The Saul Controlling Spirit

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The Saul Controlling Spirit

Thanks to Mary Lance Sisk of Charlotte, NC, for her excellent scriptural insight into the Saul spirit. Blessings.

The controlling spirit personified in Saul has impacted everybody's life. It has violated many families personally, emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically. Almost everybody has either controlled or been controlled.

Why identify and deal with the Saul spirit?

The Saul spirit in a father is the worst enemy to a person's fully relating to our heavenly Father. Jesus claimed intimacy with His Father, calling Him Father 156 times in the book of John, the writer with the tenderest, most loving heart. The Jews of the day could see God as creator, or lawgiver, or righteous judge, but Jesus addressed him intimately, as Abba, Papa-God, in loving relationship. He taught us through the model prayer to address God as "Our Father." In fact, Jesus died to bring us near to the Father in blood relationship.  Am the way, the troth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me (John 14:6)." So Fatherhood is important to God. The first recorded words of Jesus were "Don't you know I have to be in my Father's house, about my Father's business?" In His last words from the cross, He twice addressed God as Father. We come to God as a little child climbing up into the lap of a loving Father for help, protection, calm, loving, assurance by His presence.


The Saul spirit in a father produces a distorted picture of God. The human family is meant to reflect heavenly reality. When it does not, the distorted picture of God learned thereby must be unlearned years later, so that God's Father-heart can be imparted to people who are hurting, rejected, feeling abandoned, or condemned. Yes, God is majestic and holy and has all dominion, and He is my Daddy, Papa-God, for fellowship, immediate access, guidance, security, inheritance, life, good gifts, provision, and so much more.

The Saul spirit stands in the way of revival, because it stands between you and a deep personal relationship with God. Controllers want to dictate even to God. They have a hard time getting out of the, way and letting God be God.

The controlling spirit is a curse that is passed down from generation to generation. If you were raised; in a household with a father or mother who is dominating, you will end up with controlling tendencies yourself. Furthermore, you will be drawn to people who have them because that feels normal. That is the pattern you lived in as a child. But you do not have to live like that. Galatians 5: 1 says that Jesus died to set you free. You do not have to remain under that yoke of bondage.

Ignorance of the controlling spirit is deadly for your children. Being ignorant of the operation of this principle of control will make you vulnerable to deadly results. God doe not want the church ignorant. Pastors. Christian leaders, and fathers ignore at their own peril the diagnosis of this Saul spirit of control. All Saul's sons were tragically destroyed, except for one crippled grandson named Mephibosheth. Think of it destroyed or crippled! I have seen these Saul personalities pick off worship leaders and pastors and cripple Christian ministries.

Jesus died so that we might enjoy freedom. Instead of cleaning up the mess, why not become enlightened and obedient to deal with Saul in a strong and righteous way? Why station an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff? Why not build a guardrail at the top of the cliff?

As we look at the picture of Saul as presented in 1 Samuel, stop and pray for God to open your eyes to give you deep spiritual insight, understanding, and revelation. Ask God to reveal to you the controlling tendencies in your life, and deal with your own controlling tendencies. When God exposes a thing, He is ready and able to heal. He comes with the anointing for deliverance. When you deal with the sin in your own life, you can extend grace to others and know how to pray for them.

The prophet Samuel was old, and the people wanted a king like other nations. He warned them what the king would do to them, but they did not heed his warning. God gave them their request, and Samuel anointed Saul king at God's direction. Saul was the tallest and most handsome man in Israel. His flesh was attractive and stood out head and shoulders above others. People accepted him and made him king before the Lord at Gilgal. After God anointed him, God warned Saul that his kingship and his kingdom depended on obeying Him.

Saul was a valiant warrior (1 Sam. 14:48). God raised up an army around him. The best men joined him. God put the fear of the Lord on the nation Israel to follow Saul God gave him victories for the people of God over the Amorites and Philistines. God gave him everything he needed to be a leader of God' s people. He began well and had great success, and at first we do not see much of the spirit of control operating in Saul. It is hard to see the spirit of control in a leader in the beginning. Most of the time, if they are chosen by God, they start off right. It takes time to recognize this spirit in another person. It may take months or maybe years to see the great ego, drives, and desire for power or recognition.

