“Yet now, knowing God, yet rather being known by God, how are you turning back again to the weak and pitiful principles for which you want to be in subjection all over again?” Galatians 4:9
The Apostle Paul was a freedom fighter. He knew from experience what it was like to be under total bondage and corruption. But, he also knew what it was like to be rescued and to be under total freedom and liberty; the freedom and liberty that can only come from believing and knowing Christ and the Gospel.
In this short article, “Are you in a cult,” let’s take these next few minutes, and see if we can imitate the apostle, exposing and fighting for the liberty and freedom that Christ has set us free, and to stand; not being entangled again in a yoke of bondage.
There are many good books, websites, and articles written on the subject of cults and why and how sincere people often get mixed up in them. Many of them describe the issue using a broad brush and speak in very general terms, yet giving nonetheless, very good insights as well as very good counsel.
Here however, we will tackle this subject very succinctly and “cut right to the chase.”
Every local institutional church on the earth today possesses some marks as well as some methods of a cult; a cult that spiritually abuses people. It’s just a matter of what stage it is at and to what degree it is exercised. At these “churches,” you will normally encounter so-called church leaders. They will call themselves, “Your pastor,” “Your elders,” "Your spiritual overseer,” “God’s duly-authorized representatives,” etc. The titles are endless.
The question(S) is:
Why and how do professing Christians allow themselves to be put under bondage at their local institutional churches?
Why is it that so many people struggle to leave a church?
The answer lies in having your once good and pure conscience in the sight of God, now being branded, and then taken over by ecclesiastical tyrants and serial killers of the soul.
Please note that it’s only a sincere Christian who can and does get mixed up in cultic churches. This is because that it’s absolutely essential that a person’s conscience must be determined to please God at all costs before they will submit to any cultic pressure. A believer must be convinced that their leader is truly God’s duly-authorized leader with absolute authority before they obey him without question.
Slowly, over time however, you became more interested in pleasing man than in pleasing God. Of course at the time, you would never, never have admitted it or perhaps you might even have been totally unaware of it!
Yet, nevertheless, it is this truth that evangelical despots use to capture, control and then manipulate their victims. Many of these religious tyrants will use this to plant fears that will keep a person in total bondage to their religious system for life; or at least keep a person from looking at anything else for fear of being deceived.
It goes something like this:
First, you will be taught to obey God rather than man regardless of the cost. This of course is biblical, but it is also vital that a person actually and truly believe this truth before he can be a victim of a cultic church and its leaders.
The next step in this process is constantly emphasizing the mantra that the primary way, if not, indeed the only way you demonstrate your love and obedience to God is by being an obedient and loyal part of God’s one true church (meaning the local church that you are sitting in right now).
Loving and obey the church becomes the same thing as loving and obeying God.
What’s actually taking place is that your conscience is slowly being taken over by the leader.
You are more and more isolated from anyone and everyone except the people in this particular church.
There is a very strong “we” and “they” mentality. There are those “inside” the group and those “outside” the group.
The “WE” group are God’s truly chosen (the church and its cultic leaders) and they are the only people who really love you and are capable of protecting you from “THEM,” those outside.
Your only real security; your only real safety; your only real protection is within the cultic group. As you are more and more discouraged, and in some cases, forbidden from any fellowship with anyone except the group, it becomes easier and easier to feel a sense of security because you are part of the “in group,” “the elite,” “the chosen.”
However, along with this is the growing fear of offending the leader or leaders.
The primary and fundamental sign that you are in a cultic environment with cultic leaders is when you are more afraid of being shunned by the leader than you are of offending God himself!
All the while, as these things are going on all around you and within you, you are constantly being bombarded with the teaching that says, “the church (meaning the cultic local assembly that you are a part of ) is the place that God has established His authority.”
“Obeying God instead of man” has very slowly become, “obeying the church instead of man.” The cultic church (along with its leaders) has now taken the place of God himself.
This is the foundation for all cultic churches. A sincere Christian now feels that it is his or her duty to obey what they are told by the church.
The last nail in the coffin that is used to brand and take over the Christian’s conscience is the “God-ordained authority” gimmick of the leadership.
It goes something like this: (almost word for word)
God has placed His authority in the church. The church, and the church alone, has been given the authority by God to do His work. For this to be carried out, God has gifted and given certain men the responsibility and authority to lead His church.
These gifted men have the authority by God, along with the necessary gifts, to interpret and apply the word of God.
Just as we show our love to God by obeying the church, because it is God’s duly-authorized agent of truth, so we now prove our love to God and His church by obeying the leaders that God has sovereignly placed over us.
We must obey these God-ordained men, even if they are wrong, and God will reward our obedience. Which is worse – for your elders to err in ignorance or for YOU to INFECT yourself with a spirit of insubordination and rebellion!"
In the end, what has happened here is that “your elders,” “your pastor,” “your spiritual overseers,” along with all of their pronouncements actually becomes the authoritative word of God.
Once this stratagem is carried out and accomplished, the more sincere a Christian is, the more tightly will be the chains that hold him.
At this point, a believer has literally forsaken Christ as his final authority and has accepted the leaders word as the authority over his conscience. The biblical truth that “we ought to obey God rather than man” has literally been hi-jacked and “wrested” to mean “obeying man (God’s duly-authorized church leader) is really obeying God.”
You have stumbled and succumbed to the pressure to conform to the ideas and systems of men. You have stumbled and succumbed to the false teaching that your relationship and standing with God the Father is through “going-to-church” and obeying your so-called “church leaders.”
You have now made “the church,” along with its leadership (albeit false leadership) the great idol in your life.
In all of this however, whatever happened to the place of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals? This false, tyrannical system has replaced Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, with the machinations and skullduggery of men;
which is what Jesus Christ came to set the captives free from in the first place!
It is all so very subtle and yet so very real.
The only way out is to lay hold of Christ and His Word and run away from the people who spiritually pretended to be your protectors and “authorized representatives,” even as they were robbing you blind of your (money), joy, freedom, and liberty in Christ.
And I hear another voice out of heaven, saying, "Come out of her, My people, lest you should be joint participants in her sins, and that you receive none of her plagues. Revelation 18:4
Wherefore Come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And you shall be to me sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18
Don’t attack them. It will only assist them in proving to their poor victims how necessary it is not to have any outside contact with you. “You see what happens when you reject God’s authority? You will soon be lost and undone as these apostates.”
In closing, let me remind you again that cultic church leaders will never say, “Obey me!” They will always say, “Obey God!”
Of course, after a “church” and their leaders have successfully taken you through the steps of brainwashing and other forms of abuse, those two things have become totally identical!