The fall of man was a complete and total accomplishment. The scripture there is no good thing that dwells within us sums this up well. There is nothing redeemable in fallen man.
God’s answer for the fall is death and the establishment of new life. Jesus Christ bore the punishment justly due to us. His death, resurrection, ascension, and the subsequent pouring out of His Spirit gave the necessary new life. That life is new creation life, which we receive when we are born again by His Spirit.
God is after a spiritual people. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, a completely new order was established. The new order is God’s people governed by His Spirit. This is a people obedient to His leading and not that of an established religion.
The contrast between the old and the new becomes clear in Stephen’s speech just before his martyrdom. He recounts the history of God’s people from Abraham down through their history concluding with the crucifixion of Christ. At this point, he concludes with Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ear, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit.ii
It is apparent that He is contrasting the religious order of the day with a spiritual order. An order governed by faith in the power of God through obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Pop goes the weasel ...
The religious spirit invokes in us the thought that we must do something. It implies that there is some power within us, some ability that we possess that we must exercise. Until, often by painful experience, we realize that there is no good thing within us, it has definite real estate to work with in our soul.
How many never come to this realization? How many start the Christian walk believing they can please God by their actions. They sincerely strive and yet they stumble repeatedly, finally giving up, settling for a religious form instead?
Lack of proper teaching of the normal Christian life begins the problem. What is the normal Christian life?
I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me: and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
[Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]iii
Repercussions of a religious spirit:
Believers remain babies; kept in the nursery.
They live under the law meant to bring them to Christ, instead of the law of life in Christ Jesus.
They are robbed of the freedom and liberty of life in Christ. They are restrained, often forbidden is the freedom to flow in and with the Spirit of God.
It forms a clergy laity system, stifling the gifting and growth of the Body.
Many spirits fit nicely under the title of religious spirits. Spirits of control, spirits of witchcraft, and most certainly the Jezebel spirit that sets up false systems and false prophets.
Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians is just as current today as when the Spirit of God moved on Him to write it ...
O foolish Galatians, who that bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?iv
Let us not be bewitched by the same spirits! May we be strong to stand against the pop of the weasel!
Photo by Robert C. McLaughlin
[ii] Acts 7:51
[iii] Gal 2:20-21
iv Gal 3:1-3