God's Ultimate Weapon

Pastor Arlee Turner Jr.

                               The Marks Of A Cult

                       What Is A Cult And The Occult?

The two words, "cult and occult," sound similar.  But while different, they both pose a similar spiritual threat to people by appearing to be something they are not.  Both can cause its victims to miss God's loving and free provision for their lives through Christ, and cause them to face a tragic, Christless eternity.  There are many nice, and friendly and caring people in the cults and the occult.  God loves them, so much that Christ died for them.  They are not our enemy.  Our enemy is Satan and his deceiving spirits.

Cults: In popular usage, "cults" are religious groups predicted by the Bible (2 Peter 2:1) that deviate from the central, historic truths of biblical Christianity, and are easy to identify.  Others falsely try to imitate Christianity, often using the Bible and Christian terminology, and are more difficult to distinguish.  These latter cults typically exhibit one or more of the following traits: 

                          Traits Of The Latter Cults

  1. They may consider Jesus Christ as not equal to God the Father, but something else.  But Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), and Paul said that Christ is the "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15).  The Bible is repeatedly clear that Jesus is deity, and when on the earth, He was God in human form.  We can be redeemed from our sins only because God's own perfect blood (in Christ) was shed for our perfect cleansing.
  2. They may typically reject the clear biblical revelation of a triune God, sometimes called the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - one god, not three, but manifest in three Persons.  The Bible refers to all three as Persons, yet One.  A mystery, but truth.
  3. They may have their own "sacred" book in addition to the Bible.  And although they usually deny it, these books conflict with and are given precedence over the Bible.
  4. They typically reject the wonderful biblical truth that salvation is a "free gift" from God by grace through faith alone (this truth glorifies God and not man).  Instead, cults and all other "religions" falsely say that people must "earn" their salvation by certain works and deeds, often works that will perpetuate the cult (this glorifies man rather than God).
  5. Cults are often exclusive, centering around a strong leader (or late founder) who has the only "true" interpretation of Scripture.  Whereas Christ came to give us freedom, (Galatians 5:1), cult members are in bondage to that cult or leader, with the threat that leaving the cult will cause a loss of salvation. 

Thousands of cults exist, but here are some major ones listed in most cult reference books: Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian ScienceThe Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong), The Unity School of Christianity, The Way International, The Children of God, Scientology, The Unification Church, Unitarianism and the New Age Movement (which is also occult).

If involved in any cult - run, don't walk to the nearest exit, and find a Christ-centered, Bible-centered, Bible-believing church. 

                                  What Is The Occult?

The word "occult" refers to what is hidden, concealed or secret.  The occult involves not just the spirit world - but the spirit world of darkness.  The occult is particularly deceptive because the spirit world is very real.  Practitioners are not just dealing with reality - but dark, forbidden and evil reality

There are two kinds of spiritual reality.  The first is God's spiritual kingdom of truth and light where Christ is King, the nature of which is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17), and where God's holy angels dwell, worship and serve Him.  The second is the world of Satan (a fallen angel); a world of deceit and hopelessness, void of God, where other fallen angels (demons) who hate God, work to advance this evil kingdom under their leader, Satan.

The Bible does not reveal a "dualism," or co-equal forces of good (God) and evil (Satan).  Satan is totally subject to the sovereign omnipotent Creator.  But God has given Satan certain authority to operate in the earth as a result of man's sinful fall.  He operates through the minds and wills of fallen humanity, and he has constructed a complex web of many evil schemes, including occult practices, and even "religions" to deceive and snare people by appearing to offer them supernatural powers and knowledge.  The Bible says that such deception will increase in "the last days" before Christ returns (1 Timothy 4:1).  But the Bible also says "The Son of God appeared for this purpose: that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).  Those who trust and obey Jesus Christ have protection and victory through Him.

