A few days ago, I was getting ready to leave in the morning, and I was suddenly taken into a vision. In this vision, I was taken to a room that appeared to be in a funeral home. Everyone was dressed in black clothes and packed in the room, standing shoulder to shoulder and facing the same direction. As I peered around the room, I saw a casket lying dead center at the front of the room. On this casket was written the words “spirit of religion.”
The Lord spoke to me instantly and said He is eradicating the spirit of religion in this hour and causing His people to divorce all ties to the spirit of religion once and for all. For too long, religion has taken a supreme seat in the hearts and minds of God’s people and has blinded their eyes and deafened their ears from seeing and hearing the fresh voice (rhema) of His presence. It has caused many to find their comfort in religious deeds and duties as opposed to living out the fulfillment of their purpose: bowing low at the scar-pierced feet of Jesus.
Religion has brought us back to a Tower of Babel way of thinking, where we have created programs and man-made agendas as a way to “get to God.” We have offered the world coffee and donuts, lights and fog machines, 30-minute services, programmed religion, an occasional hand raised and called it “church,” while all we offered was dry, dead religion leaving people malnourished, broken, misinformed, and questioning the very existence of God.
Those who continued on in religious circles out of habit, obligation, or religious duty have often had an inadequate and erroneous understanding of who Abba is. I often wonder if Paul was alive today, what would his letter to the church of this century say? I believe it would hold a strong correspondence to Revelation 3 and the Laodicean church He wishes were “hot or cold” but says, “because you are lukewarm, I’ll spew you out of my mouth. You say you are rich and in need of nothing, but I say you are blind, poor, miserable and naked” (paraphrase). It’s when we lose our ability to see our need for Him, denoting through our own arrogance and pride that we have need of nothing, that we have reached the pinnacle of our own deception.
The world doesn’t need religion; it needs a life-altering encounter with Jesus! It doesn’t need our programs; it needs the power of God to shake us out of our complacency and bring forth deliverance to the captives. It doesn’t need our charisma; the world needs real anointing. One that has been cultivated in the secret place of God’s presence and has been armed and ready to break the yokes of bondage, and dismantle powers and principalities, bringing forth regional, national, and worldwide breakthroughs!
The Bible says that “by your traditions, you have made the word of God of no effect” (Mark 7:13). Think about this statement. The Bible says that “He holds the word above His own name” (Psalm 138:2), yet tells the people that their traditions have made the word of God of no effect. It’s not enough just to memorize scripture. It’s not enough to go to church. It’s not enough to just pay tithes… We need a real relationship with Jesus Christ. The veil was torn through Jesus but so many Christians spend their entire lives talking about the inner courts from an outer court perspective. They peer through a veil that’s been torn but never enter into the holy of holies and lay at the feet of Jesus where the oil that drips from His beard (Psalm 133:2) like the high priest Aaron saturates every part of who they are so that when they come forth from the presence of God, people know they have been with the King.
Matthew 18:18 says, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loose in heaven.” The reason we seldom see the manifestation of this declaration is that very few Christians have spent time in the heavenly places to know what are the heights, depths, and widths of His love that surpasses knowledge, nor have they tasted of the heavenly things to release the depth of their understanding on earth as it is in heaven. It’s not enough just to know the scripture–the Pharisees had the Torah memorized cover to cover, yet they didn’t know the word when He became flesh and dwelt among them.
Religion never saved anyone. It is only a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other way by which men are saved. He is not looking for anything we can do for Him, nor anything we can build in our own strength. For “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalms 127:1). He is looking for our hearts. He is longing for a relationship with His people. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10); not just who was lost, but what was lost… communion (koinonía) with the Father. Restored back in right relationship and right standing with God, now seated with Christ in heavenly places. Hallelujah!
It’s not anything we can build with our hands. All we can offer is our hearts. From the foremost center of our being, we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice–for the fire only falls upon the sacrifice. David, with good intentions, sought to bring the glory of God back to the city of David, and in his pursuit to recapture the ark of the covenant (see 2 Samuel 6), his friend Uzzah died trying to stabilize the ark, which was getting ready to fall out of the ox cart. Many hear this story and think it’s harsh for Uzzah to be killed trying to do a “good thing.” But sometimes, we can have “good intentions” and still be wrong.
David had the ark placed on a brand new cart, and it was carried by the finest oxen, but the problem was that he tried to carry the Presence of God on things created by man’s hands. However, the glory was never supposed to rest on what we could build in our own strength–the glory was meant to rest upon people!
After Uzzah dies, David becomes so afraid he hides the ark at Obed-Edom’s house until he hears that Obed-Edom and all of his house are being blessed. Then, he ventures off again to bring the ark of the covenant into the city of David. You see, David didn’t know if it would kill him like it did Uzzah, but he was willing to die for the presence of God! However, this time David and his men carried the ark out of Obed-Edom’s house the way God had intended, with the ark of His glory resting upon the people. Every six steps they took, they would sacrifice a bull and a fat calf, and the amazing part of this story is the very thing they tried to use to host the glory of God they are now sacrificing before Him!
The moral of this story is God is calling many of us to sacrifice the very thing we’ve built before Him in our own strength. Things that even had good intentions but were not crafted in the instruction and wisdom of the Lord. He is calling us to lay aside every idol and everything that has separated us from deeper communion with His presence. He is calling us to divorce once and for all the Spirit of religion and step into the deep with Him. A people who will step into true kingdom power and dominion to see “the glory of God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
We are entering into an hour of power, says the Lord, a true kingdom age where we will see the gospel of the kingdom come alive in the hearts and minds of God’s people, and we see the church rise in boldness to cast out devils, cleanse the lepers, heal the sick, raise the dead, going into all the world preaching the gospel of the kingdom and seeing a bride made ready for her King. Now is the time for the spirit of religion to be dead and gone and for the sleeping Bride to arise to face her finest hour.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Consuming Love Ministries