How to tell if you are in a Cult #1 condemnation depends on relation to the cult. Success is principally money. Righteousness is not Jesus Christ. This is a study of some simple elements that are very common in cults, false religions, even bad political groups.
A. When condemning sin, it needs to be filtered through who did it rather than what the Bible says about it being wrong.
Not all sin is the same. Even the very same sin done by a leader, a member or somebody outside the group are treated very differently.
When the Pharisees wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery (i.e she was caught which means the man was also caught, and therefore where was the man? He was probably a Pharisee and let go without any condemnation.), Jesus asked those without sin throw the first stone. Probably Jesus was writing the sins of each of those wanting her death in the sand. On the one side, the leaders have to be condemned equally, on the other side, mercy and forgiveness needs to be shown not just to the leader but to every members.
Typically, this is a clear evidence of the elitism of the group’s leadership over typical, common members, i.e. the leaders’ own hypocrisy. While sexual abuse, stealing, lying, disloyalty, and other such common sins are heavily chastised when done by any member, the same procedure is not followed when the group’s leaders or their favorites do the same thing.
N.B. Note that this is exactly what has happened in our modern United States political environment. It is not what wrong is done, but rather who did it (which party do they align with) which is the deciding factor if it is publicly condemned or not. It is with great pride and joy to observe that God has no favorites. The sins of Abraham, Moses and David compared to the sins of the worse sinner in the Bible are equally condemned. Each will have to stand before God and give account. Only when the individual sinner repents and abandons that sin is he forgiven by God and blessed again.
B. When buildings, fame, power, control, and money are substituted for true life changing salvation, holiness, piety, and righteousness.
There is a “continental divide” between religious groups. The continental divide is an imaginary line which according to terrain, is on the top of the mountains and hills in the East coast of the United States. All rain that falls on one side eventually goes out the Mississippi River, and the other side of this line, the rain will eventually flow out the Atlantic. It is a principle that decides which way the water will eventually flow and exit the country.
Every group that has their membership meet and they do activities needs some place to do so. Those that work to promote their own group also need money and personnel (salaries) to do that. But in general, those groups that are overly concerned with the physical things of power and glory are basing their group on Satan’s corrupted world. Those that have their sights on “the things above”, will be more focused on the work of God in people’s lives, saving them, and then edifying them. The leadership will also look after their own people’s physical needs over their own personal aspirations.
There are exceptions to this rule, but corrupt leaders usually will manifest their overwhelming desire for the physical, the worldly, the financial. Their teachings cannot go for very long without returning to money, i.e. their membership giving money to build the leaders aspirations.
C. When righteousness is exclusively defined by the group, picking and choosing between biblical concepts and non-biblical concepts, focusing on obedience and submission to the group’s concepts is equal to righteousness.
Righteousness is doing what God wants us to do. There is a harmony in the Bible between different authors and their different books, but also between different doctrines. This harmony enters here. What is “righteous” is also in alignment with God’s character, and Jesus’ character and actions.
D. When biblical doctrine is defined by the group instead of by the Bible.
Cults need to break the allegiance and loyalty of their people from the Bible and make it dedicated uniquely to the group. There are many ways that cults do this, but all of them focus on the cult’s teaching rather than a strictly literal reading of the Bible.
We see, for example, in the Roman Catholic Church that the only authoritative interpretation of a Bible passage is the Pope. How convenient. So for example, when God requires pastor’s be a man of a single wife (1Tim 3) they reinterpret that to be that all priests are married to the church. That was not the meaning when Paul wrote it nor is that the correct interpretation today.
Marks of a Cult
- Mark of a Cult: Deception
- How to tell if you are in cult #7
- How to tell if you are in cult #6
- How to tell if you are in cult #5
- How to tell if you are in cult #4