A religious spirit is a false guide that seeks to substitute and replace the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and also to deceive you into believing you are actually following the Holy Spirit by following it’s leadership. Once a religious spirit gets a stronghold in the heart, it is very difficult to displace, because the host defends it as if it were the Spirit of the Lord. However, with God, all things are possible, even deliverance from a religious spirit.
As I write and edit this post, I realize that what I am sharing is going to be offensive. I, however, don't want it to be unnecessarily offensive. Let me also say that I don't believe myself, or anyone, for that matter, is impervious to the influences that this writing highlights. We all are weak. We all stumble. With that said, I want to encourage you to consider carefully what I am saying, without having a knee-jerk response. Most people don't like their weaknesses to be highlighted and thereby feel obligated to defend themselves. I know the feeling well, because I do it too. But, to hold opposing ideas in the mind, simultaneously, and maintaining the ability to function, is a stretch, but a sign of intelligence, and depth. I am hoping to stretch you. You may be offended, but, even in that, I hope this leaves you better off in the long run.
For the past few years, I have been recognizing something in the way certain Christians movements around me speak and pronounce their words. Not all words, of course, but there are certain words, varying by movement, which take on a sanctified pronunciation….. GAUD, for instance, in one example. I think they mean God. When I first began to encounter this pronunciation, I was in a place where I could ask someone who knew the history, from the inside. I said something like, “Tell me about this pronunciation.” The lady said that this was the way a certain fellow said God in the early part of the ministry’s founding. She said it with a smile. I guess it was seen as a positive distinction. To me it didn't seem real. It may not have been hollow to the guy who first did it, but it had a real hollow ring for me. To be kind, the original user was from another country. However, all these people were from the US and they were going at it this pronunciation like it was a secret codified style that invoked special power. That may be true, but, in my view, the special power such things invoke isn’t who they claim to be calling on.
This is also true of the California style Christianity – cool, hip and supernatural! – that seems to be spreading with some vigor. We see people on Youtube or videos, or GodTV, or in person with a very distinctive flavor or flair. You know, ministries have flavors, and some very distinct. This in itself is no surprise or reason for caution. However, before you know it, we can all be using the same “karate chop action” that Buzz Lightyear is famous for, if you get my drift. Or the GAUD pronunciation, or the buzzwords – presence, breakthrough, manifestation, encounter, and on and on, ad nauseam.
Much of this can flow from the desire to be esteemed, as we often place esteem on these kinds of things. But desiring to be esteemed is a trap. It is not wrong to esteem others, but desiring to be esteemed is a false guide that will lead you far from God, all the while you are claiming to be sent by Him. This is a similar thing to wanting other people to think you are super spiritual! Sometimes we feel the need to add a little flair and escape our normality when it comes to how we appear to others. If we make up in pretense what we lack in substance, we have already taken the false guide’s offer.
Religion is what you are left with when the Spirit leaves the building. – Bono