Religion is defined as a particular system of faith and worship. It gives structure to the overall ways in which we have our daily practices and gatherings to connect with God and with each other. There is nothing wrong with the basic aspect of religion, because it forms our faith, beliefs and practice.
But what happens when religion gets enveloped by a religious spirit? Some do not even know what this means, while many see it as only mindsets that other people have. If we are really honest, all of us have religious mindsets that hold us back and keep us from walking in the freedom that is available in Christ. Yet addressing a religious spirit often sparks up more arguments than anything else. This is the most common manifestation of its work!
Today we want to tackle this subject and encourage each of us to move more into freedom and out of bondage.
- We want to talk about discerning a religious spirt.
- Describe how we have personally experienced it and witnessed it in action.
- Talk about some ways to detect a religious spirit.
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Do You Have a Religious Spirit?
Melissa: I really didn’t understand what that was. I think I would have considered myself very unchurched in a lot of ways through my life until you and I got together. I had a lot of naivety as far as the religious system. Coming into my 20s, trying to find myself again and all that good stuff and trying to find a church to land and all those things, I was very, very naïve as far as the religious system. I really was just like, “Okay. No matter what religion you are, you’re going to be loving in a way.” I know that sounds … I’m really just trying to put it in basic terms. Any church you walked into, they’re going to welcome you, love you. I didn’t really understand churches that only force women to wear skirts. I did not understand that stuff.
Mark: That’s one of the things that I love about you the most. When I prayed for a wife, you had your list for a husband, here’s my list for a wife. This isn’t everything, but this is some of the ones that applied to this is that she’s not someone who plays the organ because I will not stand on the stage and have her playing the organ with me.
Melissa: I can not play the organ.
Mark: Check. We will not be singing on the stage together.
Melissa: I can not sing so you’re good with that. I shouldn’t say I can’t sing. I just don’t sound well when I sing. Go ahead.
Mark: At the time, I was a pastor, I’m not anymore. At the time, it was she’s not going to be a typical pastor’s wife. It was like, “Check, check, and check.”
Your perspective is something that’s very refreshing to me and you actually look at me and go, “I don’t even know why you’re like thinking about that or why that’s even an issue for you.” It brings a fresh perspective, whereas my first memory in life, as a human being, is a memory of sitting in a church pew.
Growing Up in Church
If I was sitting down before a therapist, laying down, and he was like, “Give me your first memory as a child,” that would be it. The pew was white because they were painted white. It was wood. I would sit and then eventually, in the service, I would start to fall asleep and lay down and that was it. That’s the earliest of age. I grew up in a Pentecostal, but I would say more on the conservative side Pentecostal in some ways, not necessarily in what’s termed charismatic as some people would use as a terminology. All these categories are just confusing anyways.
People say, “You know, I’m Baptist. I’m reformed. I’m this and that.” Even though I have a lot of history in the church, I still get confused to what even these labels mean. Part of that is a part of religious spirit bondage is we put things in categories and you’re this and you’re that.
There was something interesting about my life is that I didn’t really get hung up on like, “Oh, you’re Presbyterian so you don’t do this,” or, “You’re this so you don’t do this and you do that.” I thank God for that because a lot of people do that. I had a religious spirit in ways of how I felt close to God or how I felt that he loved and approved me. Incredibly deep, terrible at times, tormenting, horrific. It really messed with my life. It really messed with my journey. You and I have an interesting perspective because you come in and go, “I didn’t even know that was a thing.”
Getting Schooled Quickly
Melissa: Right. There are some things especially since you and I, from the beginning of us getting together, that I had to get schooled in stuff pretty quickly on because our dating period and getting married and all that and me going into ministry with you was so fast. I had an accelerated thing that I needed to learn and grow in. It was like a shock to my system.
Mark: Just to clarify, when you say “getting schooled” on the religious system, hopefully I wasn’t like, “Okay, honey, you have to ….
Melissa: No, no, no. You absolutely were not.
