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The Religious Spirit
by Steve Countryman
6/07/2011 / Church Life
Mark 8:15 "Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod." Yeast works its way through the dough. Jesus was warning His disciples not to allow the yeast or religious influences of the Pharisees to be mixed with their beliefs. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they followed their own rules that they added to scripture publicly and expected others to follow them privately. They elevated the rules over the ruler that being God. They worshiped their traditions not God. Mark 7:8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. Paul warned the early church about the religious spirit mixing with the new church when some of the Jews were teaching that Christian converts must be circumcised to be real believers. They were trying to tie Christianity and the salvation work of the cross, the new covenant, to the old law of the Bible, the old covenant. Jesus came to replace the old covenant with the new covenant.
Sorry fact is that today's church has been saturated with the religious spirit. Understand that the religious spirit is not of heaven but from hell. It does not benefit, support or build up a church but rather makes the church powerless and ineffective. And it does all this damage in the name of righteousness and religion. It presents itself as knowledgeable and holy while in reality it is a prideful and haute spirit. Just as the Pharisees of the Bible tried to trap Jesus by his words and deeds the religious spirit works through todays church much the same way. It will always rise up to challenge any good work that is started. "That will never work." "We have never done anything like that here before." "You know that the pastor won't go for that." "Why waste you time doing something so worthless." "That is going to interfere with the other church programs." "Where did you get such a silly idea?" "This church will never support such thinking." It has been said that Christians shoot their wounded but it would be more accurate to say that they chew up and spit out their wounded.
The religious spirit works in different ways to infiltrate the church. It will use compromise, tolerance and diversity to conceal its true motives. Getting caught up in speaking Christianese is part of how it works. Speaking Christianese is the ability to make a statement that others have repeated as if it were scripture. "I'm sick because it is God's will." "I have all these problems because God is testing me." "If God wanted me healed He would have already done it." "I have the spirit of poverty because we Christians aren't supposed to be well off." There is plenty more examples of these false truths. None of these are bible based but are lies from hell. These are designed to bring harm and hurt not healing and deliverance. When believers start using such phrases they allow the yeast to spread.
Other ways that the religious spirit has moved through the church is through "acceptance" or politically correctness. In grade school I remember our class taking a test that I call "logical progression". One example isif Johnny breaks windows and kids who break windows are bad then Johnny is bad. If Johnny goes to church every week and good people go to church every week then Johnny is good. The whole idea was to get you to make the next assumption, logical progression, to complete the test. Looking back I feel that it was used for our conditioning or to get a level of acceptance on certain subjects. It is widely used today just more subtly. By allowing the yeast of such practices to be accepted in the church weakens and dilutes the Biblical core truths of a church. What is worse is that people who openly display their sinful lifestyles are not only allowed to become church members but are also allowed to become teachers, preachers and church leaders. Tolerance, compromise, acceptance and diversity are all preached and taught in today's church but is not Biblically founded! When such sinfulness is accepted in the church that is when the Jezebel spirit makes herself at home. The church soon dies or is replaced by something totally foreign to the Bible truths because what they preach contradicts the scripture or ignores the truth. Making god in man's image for the sake of religion is not for the sake of worshiping and obeying the true God but to avoid accountability and responsibility for one's own sinful actions. True hypocrites!
Love the sinner but hate the sin doesn't mean to embrace the sinner and their sin. The church is a good place to be delivered from your sinful lifestyle not a place to demand that the church embrace your sinful lifestyle. The Bible says that we are not to allow someone who is openly sinning to become a member or teacher in the church. There are church members who have their habitual daily sins in their lives but think that since God is all knowing then God must be okay with their "little" sins. That would be like treating your wife disgracefully in public. You have a dinner date to meet your wife at a nice restaurant. She shows up in her nicest evening gown with her hair fixed up and looking her absolute best. You show up covered from head to toe in raw sewage. You casually walk right up to her and give her a big hug and kiss and say how much you love her. But your actions tell her that you have no respect for her or real love for her to treat her so badly. In this example the wife represents God and your raw sewage represents your obvious sin. That is what some Christians do to God every Sunday at church. If people who flaunt their sinfulness continue to attend church without any change in their lives then the elders, church leaders or pastors should make it known that they will not be allowed back. Church is not a social club or gathering place. Could you imagine today's church doing that? When churches are going out of their way to attract and keep people not chase them away. But I tell you the truth if your church doesn't address those people and their sinful problems then that church is doomed. You can't expect God to come around a church where the members clothe themselves in the raw sewage of their sins and expect to give God a hug and tell Him how much they love Him. That is why some churches ask why God is not found in their church.
How can the church and we Christians tell the world that we have the only way to God and heaven through Jesus Christ when the world can't "see" any difference in our church and daily lives then their own? How can we tell them that Jesus is their answer, their hope and their future while we stand in our sinfulness? Why should they believe us or bother to attend our church services? Matthew 7:3-5 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. It is time for the church to get back to the basics of the scripture. To have church as Jesus set up the church to be, the light to the lost and to disciple the saved. It is time for the church to take righteousness back. It is time for the church to stand for God's Word and commands. It is time for the church to STAND! It is time for all of God's children to stand!
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