The Pharisees and chief priests of Jesus’ time were familiar with Scripture, but they denied the true spirit of the law. Since they had no relationship with God, they were unable to recognize Him when He appeared right before their eyes in the man of Jesus. They were caught in a trap of a religious spirit.
Someone caught up in the spiritual trap of a religious spirit is more concerned with following the rules than following Christ. He or she is quick to criticize anyone who fails to follow their own moral code, but they fail to fulfill the greatest commandments to love God and love others (see Matthew 22:36-40). Sadly, this spiritual trap fills the one caught in it with pride and blocks a genuine relationship with the Lord.
For the most part, I am painfully aware of my inability to live up to God’s standard. However, I have with much effort been somewhat successful at living up to my own set of rules at certain times in my life. It is then that I feel a self-satisfying pride that is particularly ugly, leads me far from God, and quiets His voice. When I confess my sins and humbly call on the Lord, He is eager to hear my prayer.
Are you guilty of having a religious spirit? Jesus is patiently waiting for you to get back on the right track today so He can live in a close relationship with you. Let’s say this prayer together: “Lord, forgive me for my religious spirit. I confess I have been more concerned about rules than following You. Help my heart to seek after You and love You above all else. Help me to love others instead of criticizing them. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). From this day forward, guide me to operate in a spirit of grace to myself and others. Thank You, Lord, for the grace You have shown me in Your great mercy. In Christ’s Name, Amen.