Mark: It was more like, “Hey, just so you know, this is how people think and react to these kind of things,” so you’re not shocked by it.
Melissa: Yeah, I think that, you know like I said, when we got together, I thought everyone is just going to be loving and accepting and it was a shock to my system how cruel the church can be. I say that soberly. I’m not saying it to condemn the church at large, but the church is not very nice and I had to understand how things went, how there was certain modes of operation for different denominations, that a lot of people are walking around very wounded from, not knowing how to live, not knowing how to think.
I mean, this is what we deal with on a daily basis in helping people. Their thoughts are so bombarded with how horrible God is and that’s been a huge fight for us to bring … And I see so other many churches and people out there who are very public, really bringing out the goodness of God. There’s been a very big waves of things that I’ve had to understand about how churches operate and a lot of the detriment to people’s thinking that has come out of the religious system, rather than relationship and what that looks like, that most people have been taught really in a religious way.
We’re obviously up in New England. We have a very heavy Catholic community up in these areas, which you will find a more regimented religious system and how you go about what that looks like with God. I think maybe being around that too, up here, where you won’t maybe not find as much going down south, but then they have their own religious system going on down there. Like you said, you’re going to find it everywhere.
Breaking Out of Religious Ruts
Mark: Everything that we do can eventually fall into a rut and become a religious formality that then works against us. Even people, it’s funny because there’s a lot of, you know, like charismatics that will say, “Well, we’re free. We don’t have religion.” It’s like, “Okay, what is your church service like?” “Well, we start with this and we do this, then we do that.”
Melissa: There’s a regiment to it, right?
Mark: There’s a pretty fairly predictable order even though there’s freedom in the order. That can become something that can get in the way of God. We tried to, when we were pastors, tried to break things up and, wow, we were like this was drowning people. It was so difficult for them.
Melissa: Yeah. People could not handle it.
Mark: Yeah, some Sundays we would take the chairs and we would put it in a giant circle and we’d go, “Okay, we’re going to do church like this.” Other days we’d go, “Okay, we’re just going to stand up and this is just going to be a day where we’re just going to praise God and we’re just going to have fun doing that.” People are like, “No, I need to sit down and open my Bible.” There was even times where we would do that and there were people that were like sitting with their Bibles, just staring at it.
Melissa: Like petrified to move.
Mark: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then we were, after a while, I was like, “Okay, people can only handle so much.”
Melissa: Yeah, which I think was a big heartbreak for us, especially in New England and in this area trying to do something different. Really, really sobering to see what people couldn’t handle. We weren’t running around cutting chickens’ heads off and doing wacky things. We’re just talking about trying to jar people and break them out of just like 10:00, we stand, by 10:15, we are sitting. The message is from 10:15 to 10:42, then you’re going to stop and then we’re going to pray for two minutes. You know, trying to break that and try to go, “Okay, there is more freedom in Christ than you’ve been taught.”
The Loss of Relationship as Priority
Mark: I think when it comes to religion and our church gatherings or gatherings as believers, the thing I try to keep in mind is, okay, if I went out on a date with you, we’re married and we go on a date, there is a component to, okay, we’re going to do that this time. There is structure to it, right? But I’m not going to, as we’re sitting down, going, “Okay, so we talked about that for ten minutes. Let’s move to this.”
Melissa: It’s a great point to bring up about relationship.
Mark: Now, it’s helpful. It would be helpful if you had a list of questions to ask your wife if you really struggle in having conversation, but the enjoyment is going deeper and like, “How can I connect?” That forces, if we’re going to break that sense of sometimes the religious mold that we fall into, our gatherings are going to have to be ones where, all week long, we are growing in our faith and as we come together, we’re all contributing to what is happening in the midst and we’re asking, “What is God saying?” And we’re moving together with that. We’re being sensitive to those movings. You have your overall sense of structure, but, yet, that can be, at any time, broken, thrown over. We have to be willing and open to that.
