A religious spirit is a type of demonic spirit that influences a person, or group of people, to replace a genuine relationship with God with works and traditions. When people operate out of a religious spirit they attempt to earn salvation. This evil spirit has established nonbiblical beliefs and customs for generations. Yet, as Believers, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the work of the religious spirit. It is lurking around attempting to cause judgment and destruction among Believers and in the Body of Church.
We know the enemy is an angel of light, attempting to counterfeit any of God’s good and perfect gifts, in efforts to cause chaos, confusion, shame, and guilt. He does this with the work of the religious spirit.
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”—2 Corinthians 11:13-14
This religious spirit is out to imitate the work of the Holy Spirit. We must be clear that no matter how hard Satan tries to forge the work of the Holy Spirit, he cannot. But he can cause great confusion and deception. The good news is, when you seek to be led by the Holy Spirit, you will be able to identify and deal with this bitter and hypocritical spirit.
There are a number of trademarks of the religious spirit. But the Holy Spirit has equipped us with God’s full armor. You can identify this spirit and overcome it!
How does a religious spirit manifest?
A religious spirit can manifest in different ways. It often uses a person’s history and circumstances to afflict internal whispers of judgment and pressure to perform. These infectious lies plant seeds of false righteousness and holiness.
These seeds bare bitter fruit. Eventually, the person who is operating in the religious spirit harbors resentment. This leads to a multitude of destructive thoughts and behaviors.
Let’s look at ways this spirit wages war against the grace and power of God in a Believer’s life:
- Concerns with outside appearances of being holy and righteous— This spirit deceives those in the Church into thinking if they act like a Christian it replaces the need of Christ in their lives. These are dangerous thoughts. Pride slowly starts to creep in and puffs up the Believer thoughts and actions. This blocks the blessing of an intimate relationship with God.
“…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”—James 4:6
- Attempts to earn God’s love and salvation— Even though a Believer could know the truth of our Savior, this spirit suggests to the mind that they must earn God’s love with their actions. Pressure is turned on and thus builds, causing feelings of guilt, shame and doubt.
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, lest anyone should boast.”—Ephesians 2:8-9
- Craves a position of honor in the Church— Closely related to pride, this spirit drives Believers to seek positions in the Church or ministry where they will be recognized and commended. As a result, the Believer becomes isolated, because he or she is more focused on tasks and praise than honoring God and thinking of others.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”—Philippians 2:3-4
- Develops a harsh, judgmental attitude toward others— This spirit will skillfully mutter words of judgment toward others in a Believer’s life. This voice will become louder and louder until he or she feels completely justified to place blame and accuse their brethren. This, like the position of honor, isolates the Believer and can blind them of their own weaknesses.
“…First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”—Matthew 7:5
- Becomes ridged and refuses change— A religious spirit rejects any revelation that calls for a change. Because of the pride that has crept in, a Believer thinks they know what is best. They are often closed off to any other ideas or thoughts of moving forward when the Holy Spirit begins to speak.
“…He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”—Romans 8:3-4
These are only a few ways the religious spirit manifests itself in a Believer. If there is bitter fruit of pride, self-righteousness, anger and resentment, the religious spirit is actively seeking more ways to cause chaos.
We need to be discerning of this toxic leaven of the Pharisees.
“In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’”—Luke 12:1
The good news—God provides an antidote.
The Lord will not leave nor forsake us. He always provides a way. His way is His Word. We must put on the full armor of God and guard our hearts and minds while praying in the Spirit.
The religious spirit tries to steal our peace and joy, causing fear, doubt, and unbelief. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:6-7
Paul tells us not to be anxious, but instead make our requests known to God—with thanksgiving. When we pray in the Spirit, with thanksgiving in our hearts, we start to align with God’s heart and mind. This imparts peace.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”—Philippians 4:8-9
We must remember the enemy is not the people in our lives; he is the ruler of darkness. When there is spiritual warfare, weapons of the flesh will not prevail. It must be fought with God’s armor.
We need to wrap ourselves in His Word and trust in His righteousness while being sensitive to and praying in the Spirit.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…”—Ephesians 6:11-18
At Curt Landry Ministries, we want you to know you are not alone. We would love to pray with you! Schedule a powerful prayer meeting with us today.