Category: Cults, Sects & Movements

Uncovering The “Covering Doctrine”

[Article by Cheryl McGrath] —

“I hope you will be patient with me as I keep on talking like a fool. Please bear with me. I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. For I promised you as a pure bride to one husband, Christ. But I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent. You seem to believe whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach about a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” ( 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 NLT)

In this two-part edition of “Bread for the Bride,” I am inviting you to take a journey to freedom. Freedom, though, rarely comes without a cost, so be prepared for a few bumps and bruises along the way! My fervent prayer is that by the time you reach the end you will at the least be stirred to do some personal exploring of the scriptures, and at the most some long-held religiously-based mindsets will be shattered beyond hope of repair.

Firstly, though, let me share a little personal history in order to establish the fact that the teaching I offer you in this article has not been arrived at hastily, presumptuously, or with lack of experience in what is commonly known as “the church”. For almost my entire life I have been “churched”. Born to a Catholic-Italian father and an Anglican-Australian mother, anyone might have guessed there would be a few pot-holes along my spiritual path! I do remember at a very early age being taken by an uncle to a Catholic Mass, where the sheer majestic atmosphere of the church overwhelmed me. He must be some God! I thought. Later, I was introduced to Sunday School at a nearby Baptist Church by yet another conscientious relative, where the most important thing I learned was that God loved me. Good start! In my first year in high school a friend and her mother shared the gospel. As a result, alone in my bedroom, I experienced a life-changing revelation of Christ on the Cross. I was born again! Several years were then spent attending a local Anglican church with my friend. After some time I was allowed to teach the kindergarten Sunday School class, but was still forbidden to take communion because I had never undergone infant baptism. (That scenario had been too stressful for my Catholic father and Protestant mother!)

In my early twenties, through the encouragement of the same friend, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. My husband and I started attending a little Assemblies of God church, where to my great delight I heard for the first time about the gifts and anointing of the Spirit. There followed nearly twenty years in that denomination, and during those years, I was certain that I would spend the rest of my life there. God had other plans, however, and after a series of deep family crises which my church preferred not to know about, my husband and I found ourselves fellowshipping briefly at a Uniting Church (Methodist to American readers). Perhaps “fellowshipping” is not the right word. “Attending” might be more appropriate, as fellowship did not appear to be an offer. From there the journey through “churchianity” continued, when a Congregational Pastor friend who’d been Spirit-filled invited us along to his church. Alas, the pastor wanted the Spirit, but the congregation didn’t, so we, as well as the pastor, found ourselves being offered the left boot of fellowship! A major geographical move found our family churchless again, so off we went to find our new “spiritual home” among the local Pentecostals, trying several different flavours, but somehow we knew we weren’t fitting. God came to the rescue again, directing us to a Baptist church with a charismatic pastor, but with the clear message this was to be for “a season only”. This would prove interesting! (Lord, isn’t this where I started???) We spent three years of relative peace there, before He suddenly said “the season’s up.” That was four years ago. These days we fellowship in a house church community. I know this is the place of fellowship the Lord has for me at this time, but I also know that He alone is my spiritual home. It took a lot of years and a long journey for me to discover that truth.

Of course, there are many details I’ve omitted, some not so pleasant, to make this history as brief as possible. My purpose in relating these facts is not to imply any kind of pretentious credentials, or to elevate one type of worship expression above another. My desire is only to establish the fact that there IS a denominational history, and a fairly extensive one, from which I draw upon in addressing this issue of “spiritual covering”.

You see, in a number of the denominations I’ve been involved in, including at leadership level, a “doctrine of covering” was taught and accepted. And for many, many years, I never questioned this teaching. After all, everyone believed it; the leadership upheld it, so it must be right, right? It is only as the Holy Spirit has impressed me to study the scriptures more deeply on this teaching that I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that He never originated it! In His infinite grace, He chose to wait patiently for a time when the Spirit of Truth would become dearer to me than the traditions of men.

The teaching on “covering” goes like this. Everyone needs to be accountable to someone who is spiritually his or her superior. This someone may be your cell group leader, the head of a church department or your senior pastor etc. In turn, these leaders receive covering from someone further up the line, for instance a denominational leader or a “recognized” apostle. The necessity for this covering is based on the belief that believers need to be safeguarded from falling into error and/or sin. So covering is provided by those who are more spiritual than we to protect us from such error. At the top of this pyramid of covering there is quite often a well-known and recognized “name” but the chances of meeting or having any kind of relationship with that person if you are at the bottom of the pyramid are fairly slim. Currently, there are several networks offering this kind of covering to those in some form of church leadership or ministry, more often than not for an annual fee. The annual fee usually provides for the running of the network, and conferences where you can fellowship with others under your particular brand of covering. You may also be denied entrance from one of these networks because you don’t have the appropriate credentials.

