Dear People Who Keep Company With God,
One of the most powerful spirits that we have to stand against is the spirit of religion. In fact, it is so powerful that Paul connects religion with witchcraft.
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Galatians 3:1-3
We think of witchcraft as a demonically infested sin and it is most certainly that, however, it is important to note that witchcraft begins not as a sin of the spirit but as a sin of the flesh and religion is very appealing to our flesh. A religious spirit is the “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6) of which the Lord warned His disciples to beware.
When a religious spirit is influencing us we replace religious activity for the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In fact, the religious spirit is Satan’s answer for the Holy Spirit. The religious spirit so closely mimics the Holy Spirit that many sincere believers think the Holy Spirit is leading them when in fact it is really a religious spirit.
Religion allows us to stay in control therefore it feels safe to our flesh because it tells us what to do externally and when we do it, our conscience is deceived by feelings of doing right. This replaces the inner peace of the Holy Spirit that comes from being in right relationship with the Lord. We become focused on doing instead of being Spirit led; doing replaces our relationship with God, we no longer are abiding in Christ nor can we walk in love. The ultimate goal of the religious spirit is to cut us off from a real and vital relationship with the Lord Himself.
Religion allures us with the false promise that we can be spiritual, but in the end it leaves you tired and burned out. Anytime I start giving in to the temptation of being in control and playing it safe it is not long before my spiritual life and ministry start feeling stagnant, lifeless and burdensome. I am deceived into thinking that the things of the Spirit are heavy and intense and I start acting and ministering from heaviness instead of the heavenly. I stop serving the Lord with gladness (Deut. 28:47).
One of the ways we overcome the religious spirit is to make our flesh our slaves (1 Cor. 9:27) and that includes our minds. It has been said that the mind is a great servant, but a terrible master. If we allow our minds to rule us, a religious spirit will influence us.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message Bible).
Another way to overcome the religious spirit is to have on-going times of “getting away with Jesus” in our hearts. This is a time when our minds are washed and renewed and we freshly receive His perspective on life and the result is “walking with Him in life and working with Him in ministry freely and lightly”.
Below I have copied The Twenty Five Warning Signs of a Religious Spirit by Rick Joyner. I encourage you to take an honest look at this list to see if there may be areas of your life that are being influenced by a religious spirit.
Many Blessings, BW
25 WARNING SIGNS OF THE RELIGIOUS SPIRIT- BY RICK JOYNER
1. WILL OFTEN SEE AS HIS PRIMARY MISSION THE TEARING DOWN OF WHAT HE BELIEVES IS WRONG.
2. WILL BE UNABLE TO TAKE A REBUKE; ESPECIALLY FROM THOSE HE MAY JUDGE TO BE LESS SPIRITUAL THAN HIMSELF.
3. WILL HAVE A PHILOSOPHY THAT WILL NOT LISTEN TO MEN, BUT “ONLY TO GOD”.
4. WILL BE INCLINED TO SEE MORE OF WHAT IS WRONG WITH OTHER PEOPLE, OTHER CHURCHES, ETC. THAN WHAT IS RIGHT WITH THEM.
5. WILL BE SUBJECT TO AN OVERWHELMING GUILT THAT HE CAN NEVER MEASURE UP TO THE LORD’S STANDARDS.
6. WILL KEEP SCORE ON HIS SPIRITUAL LIFE.
7. WILL BELIEVE THAT HE HAS BEEN APPOINTED TO FIX EVERYONE ELSE.
8. WILL HAVE A LEADERSHIP STYLE, WHICH IS BOSSY, OVERBEARING AND INTOLERANT OF THE WEAKNESS OR FAILURE OF OTHERS.
9. WILL HAVE A SENSE THAT HE OR SHE IS CLOSER TO GOD THAN OTHER PEOPLE, OR THAT HIS LIFE OR MINISTRY IS MORE PLEASING TO HIM.
10. WILL TAKE PRIDE IN HIS SPIRITUAL MATURITY AND DISCIPLINE ESPECIALLY AS COMPARES TO OTHERS.
11. WILL HAVE THE BELIEF THAT HE OR SHE IS ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF WHAT GOD IS DOING.
12. WILL HAVE A MECHANICAL PRAYER LIFE.
13. WILL DO THINGS IN ORDER TO BE NOTICED BY MEN.
14. WILL BE OVERLY REPULSED BY EMOTIONALISM.
15. WILL USE EMOTIONALISM AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
16. WILL BE ENCOURAGED WHEN HIS MINISTRY LOOKS BETTER THAN OTHERS.
17. WILL GLORY MORE IN WHAT GOD HAS DONE IN THE PAST THAN IN WHAT HE IS DOING IN THE PRESENT.
18. WILL HAVE THE TENDENCY TO BE SUSPICIOUS OF, OR TO OPPOSE NEW MOVEMENTS, CHURCHES, ETC.
19. WILL HAVE THE TENDENCY TO REJECT SPIRITUAL MANIFESTATIONS THAT HE OR SHE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND.
20. WILL OVERREACT TO CARNALITY IN THE CHURCH.
21. WILL OVERACT TO IMMATURITY IN THE CHURCH.
22. WILL BE OVERLY PRONE TO BASE EVIDENCE OF GOD’S APPROVAL ON MANIFESTATIONS.
23. WILL BE UNABLE TO JOIN ANYTHING THAT HE DOES NOT DEEM AS BEING PERFECT OR NEAR PERFECT.
24. WILL BE OVERLY PARANOID OF THE RELIGIOUS SPIRIT, AND QUICK TO RECOGNIZE IT IN OTHERS, BUT NOT IN HIMSELF.
25. WILL HAVE THE TENDENCY TO GLORY IN ANYTHING BUT THE CROSS OF JESUS, WHAT HE HAS ACCOMPLISHED AND WHO HE IS.