Defining a Religious Spirit
I’d like to take a step back from that for a second because that’s just one aspect. What is a religious spirit? There’s a couple ways that we could talk about this. One is this is really based on the life and mindset you see in the Pharisees in the Bible. The Pharisees were the religious group of leadership that represented the people of God, the Jewish people, the traditions of Israel.
They represented them, they led them, they represented them to the government. Sometimes they’d have an issue and they’d go to the government and be like, “Here’s the problems that we have or things that we want to do.” We see that in the life of Christ. We see that happening. They took the foundational teachings of the law … The law is already, in itself, has limitations to it. We know that scripturally. Jesus paid the price so that the curse of the law, the rigidity that it brought, where we could not be justified or be reconciled, but a lot of people don’t realize this. The Pharisees didn’t just take that. They added even more onto it and more rules and more regulations. Therefore, they used it as a way to condemn people, to qualify in very tight, regimented ways.
The Resistance to Change
The religious spirit still works today and it still infects us and people say they don’t have it or it doesn’t affect them but it prevents change, it keeps people from getting out of status quo. That’s one of the things, real big things, that we get stuck in as a people of God. The same old, same old, same old, same old, same old. People are getting fatigued and weary of this. I feel it. I feel in people in churches I go to. I know they feel it. I know they’re frustrated. I know they want more, but they know of nothing else so they just kind of stay with the flow.
Melissa: That’s a good point, Mark.
Mark: There’s formalities that we have, but it lacks power. There’s things that we go through. We go, “Well, nothing seems to happen,” so we just keep doing the same thing rather than adjusting. God, what are you saying and what are you doing? I don’t care how hip. If your ministry or group or thing is hip, doesn’t mean you don’t have deeply routed religious spirits affecting you and hindering you from being really affective.
Preventing Your Growth
I read a book by C Peter Wagner about a religious spirit. It said the religious spirit will prevent you from coming into salvation through Christ. In other words, you talk to somebody about the Lord and they’ll say, “Yeah, I grew up Catholic,” or, “I’ve always known God,” or they have religious spirited mindsets that make them think they know God, but they don’t.
Melissa: That’s great, yeah.
Mark: That’s the first stage. The second stage is you received Christ and then you spend the rest of your life bound by religious performance-based mindsets, perfectionism and all that stuff, it keeps you trapped and doesn’t allow you to be free. We have to recognize the stages that it works in people’s lives to really keep us bound. The basis is rules, laws, steps, structures, that that becomes the focus. The thing I learned about getting free from religious spirit, and I’m still in a lot of process, is that the focus always becomes more on relationship when you get healthy. The more it’s about just connecting with God and not, “What do I have to do? What do I have to accomplish? What do I have to change?”
When it just becomes about connecting, the problem is that relational connection takes more work. What I mean by work is it’s challenging. Religion, in a negative sense, when I say religion, I’m using it in a negative sense. Religious spirit is better to use. A religious spirit is easier because I’ll just look at boxes I got to check off or I’ll just do these ten … It’s exhausting. It’s draining. It doesn’t go anywhere. It causes the focus, where my life and my sense of connection with God and sense of peace is through the rules I accomplish.
I get a lot of emails. In fact, I just got another Q&A this week and maybe I’ll get a chance to read it. In fact, we’ll read it right now.
Melissa: Go ahead.
Mark: How about that?
Melissa: Go for it.
Religious Spirit and Conflicts with Our Salvation
Mark: I won’t mention her name because it’s kind of personal. She didn’t say to mention it or not mention it, but just listen to this. This is the cry that’s going out of a lot of people. I’ve been through this. A lot of people have been through this. She’s wanting clarification on Hebrews 10:26. The scripture says, “If we sin willfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” This verse petrifies her. Understand, that’s a strong statement. If we sin willfully after we’ve received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. You’re like oh my goodness. She says, “I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.” The King James would indicate it would only take one willful sin to do this.
Now, in this statement, you can hear the religious spirit …
Melissa: Yeah, there’s fear.
Mark: Because how it creates fear but like a very narrow, rigid way in looking at the scripture …
Melissa: You have to earn.
