Lately I have really encountered a number of challenges, both spiritually and mentally. I have no desire to go into them all specifically, but one of them has really stood out to me.
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 God’s revelation in Christ. Some cults are offshoots of ancient pagan religions, have no similarity to 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:
1. They may consider Jesus Christ as not equal to God the Father, but something less. 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.