The characteristics or profile of a modem-day "Sau1" controller can be laid out in a 20-point checklist. If you have some of these tendencies, go before the Lord. If you have most of them, you are a controller and that is not God's way. Repent and get help from a wise and seasoned brother or sister in the Lord who can help you. If you have been "Sauled," that also is not God's way, and you need help for healing and release.

1. He may be religious and may even have the word of the Lord at times.

Saul had been touched by God, but he did not have the personal intimacy with the Lord that David had. When he was made king, he did not call for the ark nor call the nation Israel to rejoice before the Lord (1 Sam. 11: 12-15). There is no evidence that he was a man of prayer and worship. He did not wait on God nor spend time alone with God. He sought God personally only once when he was desperate (14:35). Otherwise, he sought God only through Samuel, and eventually he could not hear God's voice, because he had disobeyed God. When his men were going out to battle and were scared, unlike David, he did not encourage them in who God is, because he did not know God intimately.

The Spirit came upon Saul in 1 Samuel, and thereafter he was touched by the Holy Spirit from time to time. So, a person with the Saul spirit can have the word of the Lord at times (I Sam. 19:23-24). When they do, you think you are crazy or judgmental for seeing lying, deception, manipulation, and other sins in their lives. They may speak powerfully in a meeting where the spirit of God is moving, but when they leave, they are back to their old selves. When Saul got into the presence of Samuel or the prophets, and God's spirit was moving, Saul was touched as well. So the Spirit can move through a Saul from time to time. But make no mistake: the Bible is very clear. The Spirit of God departs from this leader (I 6: 13-14). He loses the anointing of God because the fullness of the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God, who walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh.

2. He will take matters into his own hands.

When his men began to scatter) Saul disobeyed Samuel's instructions, which were God's commands, and offered a religious reason for doing so. "I was compelled" to offer the offerings. Circumstances made me do it (1 Sam. 13:8-13). A Saul believes that the end justifies the means. When confronted by Samuel, there was no sign of repentance. Saul was not contrite and humble. Outward use of power will eventually reveal their inner bankruptcy.

3. He blames others for his own wrong actions.

Saul blamed his disobedience on others (1 Sam. 13:8-13). He had the audacity to blame Samuel. God gave His opinion of Saul' s sin: you have acted foolishly, your kingdom will not endure, your sons will not be on the throne, because you did not keep the Lord's command. God went on to reveal the kind of man He was looking for, "a man after my own heart (13: 14)." Saul's blaming others is really seen in I Samuel 15 in the matter of sparing the Amalekite king and the best of the sheep.

4. He fears man more than God.

In 1 Samuel 15, the most telling picture of Saul emerges. He clearly disobeyed in matter of the king of Amalek and the sheep. He was told to spare nothing (1 Sam. 15:3). Saul protested to Samuel that he had obeyed God (15: 13). When Samuel confronted him with his disobedience through the bleating sheep, Saul said, "They did it. I obeyed, except for this one Amalekite (15: 15, 20)." The Amelekites in the Bible are a picture of the flesh. Saul will spare what appears to benefit him of the flesh. Saul did not recognize that partial obedience is total disobedience in God's sight. According to (2 Samuel 1:8 and 13, an Amalekite killed Saul What Saul spared of the flesh killed him. The magnitude of his desire to please the flesh is seen in his people-pleasing, as he says to Samuel, "O.K., so I sinned, but honor me before the people (15: 30)." There was no public humbling and no repentance.

5. He will be rebellious, stubborn, arrogant, and proud.

As Samuel confronts Saul, telling him that obedience is better than sacrifice, he says that root of the sin of rebellion is witchcraft, and the root of stubbornness is idolatry (15:22-23). Witchcraft is control by any other means than the Spirit of God. Anything that does not originate in the Spirit originates in the flesh. Galatians 5:20 confirms this, as it lists sorcery as a work of the flesh. Desire to control others is a work of flesh which will always war against the Spirit.