Mark: And understanding this. Now, yes, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way.” If anything, that’s the narrowest point. Once you receive Christ, the opportunities and the blessings and the grace of what’s available, it’s so freeing. There’s just so many options. You know what I mean? That’s a whole different subject.
She says, “I’ve read a few opinions on this. The majority feel it means to live in persistent willful sin, rejecting the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Others feel that’s talking about apostasy.” Now, I want you to hear this. The one who submitted this and everybody listening and watching. I frequently struggle with fears of having fallen away, having committed the unpardonable sin. I’ve done sessions with people that that’s what they’re asking for them.
Melissa: Yeah, that’s not the first time we’ve heard that. Yeah.
Mark: They’re asking for help. I feel like I have a voice that tells me I’ve committed the unpardonable sin and I don’t know what to do. This is what she wrote, “Having grown up in a legalistic, conservative, Mennonite setting, I never had victory over sin til I started dealing with heart issues.” Way to go. Congratulations. That’s awesome. It’s always about the heart. It’s always about what’s going on relationally in the life of the heart. “I always had problems doubting my salvation, which keeps me from living a victorious Christian life.” It would be me too. When I was a kid, that was a thing that was taught is the problem is you’re not saved.
Mark: I remember when I committed my life to Christ but then I remember 900 times I redid it. She says, “I’m not looking for a license to sin, but rather some room to breathe and live a joyful life.”
Melissa: Amen to that.
Mark: This is what a religious spirit has done. This is what it keeps it from. “I’m in the process of breaking free from legalism but scriptures like this put me right back.” Yes, and I hear you. “Right back into fearful slave mode.” It would for me too because there are very strong statements in the Bible, but they have to be put in the context of relational community. There are times in our marriage where, you know, if something was wrong in the relationship, we’d look at each other and go, “You know what? If this doesn’t change, something’s going to have to happen.” If every time we had a strong discussion like, “You need to stop that or stop doing that,” and we’d be like, “Oh, she’s going to leave me,” or, “He’s going to leave me,” that would be a terrible marriage.
Melissa: To live like that, right.
Foundation of Loving Relationship
Mark: The only way you can understand the Bible is by first understanding the love of God and coming into the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, being a brother or sister, and a child of Father in heaven who loves us. You can have strong conversations. I can look at Abby, and we had to walk her through this, is there would be times where we would have to be very firm with Abby because she’s spunky, she’s got her own convictions already, her own opinions, and she’s strong about it. It’s cute, but at times, it’s like, “Whoa.” She will feel like there’s this thought that comes to her like, “They don’t love me anymore.”
Melissa: Yeah, we don’t love her anymore.
Mark: We would catch it because we’re teaching her, “No, these strong words do not change relationship.” A scripture like Hebrews 10:26 puts a strong word over us that people that are living, because this writer, she’s saying here, “I don’t want to sin.” That’s the heart of a believer. That’s someone who loves God. I want to live in a way that’s according to your word. That shows the Holy Spirit’s working in your life.
A Religious Spirit Ruins Repentance
The key is is that we need to become more sealed in this. In our relationship with him, religion steals that and causes any sense of separation based on our performance, based on stuff we did right or wrong. I really want to encourage you, and so many people will struggle with this, is your discovery be on the relationship with God and not based on a focus of your right and wrongs. Let it be a focus, because here’s the thing I learned about the Holy Spirit. I spend a lot of time listening to things that maybe I should change or do that the Holy Spirit’s not even dealing with because that’s our thought. Like, “I don’t feel great today. I’m not doing well. I’m struggling. What am I doing wrong?” If you say that, the enemy is like, “I’ll give you a list of 100 things.” Next thing you know, you are on like ten rabbit trails chasing stuff and there’s not a focused journey. When God corrects us, it is clear, it is in relationship, and it’s inviting.
Melissa: It’s freeing.
Mark: It’s always freeing.
Melissa: Always freeing.
Mark: Yes, it is.
Melissa: Even if it’s something hard you have to deal with. I have never, ever been corrected in that way and felt, “Oh, no.” I have felt, “Okay, this is the way to be free of this. This is the way to make it right.” Always, always any correction has come and it has allowed me freedom, freedom from the situation, freedom in just being able to repent, freedom in forgiveness, freedom in all of that. That’s the beautiful thing about your relationship with God.
Mark: Doesn’t a religious spirit ruin even repentance because people feel like, “I got to repent for something. What do I got to repent?” No, repentance is joyful. It’s like I have a deadbeat backseat driver screaming at me and I get to kick him out. I have something in my life that’s hurting me and I get to kick him out. That’s amazing. A religious spirit comes in, it’s like …
Melissa: You repent. Well, it’s because we’ve heard, “You need to repent.” You know, so many preachers are still teaching this from the pulpit in a condemning way. When you look at repentance as, “Wow, I’m going to turn from this. I don’t want to do this anymore,” there is freedom in me being able to repent, that’s a gift that we have. It’s not a prison sentence. You need to repent. No, it’s a gift that we have.
Mark: That’s right.
Melissa: We need to turn that and be able to look at it that way.
Mark: There’s these special moments where you come to an awakening. I could list this in a hundred things where the day that I realized that I had a rejection and I had a rejection mindset, when it dawned on me in that church where I was sitting. I had my Bible open. It was beautiful. I wanted to stand up and go, “I’ve got rejection!”
Melissa: “Sorry everybody.”
Mark: People are like, “What’s wrong with that dude?”
Melissa: “I’ve acted like a fruitcake. Sorry.”
Mark: It’s like no. I’m seeing how it’s affected my life and I’m free from it. That’s what I believe is real, God inspired. Now, if I take that and I go, “You need to get rid of your rejection issues,” and people are like … That, again now, a religious spirit infiltrates.
Mark: I have some things clipped in my notes. You know, my whole life, I clipped things that are great quotes or stuff like that. I couldn’t find the actually article for this, but Elijah House had an article years ago that I clipped so I can’t post the link in the show notes because it doesn’t exist anymore. Anyways, the person who wrote this and when I clipped it said,
“A religious spirit doesn’t operate on its own. It works through individuals. Sometimes it operates through sheep and sometimes through the shepherd. Legalism is one of its most evident fruit. Individuals judge one another. People feel judged and criticized. Creativity suffers. Fear of failure or censure and fear of rejection become rampant. Control and barrenness are the goals of this spirit. Anyone who doesn’t agree is criticized and rejected. Value is based on how well a person performs and conforms to the rules. Relationship with Jesus and with one another suffers. Obligation is overemphasized. Joy erodes and eventually disappears. Separatism and prejudice towards other groups begin to grow.”
Judging Others When You Get “Free”
It can be interesting because you can realize you have a religious spirit, you get free from it, and then operate from a religious spirit in judging and condemning people who don’t. You know what I mean? You could get free from some organization that like has a hundred rules, that our church has a hundred rules and you leave that church and you’re free from that stuff. Then you look at them, rather than from compassion …
Melissa: You know what? I’ve probably done that.
Mark: So have I.
Melissa: What’s wrong with them?
Mark: We develop a we’re free and they’re not
Melissa: Like we know more and we know better. It’s so arrogant. It’s pride.
Religious Spirit is Like the Flu
Mark: It really is. That’s why this is a great, great quote. I love John Eldredge. He says, “The religious spirit is like the flu. There’s always a new strand of it.”
Melissa: That is such a good statement.
Mark: That well explains it right there because it evolves in what it points to because it’s always creating a rigidity. I wrote down a couple observations that I have, some things I’ve seen of a religious spirit. There’s like six of them I just jotted down before we did this show. You get very critical and judgmental of others, clear sign. You just jump to that. Even politics, even just normal church matters.
