Recognizing the Religious Spirit

broken-chainsI must admit I am an optimist one who sees most situations from the glass-half-full perspective. So I prefer to celebrate how the Holy Spirit is currently moving among His people with the understanding that without the proper relationship in Him we can do nothing. However, even the most positive thinkers like myself recognize and are not ignorant to the current woes of our fallen society. Afflictions that are evident in our families despite the increased emphasis our American society has placed on raising children, still few of them have the privilege of  growing up with both biological parents in the home this is not difficult to understand when you consider approximately half of all marriages continue to end in divorce.

In a country birthed in gratitude for God’s mercy and founded upon His Word. What has become increasingly obvious, however, is the extent to which ungodly spiritual forces are in command. As a result, we remain gripped by demonic strongholds that can only be dismantled through the greatest spiritual weapon God gave His people… Jesus

Today our modern society is filled with teachers being arrested and students suspended for praying in schools. Even some of our politicians are declaring America is no longer a Christian nation. Our largest newspapers, magazines, television networks and online media outlets simply further this by spewing vitriolic “editorials” announcing the death of Christianity, evangelicalism, the church and some even God Himself. Through our media and educational outlets there are various marketing techniques, counter-philosophies, persuasive words of human wisdom, irrational rationalism, ungodly organizations, and worldly entertainment, all cloaked in some sort of magical mystique that the Christian must contend with. Let us not forget the various forms of pornography that has become one of the cultural norms for entertainment; the sex industry alone makes more annually than all of our major sports leagues combined according to several news surveys. We are no longer surprised when a Fortune 500 company closes its doors from yet another Wall Street Ponzi scheme or failing leadership scandal.

Our calling as Christians is to break down the barriers surrounding these forts and rescue the inhabitants. It can be dangerous and extremely difficult work, but we have a divine arsenal always at our disposal. Unfortunately, one of the enemy’s best tricks is getting us to fight with human weapons rather than divine. If Holy Spirit-filled Christians cannot see that we are currently in a war over this country’s government, education, families, media, businesses, religion, and arts and entertainment, then we should seriously wonder if we should not be asking God for a hefty dose of discernment. We are at war and when you are at war, you had better know your enemy and their strategies of attack.

The so-called “religious spirit”, which is but a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit, is one of the main demonic strongholds operating in our society today. 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 cannot destroy your spiritual zeal, then it will try to conform you into its “respectable” image. Rooted in pride, this ancient spirit is the Christian’s greatest enemy opposing our calling to establish God’s kingdom. Religious spirits are sent to seduce you and cause you to wander in the wilderness. Tragically, that is where countless believers have remained under the influence of this spiritually poisonous power. The religious spirit is also the main opponent to lasting revival personally and corporately. It will often manifests through such forces as corporate corruption, sexuality, idolatry, abortion, lust of money, witchcraft and atheism. However, getting believers to even see these strongholds and then to agree is not always the easiest thing.

In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, Paul spells out what the religious spirit looks like in the flesh: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them” (NIV).

The religious spirit has a form of truth yet lacks the fullness of truth. It operates under the guise of Holy Spirit power yet has no intimacy with the Father to produce such power. This spirit is much like a spiritual vacuum that can suck even the most grounded believer in, luring us into a false sense of security robbing believers of their identities in Him, while distracting other Christians from their true destiny and calling for months, years, or even a lifetime.

As a believer, it is paramount for us to know who we are in Christ. If we are to pull down strongholds then building, an intimate relationship with Him is not an option. Salvation is the first stage of God’s plan for our lives, which is to conform us in character, and power to the image of Jesus Christ. If we fail to see our relationship to God as such, we will allow too many areas within ourselves to remain unchanged rendering us ineffective in battle. Pulling down strongholds is the demolition and removal of these old ways of thinking so that the actual presence of Jesus Christ can be manifested in and through us.

There are fortresses all around us in this world, made up of  “speculations” and “lofty things” Paul spoke of these things in 2 Corinthians. The word “speculations” in the Greek, simply means “ideas, concepts, reasoning, and philosophies.” People of the world build up these ideas to protect themselves against the truth of God. Sadly, these type of fortresses often become prisons and eventually tombs for their occupants. The only thing that is effective against these strongholds– the only offensive weapon we possess – is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

This sword gives us many freedoms as soldiers in this spiritual battle. We have freedom from fear, guilt, and despair. These freedoms come from using the powerful weapon of God – His Word. If we use human weaponry to fight against the enemy’s fortresses, we will sustain injuries by way of failures and disappointment, and even our victories will be short lived and wrought with uncertainties. Methods and ideologies of man are simply ineffective for bringing about true conversion; in fact, they may even produce false conversions.

There is freedom in the Lord, not 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 and our only weapon for pulling down strongholds. As believers we will continue to preach Jesus to the masses and entrust ourselves to the care of God who will protect us. Although, we should not argue or become combative, we will always honor Jesus our Lord, always being prepared to defend the reason for the hope that is in us with gentleness and respect. And with a heartfelt humility, we must shine the light on hypocrisy in the world. We must proclaim the truth that is Jesus providing individuals in the crowd the opportunity for the freedom to learn, and know truth as they find their way to life in Him.

God’s Peace

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