In the Charismatic Christian community, there are two reasons why people have serious problems: it’s either a character issue or it’s a demon. Those broad sweeping generalizations are clearly inaccurate much of the time. It’s just as foolish as generalizing how women feel or how men react. Life is full of nuance and unique circumstance.
And so we need to work on being more precise with our words. For the moment, let’s limit the focus to our use of the word “spirit” – especially as it relates to an individual’s behavior. We might say that a controlling person has a Jezebel spirit. We might label a lazy or inattentive person as having a slumbering spirit. And we might assume that a critical, rule-centric person has a religious spirit.
But what are we saying when we say a person has a religious spirit? Are we saying they are demonized? Are they just an ass? When we take a step back from overgeneralizing, it seems that what we identify as a “religious spirit” is often not a spirit at all.
Spirit vs Attitude
We interchange “spirit” and “attitude” far too much. It comes from days of old when we said he had a spirit of excellence or a spirit of adventure. These people weren’t actually possessed or afflicted by spirits of excellence or adventure. They embodied a particular attitude and approach to life through consistent thoughts which led to consistent actions which led to consistent habits which led to a lifestyle.
The same is often the case with a “religious spirit”. Just because a person is terribly judgmental and obsessed with rules rather than relationship doesn’t mean they have a third party spirit of religion inside them or upon them. It can mean they have a series of wounds, thoughts, beliefs, habits, and lifestyles that cause them to see the world in such a way as to criticize and judge and shame those who do not meet the standard in their minds.
While I can’t provide a scientific study proving my assumption, I think it’s fair to assume that there are more people alive today than there are demons that exist. If that’s true, everyone can’t “have a demon”. And those selfish people possessed by a host of unclean spirits are clearly hording.
Yes, demons do exist. And yes, some people are demonized. But we give these beings far too much credit when assume that every malignant behavior is the work of an evil spirit.
Apart from Jesus, we are still fallen beings. We lie, cheat, and steal. We desensitize our consciences by stubbornly committing the same act of disobedience several times, and we end up with a habit. That habit leads to a mindset. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy or whatever you want. Point is, you don’t have to have a demon to be trapped by a faulty mindset or limiting belief.
Limiting Beliefs Change Your Future
You ever heard that saying, “If you tell yourself you’ll never succeed, you’re right”? If we tell ourselves something often enough we’ll believe it. And what we believe affects what we choose to do. We won’t try for what we believe is impossible. We won’t leave behind what we believe is necessary or unavoidable.
So it doesn’t take a spiritual being imposing its will or influence upon you to cause you to be trapped. It just takes believing something that changes your behavior or expectation. Suddenly, life looks really different.
Pay attention to your limiting beliefs. When you don’t believe something good is possible, is it because it’s really true or because you’ve told yourself it’s impossible so many times you drank your own koolaid?