Characteristics of a Religious Spirit Pt.1
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Delivered By
Bob Petersen
Delivered On
May 20, 2018

Characteristics of a Religious Spirit


I am using the term "religion" to refer to a man-made effort to get to God and then serve Him.

  • It is very easy to mistake being religious for having a relationship with God.

  • Religion looks like true relationship from the outside

  • It makes sense to the natural way of thinking.

  • It is comfortable to those who for whatever reason does not like drawing close to God

    • In the bible, when man’s heart cools down and he still wants to have the appearance of godliness, he turns to religions ways and rules.

    • Many times this isn’t done on purpose, it’s slid in to.

      • This is why the lukewarm in Revelations is pointed out


Religion is based off of the idea that God has been offended by our sin and needs a payment for that.

  • Jesus was that payment

  • The truth is that we sold ourselves to the devil and Jesus bought us back


From “brown clouds” come rain

  • In our area the rain is religion

    • Religious rain causes thoughts, words and actions


2 Timothy 3:1-5 NAS 1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form (Greek: appearance) of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

  • After this describes, seemingly, an ungodly, horrible person it then says they have the appearance of a good Christian.


We are told multiple times in scripture to avoid those who are merely religious.

  • 2 Timothy 3:5 Avoid such men as these.

  • Matthew 16:6 NAS And Jesus said to them, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."


We are told to avoid those with religion because religion is a demonic spirit that we can be susceptible to.

  • Galatians 2:11-13 AMP 11 But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I protested and opposed him to his face [concerning his conduct there], for he was blameable and stood condemned. 12 For up to the time that certain persons came from James, he ate his meals with the Gentile [converts]; but when the men [from Jerusalem] arrived, he withdrew and held himself aloof from the Gentiles and [ate] separately for fear of those of the circumcision [party]. 13 And the rest of the Jews along with him also concealed their true convictions and acted insincerely, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy (their example of insincerity and pretense).


The problem with trying to detect religion is that the spirit behind it has been allowed to set the rules and parameters of what we as Christians are supposed to do and be.


In order to defeat religion we must change the parameters religion sets to judge from.

  1. In religion, the servant must earn redemption

  2. Religion says that sin committed angers God and causes Him enact judgement on the sinner.

  3. God’s servants must take on this same anger towards those perceived as sinning or not keeping the rules.

  4. The servants of God must now become the punitive agent to carry out the judgement

    1. We see this mindset in the religious spirited in the bible


Here are the correct parameters:

  1. Redemption is a free gift given and paid for by God

  2. When someone sins the Father’s love never changes towards those who sinned

  3. God always wants those who stumbled to come to Him to be cleaned to eliminate any hold the enemy may have gained on them

  4. God’s children are to extend this same love and forgiveness to others with the purpose of restoring them to their heavenly Father.


Let’s look in the bible at the religious leaders to see the characteristics of a religious spirit.

  • Unrighteous judgement - Woman caught in adultery

  • Self-righteous - These will base their spirituality on outward showings rather than on inward love for Jesus and people.

  • Rules based - Mark 7:5-9 NAS 5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" 6 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' 8 "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." 9 He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.

  • Condemnation, guilt and shame coming from...


Here is what the religious spirit uses to subdue people with:

  • Accusation

  • Fear

  • Catch you in your words, self-righteousness,  


Here are the characteristics of relationship:

  • Mercy triumphs over judgement



Self-righteousness is pride and pride blinds.

  • Thus, religious people think they have a corner on truth when they are actually completely blind.


Rebellion from religion is not the right way to correct or oppose it.


The following are 9 signs of a religious spirit:


1. They judge other people by their appearance.

  • God judges us by our heart, but man judges by outward appearance

  • In many churches people have not felt welcome or have even been condemned by church leadership because they had a tattoo, a nose ring, or dressed a certain way.

  • In some legalistic churches men have to wear a suit and tie to attend church and ladies are not allowed to wear makeup and pants or cut their hair.


2. They try to earn God's love and salvation.


3. They try to conform to outward holiness without inward transformation.

  • Jesus strongly rebuked those who merely attempted to cleanse the outer man without allowing God to deal with the heart


4. They are often critical of others walk with God.

  • I have noticed that the more religious a person is, the more critical they are of other believers and ministers.

  • Since they are so hard on themselves religious people generally don't understand grace and they walk in self-condemnation

    • Because of this they are also judgmentally hard on other people.


5. They perform Christian duties but have no passion or hunger for God.

  • In the religious system serving God is done by attending church, reading the bible, praying, teaching a sunday school class, etc.

  • There is no deep relationship with God nor do they hunger and thirst for Him.


6. They desire position and honor in the church more than honor from God.

  • Those with a religious spirit hinge their life and identity upon their outward man.

    • Hence, they are drawn to having recognition and titles in the church world.

  • If they cannot legitimately get a ministerial title from their local church, they will hook up with an online course or other entity that will give them some kind of badge or card signifying they are a minister or chaplain.


7. Their identity is rooted in a lifestyle of Christianity instead of in Christ.


Mature Christ-followers receive their main identity in the fact they are "sons" of God, whereas religious people receive their main identity in the things they attempt to do for God and their church.


8. You know about the truth of Jesus but not the way of Jesus.


Religious people make a big deal about the doctrines they accumulate through head knowledge. They make the mistake of thinking that having good doctrine means they are mature believers. Just because we may know about God doesn't mean we commune with God and know Him experientially.


9. You project righteousness but inwardly are filled with anger and resentment.


Religious people know the entire Christian lingo, know how to act and project themselves in certain settings and use this "act" to gain influence in church circles.