During the time of Christ, he battled with a religious spirit when he experienced hostility from the religious law and the Pharisees. Although the Pharisees were filled with the knowledge of God, they still failed to witness the actual presence of God.
The signs that show that someone has a religious spirit is that they find it hard to acknowledge that salvation comes through the mercy of God. They believe you have to work to gain a good standing status with God. They also condemn others and judge them over irrelevant issues.
What Is a Religious Spirit?
A religious spirit wages war against God’s grace in our lives. It is a demonic force that fights against the acceptance of Jesus’ work as a fulfillment of God’s covenant between God and man. This spirit keeps one from accepting that all Christ did on the Calvary is all we have to be in covenant with God.
In the Bible, the Pharisees were known to possess religious spirit. Many times, people with religious spirit do not possess the attributes of the Pharisees in the scripture and hence doubt they have it. A religious spirit destroys your connection with God. If you seek a genuine relationship with God, you don’t want a religious spirit.
“Also, He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner (Luke 18:9-14 NKJV). We can see that the Pharisee felt he had obtained good status with God and the other had not, so he bragged before God.
What Are the Signs That Someone Has a Religious Spirit?
The Feeling of Rage, Attack, and Anger
Jesus was under attack by people in possession of the religious spirit. He revealed the sins of the religious leaders. The religious spirit in them was enraged and didn’t want Jesus to expose the truth. So, it manipulated the religious leaders to say Christ had a demon (John 8:48-52). This is the exact way an enemy operates. They find means to lay accusations on the messenger of God of having a demon, hence diverting attention from the one who has a demon. This tactic is still in use by enemies today. They try to bring condemnation through God’s word.
During the birth of Jesus’ ministry, he preached a powerful gospel. Instead of people controlled by the religious spirit to humble themselves and repent, they were angry. They tried to kill him by throwing him off a cliff (Luke 4:25-30). A religious spirit cannot stand to be rebuked. They will cause the ones influenced by the spirit to fuss in rage and even push them into destruction.
Lack of Authority
Only faithful followers of Christ have the power to rebuke and make corrections. Believers and unbelievers controlled by the religious spirit feel that they have the power to rebuke ministers and ministries of God. They are misled and lack authority. Galatians 2:11-14 , 1 Timothy 5:19-20 tells us how Paul rebuked Peter in public for sinning publicly. However, as a follower of Christ, Paul had the authority to do so as he was under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
The religious spirit asserts that it can make corrections. The spirit influences a person beyond control. They start to feel they have the authority to rebuke and correct. The more they do this, the longer they get misled. They can only be set free when they humble themself before God.
Luke 11:43 explains how the Pharisees value the outward display of honor rather than pure hearts and justice. Some believers possess religious pride, which can be a result of religious spirit. They desire to be praised amongst God’s people. They yearn for recognition in everything. The religious spirit in different believers brings them together to increase their power to multiply. This is why the Pharisees had a strong influence over the people. They consistently exhibit their prideful behavior wherever they go.
The leaders influenced by the religious spirit intend to form levels of leadership. They will shut out people who they feel are below them. They only communicate with people of the same ranking as they are. They think they don’t have the time to associate with “normal ministers.”
Lust After Power, Control, and Manipulation
Those controlled by the religious spirit lust after power and control. The scribes and Pharisees have seated themselves in Moses’ chair (of authority as teachers of the law); (Matthew 23:2 AMP). It explains why the Pharisees wanted to be in authority. If it was possible for those controlled by the religious spirit to gain access to the seats of authority during the time of Jesus on earth, they could surely do it now.
However, those under the control of the spirit get angry by the believers’ integrity in Christ and the freedom they obtain. They will find means to rule over them to gain control and make them a bondage of the religious spirit. They will offer them unpleasant advice and counseling in an attempt to attain control.
Denial of the Power of Christ
A religious spirit detests the power of God and doesn’t not want it to thrive. It will find means to stop God’s power from being exhibited. This spirit has gained access into some modern-day churches to say that God no longer performs miracles, heals, delivers, and possesses the gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, the scripture never stated all these, but the religious spirit has proclaimed it. Therefore, believers controlled by the religious spirit are out to diminish God’s power and his teachings.
The religious spirit was in great manifestation during the time of Christ. The leaders influenced by the spirit find ways to deny the power of God from coming forth. Some leaders go as far as writing books opposing the power of God. These leaders preach against the working of the Holy Spirit. Some of the motives to deny the power of God come from envy. The religious leaders stir up jealousy that God is using his people in power and not them.
The religious spirit has a fortress in many believers. Some or most believers may have all features of the religious spirit manifesting in them, whereas some believers may have a few aspects of the spirit manifesting in them. It’s time we beg God to drive out the religious spirit from the church. For us to come in contact with the blessings of God, we need to denounce this spirit. It is a hindrance for the church in gaining entrance to the promised land, and that promised land is Christ.