One of the strange things about this “covering” teaching is that rarely is anyone asked about their spiritual covering, until they step outside their particular church, denomination or network. However, the minute a believer shows signs of having something important to share with the wider Body of Christ, suddenly all and sundry are interested primarily in that one important question: “Who are you covered by? ” It all sounds pretty reasonable except for one problem – it’s not found in scripture. In fact, the early church was taught to rely on the inner anointing to discern the spiritual source of potential ministers. (1 John 2:20; 1 John 4:1)

So, where did this idea originate that believers need to be “covered” in order to serve God and minister within Christ’s Body? Are you, like many others, living your Christian life under the shadow of this fear that without “covering” you dare not minister, preach, pray or do a myriad of other things you’re called to do by the Spirit of God, because you will somehow be ministering without protection?

The purpose of this article is to shed some light on this issue based on scriptural truth. To begin with, though, we need to understand that this need to be covered by a perceived spiritual authority, and the scriptural instruction to submit ourselves to God’s delegated authorities, are NOT necessarily one and the same thing. Furthermore, New Testament authority as demonstrated by Jesus and the first apostles, is servanthood-authority, upholding, strengthening, reinforcing and overseeing the Body from beneath, not domineering, controlling and ruling from above. Therefore, it is vital in examining this issue that we begin from a correct understanding of Biblical submission and Biblical authority.

“LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU”

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought in not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8)

The current mindset we carry in much of the church concerning submission is quite unrelated to the submission taught and demonstrated by Jesus and the early apostles. There is a desperate need to return to the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. The scripture tells us that though He was equal with the Father, Jesus CHOSE to submit Himself, He CHOSE to humble Himself, He CHOSE to obey. This is the key to Biblical submission, and the model laid down for us by both the Father and the Son. Submission is firstly a choice; a choice that can only ever be made by the giver. Biblical submission can never be demanded or forced. That kind of relationship is subservience, not submission. Jesus chose to subject Himself to the Father, but the Father “so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son.” Sacrificial giving and sacrificial submission are married to each other. In the Spirit, you cannot have one without the other. If you try, you will invariably end up with control, dependence and abuse rather than humility, interdependence and grace.

The New Testament concept of submission, or subjection, is one of a totally voluntary attitude of giving, of yielding one’s preference and deferring to another. In this way, Jesus as a child was subject to His parents, yet the scriptures record that He did not even consult them when He was “about His Father’s business.” (Luke 2:49,51)

“IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU”

“Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” (Hebrews 13:17, NLT)

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.” (Mark 10:42-44)

“Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads.” (Mark 10:42 The Message)

There is no question that the scriptures instruct each one of us to submit to God’s delegated authority. It is the understanding and the application of that authority we often stumble over. The Bible records that Jesus taught the twelve this Kingdom authority as they walked along the road to Jerusalem. His face had been set toward the Cross, and it is certain He was keenly aware of the short time He had left with them. Perhaps He was conversing with His Father about what were the most important lessons He could impart to them during the time that was left. We know that He heard them disputing over who among them was the best “leadership material”. Perhaps Peter, having not long before witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration, thought that gave him special status. Perhaps James and John felt they were more likely candidates for rulership than impetuous Peter. Shortly before, they had asked Jesus to give them special places of honour in His Kingdom. Whatever had started their dispute, Jesus certainly knew how to end it! “Whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave…..” (Matt. 20:27).

The Lord was speaking to a group of people who had grown up under the rule of the Roman Empire. The Romans exercised their authority through forced subjection and harsh cruelty. In fact, the literal translation of the words Jesus used in reference to Roman rule mean “to be under the power of” and “to be subdued.” Despite having witnessed Jesus using a very different kind of authority and power, the disciples had not yet understood exactly what He would require of them. The Romans were, in the political sense, their masters. Yet here was Jesus stating that to exercise the authority He was going to invest in them they would need to become slaves to one another, and not masters. One might safely assume these weren’t words any of them particularly wanted to hear that day!

Kingdom authority has nothing to do with titles, positions, educational qualifications or reputation. Kingdom authority is granted by the Lord according to the measure with which He can trust us to wield it with humility. The greatest authority in the kingdom is reserved for His bondslaves.

WHAT ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY?

In today’s church system we have confused the word “covering” with the need for accountability. Consequently many are holding themselves accountable to people with title and position, regardless of whether or not they are developing an ongoing transparent relationship with that person. In the Kingdom, it is not possible to be truly accountable to those with whom we are not actively growing in relationship. How can I be trusted to call you to account righteously if I don’t love you in Christ? How can you love me with Christ-like love and not call me to account?

