Edition 34. March 25th 2010
In this edition:
●Identifying cults and sects.
How to identify cults and sects.
Firstly I want you to know that I have no interest in proving myself right and others wrong. I have absolutely no interest in towing the line of any church group or doctrine. My one and only motivation in all of the Prophetic Scroll is for you to get to know our Lord and saviour more deeply and intimately. I want the best for you as I do for myself. I want you to know God and Him to know you!
One of the major signs of the soon coming of the Lord is the arise of cults and sects. Yes they have always been around, but they will become a plague in the days before the return of the Lord. If this is true then we need to be aware of them and know how to identify them so that we can steer clear.
In what is called the Olivet discourse our Messiah is asked by His disciples what will be the sign of the end of the age. He then goes on and lists a bunch of things. Five times in this short discourse, He warns of coming deception. In fact the very first thing He says: Mathew 24:4 "And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you, for many will come in my name, saying I am the Christ and will deceive many." Further on in the same discourse Jesus says vs 24 " False christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible even the elect."
Firstly, lets identify what a sect is. This will offend a great many, but if you have a problem with it please note who I'm quoting and go and speak to God about it.
Corinthians 1:10 "Sectarianism is sin" (This is the title of this discourse in the Bible) "Now brethren I plead with you, by the name of the Lord, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions (sects) among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgement."
"Divisions" is simply another word for denominations. Denominations are sectarian by there very nature. They all speak and believe different things and not the same thing as this verse commands.
The other day I saw four different denominational church buildings each with different names, one on each corner, within view of each other...what a terrible situation.
A sect (short for sectarianism) is simply a division or denomination. This doesn't mean that they aren't saved, although many denominations would be suspect on this front.
That one shocking verse above is the entire desire of God for the church wrapped up in one verse. Its called UNITY. Unity is the opposite of sectarianism. Unity is the way to success and power.
Sectarianism (denominationalism) is not okay. In this day we are about to see an outpouring of the Spirit of God and the spirit of the devil at the same time. Sects are in grave danger of being swallowed up by the powerful forces of darkness masquerading as an angel of light.
Sects always overemphasise certain areas of scripture and ignore others. This always creates an imbalance and is the very reason why the divisions exist. Today many churches only preach half-baked, nice, happy motivational sermons.
There is only one pattern for the church. There should be one church divided only geographically. This is no small issue as revealed in the incredible judgements of Christ upon the divided church in the Revelation (Messages to the seven churches.) For more on this see edition 11 titled "Glory and horror".
Personally I believe that some sects will repent and go full on with our Lord in time to come, but many will join the great end time, false world church, which will become the tool of the false prophet and Satan himself at the close of the age.
The early church started off in unity. It was divided geographically only. For example there was the church in Jerusalem and the church in Antioch etc. it was in 300 AD when Constantine arrived on the scene that division started. He was a forerunner to the Catholic sect which came about in 600AD. Division and error in the church was the cause of the dark ages!
Sect is short for sectarian, which means division or denomination, while God demands unity. With this being the case we have to say that the church at large has failed in this regard.
Romans 16:17 "Now I urge you brethren, note those that who cause division (sects or denominations) and offences contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them."
Unity, not sectarianism:
What is the answer? The answer is exactly what God says in the above verse and no less! This is; "speak the same thing, have no divisions and be of the same mind" The modern Messianic movement has divisions within it, but it is a lot further down the road to unity than all the regular divided up churches.
Here are just a few verses of scripture on the need for unity:
Ephesians 4: 25 "Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body."
John 17: 11 "That they may be one as we are one."
John 17:21 "That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I in you. May they also be one in Us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
Can you see how important the above verse? The disunity in the church is the very reason why the world does not believe!!
Churches would do well do dissolve their hierarchical, institutional organisations, repent, believe God's word and form one church!
If sects generally refer to sectarianism in the church, cults are no such thing. A cult is a religious organisation that is a complete fraud through and through. It's worship is illegitimate and in most cases it worships false gods. Many cults mix aspects of the Bible with their own doctrines.
