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The Dreadful Influences of
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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Some years ago a charismatic lady gave me a copy of Rick Joyner’s book The Religious Spirit. She did so, because I keep the festivals which God first gave to Israel (Lev 23). She thought I had a religious spirit because of my observance of those commanded assemblies. She had been duped by the widespread teaching that claims we no longer need to keep holy days or Sabbaths which God gave Israel.
Yet you won’t find any record in the Bible where God said He was rescinding those commandments. Her assumption was based upon human tradition, and you will find if you study origins of Sunday worship, Christmas and Easter, that these all have their roots in paganism and compromised worship – things which God strongly condemns by inference in Revelation 2:12-29. (Explained in MM’s Understanding The Book of Revelation.)
The irony is that she had the religious spirit.
I don’t observe those occasions of communal worship in order to be saved. I keep them because I am saved by faith, cleansed by the blood of Jesus for my previous infractions of His teaching, and because I no longer want to disobey anything which God says. My keeping them is an evidence of my acceptance and surrender to God.
Of course, I realise that there ARE many who ‘keep’ them for wrong reasons. Either they think that others who don’t understand their relevance won’t be saved, and that "only we who keep these festivals will be saved" – exclusivists. Or they insist that keeping them is part of their qualification for eternal life – legalists. Usually, such false Christians have a blend of those views.
Seventh Day Adventists (who mostly don’t keep the festivals but observe the Sabbath), former WCG (Worldwide Church of God) members, and offshoot Church of God organisations all subscribe to these erroneous views. They are the deceptions – very subtle, mind you – of deceiving spirits.
The lady who condemned me for my beliefs assumed that I was in error on those points, yet she never contested with me about why she felt they were erroneous. And she wasn’t willing to look into my exegesis. Her pride – thinking she was right, and that the one she looked down upon was so very wrong – kept her bound in ignorance. Later she backslid.
Unknown to her, she had accepted a religious spirit.
She was ‘very spiritual’ at times, receiving words from God, visions from time to time as she sought His face, and thinking that such things were a confirmation of her right standing with God. These things led to pride, and that allowed a religious spirit to take over.
Her right standing, just like ours, came from only one thing – faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. The only problem was, she thought she had it, and didn’t think we did. Otherwise she wouldn’t have given me Joyner’s book about religious spirits. (By the way, he’s a false prophet and now has plenty of religious spirits on him after God took us to witness to him in Edinburgh some years ago. That episode is recorded in GOD Digital and the False Revival.)
Pride Hides Behind A Facade
For people who have a religious spirit, their main problem is a root of pride. They think they are better than others; superior in some way. They can be arrogant, or feel special.
Their religious ‘performance’ – what they do or what they believe – has puffed them up. So, their ‘creed’ becomes a facade for evil spirits to hide behind. That is a religious spirit – one which is evil but which allows you to continue doing all the things that you think you are doing to and for God, but which you are actually doing for your own ‘self-glory’.
The Pharisees were classic examples. They did what they did to be seen of men and to exalt themselves (Matt 23:5-7).
A religious spirit will very subtly supplant Jesus’ Spirit in you, when you allow pride in. But, because you still take Jesus on your lips, you don’t think you’ve got anything other than Jesus’ Spirit in you. It has hidden behind your facade of righteousness.
I remember seeing on a video produced by Christ for all Nations. Reinhard Bonnke was praying for the sick in Birmingham, and the anointing of God was present. Some people were receiving healing, others were being touched by God in different ways. But a coloured lady was beside herself, calling out in a high pitched voice, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..." Her shrieks were those of the religious spirit within her.
Demons get stirred up by the presence of the Spirit of God being so close. They know they could be ousted from their home, so they put on a masquerade to protect themselves.
Characteristics of religious spirits
A religious spirit is an evil spirit. It encourages people to put on a religious air or manner. Pretence is its cover. It makes you feel good about yourself. It makes you feel better than others, special, superior. But it can give you a false humility. Paul wrote about it:
Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels [demons are fallen angels], intruding into those things which he has seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind (Col 2:18).
Then Paul mentioned the outworking of those spirits in the religious practice of believers back then. Some people were submitting to worldly regulations (2:20), a ritualism of the flesh: Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle (Col 2:21). Regular fasting, or long fasts, are often a repeat of the same problem Paul was pointing out.