Melissa: What? My opinion is …
Mark’s Battle with a Religious Spirit
Mark: Yeah, right? You have a lot of internal struggles as a believer over right and wrong. You’re internally having these arguments over your life, others, of right and wrong, rather than coming to peace. You get very angry and argumentative in spiritual discussions like that’s something that I’ve had to get free from.
Melissa: Here’s the thing I will say about you that’s maybe worse is that you don’t really manifest that. You internalize it.
Melissa: You could be in a conversation with somebody and completely disagree with them and you will spin about it in your mind because you take a higher ground and you don’t argue and you listen and you learn. It’s like you have this duel thing that goes on. Then you go home, because I live with you and I know, and you spin about it.
Mark: Can we do a session right now on me? I’m going to kick my feet up.
Melissa: Everybody, this is what goes on with Mark….You do. I think a lot of people have this problem. Listen in, people, because that’s what happens with Mark.
Wisdom for the Moment
Mark: Yeah, because growing up, it was a heavy, heavy deal. You got to do everything right. The problem is, in any moment and any situation, doing what’s right is not always super clear. When somebody comes against you, do you stand up for yourself or do you just take a humble posture and say nothing? Well, some people would say, “Well, say nothing.” Well, there are times …
Melissa: Where you should stand up for yourself.
Mark: Where Jesus flipped tables.
Melissa: Sometimes it’s hard to know which is the best way to do it.
Melissa: Who knows sometimes? We don’t know always.
Mark: That’t the problem of religious spirit is it wants to find the rules. Give me the list of rules.
Melissa: What should I do? What should I do? What’s the perfect way to deal with it?
Mark: If somebody yells at me, this is the thing I’m going to do. That is still a growing thing in my life.
Melissa: It is. I think everybody grows in that.
Mark: Where I’m like, “All right. I got to try to take the humble posture,” and then the situation gets worse.
Melissa: In your own mind.
Mark: Right. I’m like, “I should have been stronger then. That’s what I should have been,” or in cases where I really felt like you need to really be firm and strong in this. There were times when the apostles, they were all about grace. There’s times where Paul, like when you read his stories, man, that dude was like fired up, right? It’s all about discerning in the moment what’s needed and you can only do that in relationship with the Father and you learn and you grow.
I’ve had to learn that I don’t have to have this gauge I’m carrying with me of making sure I do everything right at every stage. The problem is I interact with a lot of people that that’s their mindset. They come into the conversation with the gauge and that’s one of the most challenge people to deal with is a heavily, religiously-minded person because they will spend more time arguing, debating, putting their black and white lens on you rather than stepping back and saying, “My number one priority here is to grow in relationship.”
Melissa: I think, too, dealing with people that have been under that system of religiosity, they can’t just seem to settle. When you’re connecting with them, they’re almost like addict like, like they don’t know how to relax. It goes back to this whole just be in relationship, let’s connect together because we’re all flailing like jumping beans.
Sharp & Condemning Edge
Mark: That’s why a religious spirit in people, their faith has an edge to it that condemningly cuts people. I see that a lot in politics right now is there’s times where I go, “I don’t know that I want to be labelled a Christian right now because it’s embarrassing how we cut.”
Melissa: Go on social media. I’m going to tell you something. You want to see the religious spirit in full heavy operation? Go into the comments section. You can go to the comments section under Fox News, MSNBC, or you want to know the worst comment section? Go to Charisma News. You want to see the religious spirit in heavy operation? It could actually make me weep because I’ve had to just shut it off because the attacking …
Mark: To help you on your negativity fast.
Melissa: Yeah, the attacking that goes on from one brother to another, from one sister to another, on what they believe is how the scripture should be interpreted and what the law … I’m using the word law. There is so much legalism and religious mindsets going on and attacking one another on what they believe is the right way. It is heartbreaking to me what is going on, heartbreaking.
Mark: Yeah, it reminds me of a video that I saw of a well-known preacher or whatever. He’s an author. He said something that I said, “Eh, I don’t know that I agree with that.” I just kind of let the thought pass and I said, “Let me just check the comments.” People were doing exactly what we’re talking about here, condemningly cutting who were in disagreement, hard. A religious spirit feels very justified that you stood for what’s right ..
