The Religious Spirit

Conflicts in a church may be generated in many circumstances. Generally speaking, personality differences, varied viewpoints and minor power struggles account for most upheavals and disagreements. However, there are times in the life of the church when the enemy gains a foothold and becomes the motivating factor in the divisiveness of a congregation.

When an outside spiritual force gains control over a church it becomes nearly impossible to find a reasonable solution to the problem. Normal avenues of resolution are repeatedly rejected and a battle for power usually ensues. These unsolvable activities are often the work of the Religious Spirit, or as some call it, the Jezebel Spirit.

To learn how this Spirit functions we need to go back to the book I Kings. Here we see how Jezebel used her cunning and skills to cause havoc to God’s leaders as well as other godly elements of their society. The main goal of the Religious Spirit is to destroy the work of the messengers of God. It especially seeks to render spiritual authority and spiritual insight ineffective. Therefore, it usually attacks the pastor and those who support him.

In I Kings 18 Elijah, one of God’s greatest prophets, was used by the Almighty in a miraculous way to show that God’s power was greater than all the prophets of Baal. Through Elijah the Lord manifested himself as the only true God by consuming the sacrifice that had been doused with water. Elijah killed the prophets of Baal, striking blow to idol worship. That same day his prayers broke a long drought that plagued the people. It would be an understatement to say that this was a good day. You would assume that nothing could intimidate this man of God.

Coming off of the mountain of victory Elijah encountered a different spirit, stronger than the mighty powers he had just conquered. It was so powerful that it made him turn tail and run in fear. It was found in Jezebel. Her spirit was so intimidating that the mighty prophet could not prevail against it. (See I Kings 19: 1-4). With a few words and threats this woman, empowered by darkness, was able to do what no others could do before her, she defeated Elijah. It is worth our time to explore this as it relates to the modern day church and the growing number of ministers who are being forced from their pulpits.

When this spirit is unleashed in churches today through a small band of willing participants, it mainly focuses on the pastor. Like Elijah it will drive him to the desert in fear for his life, in hopelessness and despair. It will make the minister certain that he is unfit to serve, lacking spiritual worthiness. In his isolation he will retreat into a defensive stance. The accusations slowly take away the influence of the voice of the messenger Like Elijah, he will want to give up and die. Unfortunately, it does not end here.

Another glimpse of the spirit is seen in I Kings 21. Ahab, King of Samaria, wanted Naboth’s vineyard as it was close to his house. Naboth refused to give it to him because it was a part of his father’s inheritance. So Ahab went back to his palace and began to covet the vineyard and its fruit, something that God had not given him.

Jezebel, his wife, sees how depressed he is and says, “I will get this for you”. He listens to her and allows her to use any means to get what he wanted. A conspiracy is born and fault accusations are brought against Naboth. A kangaroo court judgment finds him guilty and he is executed. The end result was that Ahab stole Naboth’s inheritance. He took what was rightfully the possession and fruit of another man.

In church this coveting kind a spirit can gain a foothold in individuals who feel that they deserve a place of higher honor than they now have. The most vulnerable are those who covet the respect of the spiritual leader of the church. They want what God has not chosen to give to them. In the secret depths of their heart they begin to hear a voice say, “I will get this for you”. It is spoken in the place where they have heard the voice of God often. It inspires deep conviction, but it is deception. The place where God communes with this person has been corrupted by darkness.

Inwardly they feel they are taking a step back from the situation but actually they are being energized to lead an assault to take what they now feel is rightfully theirs. Feeling inspired by their maker, they are actually being driven to develop a conspiracy built on faults accusations. In my experience, the most vulnerable are those who have a dark un-confessed sin lurking in their past, such as an affair or some horrific secret they feel they must protect.

This self seeking spirit will then attempt to tell the spiritual leadership of the church what to do (I Kings 21:8). It will try to set the agenda and become the standard by which that agenda is measured. Make no mistake, the Religious Spirit wants to take control and divert the church from its God intended purpose.

In its self exultation it will do what it can to look more spiritual than God’s appointed leader. Their prayers will be more eloquent, and their actions more pious. In their quest they can become very patronizing and critical of the pastor. It deftly uses subtle accusations and innuendo in all of its conversations and prayers to cast doubt on the leadership. Eventually they will overstep the line of authority and attempt to manipulate others to join them in their duty. In their eyes it is their responsibility to have the pastor removed or judged as not worthy of his/her position in the church.

An unholy arrogance settles into those used by this spirit. As Jezebel in I Kings 21:10 they begin to act as a cult leader to a segment of the church. Whenever they are confronted they merely brush aside the attempts with statements like, “Don’t try to turn the tables on me. You are issue. You need to be more submitted”. They want to be the leader that has authority over all. If this does not work, the only solution is execution or violent removal.

The II Kings 9:22 there seems to be a connection between the spirit of Jezebel and the spirit of witchcraft. Then in verse 30 as Jehu goes back to kill Jezebel he finds that she has put on make-up and has fixed up in a very sexual manner in an attempt to seduce him. So this spirit of Jezebel tries to seduce the purpose of God by flattery and emotional stroking.

In Revelation 2: 20 — 24 Jesus had this against the church, that they tolerated the woman Jezebel, that is, they left her alone and did not confront her strongly. It is the natural human reaction to not challenge a person who has such an intimidating spirit about them, partly because it seems so spiritual and partly because you think they know something that you don’t. This spirit will manifest itself by claiming some special prophetic revelation from God, to become the one to whom God speaks to these people instead of the pastor. But, it leads people astray. It literally means to cause people to rome from safety, from truth or from virtue. It will attempt to pull them out of the fellowship or from their safe place, their spiritual covering — the pastor. It will encourage people to commit acts of unlawful lust like trying to control things for yourself or practice some form of idolatry. This spirit tries to involve individuals in any other god but the true one pictured in the Bible.