The manifestation and activity of religious spirits require a friendly union between “flesh” (the fallen human nature) and demons. It is not solely demonic activity, so being around them requires a different spiritual response.
Jesus had no trouble with demons. Demons bowed and fled. He easily cast them out. But the Pharisees were a different matter. Religious spirits do not bow down and obey, because of the human free will element involved.
To interact with them, is like dealing with a hybrid of demonic and human. The human component makes it difficult to remove the demonic, because the human part is enjoying the fellowship, and power the demonic gives it, and does not want it to leave. Deliverance will not happen without the human will agreeing to it.
How to recognize them:
Religious spirits oppress and persecute others, usually true believers. They do this in the name of God.
they criticize others almost constantly, and recruit others to join them.
They are controlling, and legalistic, rigid in opinion.
Very unforgiving about what they accuse you of doing wrong
Their religious zeal, spirituality, and righteousness is not of God. They have no personal relationship with God, just a religious agenda they want followed, with them in control.
focus on perfection, not progress
are proud and arrogant
find fault with others but not with themselves
know how to tear down, but not to build up.
unable to receive correction and instruction
they will not listen to man, only God.
will not submit to any human authority, unless that authority exalts them
believe that God has appointed them to fix you. God cannot do it without them. They are appointed to fix everything wrong in your life. But they fix you by tearing you down, by destroying you, and criticizing everything they think is wrong with you.
will not tolerate weakness or failures in you. Bible says to bear one another’s burdens
always want recognition
suspicious of every move of God as being from the devil. They watch and study and do not believe it. Spread doubts. If God did not do it before, then He cannot be doing it now. God is not allowed to do anything they do not understand. They forget that the devil copies God. God does not copy the devil.
they glory in yesterday, but not today, unless they are in the center of it
they will not join in any group outside of theirs and will forbid you to do the same. “We have all the truth.” Cult thinking. You cannot go anywhere else except their church, or you will be defiled.
they do not understand the work of grace in someone’s life
they take false stand on dreams and visions, theirs are ok, not but yours
no room for God working in their life. they are already perfect.
may have started out as spirit filled, but they think they can perfect themselves in the flesh.
they will put religious curses on innocent people
if unchecked, they will progress to the demonic, and then will need deliverance
they make false accusations, then justify then with irrelevant scripture, to “sanctify” the evil that is spoken. This can be the most twisted and confusing experience.
Example: they accuse you of being a “snake” or a “scorpion” because you do not agree with them (you happen to be correct). Then they pull some scripture that talks about something NOT related to your “error,” but has to do with why you will go to hell, or need to repent. They say the sky is red, and you say it is blue. They then quote this passage, which is irrelevant:
 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
What does this passage have to do with the color of the sky? Nothing! It is there to mentally confuse you, and keep you in spiritual chaos. The scripture is a trap, not to enlighten you, but to get you to concede to them. So the devil is inappropriately using the Word of God as a sword against you, and you need to recognize this strategy, and either reject and expose what he is doing, or be well armored with the Word of God yourself, and fight back with more than he has.
Intensely unforgiving. They recall past “mistakes,” even from 20 years ago. They will never let you forget the mistake and will bring it up to condemn you. It may not even be a mistake, but they think it is. They use the mistakes to prove that you are evil or wrong, and need their advice.
Why are they so prevalent?
1. some have always been around, through history, example, the Pharisees in Jesus time. It comes from a desire to be important.
2. the modern charismatic movement opens the door for false spirits.
a. those which desire power, to prove they are “anointed” of God, when they are not called of God. So they are fakes. They become false teachers and false prophets, etc. Some are self- deceived, and do it to gain acceptance. Others are just corrupt, and do it for money, power, etc.
b. those which may or may not be “anointed,” or have a ministry calling on their lives, but who criticize others who actually ARE called of God, as fakes. Limited in their understanding, they actually attack true teachers of the gospel, and true prophets (who are rare) and claim they are fakes when they are real. Example: the persecution of the prophet Jeremiah by the leaders in his day. They claimed he was a false prophet, but he was real, and telling the truth.
What to do
1. beware of them . Jesus said to “beware the leaven of the Pharisees.” (Matt 16: 8)
2. resist them, as “God resists the proud” ( James 4:6)
3. recognize them (Rom 10:2-4) as those with convictions, zeal, and righteousness that is not of God
4. if you have the authority in a church, as in pastoral standing, etc, dismiss them. If you don’t, they will cause you a lot of trouble, including trying to have you dismissed, because you are not up to their standards.
5. if you do not have any authority over them, just leave them alone, or leave the church environment, if the pastor will not do anything. Given enough time, they will attack you and cause you spiritual harm. Remember, they crucified Jesus. Imagine what they would do to you, if given the chance.
6. be realistic. These are the last days. You will find religious spirits everywhere. If you leave one church, you will find more in another. So if you pick a big enough church, if you want one, then you will have a better chance of finding some nice people to associate with.
7. Pray for wisdom, and the ability to discern spirits, for your own protection.