THE SPIRIT OF THE ANTICHRIST IS RELIGION

   The Spirit of Religion is the Spirit of the Antichrist, and has chosen a Man to Rule.
   That group of evil spirits which inspire loyalty to religious concepts and practices in such a way as to oppose and counterfeit the true work of the Holy Spirit.   Satan knows he cannot stop people from being religious. He therefore seeks to pervert the religious instinct of mankind by deception. All religious deceptions work to draw men away from glorifying and enjoying Christ. Religious spirits work in many different ways, and with many different tactics. We may see through some of their tactics only to be completely fooled by them in another area of our attitudes and thinking. Therefore we must be humble enough to admit that we too, not having fully possessed the mind of Christ as yet, could be deceived in some areas.    Religious spirits are at work not only outside the church of Christ, but also within it. The extent to which Christendom has been infiltrated by evil spirits is greater than it will ever be possible to calculate. It extends virtually to every local church and across every denomination. This fact can be demonstrated logically by considering for a moment the theological disagreements and bad relationships which exist between churches, and also within individual local churches. How can these things be so, when Jesus put so much emphasis on us loving one another   (John 13:34, 35), and was so emphatic in His desire for the unity of the church to reflect the unity of the godhead? (John 17). Obviously the spiritual power behind these problems is religious in nature.     The religious spirit will also rear its ugly head when a man or woman full of the mercy of God and the power of the Holy Spirit begins to confront religious people in churches with the truth. At these times demons get stirred up and will provoke all kinds of unreasonable and malicious attacks on such servants of God. In some situations they may even be publicly cast out of those so influenced by them.   
     This ministry is necessary, and in the last days will become more and more common.
   Jesus Christ had little trouble dealing with demons provoking sickness and disease in people. However, the Lord faced greater opposition from people controlled by religious spirits. These people did not know they had religious spirits. They thought they represented the true religion of God. They did not want to be free of the spirits that made them feel important and more righteous than those around them. Because of their pride and hardness of heart, even the Son of God could not help them to come to the Father.
  These people were known as the Scribes and Pharisees, (preachers today) the chief priests and experts in the law. It was these people who hated Jesus and conspired to crucify and kill Him. They were motivated by pride, envy and self-righteousness. They refused to humble themselves and believe Messiah, despite many proofs Jesus gave. This remained true even after 
the fact of the resurrection.
  We make a serious mistake if we assume that the spirit which motivated these Jewish religious leaders can in no way influence us. In fact, those who
think like that are probably the very ones who are influenced by such spirits. While these religious spirits will obviously not promote exactly the same errors now as they did in those people, there will be similarities of attitude and behavior which will be clearly seen.      This subject is actually a vast one and we need the help of the Spirit of God to be able to get free from the influence of religious spirits. Most people, myself included, will have an ongoing battle with these kinds of spirits. If we are not fighting them, perhaps it is because we are happy to be securely in their grip. We are accepted and among friends. Scripture gives us clues as to the marks of the activity of religious spirits, especially those religious spirits which are closest to the truth and therefore harder to detect.
  Characteristics of the Work of Religious Spirits   
  Fear of not being good enough:  The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and JOY.
 
Fear of People:   "What will the people at church think?" other than "What will Jesus think?" you are bound by a religious, man-pleasing spirit.    Many were offended by Jesus.     The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be kept safe. (Pr. 29:25). 
Performance, not grace-based: 
The religious spirit seeks to have us serve the Lord in order to gain his approval, rather than from having received our approval from the cross of Christ. 
  Emphasis on Things  - (Hebrews 13:8; 1 Tim 4:1,2)  - marriage  - clothes  - external appearance. .
  False Prophecy:  Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. The spirit of Christ in you should confirm the profits words, if you are truly saved and seeking God's will in your life. Ask God for His perfect will in your life and Pray for discernment. And  OBEY.
  Emphasis on Traditions of the elders "this is the way we've always done it":   If we limit God to a particular way of doing things in ministry, we may grieve the Holy Spirit and He will not work as He wishes. He may even leave us alone.   If the way we minister healing does not work, we need to ask how much we are being led by the Spirit, and how much we are stuck in tradition.
  Hypocrisy - play acting   When we pretend that we have a concern for righteousness and justice but secretly hold onto certain areas of sin, we are being hypocrites.
  Love of Religious Power, rejecting of the power of the Holy Spirit. 
The Pharisees hated Jesus because they would lose their place as religious leaders.  They were upset with Jesus for healing and casting out demons. They called it, work of the devil. (Matthew 12:44)
  Jealousy and Envy   They believed that if Jesus were truly from God he would recognize and honor them. they measured themselves by themselves. (2 Cor. 10:12)   
  Despising people   We are wrong if we consider ourselves better than others on the basis of  anything.
   Placing emphasis on traditions, than on the teachings and commandments of the Scripture  Jesus told us to preach the gospel. (Mark 16:15). People are dying out there. Why are we fighting about the kind of clothes we wear, and how important should be our church life?
   Blindness to the work of God.   Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant  The religious spirit makes outward things like clothes the major issue, and ignores a right heart attitude of humility, gratitude, mercy and courageous faith.
   Pride in personal sacrifice.  We may have given up things to serve the Lord. We may have prayed, fasted or given. But when we want others to know we do these things, and we wish to gain the approval and admiration of men, we have fallen prey to the religious spirit. 
   Lack of mercy.   But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice', you would not have condemned the guiltless. (Matthew 12:7)  Mercy is one of the "weightier matters of the law. When Jesus heals it is an expression of God's love and mercy.
  Lack of concern for the needs of people  The Pharisees would pull their ox out of the well on the Sabbath, but were upset when someone was healed. They didn't care about the needs of others.

Ezekiel, son of man, these men have started worshiping idols, though they know
it will cause them to sin even more. So I refuse to give them a message! Ezekiel 14:3

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