Tag Archives: political spirit

Are You Influenced by the Political Spirit?

I’ve been concerned for quite some time about the influence of the political spirit upon Christians. While it is most easily seen during election years, it rears its ugly head at various other times as well. It’s currently surfacing a lot in opinions about the Covid-19 crisis, but it shows up in other discussions too, such as immigration or social justice.

This post is sort of a “Part Two.” Discerning the Political Spirit, written a couple of years ago, acts as my “Part One.” That post explains a lot about the political spirit. Today’s post goes on from there.

Here are some ways the political spirit affects people, including believers:

It causes us to be hardhearted.

Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted….” The political spirit causes us to put our “convictions” ahead of kindness and tenderness. Mercy and compassion take a lesser place, because being right becomes paramount. Often those convictions are not biblical principles at all, but opinions we have absorbed from various secular sources with a political agenda behind them. When we take in enough of them, they become part of our worldview. We might think that worldview is unquestionably biblical, because we’ve heard influential Christian leaders speak the same things — but that could be because those leaders have unwittingly become influenced by the political spirit as well.

An example of how this plays out can be seen with the current controversy over how the Covid-19 crisis should be addressed. We hear a great deal of talk about constitutional rights. Preserving constitutional rights is important. However, if we forget that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence are for everyone, not just self, it could be a sign that we’re influenced by not only selfishness, but the political spirit. When one’s own rights and wants become more important than caring for the welfare of others, we’re missing the second great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

It polarizes people.

We should never get sucked into a false unity. Light and darkness cannot mix. However, the political spirit will cause unrighteous (and unnecessary!) division between believers. Factions form. Paul attempted to correct this attitude in the Corinthian Church:

Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you…. For it has been declared to me … that there are contentions among you. …You say, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos,” and “I am of Cephas,” and “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? …. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

We see this every day, from arguments about governmental policies to theological disputes on matters which aren’t about foundations of the faith.

It promotes finger-pointing.

The devil is “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Unfortunately, too often we cooperate with him! Mudslinging is part of political campaigns, and the political spirit will lead you into that behavior in other arenas too. It has a lot to do with those convictions I mentioned earlier, which are really only opinions.

It fosters pride.

This goes along quite nicely with finger-pointing. We feel so strongly about our position that we assume everyone who doesn’t see it the way we do is less spiritual, asleep at their post, or just plain stupid.

Could it be that those of a different opinion are seeing from an angle we have not yet considered? Can their perspective and mine dovetail together for a more complete picture of the truth? The political spirit attempts to blind us to such possibilities.

It diverts us from Christ and the Gospel.

The political spirit sidetracks us onto temporary tangents, consuming our thoughts with current events which have little to no bearing on eternal matters. We become earth-bound, consumed with anxieties over what will happen if “our side” does not carry the day. Jesus is not mentioned very much anymore. Sharing the “good news” of our viewpoint takes the place of sharing the good news of the cross.

In his book, The Discerner, James Goll comments,

Particularly in these days of instant social messaging, we need to be alert to the influence of the political spirit around us. We have to work hard to keep our focus on God and not on the troubling and divisive contemporary issues unfolding around us, lest we react to them by joining the toxic fray, rather than being part of the solution. While we should fulfill our civic responsibilities and keep a level head while participating in our representative government, the best thing we can do is to pray and intercede in order to break the power of the demonic political spirit that causes divisions, animosity, and strife.(1)

How do we break the power of the political spirit off of our minds?

1. The first step is recognizing its influence over us.

2. We repent and renounce it, asking the Lord to deliver us from it.

3. We determine to, once again, “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1, 2). That might require more time reading the Bible and less time reading or listening to the ideas of men.

The Lord will free us, if we ask. He will also help us know where to put our energies in the future. He will give us the wisdom we need to escape the deceptions of the political spirit.

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(1)  James W. Goll, The Discerner (New Kengsington, PA: Whitaker House, 2017), p. 148.

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inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

character education, Bible study

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Bible character education study for adults and teens)

 

Discerning the Political Spirit

political protestIf you have not yet noticed, it’s time to pay attention. A political spirit is having a field day in America. It is stirring up strife and anger to levels we have not seen in many decades.

