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Do you have a Religious Addiction?
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I used to be bound by a religious addiction, that is, until the Lord delivered me.
Looking back, I had no mind of my own where all things spiritual were concerned. I was subservient to whatever denomination I was affiliated with, bowing to manmade rules and dogmas both in Protestant and Catholic camps as I moved from one to the other.
Though the Scriptures declare that "there is none good but God, " I was considered a good soldier, loyal and obedient through and through and very adept at rule-keeping. I was driven by my religious addiction and was much more diligent about serving the church (the denomination anyway), subconsciously trying harder to "be good and be seen" than I was trying to get to know Jesus through His Word, fall in love with Him on a personal level, obey His doctrine and advance His Kingdom.
Frankly, I don't recall that kind of thinking ever entering my mind.
My thoughts of God were more along the lines of "Hope He saw that!" while I adhered to church policies and procedures like a champ. In all honesty, I never knew what Jesus really taught for I rarely cracked the pages of His book (the Bible). I was a "good" kid and the Christian world in which I had immersed myself at the time was generally fine with that as I excelled - at least in comparison to others. I fit in. I was one of their own and was even considered an example to be followed. One minister even called me "a churchman" before the congregation. Talk about stroking my ego...!
Don't get me wrong; good guys are more useful than bad guys and good-deeds-for-the-day actually DO tend to help people. Unfortunately, God's not impressed with our acts of self-righteousness, which are referred to as "filthy rags" in the Book of Isaiah. It's all about the motivation of the heart. Those who hope they're "scoring points" or making amends for past sins by their good works are sadly mistaken.
I was deceived in believing that I was not only impressing others but that God must surely be pleased as well. There were those who mistook my good-guy nature for devout Christianity; including Christian women. I felt accepted and, to my carnal mind, that's all that really mattered. At least, until the day came that I really needed Jesus and The Church and found I was left holding a bag full of nothing but powerless, meaningless, deceptive religion.
THE TRUTH SET WILL SET YOU FREE...WHEN YOU KNOW IT
Jesus taught that knowing the truth will set us free. Problem? In our reluctance to admit that we have any problems at all, we fall into denial, even where our spiritual lives are concerned.
The religious addiction is not so much an addiction to anything in particular as it is paying consistent homage to a demon Spirit of Religion - a literal entity - the very Spirit that drove the self-righteous Pharisees. Sure, it's much more socially acceptable to acknowledge that one has an addiction to religion than it is, say, to pornography or crack cocaine. That's because the human tendency is to judge what's on the outside because we really don't have time to deal with the spiritual and emotional bondages and burdens of individuals. Generally, so long as they show up for services, look good and smell good and sing along, we're OK with "them." They might be living a private Hell but the Church at large is content NOT to believe anything could possibly be wrong with one who is committed to the denomination, follows the rules and does the work of the group or attends services every time the door is open. Such a one is often lauded as a model of the faith.
Those afflicted with a Religious Spirit are often folks who have struggled with "other" addictions during the course of their lives (e.g. alcohol, drugs, sex) or are Adult Children of Alcoholics. Actor and Director Mel Gibson was recently arrested for drunk driving. An interview with Dianne Sawyer was re-run this morning where he admitted how easily he was addicted to almost everything including drugs and alcohol. That's the nature of the beast. Apparently, the transference of one addictive lifestyle for another is fairly common, and when addicts come to faith in Christ, such a transference of spirits often occurs. Such demons can be dealt with and commanded to leave but, sadly, far too few Believers believe that they have that authority...or they don't believe in demons at all (Satan loves that about us).
In many cases, an individual's relationship with God can be stunted by his/her upbringing. Let's face it, we're receptacles, taking in good and bad from day one, then dishing out whatever's been poured in. Some have been raised in a performance mode, jumping through hoops to gain approval from parents or always in competition with siblings. Perhaps they were compared to the kids next door. Likewise, where that person's spiritual life is concerned, they often struggle with trying to constantly gain acceptance or approval - in the eyes of the congregation, church leaders... and ultimately from God Himself. Though this type of misguided behavior can never satisfy, it's all many individuals ever know and it defines the lackluster Christian life of multitudes of pew potatoes from cradle to grave.
Such an addiction serves to attract other demonic characteristics such as self-righteousness, pride, false piety. As the afflicted person carries out his/her religious duties, a subconscious "look at me everybody" attitude gradually creeps in. Oftentimes, that attitude is simply a silent prayer such as, "God, I hope this pleases you" as that individual is never sure how much is enough. Have I prayed long enough? Did God hear that? Am I REALLY going to Heaven? Have I volunteered enough? Did I perform this or that duty often enough to appease the Father? How about the deacons? The religious addict never seems to grasp the fact that all their sins, past, present and future, were forgiven. These people tend to judge others by what they DO and themselves by their good intentions.
