Religious Spirits: A Form of Godliness

Religious SpiritsReligious spirits are dangerous spirits. Scripture says, "Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:5). The religious spirit’s purpose is to stand in the way of the Spirit of God’s true work. It wants you to trade your liberty for legalism. If a religious spirit can’t destroy your spiritual zeal, then it will try to conform you into its “respectable” image.

Since I entered into full-time ministry many years ago, I have noticed that people manipulated by controlling religious spirits have most often been the ones that stand in the way of the Spirit of God’s true work – reaching the lost, discipling believers and building strong local churches.

My heart particularly goes out to those that try to come to the Lord only to encounter a coldhearted religious spirit that turns them away. I am also grieved for those who give their lives to the Lord only to unknowingly come under the influence of religious people that seek to change them into their own images rather than helping them grow and be conformed into the likeness of Christ.

Religious spirits like to mentor others and attempt to mold them into their own “respectable” effigy. The problem with that is the image of a religious spirit deceitfully appears righteous. Religious spirits are camouflaged by image. They are really full of hypocrisy, pride, false humility, self-righteousness, criticism, legalism and rebellion. An image is a:

  • Face
  • Likeness
  • Model
  • Picture
  • Representation
  • Reflection
  • Facade
  • Illusion
  • Form.

Religious spirits are always into carnal form that has no genuine spiritual substance and quickly try to steal the zeal from newborn Christians in exchange for a facade that is nothing more than a religious form. There are many different tactics religious spirits use to impede the way of God’s work. Tactics like obstructing the way of salvation, blocking the Holy Spirit’s ministry, hindering the progress of the local church, or conforming you into a compromising believer.

The Spirit of God is actively pursuing those who are dedicated to advancing the Gospel, helping those who are born again to mature, building the glorious Church of Jesus Christ, and developing an intimate relationship with Him. Religion is actively opposing them.

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TURNED AWAY

Sometimes religious spirits stand in the way of salvation. You may have heard stories about people that come off the streets and into the house of God only to be turned away by a self-righteous church member because of some legalistic dress code. Why would we turn away someone that was sincerely seeking the Lord? We spend thousands of dollars in our efforts to evangelize the nations, yet turn away some lost souls that willfully walk into the church for help just because they are not dressed “right.”

How could something like this happen? Is it because the person did not measure up to some religious fashion? Could it be that the antagonistic church member was being influenced to act inappropriately by a religious spirit? Could it be, just as Jesus taught, that the self-righteous church member did not know what spirit he was of? I wonder how many times a religious person has stood in the way of someone’s salvation just because the poor lost soul was not conformed to its dignified image?

Of course, the religious spirit doesn’t just impede the way of salvation, it also stands in the way of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. I remember a newborn Christian that was pouring her heart out to God at the altar through her tears. Instead of finding comfort from a compassionate sister in the Lord, Mrs. Self-Righteous altar worker confronted her and accosted her habit of cigarette smoking. The altar worker told the baby Christian that maybe God might answer her prayers if she would quit smoking.

Granted, smoking will destroy your health and is a terrible witness, but was it really the time or place to discuss the bondage of smoking? Was what this religious spirit said even biblical? Moreover, why would someone interfere with the Holy Spirit who, Himself, was deeply ministering to this newborn? Was it simply a lack of wisdom on the part of this altar worker, or was she being influenced by a religious spirit that focuses only on the outward?

THAT KIND

Other times, religious spirits hinder progress in the local church. I know a pastor who reached out to different cultures in his city with great compassion. He understood the apostolic mandate to become a multicultural ministry (Mark 16:15). His desire was to break down the cultural barriers that existed in his territory. The pastor had discovered the strategy to reach his city – get out of the church and into the streets. As he began to work the area through evangelistic teamwork, the response in the new territory was tremendous. Hundreds gave their hearts to Jesus and many were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The lost and the unchurched were being reached and were on fire for God.

These new converts wanted to serve Jesus and began to come to church. It was refreshing to see their love for Jesus. To the pastor’s absolute astonishment, however, he found himself engaged in a religious war with those long-standing church members that did not want to worship with “that kind” of people. Again, the new converts did not measure up to a laudable religious standard. In this example, the religious spirit was standing in the way of the pastor’s work toward building the local church and equipping believers to do the work of the ministry.

