The Religious Spirit Hardens the Heart
And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus (Lk. 6:11 KJV)
Jesus met a man who had a paralyzed arm and healed him with a complete restoration of his arm. We would think such a glorious miracle would make everyone in Jerusalem go ecstatic, right? Well, not really! There was a group of people who were “filled with madness, and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.” Who were these people? Why would they be filled with madness and anger at such a miraculous display of God’s power?
The scribes and the Pharisees were those who were deeply offended by the miracle(v7). The ordinary people, however, rejoiced to see God’s power displayed. Why this dichotomy? The leaders had fallen into the old snare —the religious spirit. They saw a man being healed by God’s power and restored to health. They were more concerned about the Law than the people’s wellbeing. You might think “but God is the One who gave the Law, right?”. The leaders had taken the Law and lost touch with the heart of God. They would rather see a man obey the Sabbath than get free from a disease that had caused untold grief and suffering from childhood. Laws, not love, had become their priority. Jesus did not follow their rules. And they rejected everything about Him, including clear demonstrations of the working of God in Him. In fact there were moments that the Pharisees tried to deny the miracles He did or even try to destroy the evidence. Do you know the Pharisees wanted to kill Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead to destroy the evidence? ( John 12:10).
Be careful with this subtle yet deadly spirit. It will harden your heart and twist your focus. It operates in very subtle ways because those who are mostly controlled by it are blinded to the reality. That is, they never see that they themselves have been hardened by the religious spirit. Remain sensitive to God’s Spirit, even if He chooses to use a person you do not like or a minister who does not do things the way your Church does them. It is God’s thing, not ours! He has no obligation to ask us before He chooses to use someone.
Can you personally think of a past experience in which this spirit has controlled you and made you judgmental or hardened? If you have none, then you must have fallen directly from heaven!
APPLY THE WORD
Be careful not to discredit what God is doing because it does not fit within your theology or understanding of the scripture. The Bible calls it a stumbling stone because we might think we are trying to protect God’s interest based on our understanding of the scriptures whereas we are an obstacle like the Pharisees who killed Jesus and had “scriptural grounds” for doing so. The religious spirit blinds our eyes. Remain sensitive to God, and not to the rules.
Ask the Lord to keep your own heart from this spirit. The first problem is that those who are most affected don’t even realize it! Pray your eyes are open to see.
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