an excerpt from “Coming Into Alignment”
Heaven will always confront man-made spirituality. The best place for the enemy to hide is always in the guise of something spiritual. He masquerades as an angel of light. As we saw in the time of Jesus, He was constantly opposed by religious people who were fronting a system that they themselves had developed over many years.
In one confrontation with Jesus, He spoke to them about the fact that they “transgressed the commandments of God for the sake of their tradition,” [Matthew 11:3]. Religious leaders invalidate the word of God for tradition’s sake [11:6]. He called these leaders hypocrites who honor God with their mouth but not their heart, teaching their rules as though they were God’s word [11:7–9].
The Pharisees were offended, but Jesus was unperturbed calling them blind leaders of the blind [11:14]. Matthew chapter 23 is a comprehensive direct attack on a religious system and the leaders who uphold that organization with all its practices and procedures.
If we are not leading God’s people into direct encounter with Him, what is our leadership about? If people are not personally growing in Christ and fulfilling His Kingdom call, what are we developing? If our ministry is not raising up warriors and soldiers to fight the good fight, what type of believer are we producing? If our leadership is in control of how the church operates but it is not being effective in warfare, what is our control really cultivating?Many people have gotten used to being no-one and doing nothing. They are children tossed to and fro [Ephesians 4:14]. A religious spirit creates the environment where people can look to someone other than their own relationship with God, and then it subtly makes it their fault if breakthrough doesn’t occur—not enough faith, too little repentance, need for deliverance, gave up too soon, didn’t pray hard enough, too weak, too passive, unbelief, double minded! These are just a few of the excuses that are banded around.
We are subtly turned around again to face our own performance as Christians, which further debilitates us. A religious spirit wants to control people’s experience of God. Churches develop systems and structures that create an illusion of going somewhere but actually deny people the permission and the place to develop their own lifestyle, ministry, and relationship to hear God and obey. To move in the Spirit and grow up in Christ, we must restore people to the beauty of a radiant relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.