Being in the charismatic church I hear a lot of people talk about the “Religious Spirit” and the “Political Spirit”. However I’m often surprised that not many people can define these when asked what they mean – in fact, what I’ve found is more of us are affected by this than we know!
The religious spirit is not a new spirit that has invaded the church, it has been around in God’s people for thousands of years. In fact we see the religious spirit first appear in Genesis 3, where the devil tempts Adam and Eve to do something in order to become like God.
To make it as simple as possible here is my definition of the religious spirit.
The religious spirit is anything that says “I must do something to please God or become like Him.”
Now this is why religion is so effective at creeping into our lives. Because that seems like that is a very honorable goal. Surely we should all be trying to please God and become like Him, right?
Wrong. The truth is that this is not at all what we should be trying to do. While we may have spent most of our lives trying to become like God in order to please him, it is actually impossible for us to attain by ourselves. That’s why Christ came! To make us like God, Christ-like and to communicate God’s pleasure over us.
Your job is not to become like God but rather to believe you have been made in God’s image and likeness and walk in that. Nor is your job to please God, but rather to believe that you are pleasing to God and walk in that.
To safe guard yourself from the religious spirit remember these two things:
Never allow yourself to believe that you are not already pleasing to God.Crush every thought that says otherwise.
Never allow yourself to make Jesus’s work in you incomplete. He is far too good at his job for you to believe something stupid like that.
The political spirit is also not a new spirit. It has been around almost as long as the religious spirit. It was birthed only minutes later as Adam took the fruit from Eve.
You see the political spirit says, “I must do something to please others.”
In many ways this is so much easier to spot than the religious spirit. Most know they’re not supposed to be driven to please others, while many people still think they are supposed to be driven to please God. However that doesn’t mean it’s easy to avoid falling into the trap of doing it.
We all have built into us a desire for acceptance and love. This isn’t a bad thing, God wants us to know that we are accepted and loved. The problem is that while on some level we know that God has accepted and loved us, we don’t always believe it. It’s in these moments, when we don’t really believe that we are accepted and loved, that we seek acceptance and love from others. Again this is not necessarily a bad thing, God said about Adam that it was not good for him to be alone, and he made Eve to be his partner. We were made to be loved and accepted by others.
However it is so important that we understand acceptance and love do not come because we change, but rather they come because of who we are. Eve loved Adam for who he was and God loved Adam for who he was. Adam at no point had to change to be accepted or loved by either. It is an absolutely good desire to be loved and accepted, however anyone that requires us to change before they accept us or love us does not really do either. Acceptance by its very nature accepts people for who they are – as does love.
It’s important that we are aware of this spirit in our lives so we do not fall prey to it. A good indication that you need to change your thinking is any time you find yourself thinking the following:
“I must change who I am and how I act so that someone will accept and love me.”
Obviously I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be changing, growing more in who we are in Christ. However we must be confident that his love for us is not rooted in our changing, our changing is rooted in his love for us. This is how we should model our relationships here on Earth.
Let’s be people who love unconditionally, as Christ loves unconditionally and let’s be confident that people will love us for who we are and that we don’t have to change and compromise who we are in order to be loved.
What we will find is beautiful relationship with our brothers and sisters, and not only that we will be changed as we discover more and more who we are in Christ.
Never buy into the lie that you must change who you are in order to have people accept you. You are lovable just the way God made you.
Never compromise who you are in Christ.
What about you? Are there areas of your life you are allowing to be influenced by the religious spirit or the political spirit?
What do you think are some keys that will help you see victory in your life or the lives of those around you who suffer from these ways of thinking.