Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” —James 1:26-27 NIV
In Part 1, I shared how I heard the Spirit say, “You must break off the religious spirit.” My immediate thought was who, me? Around the same time another prophetic minister, Lana Vawser (Lana Vawser Ministries) heard a similar word in a dream “I am about to deal with and break the spirit of religion.” The religious spirit seeks to replace the Holy Spirit as the source of spiritual life. Its primary objective is to have the church “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” The Apostle Paul exhorted the church to “avoid such men as these.” —2 Timothy 3:5.
The word “pure,” in James 1:26, is katharos in Greek, and it also means “clean,” “pure,” “purified by fire”. Something that is pure is clean inside and out. The problem with the spirit of religion is that it only focuses on the outside of a person; the inside remains the same.
The working of the religious spirit cannot be categorized by what denomination, race or the way that person is dresses up or down for a church service. The truth is that the religious spirit operates in virtually every setting where the gospel is preached. The religious spirit is assigned to distract people from the truth by making them think that where they are spiritually is okay.
As believers, if we are not watchful, we can easily slip into religiosity. Under the influence of the religious spirit, an individual may do the right things, but for all the wrong reasons. True religion is based on loving the Lord and then loving our neighbors as ourselves (see Matthew 22:37-40 ). True religion will promote discipline and obedience, but these are founded on love for the Lord rather than the need or desire for recognition or acceptance.
Religious mindsets must be exposed in order for this spirit to be broken. The religious mindset is a very dangerous thing and it can be easy to get stuck there. It’s easy to think you are somewhere spiritually when you’re not. You may read your Bible and attend church religiously, but there should be evidence of the fruit of love in your walk. Jesus said in John 13, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” –John 13:34-35
God will deal with the religious spirit in this new era. Satan seems to understand even better than the church that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” –James 4:6 NKJV. He knows very well that God will not inhabit any work that is inflated with pride and that God Himself will even resist such a work.
Deep offense will come as God moves to bring cleansing to His house. Just as Jesus turned over tables in Matthew 21:12, cleansing is necessary to remove any impurities that prevents the gospel from being preached, the work of the Holy Spirit and the church fulfilling God’s purposes in the earth. “Upon entering Jerusalem Jesus went directly into the temple area and drove away all the merchants who were buying and selling their goods. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the stands of those selling doves. And he said to them, “My dwelling place will be known as a house of prayer, but you have made it into a hangout for thieves!” Matthew 21:12 TPT
May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:7
Note: All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.