The Religious Spirit at Work
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”- (Ephesians 6:12).
As we begin to express the life of Christ in our work lives, we need to be aware of another set of Satan’s deceptions, namely, the religious spirit.
The religious spirit can best be defined as an agent of Satan assigned to prevent change and maintain the status quo by using religious devices. The religious spirit seeks to distort a genuine move of God through deception, control, and manipulation. This spirit operates out of old religious structures and attempts to maintain the status quo, favoring tradition over a genuine, intimate relationship with God. It influences believers to live the Christian life based on works instead of grace. Similar to the Greek way of thinking, the religious spirit depends on human effort to acquire spiritual knowledge and favor from God.
In the years before the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther’s greatest challenge was to root out the religious spirit. He was told by his religious teachers that there were stringent requirements for receiving the favor of God. “Remember Martin, just to pray by yourself is not enough. The church has to pray for you too. Even when the priest has asked that you be forgiven, God will not listen unless you do good works. The more gifts you give to the church and to the poor, the more trips you make to Rome and Jerusalem, the more pleasures you give up, the better will be your chances for heaven. The best and safest way to do all this, and the one that is most God pleasing, is to give up everything and become a monk.” The essence of Martin Luther’s struggle to win God’s favor still resides in many a Christian worker.
The religious spirit nullifies the importance of faith and grace that has been given to us through the work of the Cross. You cannot gain acceptance from God by doing any works. Accept His unconditional love for you today.
*Frederick Nohl, Luther (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1962), p. 26.