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SOME WARNING SIGNS OF A RELIGIOUS SPIRITMost of us are subject to religious spirits to some degree. Paul exhorts us to “test ourselves to see if we are in the faith”, (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Go through the warning signs below and check the ways you behave because you might have a religious spirit in that area of your life. Remember religious spirits are seven times stronger that other types of spirits as demonstrated in Daniel 3:19. Remember that religious spirits hold people in spiritual slavery. The battle against this spiritual slavery can only be won by unconditional love, in living the Christian life focused on Jesus and the Word of God and being filled with the Holy Spirit. So use this checklist to set yourself or others free to worship, walk and work with the Holy Spirit.
1 The tendency to see your primary mission as tearing down what you believe is wrong. This person’s ministry will produce more division than lasting works.
2 The inability to take a rebuke, especially from those you judge to be less spiritual than yourself. Think back on how you responded the last few times someone tried to correct you.
3 A philosophy that will not listen to other people – “only to God” Since God usually speaks through people, this is an obvious delusion and reveals serious spiritual pride.
4 The inclination to see more of what is wrong with other people and other churches than what is right with them. John saw Babylon from the valley, but when he was carried to a “high mountain: he saw the New Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:10) If we only see Babylon, our perspective is wrong. Those who are in a place of true vision will focus on what God is doing not on any human achievement.
5 Overwhelming guilt that you can never measure up to the Lord’s standards. This is a root of the religious spirit because it causes you to base your relationship with Him on your performance rather than on the cross.
6 The belief that you have been appointed to fix everyone else! The self-appointed watchmen or sheriffs in God’s kingdom are seldom involved in building anything; they keep the church in a state of annoyance and agitation and may cause serious divisions.
7 A leadership style that is bossy, overbearing and intolerant of the failure of others. As James said: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”, (James 3:17-18).
8 A sense that you are closer to God than other people or that your life or ministry is more pleasing to Him. This is a symptom of the profound delusion that we draw closer to God by who we are rather than through Jesus.
9 Pride in your spiritual maturity or discipline, especially as you compare yourself to others. True spiritual maturity involves growing up into Christ. When we begin to compare ourselves with others, it is obvious that we have lost sight of the true goal – Jesus.
10 The belief that you are on the cutting edge of what God is doing. This includes thinking that you are involved in the most important thing that God is doing. Again this is spiritual pride, self-centeredness, even if it were true. Those entrusted with the truly important missions have the grace to fulfill them because God “gives grace to the humble”, (James 4:6).
11 A mechanical prayer life. When you start feeling relieved that your prayer time is over, or when you have prayed though your prayer list, you should check your condition. You will never feel relief when your conversation is over with the One you love.
12 Doing things so people will notice. This is a symptom of the idolatry of fearing people more than we fear God, and it results in a religion that serves people instead of God.
13 Being overly repulsed by emotionalism. When people who are subject to a religious spirit encounter the true life of God, it will usually appear excessive, emotional and demonstrative. Remember how David danced when he brought the ark of the God into Jerusalem? And remember this repulsed his wife Michal and she was barren from that day on, (2 Samuel 6:23). Such a critical spirit will lead to spiritual barrenness.
14 Using emotionalism as a substitute for the work of the Holy Spirit. Do you think that weeping and wailing must accompany repentance? Or that one must “fall under the power” to be truly touched by God? Even though both of these can be evidences of the true work of the Holy Spirit, you are beginning to move in another spirit if you require these manifestations.
During Jonathon Edward’s meetings in the First Great Awakening some of the toughest, most rebellious men fell on the ground and stayed there for up to 24 hours. Such seemingly strange manifestations fuelled the Great Awakening, since these men were truly changed. Even so, Edwards stated men who faked these manifestations brought an end to the Great Awakening more than the enemies of the revival.
15 Keeping score in you spiritual life. Do you feel better about yourself because you go to more meetings, read your Bible more, or do more things for the Lord than other people do? These are all noble endeavors, but the true measure of spiritual maturity is getting closer to the Lord.
16 Being encouraged when your ministry looks better than others’ ministries. This includes getting discouraged when it seems that other ministries are looking better or growing faster.
17 Glorying more in what God has done in the past than what He is doing in the present. God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The veil has been removed. We can be as close to God today as anyone in the past. A religious spirit always seeks to focus our attention on making comparisons rather than simply drawing closer to Jesus.
18 The tendency to be suspicious of or oppose new movements or churches. This is an obvious symptom of jealousy, a primary fruit of the religious spirit or of pride that asserts that God would not do anything without going through us. Of course, the Lord rarely uses people with such a mentality.
19 The tendency to reject spiritual manifestations that we do not understand. This is a symptom of pride and arrogance that presumes our opinions are the same as God’s. True humility keeps us teachable and open, patiently waiting for fruit before making judgments. That is why we are exhorted to “prove all things, hold fast that which is good”, not what is bad, (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
20 An overreaction to carnality in the church. Far more carnality likely exists in the church and a lot less of the Holy Spirit than even the most critical person would think. We must learn to be delivered from our carnality and to grow in our submission to the Holy Spirit. But the critical person will want to annihilate those who may still be doing things in the flesh 60 percent of the time, instead of helping them along the way.
21 An overreaction to immaturity in the church. The Lord tolerates a certain amount of immaturity. A four year old is immature compared to a 14 year old, but that is okay. In fact, they may be very mature for a four year old. The idealistic religious spirit only sees the immaturity without considering the other important factors.
22 The inability to join anything that you do not deem as being perfect or near perfect. The Lord joined humans here on earth and even gave His life for the fallen human race. The apostles that he called and released to build His church would probably have made most people’s list of “The least likely to succeed”. Such will be our nature, too, if we abide in Him. We will not just see people as they are but also for whom they can become.
23 If while reading theses signs you were thinking about how they applied to someone else, you may have a serious problem with a religious spirit.