How is stubbornness like idolatry? Saul had to be right and his own rightness was an idol. Image, popularity, or even religious status is an idol. True authority is the authority of God humbly and righteously and obediently expressed in a man who is submitted to God first of all, in truth and faith to trust Him to work His purposes in all things. Anything else is counterfeit spiritual authority.

Parenthetically, God regretted that He made Saul king, because "he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions (15: 11)." Samuel genuinely grieved for Saul the rest of His days (15:35, 16: 1). You are not on praying ground for your controller until your heart is right.

The spirit of control out-of-control really begins in 1 Samuel 16. It is an addiction to control that is characteristic of the compulsive/addictive personality. Many leaders who had alcoholic fathers would never think of being an alcoholic, but they become a control-o-holic instead.

6. He is remorseful but does not truly repent.

Remorse is seen in Saul in 1 Samuel 15:30. God took the kingdom from Saul and gave it to David because Saul disobeyed God. He could have repented and cried out to God for mercy, and His kingdom would have been spared, but he did not. Look at David-he committed murder and adultery, yet he deeply repented, and God called him a man after His own heart. Saul could have recognized the anointing upon David and stepped down and let David be king. He was determined to keep the kingdom, although God had removed His hand from him. A Saul is always fiercely dedicated to territorial preservation.

7. He controls by fear, intimidation, emotional manipulation, shame, put­downs, punishment, rejection, or failure.

Even Samuel, a mighty prophet of God, was scared of Saul (16:2). David had to flee Saul, because Saul was going to kill him. A controller hates God's anointed.

8. He uses people who make him look good.

David made Saul look good. He killed Goliath and won victories. He saved Israel from the Philistines, and Saul gave him a high position (18:5). Saul liked David and used him as long as he made him look good and did not threaten or cross him, as long as he told him the things he wanted to hear (16:21). A Saul is unable to love people, because he cannot trust. So he uses people. Saul used him, abused him, and discarded him after he was not useful.

9. He has to be #1 in his desire for power, fame, prominence, and position.

He must win at all costs. He only feels important giving orders. He cannot celebrate success and exaltation of others (1 Sam 18: 7). Saul was angry at the attention given to David. He was galled that the women were singing that kind of song about David (18: 8). He was unholy, prideful, and intent on being # 1.

10. He is insecure, very fearful, cowardly, very jealous, and suspicious.

Saul's inferiority and low self-esteem were revealed when he began to look at David with suspicion (18: 9). He was afraid of David because the Lord was with David but had left him (18: 12). Sauls are afraid of people who threaten them because they see the Lord in their lives.

It is important that we see our Sauls as wounded and in need of healing. They have love-deficits, and basically they cannot give you what they don't have. How did they get that way?

·    They share our common sin nature-- there is tremendous ego, pride, and self in all of us.

·    They were hurt and wounded in their family of origin.

·    They feel they must control their world so they won't get hurt again. Perceived self-preservation is very strong.

·    They were trained that way- grew up in atmosphere of control, learned it at home.

·    They carry a familial or familiar spirit- attaches to families and runs in bloodlines.

                  You don't discuss it out. You cast it out to break its power.

11. He will have outbursts of rage that are deadly.

Saul is known in the Bible as the spear-thrower (18:11, 19:10). This anger was reserved for those closest to him in his household. This is the first of numerous times that Saul attacks David and tries to kill him. Sauls speak words of failure and condemnation to those closest to him. Sauls are particularly attracted to the psalmist, because the music of worship soothes their spirits, and at the same time they are afraid of the Lord in the psalmist, afraid of his or her success, and afraid of how other people love them (18: 12, 15, 16). Sauls will strongly desire to take out those whom he perceives to be a threat to his position or his kingdom. When that did not work, Saul sent David away. That reveals the other of the tactics of Saul: the silent treatment, cold shoulder, withdrawal, or putting up walls.

