|PROTECTING YOUR SOUL FROM THE SPIRIT OF RELIGION
HIS GLORY REIGNS
July 31 2009 08:00 AM
THE BATTLE FOR MY SOUL
There was a time in my life when I was more interested in what people thought than what God thought. Oh, I may have
said I was interested in what God thought, but my actions proved otherwise. Much to my amazement I realized that I was
bound by a religious spirit. What followed was a journey to discover how this spirit not only operated in my life and
move through other people but also had power over me. I soon realized that the battle was over my soul - my mind, my
will, and my emotions.
During my quest, I discovered the religious spirit's agenda and many of its hidden plans. My freedom soon followed!
You can walk in this freedom, too. The religious spirit attacks us in our minds and moves through people like you and
me, if given an opportunity. It operates through Christians and non-Christians alike, because it is no respecter of
THE RELIGIOUS SPIRIT'S MODI OPERANDI
During the Vietnam war, American pilots were often shot down within their first 10 combat missions. To remedy the
situation, the United States Air Force authorized the formation of aggressor squadrons. Their mission was to fly, think,
respond, and fight like the enemy in a plane similar to the enemy's. My husband, Ralph, commanded the Pacific
aggressor squadron. Ralph's squadron flew a minimum of 10 dogfights against each of our American pilots in the
Pacific. Knowing how the enemy thought, operated, responded and fought made a tremendous difference in the
success of our pilots also during the Gulf wars. You can apply these same principles in the spirit realm and succeed in
protecting your soul from the religious spirit.
What is the religious spirit and how will I recognize it? You may be wondering. Even though the religious spirit is an
ancient spirit, it's not as ancient as the Ancient of Days! Some refer to it as the Pharisee spirit, but it existed long before
the Pharisees. You will recognize the religious spirit by its modi operandi, which have not changed since this spirit
began its operation.
Counterfeits the Expression of God
Satan has a counterfeit for everything the Lord has. If you know anything about counterfeit money, you know that there
are excellent counterfeits that take an expert to detect. But there are also poor counterfeits that just about anyone
could detect. Sometimes when the religious spirit begins to attack, you will know immediately that it is the religious spirit.
Other times you are going to need someone who is grounded in the Word and who walks in greater discernment. This
person will be able to look at it and say, "This is close to being like God, close to being like the Holy Spirit, close to being
like Jesus - but there is just enough difference to realize that it is not God."
Denies God's Word and Character
The spirit of religion manifested itself back in the Garden of Eden when Satan came to Adam and Eve to question them
and put doubt in their minds regarding what God had really said about eating the fruit of the trees in the Garden (see
Genesis 3:1-5). Likewise, it wants you to question, doubt and deny the Word of God. "Deny" is defined as "to state that
something declared or believed to be true is not true; to refuse to recognize or acknowledge; to repudiate - reject as
having no authority or binding force."
The religious spirit would like you to believe that what God said yesterday has no authority or binding force for today.
This is a lie straight from the pit of hell. God's Word will accomplish that which it says it will do, and it will not return
void. His Word stands forever! (see Isaiah 40:8; 55:11).
Perhaps you have received a prophetic word that has yet to be fulfilled. This spirit puts doubt in your mind as to
whether God really spoke to you. If it can get you to deny one prophetic word, then it may even get you to deny all the
prophetic words spoken over your life. Sometimes we believe in our heads, what God says, but when it comes right
down to our hearts, we don't believe Him.
Have you ever whined before the Lord and said, "I am all alone. No one cares about me. No one even knows I am
here"? The religious spirit will have you think that God has abandoned you or that He doesn't even know your name or
that He may know your name but He doesn't care about you any more, since He has left you all alone to fend for
yourself. But don't be deceived. This is not God's character. God does not do or say things like this.
Shield your soul from the enemy's lies by choosing to believe what you say you believe. Counter every lie to the enemy
with truth. Search the Scriptures for what God has to say concerning the lie. For example, take the lie "God has
abandoned me." God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will never abandon you. I am with you always"
(see Joshua 1:5; Deuteronomy 4:31; Matthew 28:20). Acknowledge God's Word as true and affirm that God is bound
by His Word to honor His Word. Set yourself in agreement with His Word. And when in doubt, call on Jesus - He is the
truth (see John 14:6).
Upholds Tradition over Truth
Those bound by the spirit of religion choose to uphold tradition rather than truth. They feel so comfortable in the way
things have always been in their personal lives or in the Church that they are not open to the new things God is doing.
