I was praying recently and saw a vision of a giant black Bible. It was opened, and a person was lying in the center of the fold. The cover started to close with the pages closing over the person in the middle of Bible. The person was writhing in pain, as the book closed in on the person. As it closed a single white dove flew out. The person was free from the crushing weight.
As I prayed and sought understanding of the vision, I saw it as the battle I face with religion along with the key of how to be freed from religion. I deal with the spirit of religion, it is very easy for my personality to become legalistic. I recognize religion now and generally have enough Word in me to put religion in its place. I long for the time where religion dies and all that is left is relationship with Christ.
Every now and then, I will recognize religion in something that has previously deceived me as truth. I can label it and set it down, but more than any other struggle religion rears its head in my life. It is trying to control the freedom that Christ died for me to have.
I have always fought religion with the Word. The Word is black and white. I know that God would never lead me something that is contrary to the Word. However, I am learning that my understanding of the Scriptures is skewed by my 21st Century Western mind-set.
The Pharisees were in the same time and place as Jesus, and they still perverted the Word and used it to control the people. Religion does the same. Religion is about the letter of the law not concerned at all with the Spirit of it. God is concerned about relationship, He has laws but also sent His Spirit to guide and direct. I need the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me in the Word to bring deeper revelation and truth.
Jesus was the Word: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
But Jesus was concerned about the Spirit. He know that it was too easy for us to get bogged down in the rules: Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. John 16:7-8
From the words of Jesus: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15
God meant for us to know Him through both the Word and Spirit. I believe that it takes both for us to truly combat religion. The Word paints the picture of who God is, but the Spirit helps us to understand the depths of who He is. It is only through the power of Word and the power of the Spirit that religion will die and my relationship with the Lord will flourish. Only then can I be freed from religion.