesus (Acts 4:15-18).
When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath it so stirred up those with religious spirits they sought to kill Him (Mark 3:1-6).
We will examine many more examples throughout this essay.
A DIFFERENT SPIRIT
Remember James and John, the two sons of thunder? They wanted to pray down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village because the people there would not receive the Lord. Upon hearing their request, our Lord responded harshly to His disciples: “You do not know what spirit you are of” (See Luke 9:52-55).
What did Jesus mean? A word study reveals the depth of the Lord’s response. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma. From the word pneuma we derive the English word “wind.” When we speak of the Holy Ghost, for example, we could also refer to Him as the Holy Pneuma or Wind.
In Samaria, a different spirit (wind or pneuma) was influencing the disciples. Notice also that Jesus made no excuses for James and John – they weren’t just having a bad day – He was quite specific when He used the word “spirit.” Again Jesus said, “You do not know what pneuma you are of.”
But Jesus knew precisely what spirit the two disciples were of: a religious spirit. Religious spirits influence someone to act self-righteous. Self-righteousness means being filled with or showing a conviction of being morally superior or more righteous than others. It is important to understand that to be influenced does not mean to be possessed, but rather simply means to be:
The disciples were outraged at the Samaritan’s actions and began to act self-righteous because the Samaritans were not receiving Jesus, their Lord, into the territory. There is a difference between self-righteousness and righteous indignation. Can you imagine being so self-righteous that you are willing to call down the fiery judgment of God on an entire city? That’s not normal behavior.
Jesus responded to the disciples’ request with a rebuke. “But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of” (Luke 9:55). To rebuke means to:
- Tax with a fault
- Censure severely
- Admonish sharply.
PETER'S DIFFERENT SPIRIT
James and John were not the only disciples to be influenced by the spirit of religion. Peter, too, fell prey to this self-righteous spirit. If the spirit of religion could influence Jesus’ chosen disciples, then none of us are immune. Let’s study the Scriptures to gain insight into how the Apostle Peter was affected.
One day Jesus told His disciples that He would have to go to Jerusalem, suffer many things and be killed, but would be raised up on the third day. Peter took Jesus aside for a private talk and began to reprimand the Lord for saying such things. But Jesus was quick to respond to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23) Like James and John, Peter did not know what spirit he was of that day.
Jesus saw the influence of a different spirit (pneuma) at work on Peter that day and was very specific in rebuking Satan (the spirit) and not Peter (the person). Notice also that Jesus spoke directly to Satan, not an attitude. The point of these two examples is to demonstrate three things:
1. It is possible to be influenced by a different spirit.
2. Jesus taught us to be aware of the operation of a different spirit.
3. It is possible to do something that looks religiously correct but could be done out of a wrong religious spirit.
INFILTRATING THE CHURCH
The religious spirit did not disappear after the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, the spirit of religion is an enemy that has always been around and is increasing its attacks against the Church. Believers need to understand the purpose of this spirit and why it is so dangerous. The mission of the religious spirit is to:
- Infiltrate your life
- Bind your freedom
- Steal your liberty in the Holy Spirit
- Stop your advancement
- Ruin your true Christian witness
- Buffet the progress of the Gospel
- Corrupt your perception of Who Jesus is.
A religious spirit is a force that tries to get you to act pious, self-righteous or super spiritual.
People influenced by the spirit of religion have an outward appearance of holiness, but are self-righteous in their innermost beings.
If the spirit of religion could influence Jesus’ chosen disciples, then none of us are immune.
Believers need to understand the purpose of the religious spirit and why it is so dangerous.
Religious spirits will try to infiltrate your life and bind your liberty in the Holy Spirit.
(c) Jonas Clark
p.s. The religious spirit needs to be stopped. I show you how to do it in my book "30 Pieces of Silver: Overcoming religious spirits."
Jonas Clark is first a Christian. He has authored over 29 books, written hundreds of articles and recorded thousands of audios. Jonas Clark Ministries is an international organization reaching the world with the exciting gospel of Jesus Christ. Jonas is founder of Spirit of Life Ministries church, Hallandale Beach, Florida, the Apostolic Equipping Institute, publisher of The Voice magazine, president of the Global Cause Network and has preached in over 26 nations. He believes that all God's people are gifted to establish and advance Christ's Kingdom on earth. He is an advocate of private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade.
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