God says, "Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?" (Isaiah 43:19, NASB).
If you respond, "No, I don't want something new; I like the old way," then you may be bound by the religious spirit. You
pray for God to take you higher, but as soon as He begins, you cry out, "I want to go back!" This is the spirit of religion,
which causes you to honor tradition more than you honor God and His Word and which keeps you from going forward
with the Lord.
My family was living in the Philippines when my daughter was 15 years old. I had been a Christian for three years. One
day we were having a mother-daughter argument, when she yelled, "I hate you! I hate what you stand for! I hate who
you are! You're a hypocrite!" Her words went like arrows into my heart. I knew that she was right - I was a hypocrite.
You see, I could stand before a group of women or a congregation and look so spiritual, sound so wise and act the part.
However, I wasn't the same person in my home as I was outside the house. In fact, I thought I could relax and let my
flesh hang out when I was at home. God showed me through the words of my daughter that I was using my home as a
place to validate my sin. My home was a place where I could be angry, judgmental, critical and rude.
Sin was so much a part of my life before I became a Christian that it took time for the Lord to change my wrongful
responses, my sinful behavior and my heart. I am so grateful that my daughter spoke those words to me, because it
caused me to go before the Lord and ask, "Okay God, where doesn't my life line up?" Looking back now, I realize that I
was being victimized by the spirit of religion. This religious spirit deceives you into thinking that the outward details of
your behavior are what counts, not what is deep in your heart. It makes you a hypocrite.
Appeals to Your Flesh
The religious spirit was behind the devil when he appeared to Jesus in the desert and tried to get Jesus to worship him
(see Luke 4:5-7). This spirit will offer you things that appeal to your pride and self-worth, and tempt you to
compromise. Let's look at just a few of its tactics.
The religious spirit will cause you to walk in pride rather than in humility. Humility is acknowledging that you're
able to do what you do only because God empowers, anoints and calls you. Many of us have been taught that when we
say good things about ourselves, it's prideful. But I believe that when you say the good things about yourself that God
says about you, it's not pride - it's humility.
You need to agree with God. Perhaps the Lord has been telling you that you are a mighty child of God. If your
response is, "Oh no, Lord not me!" it may sound like humility, but actually it's pride. In reality you are saying that you
know more than God does in this particular situation. When you begin to deny or speak against what God says about
you, it's as though you were saying that God doesn't really know who you are. This is the religious spirit putting
thoughts in your mind. God not only know who you are, but He also knows what He wants you to be in the future. Start
agreeing with what God says about you, and you will defeat the religious spirit.
The spirit of religion justifies itself. Do you ever justify your wrong behavior by blaming someone who has hurt you
or ignored you or mistreated you? When you justify your sin like that, you're trying to make yourself look good, and it
becomes another form of pride. When you don't admit that you are wrong and you blame others for your sin, you are
yielding to the religious spirit. You may find yourself saying, "The reason I hurt you was because you spoke harshly to
me" or "The reason I'm so angry is because you hurt me."
My husband is so quick to repent that sometimes I get frustrated. When he realizes that he said something that hurt my
feelings, he will say, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry. I was wrong to say that; please forgive me." Meanwhile I'm thinking, "No! I
want to be angry for just a little bit longer because you hurt me." God says, "Be angry but do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26,
RSV). The religious spirit tries to get us to be angry and then to go on and sin by not forgiving as we should.
The spirit of religion is judgmental. Judging is another indication of religious pride. Do you find yourself looking
around during church and thinking, I wish they wouldn't sing this emotional song or People need to sit down or This
dancing during worship is distracting or something like that? The spirit of religion strives to get you to put yourself
above others so that you will believe that you are holier or more spiritual than they.
When you find yourself criticizing someone else's actions or responses or motives, you may be under the influence of
the religious spirit. This is the same spirit that operated in the Pharisees when they questioned Jesus for healing on the
Sabbath. They wrongly judged His heart and actions (see Matthew 12:10-13).
No Room for Grace
Under the influence of the religious spirit, the Pharisees judged others by the law. There was no room for grace or for
mistakes. The same was true in my family as I grew up. As a military family, we live under a lot of rules; and if we broke
one - accidentally or on purpose - there was a penalty to pay. But God does not treat us that way. What a blessing it is
to discover that God is bigger than any of our sins or mistakes, that Jesus paid every penalty and that grace abounds!