12. He cannot be trusted.

Saul was a liar, deceiver, and manipulator. He had no integrity and did not keep promises. He could not be trusted. Saul promised his oldest daughter to David, but his real intent was for the Philistines to kill him (18: 17-19). But when the time came for the marriage, Saul gave her to someone else. Then he promised his second daughter to David to become a snare to him. He made the dowry 100 foreskins of the Philistines, again intending to get rid of him (J 8: 20-27). He had his servants lie to David in sending him the message that he delighted in David and wanted him to marry his daughter (18:22). Sauls send double messages. They may pretend to love you, but they are really plotting to eliminate you. Sauls do not keep promises even to their own families. He promised Jonathan that he would not put David to death, but he again tried to pin David to wall with a spear (19: 4-10). This illustrates the double messages. It causes you to question your own sanity or theirs.

13. He is paranoid.

The fear factor was so great that Saul was capable of murder. Jonathan acknowledged this when he said, “My father is looking for you to kill you (J 9:2)." Yet Saul calls David his enemy (18:29, 19: 17). Saul was the enemy of God's anointed, but he really believed that God's anointed was his enemy. This leads to territorial preservation. Saul will always conspire to neutralize or take out the one he considers to be a threat. Every day Saul searched for David to kill him, but God did not give David into his hands (23: 14).

14. There is uproar and confusion around him.

Everyone around Saul walks on eggshells. You cannot be sure where he stands or what kind of mood he might be in. David hid in a field while Jonathan went borne to check out Saul's mood (20:5). Sauls have to keep things stirred up. They play the game of uproar. They don't have peace (14:52). They are never satisfied, and there is no way to please them (16: 14).

15. He demands total loyalty, even when he is wrong.

Saul was upset and angry that his son loved David (20:30). He demanded Jonathan's total loyalty. He saw it as disloyalty that Jonathan was a friend of David's. Sauls are very possessive and don't want you to have other close friends. They take any confrontation or disagreement as disloyalty. They have the "all or none" thinking of a dysfunctional family. They see everybody as all for me or all against me. They react to honest differences of opinion with anger or the silent treatment. They will not like you if you disagree with them. As they force people to choose sides. This causes division and disunity (20:30. 22: 17). He could not let Jonathan love both him and David (20: 30-31). Although Saul demanded total loyalty, he betrayed both David and Jonathan and even God by his disobedience. One evidence of this is found in 1 Samuel 22: 18-21, as Saul kills 85 priests of the Lord, all anointed men of God. Sauls dare to attack and destroy men of God.

16. He cannot affirm others and will dishonor them publicly.

Saul dishonored his own son publicly and even tried to spear him (20: 33). Sauls throw verbal spears. They mock others publicly. Saul's audacity in daring to touch the Lord's anointed David is met by David's unwillingness to take Saul's life even when he easily could have, and when David's men wanted to and would have, if David had not prevented them. Saul was twice delivered into David's hands, and David did not touch him (24:17,26: 17). Saul even admits that he has dealt wickedly with David, but he is driven and under compulsion to get David out of the way. He is jealous and by this time insane.

17. He manipulates by gifts, favors, bribery, and guilt.

Saul is trying to keep the kingdom after God has taken His hand off him, so he resorted to flesh, soul power, manipulation, and the schemes of man (22: 7-8).

18. He is tremendously deceived and cannot perceive things correctly.

This is an important point. The perceptions of a Saul are off. It is like their lens needs focusing. They are in spiritual darkness and don't know it. Saul accused Jonathan of stirring up David to ambush him (22: 8, 13). Who wants to ambush whom? Yet Saul accused David of conspiracy, lying in wait, and rebellion. This is not a logical or intellectual problem. Saul could not be reasoned out of this. He was deluded and got progressively worse (23:14). Finally he could not hear God's voice, so he resorted to a medium (28:6 and following). Many Sauls get involved in the occult, go to psychics, or read horoscopes, because they cannot hear God for themselves. If they are religious, they run from prophet to prophet asking them, "Do you have a word from God for me?" The ministry of prophets is honorable, but is this not like charismatic fortune telling? Why can't you get a word from God for yourself?

19. He hears only what he wants to hear.

Saul listened to people who lied, rather than those who told him the truth. David confronted him on this (24:9), and Samuel, Jonathan, and the priest Ahimilech (all godly men) spoke the truth to him, but Saul would not listen, because he did not want to hear it Saul still believed what he wanted to believe. There is at least one henchman, in this case Abner, feeding the conspiracy (26:5), so they can keep on doing what they have their mind made up to do.