Mark: Even though you have very deeply damaged people unnecessarily because we feel justified in our fight. You know, religion will cause people to feel okay killing someone. We know that. We know this historically in the crusades and years ago, there were these wars going on and there’s a lot of unnecessary things going on all in the name of God. You know, even the saying, correct me if I’m wrong, the saying, “God’s will.”
What’s the thing that they would say? Like in the King Arthur, some of those stories? “God’s will be done,” or something like that. It was some kind of phrase that they would say. I almost wonder is that where we get it from where we talk about God’s will. They just always felt like they were doing the will of God by the way they attacked people. We do it heavily today with words.
I quoted a bunch of people when we were thinking about this topic. Bill Johnson said this. I think it says it well too. “The religious spirit takes up stones to kill the sinner, forgetting their own sin in need of mercy, in order to appear righteous.” That’s what you’re talking about in the comments section, the throwing the stones makes me feel good about myself and shame on you. Literally, that’s what we do. We throw shame on people and it never solves anything.
Jesus Always Threatened the Religious Spirit
I find Jesus to be very threatening to the religious system. If you really want to get free from this, it does ruffle feathers. You have to get used to people labeling you, putting stamps on you, getting angry and upset. You know, breaking out of a religious spirit doesn’t mean you act like a jerk to others, but there’s a level of understanding and relationship that just can not be touched. That’s why Paul said, “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering.” He went through that whole list. He said, “Against such there is no law,” meaning that there’s nothing you can throw at somebody who’s living in love, joy, peace long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, self-control, in those aspects. It’s untouchable by the religious spirit but it will still try and Jesus walked in that.
I want to close with this scripture as we’re helping people discern this. In Luke 11:37 through 39, it says this, “When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him.” This is kind of interesting. He’s going and he’s hanging out with the guy because he’s going to connect. I love this wording. He says, “He went in and reclined at the table.” It’s like our Lord’s sitting there chilling, laying back. You know, I would like any of you artists out there, I would like you to depict that.
Melissa: I know. That would be awesome.
Mark: Depict that picture right there because we don’t see enough of that. We see our Lord on the cross. We see him very seriously teaching. How about him chilling at the table? What would that look like back then?
“But the Pharisee, noticing Jesus did not wash before the meal …” This is classic religious spirit is you take your rules, your set of rules, whatever they are, and you throw them at somebody and internally, you require them to come into cooperation with those things. If not, it’s like a flag. You have constant flags with people in relationship. It gets in the way of your interaction. It’s like, “Oh, they have a cigarette pack in their pocket.”
Melissa: “I can’t hang out with them.”
Mark: There’s all these certain things. Whatever it is. I don’t even want to create examples because then people want to create lists. The Lord said to him, “Now, then, you Pharisee, clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside, you’re full of greed and wickedness.” It’s like, bam, he gets back to the heart and relationship and you forgot what you’re full of and you’re just wasting your time pointing out rules
Nice on the Outside – Rotten Inside
Melissa: Right. Basically everything looks good on the outside. Everything’s pristine, but on the inside, what are you full of
Mark: Which this mindset, religious spirit, ties in with a political spirit. I just wrote an article on that.
Melissa: Excellent article. Everyone needs to check it.
Mark: Thanks, because Jesus said, “Watch out for these two leavens. They get into the bread mix and they infect everything.” The leaven of the Pharisees, which is the religious spirit, the leaven of Herod, which is the political spirit. That political spirit jumps in to let’s keep everything looking good in image and let’s not be too authentic and real because of what people will think, all that kind of stuff that gets in and got into their mindsets.
Anyways, we hope this, at least, this episode made you think, made you ponder where this could be at effect in your life. We all have areas, so the moment you start pointing the finger, the moment you’re actually coming into agreement with it. Let God search your heart and life. Where can more freedom and relationship flow through your life?
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