Some people believe that they have sinned so greatly that God cannot possibly forgive them for their sin. Divorcees,
women who have had abortions and people who have committed sexual sins often live with tremendous guilt and
shame. They may believe that God can forgive them, but they cannot forgive themselves. They do not allow grace to
operate in their lives in order to become free, because the religious spirit fills their minds with lies like You are too
shameful to be forgiven or You are too shameful to be used by God. It keep reminds them of their mistakes, and it will
not let them experience God's grace. If you have not received God's forgiveness for a sin in your life, then the religious
spirit may well be holding you back.
Corrie ten Boom is known to have said, "It's a poor soldier indeed who does not recognize the enemy." Become one of
God's skilled soldiers who can identify this spirit's tactics, including how it might affect you. After you grasp this and
understand how your enemy strives to hold you back, you then can dismantle its plan of attack.
HOW THE RELIGIOUS SPIRIT ATTACKS
Two forms of attack that the spirit of religion uses in order to accomplish its plan to hold you back are bringing death
and stealing from you. Let me explain.
Bringing death is one of the main forms of attack that the religious spirit uses. Why? It hates Jesus - the way, the truth,
and the life (see John 14:6).
The spirit of religion will attempt to bring death to your hopes, dreams, your vision and your call. This happens when
you get to the point when you say, "I don't know if it even matters that I am here. Do I make a difference?" You do
make a difference. God has a call for every one of us. He has a purpose, plan and destiny for your life. His desire is
for you to fulfill your destiny. He will not confuse you when you get to a crossroads in your life and you need to know
which way to go. He is standing there saying, "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).
In addition, the religious spirit will endeavor to bring death to relationships. It causes you to close your heart and to
keep you from reconciling. It will drive you to seek revenge or retaliation. Some Christians get in arguments with others
and then refuse to speak to them again.
Choose to walk in a lifestyle of forgiveness. If you do, you nullify the religious spirit's opportunity to bring death to
relationships. Be quick to repent, quick to forgive and quick to reconcile. Keep the enemy from getting a foothold in
your soul. Give up the right to retaliate or hold a grudge. Extend grace to others and to yourself as well.
Stealing from You
Another form of attack that the religious spirit often uses is stealing. Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill
and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10, NIV).
The religious spirit purposes to steal your joy. In doing so, it actually steals your strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). Once
your joy is taken from you, your strength is also taken. When your strength is stolen, it becomes more difficult to resist
As your joy is stolen, your faith is also diminished. If you don't see a word or a promise for you come to fruition, you can
find yourself thinking, Why should I believe this anymore? It's just too hard. The religious spirit attempts to discourage
you - to keep you from agreeing with what God says about you.
Maintain your joy and build your faith by speaking God's promises. As you do this, your faith increases (see Romans
10:17). As your faith increases, so does your joy and your strength.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SOUL
Jesus set a precedent for successfully protecting our souls from the attacks of the religious spirit. In Luke 4, verses 4,8,
and 12, Jesus directly confronted Satan by boldly declaring the truth of the Word. He countered every attack with
confidence in God's character and His Word. As a result, Satan departed from Him.
You, too, can resist the religious spirit with the powerful weapon of the Word. Learn from Jesus. Tune your will to God's
will and declare the truth of God's Word over your life. Remind your enemy of its defeat by saying what God says: "[The
devil] will flee from you" (James 4:7).
Put God First
The war in the heavens is over who will be worshipped. One way Satan receives worship is when the religious spirit
operates in your life. This is done when you put people, situations, agendas, things or yourself above God. The first
commandment says, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3). Open your mouth and declare to the
heavenly hosts that you will serve no other gods and that you will have no other master but Jesus. Protect your soul by
deciding to put God first in every area of your life.
The religious spirit subtly convinces you that other things are more important than being where God has called you to
be, and it hinders you from being in the right place at the right time. You may erroneously believe that you don't need
to be at church for the worship time, but only for the pastor's sermon. Deciding that worship isn't important indicates
that your relationship with God isn't important. Worship prepares your heart for God to speak to you through the
While you are in God's presence, He stokes the flame of love that burns within you. Passion rises from intimate
worship. Shield your soul from the religious spirit by capturing moments of worship to the most high God. When God is
first in your life, you can't help but be passionate.