Notice that David spared his life (24:9), and Saul appeared remorseful (24:17). But he proved that he was unrepentant when he continued to pursue David. David again spared his life (26:9), and again Saul appeared remorseful and blessed David (26:21). But he had no true change of heart. .


20. He is perfectionistic, demanding, and judgmental.

He cannot receive love and therefore cannot give it His worth and identity are tied up in roles and performance. He is very image conscious. How he is perceived is more important than who he is. He sets impossible standards. He cannot delegate, because it won't be done "right" (that is, his way). He is very hard on himself, and this will incline him to depression.

There is the picture. Now what? Why would God put David in the household of a Saul for fourteen years? To take the Saul out of David. Why would he put you under a controller? For the same reason.

Distance or avoidance are not permanent solutions to dealing with Saul. How long should you stay around a controlling spirit? Until God delivers you from it. Until God takes the Saul out of you. Until you don't want to be that kind of person. Until you have a passionate desire to totally surrender to God in relationships and give up all control. Until you are humbled and free from judging or reacting to such a person. Until you want to be a David-hearted leader. Make no mistake- God is looking for the Saul in you. The greatest temptation when you are being "as-Saul-ted" is to pull the spear out of the wall and throw it back. If you do, you will be every bit as much a Saul as your Saul.


How to deal with the Saul spirit


Study the life of David in relation to Saul. Look for David's prayers, attitudes, and where His confidence is, as you read these Psalms that David wrote while in difficult relationships: Psalms 3-7, 9­13, 15-18,34,52,54,56-57,59,63, and 142.

Ask, "Lord, what are you teaching me about myself? What is it in me that You are determined to purge me of? Keep me here until You have done the work, and then deliver me." Effectual dealing with the Saul ­type controlling spirit must be done on three fronts: sin, woundedness, and spiritual warfare. You need to repent of your sins and let God heal your wounding. Then you are in a position to deal with the spiritual warfare issues. Your enemy is not the person, but the spiritual power behind the control.

1. Work through forgiveness.

Thank God for your controller's good qualities. Ask God to forgive you of the judgment in which you have held him. Ask Him to forgive you of bitterness, and ask God to bless them with healing. The controller has many good qualities. He is a victim of his own family of origin. Try to understand where he came from and what is going on in him, so that you can extend grace to him and truly love him.

2. Let God judge.

God will judge the controlling spirit. Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his army were destroyed (I Sam. 31:1 and following). The ultimate controller has suicidal tendencies. Saul tried to kill himself but had to ask someone else to finish the job (31:4).

3. Acknowledge to God that you have grieved over the relationship.

You never had or do not have an affirming relationship with your controller (father or husband or boss or pastor). Thank God that it has caused you to press in to Him, to know Him as your Father or Husband in dimensions you never could have known Him otherwise. God is the great Redeemer. He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.

4. Persevere in prayer.

The battle is a long war (it continued 7 1/2 years), indicating that this is one of the hardest spirits to get rid of (2 Sam. 3.1). Eventually you will win. As the house of David grew stronger and stronger, the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker. As you stand in prayer and begin to resist it, you will grow stronger in the Lord, and the grip of the Saul will be exposed and grow weaker.

5. Set righteous boundaries.

Jesus had this one limitation - He only did the will of the Father. Ask your Father how much of the relationship you must continue to be in. You may have no choice, but remember that Jonathan died with his father. God can give you grace to choose life instead of death.


6. Take lessons from David's response to Saul.

Spiritual victories are won by coming against an enemy in the opposite spirit from that which drives him. For example, meet pride with humility, not more pride. Meet angry words with a soft answer, Dot more angry words which stir up more wrath. The following are examples of how David demonstrated his understanding of this principle.


·         He would not wear Saul's armor. He would not imitate him. .

·         He knew the living God intimately.

·         He did not throw spears back.

·         He honored God's anointing, even when Saul was not acting worthily.