Characteristics of cults:
The one single big thing is the rejection of the full work of the cross of Christ. As a result these people will always be led by the spirit of self, reason, good ideas and ultimately the devil himself.
Cults are almost always characterised by domination and control and are often very legalistic. Now of course there is a ditch on both sides of the road. Heavy enforced legalism is the ditch on the one side and complete liberalism or absence of order is the ditch on the other side.
Cults are always characterised by misdirected worship (sometimes in a subtle form) of their hero - leader. Cult members often imitate their leader in mannerism, voice and other areas. They become clones of their esteemed leader.
Cults always centre on and over-emphasise certain portions of scripture at the expense of others. They pick and chose the verses that suite their religion and ignore others. They are most concerned about building their own empire rather than the Kingdom of the true and living God.
There are many cults with leaders who have a messianic complex and preach and teach much about end time things. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water! End of age doctrine comes from the Bible. If a cult leader thinks he is the messiah, you wouldn't throw out the true Messiah would you? So don't throw out end-of-age doctrine because some cults preach it.
Cults often have an illegitimate excessive desire for and control of money. Again don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, running a ministry, evangelism and the like is very expensive. There is a difference between excellence in ministry and a satanic love for money and using it illegitimately.
Cults always become very critical of everyone that isn't in their fold. Their criticism is self originated and judgemental of the fact that others aren't like them. They discourage seeking and studying the fullness of the Bible. Again, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, the Bible commands us to expose, condemn error and seek truth.
A cult will always undermine the importance of doctrine. They will say things like "don't worry about doctrine" and then insert their own self opinion as doctrine. Acts 20:27 Paul says "I've declared to you the whole counsel of God."
Many things in a cult may seem just like the real thing, but a cult is essentially of a wrong spirit and therefore even its right is wrong!
Many cults come very close to the truth. that is the nature of deception. You can't deceive someone with a $3 coin. Some say that the way to stay safe is to have a leadership structure that is spread out through the presbytery. That's rubbish. God always raises a leader, calls him, and places him. The issue is not so much what is done but in what spirit its done.
The Bible says that Satan comes as an angel of light. It's worth bearing that in mind. He may be able to duplicate and camouflage his religion, but if you have the Spirit of the living God in your heart, you will always see a wrong spirit within cults. In fact you will always be in conflict with the spirit of the devil.
1John 4:1-6 "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits weather they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world...We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error."
Jude 18-19 is very insightful indeed: "In the last days there will be mockers, walking according to their own ungodly lusts, these are soulish persons who cause divisions, not having the Spirit."
How to stay safe:
The major central thing is to accept, receive and apply the work of the cross of Christ in all its ways and dealings into our lives. The application of the cross into our lives will defeat self, the world, the demonic and release the Spirit of God into us in a new dimension. The second big thing is to have and maintain a soft, broken and teachable heart before our Lord and to develop a love for the truth and pure Bible doctrine.
If the Spirit of the living God is alive and at work in our hearts He will lead us into all truth. He will lead us and give us a desire within to obey Him and move forward with Him in a loving way. He will lead those in the chains of bondage to freedom, if they truly want the Lord of truth to be Lord of their lives.
A true Spirit led leader will always direct you to the heart of our Messiah. His life's motivation will be to get himself into the presence of God and get you there too. He will know God and therefore have the fear of God in Him, he will know the truth thoroughly. He will warn you, edify you, uplift you, feed you good food (including lousy vegetables). He will be led by oceans of peace and there will be a witness within your heart that this leader is a servant of the living God.
A true leader will be seen to have Christ in Him, but will turn all worship to our Lord. He will have a real love for you. He will want to see you grow in the grace of God. He will will also be involved in corrective actions, rebuke and severe dealings when needed.
He will know God so intimately himself that he knows that he will stand before God answerable for everything he has done including his deep hidden motivations. This is why his big thing will be to see Christ formed in you and not himself formed in you.
