Some time ago I was at a meeting with a young man. We were listening to a minister preach, expounding on one scripture after another, explaining to us the ways of God. After the meeting was over, this young man and myself got into the car and drove off to where we were staying for the night. As I drove we began discussing the sermon we had just heard, and half way into our discussion a revelation swept over me.
This young man was retelling parts of the sermon that impacted him and blessed him, saying how he had not heard anyone explain those scriptures that way before. I, on the other hand, was wondering if we had heard the same sermon. I asked what he thought about what was said about this verse or that verse; each one contradicting what we believed to be the truth. His response was, “I don’t remember him saying that.” At that moment it was like someone hit me in the gut with a bowling ball. I knew we both had listened to the same sermon, it’s just that the young man chose to listen with the ears of love and received what Holy Spirit was desiring to say to him while I, on the other hand, chose to listen critically and allow myself to hear what a religious spirit had to say. Yes, I had gradually, over time, allowed a religious spirit to have access to my heart and my mind.
A religious spirit doesn’t only manifest itself through trying to obtain righteousness by self -effort (the law), it also manifests itself through judging others and being prideful in what we do and what we know. A religious spirit will cause you to listen critically to find fault in what others say in order to expose that error, even if you only expose it to yourself, feeding pride.
I write this because I still check myself daily, especially when I listen to others preach, knowing if I’m not listening with God’s heart of love, I’ll miss out on what He has to say to me. If I choose to listen with the intent to judge, I’ll give access to Satan to control my mind and emotions, keeping me from becoming the son God has called me to be. I also write this because I see so many out there today who believe they have the truth and are quick to judge those they believe to be in error. I caution you to honestly examine your heart, see if there is any pride and accusation in there, and always listen with love.