·         He spared Saul's life because of mercy and meekness, while Saul tried to kill him. .

·         He let God vindicate him and deal with Saul.

What if you discover that the controller is you? Perhaps God has given you revelation of your true self: and you do not like what you have seen. You do not want to be that way. The first step in breaking the cycle of the Saul syndrome is to acknowledge where you are and what is being done by you or to you in terms of control. Getting free is as simple as submitting to un-learn everything that you did not learn at the foot of the cross. Forgive, and be forgiven, and get set free.

God will give you grace to let Him deal with you. If you are controlling others for your own ends, you are not serving; if you are not serving, you are not Christ-like, and you have missed the whole point of the Christian life. God wants you to be surrendered to Jesus to let Him form His life in you and live it out through you. Humility surrenders to God; pride controls. Pray for God only to control you and those around you and to take away your desire to control. As you surrender to the Holy Spirit to fill you, you will become strong in the Lord.

There is a leadership-style test that is widely used in the body of Christ that glorifies this controlling personality type with a high-sounding description. It has ignored God's righteous standard of servanthood. Think about the apostle Paul. He was a Saul, and God arrested him on the road to Damascus. God can also turn around the Saul in you or the one closest to you. There is hope, but only God can do it. Let Him.

Controlling like Saul is a sin needing repentance.

Pray: Father, in Jesus' name,

I renounce the Saul controlling spirit. I do not want it.

I repent. Forgive me for sinning against you and others I have controlled.

I submit to the Lord Jesus Christ and resist the tendency of my flesh to control.

I Surrender to a new work of the Holy Spirit.

I Choose to be strong only in the Lord.

By faith I receive Your grace for humility and holiness, for making me a person after God's own heart-

a worshipper, courageous, a warrior, prudent in speech, wise and discerning, handsome with the beauty of the Lord, with Your signature upon me (1 Sam. 16:18). In Jesus' name, Amen.

Being controlled by a Saul is a wound to be healed.

Pray: Father, in the name of Jesus,

  • I forgive _____________for controlling me by the spiritual stronghold of Saul.
  • I renounce the soulish grip that Saul spirit has had over me in the past by their controlling actions.
    • Free me from all soul ties and the curse of control.
  • I bless this person in Jesus' name.
  • Bring me into the freedom and joy of true submission to You alone. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Exposing A Saul Spirit

ME                                                                  OTHERS

q    May look religious                                                               £

q    Will take matters into his own hands                                   £

q    Blames others for his actions                                               £

q    Fears man more than God                                                    £

q    Is rebellious, stubborn, arrogant                                          £

q    May be remorseful but not truly repentant                           £

q    Controls by fear and intimidation                                        £

q    Uses people who make him look good                                £

q    Has to be # 1 in power, prominence, and position               £

q    Is insecure, jealous, and suspicious                                      £

q    Explodes in outbursts of anger                                            £

q    Cannot be trusted                                                                 £

q    Is paranoid                                                                           £

q    Stirs up constant uproar and confusion                                £

q    Demands total loyalty, causing division                               £

q    Cannot affirm others and may dishonor them publicly                £

q    Manipulates by gifts, favors, guilt                                        £

q    Is deceived                                                                           £

q    Hears only what he wants to hear                                        £

q    Is perfectionistic, demanding, and judgmental                     £

!!! Religious Spirit Profile


The root of the religious spirit is in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were in relationship and pure communion with God. Then came Satan with his temptation to quantify that relationship with "Do's" and "Don'ts." That was the root of religion. The result was death and banishment from the intimate presence of God. Its fruit came forth in the next generation, when Cain offered a bloodless sacrifice of his own making. He did not depend on God to supply, as Abraham did later with the ram. The roots of religious spirit are always rebellion and self. Rebellion is reserving the right to choose whether to fully believe and obey God or not. Self tries to establish something with God, when what He offers us is Himself in relationship. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and self is as idolatry (1 Sam. 15:23).

Deal only with your own religious spirit.