The discerning Christian can see Satan's claw prints all over this powerless, goody-goody behavior. Again, it's a deception that far too many have fallen into. I'm not only talking about Christians here. All the religions of the world are ruled by this type of Spirit. He can be found in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples around the globe. Bear in mind that the word "religion" means "return to bondage" according to Webster's Dictionary; Jesus, on the other hand, came to set us free.
GIVE ME A SIGN!
So, what is a religious addiction and how does one know when one has been so afflicted? There are some signposts we can be looking for but one must be brutally honest with one's self-assessment just as an alcoholic must finally admit to his addiction before he can receive and apply the help that's available. Confession, as you may know, means to agree with that which God already knows about us. 1 John 1:9 tells us "If we confess our sins (agree that we DO have a Problem and that Jesus IS the answer) He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
A Religious Spirit will rear its head when confronted with the truth. You can count on stirring up a demonic hornet's nest every time. Often these attacks are quite extreme as in the situations where I have personally been dealt death threats and received hate mail and have been booted of my Internet provider over 20 times, mostly by people who claim to be Christians, in response to my online Christian broadcasts. It's OK to simply disagree - or offer correction where one thinks I made a mistake. But some of these responses were quite excessive. The reason they reported me to AOL, I was told, was defined as "broadcasting objectionable material." I can't help but wonder if they respond the same way to off-color online humor, obscenity and the like.
I knew a converted Jewish woman who claimed that she was receiving extra-biblical revelation from God. Despite the willingness of others in the Body of Christ to offer correction, reproof, teaching, etc., she had little use for any of it so long as God was speaking to her. So much for being part of "The Body." Any "limb" that does its own thing is considered spastic, as I understand it. Most of her faith was based upon Old Testament teachings that suited her own needs. I confronted her on a number of occasions, one day causing her to cry and yell quite emotionally. In time, I helped her find a place to live, found her a job at the local university and even gathered a wardrobe for her as she owned very little. The response? She filed false charges against me. Oddly, her case never made it to court. Actually, she wound up in state jail herself after being convicted of a past crime that finally caught up with her. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
Jesus Christ had little trouble where demons of sickness and the Spirit of Death was concerned but He faced stiff opposition from those controlled by the Religious Spirit. Certainly, they did not know they had given place to such spirits. "Surely we represent the true religion of God," they must have thought. Who would want to be free of that which make them feel important and more righteous than others? For the chief priests and scribes who entertained religious pride and hardness of heart, even Jesus could not guide them to the Father. They had made their choice.
ARE YOU A TRUTH-SEEKER?
A thing is either true or it's a lie. It's that simple. That applies to the case of religious addictions as well. The same Spirit that motivated the Jewish religious leaders to conspire against and kill Jesus are still working today among people who know God. The Bible reveals many clues showing us signs that reveal when the Religious Spirit is present. It's an extensive list of 23 symptoms but, if you'd be interested in seeing what some of those tell-tale signs may be, perhaps as a guide for some self-assessment, simply hit REPLY and type HELP in the SUBJECT Bar. Protestant or Catholic, if this subtle spirit has crept its way into your life, don't delay. Deal with him today and experience the peace that passes all understanding and the unspeakable joy that Scripture promises you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael's mission is to bring Discipleship and Encouragement to the Body of Christ. Since 1999, he has broadcast nearly six hundred inspirational articles and a dozen booklets on subjects that will interest the thinking Christian, all designed to accelerate the process of spiritual development in God's people.
He is the founder of t.e.a.m. ministries (
). An Author, Pastoral Counselor and Teacher, his eMail broadcasts, known as "Your Town for Jesus" are reaching millions around the globe WEEKLY. Write
if you'd like to SUBSCRIBE.
A licensed/ordained minister, a Certified Workplace Chaplain, and a Professional Member of NIBIC, he has ministered in Methodist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, College and Cowboy churches. He is also a Speaker on the Christian Speaker Network and may be available to speak to your church or Christian group.
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Reader Count & Comments
01 Aug 2006
I believe that, and the bible teaches that all TRUE, BORN AGAIN believers receive "direct instructions" from God almighty, if we didn't receive our own, personal "direct" instructions from God, then how could we ever have a personal relatioship with GOD?
The Bible also teaches that every man/woman has to work out their own salvation with God,
This is telling us that it is a very PERSONAL thing, thus requiring direct and PERSONAL instrucions from HIM.
01 Aug 2006
This could also be called-Going through the Motions. I know a lot of people who do that. Mind your p's and q's and follow that rulebook. Don't do this, don't do that. Walk, talk, and dress like me. The only one who is allowed to control me is the Lord. Not a preacher, not a church, not my husband. God alone. I listen to Him. That's why I am free.
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