As you can imagine, these self-righteous church members had created a religious stronghold in the church. Shortly after the pastor made several pleading attempts to convince this group of the importance of reaching everyone with the Gospel, the churches’ board met together secretly and fired the pastor by unanimous vote. Could it be they were acting out of a religious spirit? The Word declares, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Ephesians 2:14). But instead of attempting to breakdown the walls of prejudice that divide the Body of Christ, religious spirits make it their mission to hinder the progress that would lead to a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle.

Ask yourself these questions:

Have you ever seen a religious clique form in your church?

Have you ever heard someone say, “We don’t let ‘that kind’ come into our church?”

Have you ever seen someone hinder the growth of a believer or the local church?

Do you know a religious person who has the right religious image but lives a carnal life?

Have you ever seen religious people come together to strategize how to get the pastor to do what they wanted?

Has anyone ever insisted that you not pray so fervently?

Has a backslidden believer ever chastised you for your zeal for God?

THE FRUIT OF RELIGION

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). The fruit of a religious spirit, by contrast, is self-righteousness, legalism, hypocrisy, a carnal view of Christianity, false humility, dead religious works, traditions, and instability. The purpose of the religious spirit is to stand in the way of God’s work and corrupt your perception of Jesus. It does this with self-righteousness, false humility, dead religious works, vain traditions, and carnal focus. If the religious spirit can’t discourage you spiritually, then it will try to conform you to its virtuous facade so that you will bear the fruit of religion instead of the fruit of the Spirit. For example, if you are on fire for God and praying effective fervent prayers that “availeth much” (James 5:16) then the religious spirit might try to get you wrapped up in praying nice, quiet “polite” prayers instead. Religion always tries to keep you quite and if it is successful in its attempt to conform you to its nice, quite, polite image, then you will lose your effectiveness as a Christian witness. The Holy Spirit doesn’t inhabit anything that is bound in dead religious form. The Church of Jesus Christ is built on lively stones (1 Peter 2:5).

A RELIGIOUS SILHOUETTE

If it’s dead religious form does not stop you, then the religious spirit will try to take you out into spiritual bookie-bookie land, where you become so spiritual that you are no longer relatable. Many times I have met people that were born again but they were so flaky and unstable that it was difficult to even hold a reasonable conversation with them.

It is the Holy Spirit’s power and anointing that changes things, not a religious silhouette (Zechariah 4:6). Furthermore, the Word tells us of the anointing,

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (Isaiah 10:27).

Religious spirits try to burden you down with a form of godliness while denying the power thereof so you will be ineffective in accomplishing God’s plan for your life.

This same religious spirit will try to get you to take on this “godly form,” while simultaneously challenging the reality of the Spirit of God in your life. Religious form always focuses people on the carnal, rather than the spiritual substance of the Word of God in a believer’s life.

Like ice cream, religious spirits come in all different varieties and flavors. Some are religious about how you pray over your daily meals (very common). Others get hung up on what you wear to church. Still others are overly concerned with the formal and proper way to say, “Praise the Lord.”

One of the religious spirit’s main purposes is to get you off the mainstream of freedom and liberty that comes from the Spirit of Life into the legalistic bondage of form and liturgy.

Someone once said that the next move of the Holy Spirit is in liturgy. No way! Our God is a God of freshness, diversity and liberty. Our God is never boring. Jesus does not will for us to be influenced by  a religious spirit. His will is for us to live by the law of liberty. Scripture says,

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

There is freedom in the Lord, not religious bondage. Satan hates the freedom and the exciting life of the Spirit-led Christian. A Christian who walks in the Spirit is very dangerous to Satan and his kingdom because the Gospel is a divine invasion and attack against the powers of darkness. One of the most effective tools of Satan is to render the believers of God ineffective by creating religious people who are pious in form, yet without Spirit power. Again, Jesus is building His Church with lively stones, not dead ones. We can learn a lot about religious spirits by looking at how they behave.

SUMMARY

The purpose of the religious spirit is to stand in the way of God’s work.

Religious spirits are always into carnal form that has no genuine spiritual substance.

Religious spirits like to mentor others and attempt to conform them into their own “respectable” images.

Self-righteousness and dead religious works are the fruit of religious spirits.

Religious spirits try to burden you down with a form of godliness while denying the power thereof so you will be ineffective in accomplishing God’s plan for your life.

(c) Apostle Jonas Clark
www.jonasclark.com
p.s. The religious spirit needs to be stopped. I show you how to do it in my book "Spirit of Religion: The Unseen Thief."

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