Let God take care of the heart of others. Repent of religious spirit! Renounce all claim to "religious'"

knowledge and lay on the altar all you "know" and all you have experienced. Cry out for intimacy with the Father. Pray a guard over your lips so that whatever you speak must pass through the filter of the fear of God. Resist the temptation to offer your words of wisdom, as if they were God's. Do only what you see your Father doing. Say only what your Father is saying.

These are the cardinal characteristics of the religious spirit:

1. More concerned with religion than authentic, humble relationship with God ­

·         Replaces God with caricature of God as they think He ought to be, of their own making

·         Has the form of godliness, but denies the Power (2 Tim. 3:5)

·         Are many forms of this "toxic faith"

·         Is a "religious" addiction, always looks for the next religious or spiritual "fix"

·         Is experience-oriented, not grounded firmly in relationship to God and His word

2. Legalistic and rigidly righteous - Gal. 2: 19

·         Emphasizes external "Do's and Don'ts", keeps score

·         Focuses on things other than Christ crucified

·         Puts everybody in their place, dictates behavior in detail

·         Measures others by externals that give less importance to love and mercy

·         Produces oppressive burden of performance, stress, and fear

3. Judgmental and condescending

  • Is quick to correct others, disdains or scorns others or other groups.
  • Uses scripture and prayer as weapons, prays "against"

4. Religious pride

·         Is self-important about one's own place in God's kingdom

  • Is "better than," separatist, and elitist - our way is right and best
  • Wears a religious or super-spiritual mask.

·         Ignores Jesus’ clear word about humility (Rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb's book,

  • Not that demons are subject to you)

5.Works-oriented and preoccupied with performance

·         Does counterfeit good works, dead works of self

  • Emphasizes numbers to please God or measure success in the eyes of man
  • Is conscious of their religious role or title - Mat. 23: 8-11
  • Tends to public display, very image-conscious - Mat. 23:27-28


  • Sounds like others of their religious traditions, doctrines, or denomination.
  • Has "cookie-cutter" mentality - everybody out of the same mold
  • Uses all the same phrases, special "in" words
  • Has obsessive beliefs as "litmus test of true believers
  • Mistakes uniformity for unity, practices deadening conformity

7.Glorifies self and does not point to God alone

  • Impresses others with spirituality by actions or words - Acts 5: 1-11

·         Has no fear and trembling about using Jesus' name

  • Always covers with "in Jesus' name" or "to God be the glory"
  • Gives God the "glory" but takes credit to self, however subtly
  • Uses lots of God-talk, religious talk, the "right' spiritual words
  • Talks theological talk, knows all the right religious answers - Mat. 7: 21-23
  • Is conspicuously "spiritual," may be the first to dance, to weep, to clap, to shout, etc.

8. Denial

·    Gives "positive confession" answers but not in touch with their feelings (particularly in the faith and

prosperity movement)

·    Evidences perpetual cheerfulness, sweetness, "saintliness," or unrealistic thinking

9. Religious wall is a barrier to real communication - Mat. 6:6-8

  • Over-uses pet phrases, can make quoting scripture a cliché

·         Comes across as shallow, superficial, hypocritical, not genuine

10. Idolizes the gifts and giftings and their display - Luke 10:20

·         Is more focused on gifts than the Giver

  • Talks about religious feelings, senses, special anointing, etc.
  • Judges a person or a ministry by the gifts of the Spirit. The Bible says, "Try the spirits,'" not "Try the gifts of the spirit" God's giftings and callings are irrevocable (Rom II: 29), but they must not be idolized above the Giver.
  • Ignores that Jesus spent much time on humility and teachability, not on anointing

11. Usually some truth, but out of balance

·         Does not realize that truth out of balance is a positive untruth, deception, or heresy

12. Deception - Mat. 13:13

·         Are unable to hear and receive truth, "honestly" deceived

·         Thinks they have the market cornered on truth

13. Always controlling and authoritarian

  • Controls by manipulation, shame, guilt, or favors
  • Uses pseudo-spirituality, not godly character, to gain influence or control
  • Has a personal, political, or power agenda
  • Reminds others of their authority
  • Uses rigid control from the top down to hold everything together
  • Consequences of their actions may be termed "spiritual abuse"