God's desire is for you to be passionate (see romans 12:10-11), while at the same time the religious spirit strives to
steal your passion. It attempts to quench the fire of the Holy Spirit by getting you to cover up or diminish your love for
the Lord. Moses had the same problem. His face glowed after being in God's presence. The children of Israel were
afraid to come close to him, so he put a veil over his face (see Exodus 34:29-35).
When your passion is stirred up, people may respond like Moses' followers: "Why are you so intense? What happened
to you? Put a lid on it." Your passion will make others uncomfortable, but do not yield. If the enemy can steal your
passion, then he will be able to steal the revival that God is bringing into your life.
When passion begins to wane, you start believing that God doesn't need or want to use you anymore. As people grow
older, they often think, Well, I've done everything, so I might as well kick back and relax. Don't buy into this lie; be
zealous and passionate. Choose to leave this life in a blaze of glory, filled with passion. Don't sit in your rocking chair
and let the world pass you by.
In order to put God first, you must make it a practice to die daily. Wake up every morning and have a funeral - yours!
Paul set the example for us (see I Corinthians 15:31). Choose to die to your flesh, your hopes, your plans, your
emotions, your ways, your agenda - the list goes on. Die to all of you, but don't stay dead. Allow God to raise you with
new life in Christ. Choose His ways, His plans, His agenda, His will, His desires and His purposes. Choose all of God
and none of you.
Guard your soul from the religious spirit by choosing to die daily. When you have a really bad day, stop your grumbling
and complaining. Remember, it's your flesh, your old sin nature that is rising up again. Move out of your flesh and walk
in the Spirit. Choose to die one more time and keep moving into your destiny.
Take time to put on your spiritual clothing. The spirit of religion prefers you to wear garments of bitterness, anger, pity,
hatred, unforgiveness, disunity and more. But God, the Designer, has made designer clothing for you to wear instead.
Each piece represents what He wants to do in and through you. Protect your soul from the religious spirit by putting on
this designer wardrobe:
Walk in Truth
Some time ago I was praying in church with a woman who said, "God spoke to me and told me I am to leave my husband
and children and go to the mission field. I am to have no contact with them." I quickly replied, "That was not the voice of
God. He does not speak that way!" The religious spirit had twisted the truth just enough that it sounded spiritual for her
to go to the mission field and leave everyone behind.
The spirit of religion quotes the Word of God out of context. Though it knows what the truth is, it uses this truth to
deceive and bring death. It is better to live in the tree of the life rather than in the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil (see Genesis 2:9). This way you avoid using the Word of God to wound people or to make a point. You need to
know God's Word, His heart, and His character. Ask yourself, "What would God say?" Then say what He would say and
do what He tells you to do. Remember, God will not tell you to do something contrary to His Word.
The religious spirit may convince you that God doesn't speak to you anymore - or that He has never spoken to you.
Are you a child of God? If so, Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them" (John 10:27). You can hear
As the religious spirit attacks your mind, choose to "[take] every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (II
Corinthians 10:5, NASB). You have the mind of Christ, so begin to think as God designed you to think (see I
Corinthians 2:16). Set your faith to believe that the Word of God has transforming power, and renew your mind (see
Romans 12:2). Guard your soul by setting your will to seek truth, believe truth, walk in truth and speak truth. These
actions will silence the voice of the enemy in your mind.
Walk in Your Authority
God has not just given you authority. He has given you His authority. But the religious spirit can cause you to abdicate
your authority. When you relinquish your position of authority, you open the door for the enemy to come in and attack
you and your family. You are not some weak, wimpy person whom God put on the earth. God says you will possess the
gates of your enemies (see Genesis 22:17). Purpose to take back what you have relinquished, what you gave up to
the enemy. Rise up and be part of the mighty army that God has called, destined and ordained for you to be part of.
Shield your soul by wearing the mantle He has given you and by walking with confidence in your authority.
Walk in the Fullness of the Spirit
Finally, walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Honor God more than you honor people or tradition. Fear God more than
you fear people, and you will no longer be performance oriented, no longer a people pleaser, no longer caring about
what others think. Resist the enemy. Take time to sit before the Lord. Communicate with Him. Find out who God really
is, what He thinks and what He says. Choose to apply these truths to your life every day. Discover your gifts and then
embrace them into your life. As you continue to put these steps into practice, you'll become free from the religious spirit
and able to stay free.
So get free from the religious spirit today and stay free! You will be changed and others will be blessed. Fulfill your
FREEDOM FROM THE RELIGIOUS SPIRIT, by C. Peter Wagner, Copyright 2005, Regal Books.
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