Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican (Luke 18:10, KJV)
Jesus told His disciples an interesting parable to explain the terrible spirit I often refer to as “the religious spirit.” It is one of the worst enemies of God’s grace in your life, and you will do well to pay attention to guard your heart against it. You might be just a little surprised at how much this spirit is so prevalent amongst us today. The parable of Jesus explains clearly what this spirit is:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:10–13, KJV)
The Pharisee was fasting twice a week and was paying tithes regularly. For him, he was a “better Christian” in God’s eyes and compared to others. This is a terrible spirit. It is astonishing how we can slowly start depending on our “good Christian living or service” rather than Christ. The more you know the things of Christianity, the more you will be tempted to take your eyes off Christ and put them on yourself. Be careful that attending Church, evangelizing, giving, tithing, fasting, speaking in tongues, meditating on the Word or any other thing we do in Christianity does become what you trust in.
Let your eyes forever be on Christ, while you continue to live the Christian life and serve Him in humility. Our actions still matter but they are not meant to make God accept or love us more. The Lord accepted you not because you were a good Christian. He still accepts and loves you not because you fast and pray, pay tithes, sow seeds, or do any of such things. Rest in His love.
What is the religious spirit from the devotional above? Is it possible for us today to manifest this attitude?
APPLY THE WORD
The religious spirit made the pharisee to do two things God does not want. First, He thought He was better before God and deserved something from Him because of his fasting and tithing. Secondly, he thought he was better than the publican because of what he was doing. Beware of this spirit and remove every trace of it from your life. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God!
Ask the Father to help you never to allow this religious spirit to influence you in any way from today henceforth.