14. Kingdom-building which leads to self-preservation

·    . Desires to preserve the system, ministry, or institution self created

15. Unteachable - 1 John 4:6

·   . Knows it all, has all the truth

16. Flees from accountability to counselor oversight

·      "I have a word from God" - impenetrable dead-end

·      "I'll have to ask God about that" is cover for independent spirit

·      Does what they do in the name of God, counterfeit spiritual authority

·      Thinks they have the mind of the Lord

17. Often causes real doubt or fear about confronting them because they are so "spiritual" or powerful - Gal. 2:11-13

18. Often personality-oriented or super star oriented          

·   . Is often a Bible-study hopper or church-hopper

19. Always searching and never coming to the knowledge of the truth

·   Is always following some new truth or teacher

20. Know them by their fruits, not their gifts or works - Mat. 7: 1 5-20

  • Is a union of the world and church, which is spiritual unchastity
  • These cannot be defeated by fighting spiritual battles with carnal weapons

!!! Examples Of Religious Spirit

This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you some food for thought.

1. Saul the Pharisee before he became Paul the Apostle-credentials oriented: Hebrew of the Hebrews,

a Pharisee, defender of orthodoxy

2. Peter - went back to the law, following the circumcision

3. Pharisees - stoned Stephen in the name of God. Stephen used the scripture to expose that they did

  not worship God in spirit of truth, and they killed him.

4. Cain - religious man who believed in God and in religion, but after his own will. He rejected

      redemption by blood and substituted bloodless works "'salvation."

5. Galatians-written to brethren. ”Having begun in the Spirit will you go on in the flesh (Gal. I)?" "Who

      has bewitched you, 0 foolish Galatians (Gal. 3)?" "Don't get back into religious bondage (Gal. 5)."

6. Satan is the king of religious spirits, an angel of light - Religious spirit draws us away from

worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

7. The Jews in regards to the law - Romans 2: 17-29

8. King Saul- broke the covenant. Religious spirit does not keep covenant.

9. Judas - had his own agenda, and followed along with Jesus to get what he wanted, so long as he

      agreed and could profit.

10. Rich young ruler - had an idol. Religious spirit says, Don't touch my idol. They will not follow

      God all the way when they have to choose between God and their idol.

11. Those who say "Lord, Lord..." - Many will say to me, "'Lord, Lord, did we not do many great works

in Your name, but I will say, 'Depart from me, for I never knew you' (Mat 7:21-23)."

12. Tower of Babel- We will make a name for ourselves and mount up to heaven (Gen. 11).

13. Girl with the spirit of divination - "These are servants of Most High God who tell you the way to

be saved." Sounded good, but Paul addressed the spirit in Jesus' name (Acts 16).

14. Sons of Sceva - Acts 19:13-16, no power in imitative actions without the blood of Jesus.

15. False prophets - Mat. 7: 15-20

16. People who fear the Lord and serve their own gods - 2 Kings 17:25-26

17. Israel and others who change gods - changed gods for what does not profit) without forsaking the form of worshipping Him (Jer. 2:11). .

Religious flesh can sing solos, preach, and pray, but it is still flesh and glorifies self. It ministers only death. The Spirit glorifies God and ministers life. Religious flesh will excite the emotions and love the praise of men. The Spirit works transformation and fears the Lord. Test the spirits to see if they be of God. Religious flesh must not be "prettied up." It must be crucified.

!!!! Exposing the Religious Spirit

q   More concerned with religion than authentic relationship with God

q   Legalistic and rigidly righteous

q   Judgmental and condescending

q   Religious pride

q   Works-oriented and preoccupied with performance

q   Demands conformity

q   Impresses others with spirituality, glorifies self

q   Denial

q   Religious wall is a barrier to real communication

q   Idolizes the gifts and giftings and their display

q   Usually some truth but out of balance

q   Deception

q   May be controlling and authoritarian

q   Self-preservation which leads to kingdom-building

q   Unteachable

q   Flees from accountability to counselor oversight

q   Causes doubt or fear about confronting them

q   Personality-oriented or super star-oriented

q   Always searching for "new" truth

q   Know them by their fruits, not their gifts or works

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