Recently my husband and I, along with a large group of others, went to a church of a certain denomination in order to see the premises and take a look around. We were greeted by the pastor and his wife, as a couple of young men and women with them stood obediently by and awaited the orders from the pastor. Immediately one could sense the spirit of religion and how uncomfortable these people appeared to be. While this was not a formal meeting, these men and women were dressed in business attire. The women with no makeup or jewelry, long hair done up and dresses and the men in suits and ties, clearly everyone had their place. This group of people we were with were completely the opposite, some of us were dressed in jeans and shirts or shorts, most everyone in attendance were dressed casually. There was a rather obvious difference in appearance as well as some kind of denominational and non-denominational beliefs which made some uncomfortable although no words were exchanged.
The religious spirits do not need to speak to get their message across.
While we toured the premises, I watched carefully all those in attendance and I tried to take in the premises with a natural eye but my spirit was grieved and so I found myself praying in my prayer language, searching for Holy Spirit’s take on all that I was seeing. As I took note of how excited the group of people were and how the “well dressed” people appeared to be intimidated by our group, my heart knew the Spirit was grieved. My first thought was, how I wish these people would be this excited about the word of God. While I enjoyed seeing their excitement and understood why they were I also saw the unique difference in the two groups of people, yet they were supposed to all be believers of the same Lord, even so their response to each other saddened my heart because it appeared as if we were merely strangers. One group was solemn and almost fearful as it appeared that the staunch religion they were in had stolen their joy. Whereby the other group was outwardly enthusiastic. I thought how desperately we are in need of revival in order to become one in Christ as was originally intended. Clearly religion has caused a huge divide within the Body of Christ and I knew God was grieved over the state of the Bride.
4 [There is] one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who [is] above all, and through all, and in you all. [Eph 4:4-6 NKJV]
Religion is Carnal
There may be one body but it has been cut into many pieces by religion. Apostle Paul must have discerned this to be a potential problem as well because he wrote to the church in Corinth pleading with them not to follow man’s doctrine nor be divided.
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you, but [that] you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's [household], that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? [1Co 1:10-13]
Further into Paul's letter he says, 3 for you are still carnal. For where [there are] envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like [mere] men? 4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I [am] of Apollos," are you not carnal? [1Co 3:3-4]
Because of different interpretations of scripture by various leader’s people have been brought under the subjection of a man spirit instead of The Spirit, and in doing so another gospel or another Jesus is being taught (2Cor 11:4). Jesus Christ was not religious, He was devout to His call, meaning He was deeply committed to the cause of the Father. The Pharisees were religious for they expected people to follow a law that they themselves could not do. Jesus came as a man of flesh and demonstrated how we are to live, He could expect us to do so because He did so, even committing His life to the cross.
Carnal is the fleshly and unregenerated mind, the one that has not been renewed by the Spirit of God through the reading of the word. If we read the word through any spirit other than God’s we will lack understanding whereby we will interpret the word through the lens of our own mind. Whenever we do this we can and will end up in some form of error, religion is error when it brings people under the subjection of bondage.
Religion Kills by Suffocation and Exhaustion
There are many religious spirits but the one that Jesus faced was the pharisaical antichrist spirit, this one sent Him to the cross. Although it pleased God to do this because He knew it was the only way to save mankind, the pharisaical antichrist spirit was the one that led the charge against Jesus.
After we left this church that day I heard the Holy Spirit say “stanch or staunch.” I then checked in to listen closer and heard it again. I had already heard the word “religion” over this place a few weeks back so I was quickly able to discern “stanch religion” was the message. I looked up the word stanch and discovered that it isn’t necessarily a bad word, but when you put it with religion it changes meaning. The word actually has a meaning of loyal and committed which are great characteristics until you see the rest of the definition. Staunch (stanch) is derived from Old French estanc that has a base meaning of ‘dried up, weary.’ 1828 Webster Dictionary defines the word stanch as to stop the flowing of blood, and Dictionary.com adds to this by defining staunch as impervious to water or other liquids.
One could put these definitions together and see how this word would describe the condition of a person’s heart that has adhered to a staunch religious standard. I also heard in my spirit that these people had been circumcised on the outside as part of their religious standards!
Oh, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [Eph 3:17]! The agony of keeping the law of righteousness is painful and impossible, for one can look perfected on the outside but it usually bears no weight on the condition of their hearts on the inside. We walk in holiness because it comes with a changed heart, our heart becomes conditioned to love, therefore, doing no harm to a neighbor. Our dress, walk and talk all fall into place according to the circumcision of our heart not according to the strict standards of the law. Oh, that we 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what [is] the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. [Eph 3:18-19]
We are to be rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. [Col 2:7] Abounding in faith has nothing to do with keeping the stanch standards of religion but rather has everything to do with belief in the One and Only Savior that gave salvation through Blood and not so that we would vainly work for it, less we have something to boast about.
Religion Dries Up the Wells
What the Holy Spirit was showing me was that through staunch religion He was no longer allowed to flow. Water most often in the Bible represents the Spirit of God. Religion dries up the wellspring of life causing those under its bondage to grow weary and unable to operate in the gifts that flow from Holy Spirit. Religion stops the blood flow to the heart, the blood of Jesus gets replaced by the works of man.
The rules and regulations of religion are like dumping dirt into a watery well until it becomes muddy then trying to pull the bucket up filled with what is now like sludge. The flow is muddied and stopped, eventually if left to its own it will completely dry up.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Pro 4:23 NIV) The heart is to be guarded from religious teachers that put us under a yoke of bondage. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. [2Pe 2:17]
These men preach what sounds like great truths because they are from the Bible however, For when they speak great swelling [words] of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. [2Pe 2:18]
These men preach liberty but bring others into bondage through strict standards that even they cannot keep. They are slaves to a corrupted doctrine but they get power from it so they keep others under the bondage and call it freedom!
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. [2Pe 2:19-20]
This is a frightening place to end up, knowing that the true Way of Righteousness is not by works but by grace and that by faith in Jesus Christ, of which works will flow! For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. [2Pe 2:21]
One Way to the Father God
I pray you will be encouraged in knowing that Jesus Christ died to set all of us free and has given us the abundant life, however, He also did not do away with the law for He said Himself "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. [Mat 5:17]. He did take the curse however, and if you really fulfill [the] royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; [Jas 2:8] Which includes Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. [Gal 6:2]
Jesus said His yoke was easy and His burden light, this means it is easier to follow Jesus Christ by being in a consistent relationship through prayer, Bible reading and worship which will cause your love to grow and allow you to keep the way of holiness that we are commanded. He came to break us free from bondage not hold us under it. There is One way to the Father and it is not by works. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. [Jhn 14:6 ]