“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,” Colossians 2:18-20.
When we think of cults we usually think of purple jello and compounds. Please allow me to share some of the characteristics of a cult according to Scripture and you discern the modern day cult.
The first characteristic of a cult is self imposed fasting and self denials of many things to appear religious. Please don’t think I just said fasting was a cult activity! Fasting is scriptural and an important part of the Christian life. However, when done with the wrong motives it is works. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8. Fasting is a personal thing, where we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit and draw closer to the Lord, not a group activity where we are encouraged by our brethren. “That you appear not unto men to fast, but unto your Father which is in secret: and your Father, which sees in secret, shall reward you openly.” Matthew 6:18. Fasting within itself is not holy. In other words, our action is not holy but the One in Whom we are seeking is Holy – Jesus Christ. Fasting is personal, between the person and their Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is not a method nor a means to an end.
Another characteristic of a cult is a religion of demons or angels. “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels…” Col. 2:18 speaks to worshipping of angels while 1 Timothy 4:1-2 warns of seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” . Doctrines of devils includes any doctrine that does not line up with the FULL counsel of the Word of God. A little leaven, leavens the whole lump. Man is infallible but the Word of God is not. Test all spirits against the Word of God. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Romans 1:21-25. Any form of worship man chooses apart from the true worship of God only feeds self righteousness and has is completely and miserably powerless over sin. Such is the reason we will know them by their fruit…do we have power over our sin nature or does it have power over us?
Activity based on superior knowledge, new revelations outside of the Word of God or sensuous feelings is cult activity. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith…” 1 Timothy 6:20-21. To say there are new revelations outside of the Word of God is to say God’s Word is insufficient for today…avoid these profane and vain babblings.
Lastly, ANY religion that is not Christ centered and Gospel true is cult activity. When we see the winds of doctrine waving to and fro, we should also see the doctrines of demons waiting to deceive. The Word of God doesn’t change but the sand washes away. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
There are many who are walking around condoning sin, condoning false teachers and doctrines of devils all in the name of love. I praise God that He loves us enough to give us the Holy Spirit and His Word to discern the difference, instead of just condoning our ignorance. – Donna Clark Warren