Sadly, Christians are not immune to its influence. Many in the Church are listening to the political spirit, all the while thinking it is the Holy Spirit. As a result, we see much bickering back and forth, even within Christ’s Body, as we mistakenly try to fight battles in the flesh which can only be fought adequately in the spirit.

Let’s start by identifying some signs the political spirit is affecting us:

  1. If it’s my political party’s stance, it’s right, do or die.
  2. Being a Christian and being a patriot are synonymous to me. (Patriotism is usually honorable, but since we are citizens of two kingdoms, an earthly one and a heavenly one, the time may come when we will have to choose between the two.)
  3. If my guy is in office, everything he does is right. He’s God-appointed and God-anointed, so he never takes a wrong turn.
  4. If it’s not my guy in office, he is open game. Start blasting.
  5. Key words trigger a dig-my-heels-in-the-ground stance, so that I cannot see any middle territory. I cannot hear a different viewpoint or see a perspective in between.
  6. If my favorite news outlet says it is so, it is. If I am a conservative, I cannot believe anything from a liberal source could be accurate. (If I am a liberal, I cannot receive anything from a conservative viewpoint.)
  7. I feel and exhibit anger and pride over where I stand. I argue with anyone of a different perspective until I win my point (or until they quit responding).
  8. I am afraid of any truth which conflicts with what I want to believe.
  9. I have an “us vs. them” mentality.

The political spirit can lead us into idolizing a particular government figure. It deceives us into replacing Jesus with human saviors. Once we have entered into this idolatry, anytime anyone voices a concern that the one we idolize may be wrong in a specific area, we get defensive and perhaps abusive in our rebuttal. We may twist the Bible to justify or minimize wrong — because the person we have on a pedestal must be viewed as always right in order for us to feel comfortable with our idolization of him or her.

On the other hand, the political spirit can also lead us into hating a particular government figure. We spend our time criticizing his or her every move. When anyone suggests we pray for that person instead of criticizing him, we make excuses or get defensive.

How do we become influenced by the political spirit? It gains our agreement by pandering to our soul. It manipulates our fears and selfish desires, so that life becomes all about making sure our comfort comes first.

It uses us by taking hold of principles we deeply ascribe to and twisting them for its own purposes. We bring those deeply held principles into how we pray, firmly convinced that we are on God’s side – when in actuality our understanding of the principles may be flawed. We may be misusing them for our own soulish desires or opinions.

Other spirits work in partnership with this spirit, but the Holy Spirit never does. We cannot follow the political spirit and the Holy Spirit at the same time.

The political spirit is nothing new. It was at work in Bible times with those who wanted to make Jesus a king so He would overthrow the oppressive Roman government. The Jewish religious leaders who were opposed to Jesus also exhibited it when they said to Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). It is not only at work in secular government, but also in church government. Wherever power can be wielded over people, it will try to work.

Combating the political spirit’s influence:

The most effective way to deal with this spirit is through prayer. We must always remember, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). If we don’t stay aware of the real source of the problem, we end up in futile contention with people who are merely tools of the enemy.

That does not mean we never engage in discussion or other activism. If we don’t speak up when the Lord is prompting us to, we allow evil to gain ground, but we must know the appropriate time and place. We can only know these things by the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Find out which battles the Holy Spirit is calling you to, and leave the rest alone.

Our battle must first be engaged by searching out God’s perspective through inquiring of Him in prayer. I might start by gathering information from news sources. (Keep in mind that both left- and right-leaning media distort or withhold information for their own purposes.) But then I ask, “Lord, what do You say about this?”

While we wait to hear from Him, we can begin to wage war by praying in tongues, which keeps us from praying fleshly prayers stemming from our own reasoning.

We can petition the Lord to break the political spirit’s influence off of our nation. This may involve asking Him to expose its influence over ourselves first, followed by repentance for our personal cooperation with it.

Discerning when the political spirit is at work in our own lives and in those around us is a first step in dealing with it. We can be set free, and through prayer, we can help to weaken this spirit’s hold on our nation as well.

Follow-up post, written about two years later:
Are You Influenced by the Political Spirit?

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The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

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Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam