In my last prayer paper, I shared about the damages that the spirit of religion can do in our personal lives and in our communities.
Today I would like to propose some tools to overcome the spirit of religion.
The spirit of religion offers a very simple cocktail made of two lies:
1.Not being sure that we have a new life;
2.Trying to become like the new life should be.
We must first acknowledge that we have a new life. It is forever in us. It is uncorrupted. It is perfect. This new life is received by faith alone (1 Timothy 6:11-13).
Secondly, we must stop trying to be good. There is no sense in trying to become righteous when what we already are by faith! Of course I am not stating that we can ignore the sinful patterns that are still active in our lives. When we know that we are a new created being, we can deal with sin as something that is external from us. Repentance is acknowledging the evil pattern in us and start living according to the pattern of the new life.
For example, if you have a tendency to get easily angry, why don’t you start proclaiming that you are slow to anger (James 1:19)? It might be untrue about your old nature but it is true about your new nature. And in the end, the new nature will totally overcome the old one!
When we know that we have a new life in us, the only thing we can do is start learning to worship God and pray at all times in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18).
As I wrote last time, the spirit of religion is committed to sucking life out of our communities. This is especially visible during the prayer meetings. Corporate prayer in local communities should be a key for constant revival. And yet, prayer meetings seem to be the most uninteresting things we can have in church.
To overcome the destruction that religion brings in church, we need to rediscover the model that the Holy Spirit gave to the first church when He came on the day of Pentecost.
On that day, miraculous signs were displayed: tongues of fire above each believer, speaking in foreign languages, etc. Quickly, surprised crowds were drawn around them. Then Peter preached to them the message of salvation. Around 3000 people were added to the community of believers in one day (Acts 2:1-41).
After that, they simply started to devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42). In other words, the programme that the Holy Spirit gave to them was simply: being together in fellowship (during which the apostles provided their teaching), eating and praying together. Prayer was not given to be a separate exercise. It was happening together with fellowship and eating. In this context, the Holy Spirit didn’t disappear but kept on moving powerfully, day after day (Acts 2:43).
No wonder that outsiders were constantly drawn by the love that was simply lived in their community. They were also filled with awe for what God was doing among them. And as a result, many more souls kept on being added to the body of believers (Acts 2:47).
I believe that this simple lifestyle needs to be rediscovered in our churches. If our prayer meetings are boring, why don’t we refocus them onto the model left by the Holy Spirit to the first church?
In this way, He will again have the full freedom to move powerfully. People will be drawn by the love and freedom lived in our communities. They will see the powerful works of God in our midst.
We don’t need to wait for the whole church to embrace this truth. If just a few people decide to follow this pattern, the atmosphere of the church will be transformed. Are we ready?
picture: By Bev Sykes (basykes) – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1512716