In an illusion of ‘being superior’, such people can exhibit peculiar responses. One lady would say in response to "How are you?" when a friend met her in the street, "I am blessed." She is elevated in delusion.
The religious spirit looks down on others. It thinks it’s all right; that it doesn’t need to change. It is full of pride.
Most Catholics and Orthodox adherents have religious spirits. Then there’s a whole range of them in charismatic churches. In fact, in whatever ‘branch’ of the Church you investigate, religious spirits are hiding away, nicely protected by custom, heresy, or sanctimonious pose.
Look at the pope on his recent trip to Israel , accompanied by sanctimonious posers walking behind or alongside him, hands clasped as if in prayer. What perverts! These men are not men of God. They are deceived and deceive others by word or example. The purpose is to exert influence; to dominate and control.
In Africa there’s not much difference between such witchcraft IN the Church as outside it! The African preacher, with his flowing colourful robes, and shouting rhetoric, is so full of himself! He relies upon these ‘props’ to give him the special standing he seeks above the level of the ordinary person. Then there are those who use their ‘gifts’ of ‘prophesying’ (often an utter sham!) to exert even more influence over others. It’s an abomination to God! They think they’re in God’s service. Some think they are the ONLY way to God. They worship God in their own image, not in the reflection of His purity.
Other evils flow from this stream of vileness: arrogance, greed, covetousness, aloofness, deceit, self-will, secretiveness... the list can go on and on!
I tell African pastors and evangelists (few listen) if ministry work is elevating, if it makes someone feel superior or special (that’s pride), then it’s best to pack it in, for such a person will not enter the Kingdom of God with that attitude and pride inside. You can do God’s will, fulfil your call in life, without being a pastor or evangelist OVER others. You can feed others spiritually, on the same level – on their level – in a home fellowship, not behind a pulpit. And for most pastors in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and other similar countries, that is where they should get out from – they should get out from behind their pulpits and earn their bread by the sweat of their brow (1 Thes 4:11), or they will not see God’s Promise to them.
The high and mighty will not enter the kingdom. The little child will.
Expelling Religious Spirits
There is only one way to get rid of religious spirits. It is through humbling. Job could tell you all about it. They do not go easily! You have to go through circumstances in life that bring you down – to see yourself as inconsequential in relation to God – and then stay down.
I wrote to someone about this issue:
It has bothered me for some time that you spend many hours in prayer with others [who ask for ministry, for spiritual help], and fasting often. We don't do that. It's very rare that we fast, and we don't spend many hours in prayer.
If one has spent 15-30 minutes in prayer in the morning, that should be enough to set you up for the day, and then any petition to God during the day for another person need only be a short prayer. You don't need to go on and on. God will answer (if He is going to answer positively) after a prayer of petition that may only be a few seconds or a minute or two minutes long. Long petitioning prayers, begging God, imploring Him to respond, are unnecessary and empty. If He doesn't respond after a short prayer, then self-examination (of the person asking for help, or of you) is what is needed. Each person must be open to correction, to see what is wrong with himself; and be willing to acknowledge sins that God points out. If God doesn't answer you, or you don't seem to receive anything relevant, then you need to seek out someone else who is close to God, for their input, and not just rely upon your own receipt from God. The little leaflet Resisting Demons should be of help.
The only way you will get rid of those demons is by being humbled (not in fasting), and getting rid of all the ritual religious activity (because it puffs you up, and makes you feel good).
Anything that elevates the self, or which may give an impression to another person that you are more elevated in society, you should get rid of. This applies to what you wear, and how you appear to others. Jesus didn’t look any different to the ordinary people in His society. Nor should we.
Job didn't see the depth of his error, and how wrong his self-righteousness was, until quite some time had elapsed, and he had been through a process of humbling. It is the same for you.
Moreover, Jesus, in washing the disciples’ feet, set a most forceful example for us. He was saying, in effect, that we must not seek to be elevated, but should content ourselves in doing what is most menial. A minister is a servant, not an élite person in a higher position in society. & Malcolm B Heap
Further Reading: Casting Out Demons (Dem); Resisting Demons (ReD)
Are You Driving Out Your Demons? (Dms); The Religious Wicked (Wik)
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