Any degree of occult involvement can produce problems of oppression, depression, despair, hopelessness and many physical problems, sometimes bringing self-destruction, even death.  Demonic influence can produce obsession, phobias, bizarre behavior, violence, homicide and sexual perversion.  Worse, it can deceive a person into eternal darkness.  The occult is a form of idolatry and a sin expressly forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). 

Here are just a few of the many occult practices: astrology, "fortune-telling," witchcraft, Satanism, clairvoyance, seances, spiritism meetings, use of mediums or "channeling," ouija boards, eastern religions, reincarnation, voodoo, involvement with "psychics," and the New Age Movement.

If you now or have ever been involved with any cult or occult practice, you can be set free of it and any symptoms it may have brought by doing the following 1) CONFESS sincere faith and commitment to Christ; 2) CONFESS the cult and occult sins to God, naming and forsaking each one; 3) RENOUNCE Satan, in Jesus' name, and commanding him and his demons to depart; and 4) RECEIVE and claim your liberation by faith, without doubting, trusting in the authority and total faithfulness of God and His Word.

           The Marks Of A Cult - Extra-Biblical Revelation

Cults elevate teachings, visions, traditions, and experiences of their leaders.                                                                                         Cults raise books and institutions to a Biblical level.                          Cults elevate their translations and their interpretations of Scripture.

Revelation 22:18,19: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Galatians 1:8,9: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

Examples: Mormon, Catholic, Islam, Jehovah Witnesses 

                                  Salvation By Works

Cults require conformity to codes of behavior for salvation, keeping of salvation, and acceptance.                                                     Cults motivate their followers by an ever-raised standard that removes peace and hope.                                                          Cults foster a pride in the keeping of the code.

Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

Romans 3:28: "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."

Galatians 2:16: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law: for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."

ExamplesChurch of God (Armstrongism), 7th Day Adventist

                              Exhaltation Of Leadership

Cult grants Messianic qualities to their founders and leaders.  They say he has been appointed by God, therefore he is untouchable.     Cults make their leaders a guru with all the answers, a prophet with revelation from God.                                                                   Cult members will quote their leaders as final authority.                 Cult members will follow loyally.  Their minds are controlled by the intelligence and personality of their leaders.  They do not think for themselves.

Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

1 Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

Ephesians 1:22-23: "And hath put all things under His feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all."

Examples: Mormons, TV Evangelists, Catholicism

                                 Doctrinal Instability

Cults change their doctrine.  When there is a new leader, there will be new doctrine.  Cult leaders will say, "I have received this from God.  No one has heard this truth before today."

On the other hand, historic Christianity has always drawn from a variety of sources that agree with one another.

2 Corinthians 13:1: "This is the third time I am coming to you.  In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."

Acts 26:25-26: "But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.  For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him, for this thing was not done in a corner."

Examples: Media-Prophecy Evangelists, Mormons, TV Evangelists.

                              Other Marks Of A Cult

Denunciation Of Others:

Cults will claim to be the only one with the truth.                           Cults have a circle-the-wagons, everyone-is-against-us mentality.

Philippians 3:15:  "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."

Defective Christology:

Cults are always wrong about Jesus.

1 John 4:1-3: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now alreaady is it in the world."

Examples: Jehovah Witnesses, Catholic (Elevation of Mary), Christian Scientists, Mormons

Segmented Biblical Interpretation

Cults emphasize certain books and verses to the practice of dismissing other parts of God's Word.

2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a worman needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth."

Passages should be studied contextually, historically and dispensationally.

Entangling Organizational Commitment 

Cults dictate every part of the lives of their followers.                     Loyalty to the cult is made a virtue, righteousness.

Luke 11:46: "And He said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers!  For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdesn with one of your fingers."

2 Peter 2:19: "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage."

Galatians 5:1: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Examples: Mormoms, Moonies

Financial Exploitation

Cults are not satisfied  with getting what God has required of their followers.  They desire to control all the finances of their members.

2 Peter 2:3: "And a through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."

Examples: Catholic Indulgences, TV Evangelists