A true leader will guide you into all truth, without adding or subtracting to the Word in any way. Paul said "I have not shunned to preach to you the full counsel of God"
It is quite correct (as the Bible reveals) to follow a God given leader, who is himself following the Lord by the Spirit with all the fruits evident. A true leader will be a man of humility but also of authority.
James 4:6 "God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud."
Thessalonians 2:9-10 "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason, God will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie."
1 Timothy 4:1 "Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."
2 Timothy 4:3 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears from the truth."
2 Timothy 3:1-5 "Know this that in the last days perilous times will come, for people will be lovers of self...having a form of godliness, but denying its power. And from such turn away."
There are huge amounts of people, billions in fact, who are and will fall hook, line and sinker for end time, false counterfeit religion. Yeshua / Jesus warns of it, Paul the apostle warns of it and the Old Testament is full of examples of how serious false, illegitimate worship is.
The amazing thing is that neither you nor I nor anyone in history has ever been able to live the Christian life successfully. God can live the Christian life. So the answer is simply to die to self. As I die He lives...that's the way to unity and absolute safety!
The big thing to look for in a church is the cross of Christ. It must be central in the preaching and teaching.
A friend of mine recently got involved with a church that I didn't know. I looked it up on the net and listened to a few podcasts. I read through all the sermon titles going back years. There was not one single teaching or even mention of the cross. There was plenty of self motivational, you-can-do it type of hogwash. Not surprisingly its a church of cursed replacement theology! This church operates in the energy of the flesh.
Oaky it's not an outright cult, but I would be full of fear to even walk in there!
A divided church has no power, it is incapable of fulfilling it's God given role.
Its good to bear in mind that many outright cults began as a 'normal' church. With the cross obscured, error and division comes in and further down the line hell itself takes over!
People seek and want power. They want power because it gives them acceptance and makes them feel important. This is the desire of the flesh and soul. It will be increasingly met and fulfilled by the devil in these days.
Seek our Lord and His truth:
Your heart and soul is at risk in these days. The devil is roaring, seeking whom he may devour. The pressures are enormous and all around us. The great satanic god, Hollywood, is at work. Music, advertising and media of all forms are predominant in this post-modern, post-truth world of variables. Much of the new Christian generation is a shocking rebellion against God. It is and will lead to hell.
The good news is that it's simple to stay safe and grow in our Lord. It may not always be easy, but it's simple. You see, we have been so indoctrinated with the ways of the world and watered down Christianity, that's its difficult to break away from this norm. But its simple. All you need to do is die to your own effort, call on our God with all your heart and trust Him to lead you on in truth to glory.
John 8:31-32 "If you abide in My word you are My disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
Psalm 16:11 "You will show me the path of life, in your presence fullness of joy at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
A soft, broken, humble heart before our Lord, a hard heart to the devil and a cultivated ongoing love for truth is the way to safety in these times and just for good measure, the way to God's heart.
Heaven or hell:
So near yet so far, far away! At Calvary our wonderful Messiah offered salvation to two people about to die right next to Him on their own crosses. They both stepped into eternity right then. One called out for salvation and received it just in time, while the other refused. Young woman; salvation is very close to you. Very soon it may too late for you and your beauty will be exclusively for the devil and all of hell to admire. An unsaved friend of mine was killed in a head on accident the other day. She died so suddenly her eyes remained open. She had no time to call on the Lord!
Old man, even at your age, salvation is a breath away! You still have time to call out to our Lord and saviour. If you do (or have) your future is one of untold and unimaginable glory...for ever. Don't wait until its too late. You need to do it now. You will live forever and its up to you weather its in hell or heaven.
In closing this edition here is a painting by Rembrandt of Moses casting down the ten commandments just given to him by God. His anger was because the people had cast down the truth in favour of idolatry, just like most of the world today! Isaiah 59: 14 "Truth is fallen in the street."
Kind regards and many blessings...Shalom and grow in grace!