It is commonly believed that religious spirits are demons that promote the following characteristics in people: Judgementalism, Sel-Righteousness, Criticism of Others, Legalism, Divisiveness, Being Argumentative, Condemning of Others, and Intolerance of Differences. The favorite pastimes for afflicted individuals are Witch Hunts, Witch Burnings, and — when no witches can be found — Making Witches.
People who have discovered the amazing grace and unconditional love of God find the above attitudes to be very disturbing. One of my friends became so frustrated with these attitudes that he posted in exasperation:
DOES ANYONE HERE HAVE AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO DEAL WITH RELIGOUS SPIRIT DEMONS?????
If you are a Christian who finds yourself bothered by the judgmentalism and divisiveness of religious spirits, then you’ll want to read on. Here are some thoughts that may be helpful to you.
The Grace-Centered, Free Christian
You likely find judgmentalism, divisiveness, and anti-grace messages to be so repulsive because you have found the freedom that is found in Christ. You have discovered God’s unconditional and wonderful love and you have found out that nothing matters except Christ and your relationship to him. It is only in and through Christ that you have perfect relationship with God. There is nothing you can add to it or take from it. You know that all your righteous practices are like filthy rags. You know that it is Christ alone who makes you righteous.
Moreover, you have discovered just how completely righteous and holy and godly Christ has made you. You have discovered your sonship, your priesthood, that you are a co-heir with Christ and that you have the Holy Trinity in all their glory and power filling you and surrounding you. All of this gives you incredible freedom, joy, life, peace, and love – you have taken on the character of Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit is exhibited in your life: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.
Like a man freed from years of slavery, you absolutely hate and despise the chains that used to bind you and still bind much of your universal family. You know that those chains have no power for anyone who receives the freedom and life that God offers them through Christ Jesus so it pains you to see your family members continuing to be held back by relatively powerless chains. You want them free and cannot understand why they don’t call out to God and shake loose from the chains.
You are like the Apostle Paul in Galatians exasperated to see people who should be living as free men still living like slaves to rules of dos and dont’s–touch and don’t touch, associate and don’t associate, eat this and don’t eat that.
The Root of the Religious Mindset
People bound to religious rules of dos and don’ts are relying on their rules to connect to God. They only feel made worthy to be connected to God BY spending X number of hours praying and reading the Bible, BY going to church service, BY wearing the right clothes, BY confessing the proper doctrines with their mouths, BY doing the right charitable acts, BY tithing X dollars, BY so many things instead of BY CHRIST ALONE.
Moreover, these people continuously strive to maintain or achieve a connection with God BY condemning other people who have different ways of living their lives and different ways of connecting to God.
The very nature of the religious mindset you are finding troublesome is that these people have to believe that they have THE RIGHT beliefs and practices that ensure connection with God.
To prop up their belief that they have THE RIGHT beliefs and practices, they must insulate themselves from those with different beliefs and practices who are equally confident that they have THE RIGHT beliefs and practices connecting them to God. When they encounter someone with a different set of beliefs and practices who also claims to have a connection with God, they feel compelled to tear down the one who is different until that person also accepts what they consider to be THE RIGHT set of beliefs and practices. Their confidence is in their unique set of beliefs and practices and when others claim to be achieving the same goal with a different set of beliefs and practices it creates a conflict in their mind and brings out insecurities and they feel that they must resolve the difference by either coming into agreement on what THE RIGHT beliefs and practices are or to decide that one of the two parties has not actually received God’s approval and is to be condemned.
The Nature of the Religious Mindset
The religious, rule-oriented mindset is what you are confronting when you encounter a person who is divisive and judgmental in the religious realm. When you encounter someone saying that such and such is required to be godly, you naturally want to say NO IT ISN’T because your confidence is that it is Christ who connects us to God not any righteous acts of our own, which you know to be filthy rags in God’s sight. You put your confidence in Christ in you for salvation – not outward things like religious duties kept and right practices and rightly expressed words.
But when you suggest that there may be another way, the person caught in a religious mindset instantly becomes defensive. They feel that they must protect their set of right beliefs and practices and connection with God by condemning yours or condemning your relationship with God.
You tried to help them but then you just end up butting heads and feelings are hurt and no one is really helped.
You are fighting against a human mindset – the mindset of people who have been bound and blinded by the foolish doctrines and principles of this world.
I wish it was as easy as just casting the demons out. But it is a mindset problem and there is much human will and control there. Demons certainly promote the ideas that result in these mindsets, but the mindsets themselves are rooted in the mind, not in demons. If it was as easy as casting out demons, then Jesus could have changed the mindsets of all the Pharisees and Sadducees with one command. But most of them never changed and their confrontation with the freeing message of Christ only resulted in them hardening their hearts and becoming more and more offended, insulting, and murderous until Jesus and many of his followers – even to this day – were and still are being hung on a cross by offended religious people.
Christ Confronts the Religious Mindset
The Pharisees and Sadducees worked to have Jesus Christ crucified because Jesus was a threat to their religious rules and their religious mindsets. Jesus was constantly making People and Love a priority over Rules and Regulations. When Jesus saw religious rules that were not helpful in particular situations, he dismissed the rules and helped the people. His priority was always people and individual needs. Picking grain on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath, coming in contact with a leper and woman with issues of blood, rescuing a woman from her penalty of being stoned to death for adultery are some examples of Jesus’s priority of people coming in conflict with the religious folks’ priority of rule keeping.
In Matthew 23 we can read a sermon by Jesus in which he calls out the Pharisees and Sadducees on their messed up priority of putting rules above people.
Why did Jesus confront the Pharisees and Sadducees, anyway?
Was it to change them?
I don’t think so. Jesus knew better.
It was because those religious leaders were the guards to the chains, so to speak. They were enforcing and promoting the religious do-this-and-don’t-do-that-to-be-loved-by-God mindset among the people at large.
By confronting the religious leaders, Jesus revealed to the general public the foolishness of the religious rule-oriented mindset and revealed to people the true loving heart of God the Father. Many people were set free in this way.
How to Deal with the Religious Mindset
If you are intent on changing those committed to the religious mindset, you are likely to wear yourself out and your joy in the Lord will likely be overshadowed by the constant discussions and debates you will be having.
To anyone willing to receive freedom, reveal to them the unconditional love and grace and blessing of God available to all of us – not because of our right set of beliefs and practices but because of Jesus Christ in whom alone we put our confidence.
It is the message of unconditional love of Father God that is most likely to undermine the religious performance oriented mindset – but it must be done in a way of sharing and revealing God’s love for the individual, not engaging in debate with them.
Trying to prove your point will only put them into a defensive posture and wear you out and put you in a position of being subjected to their attacks.
Share God’s love and freedom and blessing in Christ to all who are willing to hear it. Toss the seed on the ground and leave it to God as to which seed will sprout on good receptive ground and which will not.