Paul was able to correct the Corinthians because he had true relationship with them. He had travailed over them, nurtured them, wept for them and rejoiced with them. Therefore he was able to reprove them, for their edification and not for their destruction. (2 Corinthians 13:10)

When we turn to the scriptures for guidance on this issue of accountability, a startling fact confronts us. The News Testament mentions accountability ONLY in terms of the believer towards God. The scripture teaches that we will give accountability TO GOD ALONE in the following areas:
• stewardship (Luke 16:2)
• ourselves (Rom. 14:12)
• fruit (Phil 4:17)
• what we do in the flesh (1 Pet. 4:5)
• leaders shall give account for the souls they watch over (Heb. 13:17)
What then, DO the scriptures teach about how believers, as members of the corporate Body of Christ, are to relate to one another?
“… all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
In Galatians Chapter Two we read of a journey Paul took to Jerusalem. He states that he went up “by revelation”, that is, at the instigation of the Holy Spirit, in order to confirm that the gospel he had been preaching was approved by the eldership of the Jerusalem church. He goes on to state that “those who seemed to be something, whatever they were, it makes no difference to me,” had nothing to add to his teachings. He further adds that when James, Cephas (Peter) and John perceived the grace God had shown him, he was given the “right hand of fellowship.”

At the instigation of the Holy Spirit, Paul had subjected himself to the Jerusalem eldership, including Peter, for the purpose of accountability. One may safely assume that Peter, having spent around three years day and night with Jesus, and highly regarded by the early believers, held very great authority in the church. Paul, however did not ask Peter to cover him. Instead, he did not hesitate in calling Peter to account when Peter was later swayed to go back on his word by the fear of men (Gal. 2:11-14). Bear in mind this is the same Peter who stated “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

These men understood the nature of relationship through the Holy Spirit; ALL of you be submissive to one another, ALL of you be clothed with humility. Each of us is accountable to one another, whatever our function in the Body, whether apostles, teachers, deacons or helpers. This is the church Christ is building.

To say that we are demonstrating accountability to a person or group of people we may briefly rub shoulders with at a meeting once or twice a week, or perhaps once or twice a year, is ludicrous. True accountability is about how we express Christ in us – our lifestyle, our character and our integrity in families, jobs and church community. This cannot be measured outside Godly relationships, and without a humble willingness to be in subjection one to another. Each one of us needs to seek out and submit ourselves to those in the Body the Lord has placed close to us to provide that accountability, regardless of their position, title or function. Each one of us needs to be willing, in humility and service, to provide that same accountability base for others in the Body. This applies to leadership equally as it does to the newest, most inexperienced member of the Christian community.

Sadly, what we see today in so much of the church, is a frenzied jockeying for position under the supposedly protective umbrella of some ministry name or reputation, in order to prove ourselves “covered”. “Who covers you? ” has become one of the most frequently asked questions among Christians, and too often it is the deciding factor in assessing a ministry’s integrity or otherwise. Consequently, an unsatisfactory answer to that question in some church circles can label you “outside the camp” and almost certainly not to be trusted. Christians are judging each other’s worth and relationship with God on this issue of covering, and using it to justify self-righteousness and spiritual elitism.

In Part Two of this study we will talk about what is at the root of this distorted doctrine, and the clear choices that lie before us in order to be free from it.

UNCOVERING THE COVERING DOCTRINE
PART TWO

“…..then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.” ( Isaiah 4:5)

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Ps. 91:4

IT’S ABOUT HIS NAME

“Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” (Luke 20:1-2)

As we see from this portion of scripture, the question “who covers you? ” is not new. The chief priests, scribes and elders were not simply asking Jesus where His supernatural power came from. More than that, they wanted a NAME. “Who is he? ‘ Come on, tell us Jesus, who is the scribe, who is the rabbi, who is the prophet who covers you? And no more of that over-spiritualized talk about your Father. We want the name of the person who said you could do these things!”

The apostle Paul confronted a similar problem in the Corinthian church.

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:10-13)

The Lord is jealous over us concerning His Name. We were bought and paid for by His Blood, and His Name is the only Name by which we are to identify ourselves. When believers choose to find their identity in another name other than His, the Spirit is grieved and His Name is dishonoured.

IT’S ABOUT THE FLESH

“Don’t ever let anyone call you `Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as `Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don’t let anyone call you `Master,’ for there is only one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. “ (Matthew 23:8-11, NLT)

The Corinthians were apparently separating into factions according to whom they considered was the most authoritative teacher. They were following after men, and for that reason Paul took issue with them. Further in his letter he goes on to challenge them by describing this kind of mindset as carnal and fleshly rather than spiritual:

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?” (1 Cor. 3:1-4)

Finally, he instructs them:
“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come–all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor. 3:21-23)

The Corinthians had become so obsessed with the attributes of certain teachers they were idolizing them. They wanted to regard particular individuals as their “master”, “father”, or “teacher”, but Paul wanted them to understand that in doing so they were falling short of their full inheritance in Christ. He wanted them to see that all of these teachers, belonged to them as servant-ministers, and not the other way around.

IT’S ABOUT A SUBSTITUTE KING

At the heart of the Corinthians’ idolatry was the age-old desire for a ruler, a king. The flesh would much rather fear man than fear God. The flesh would much rather submit to the control of law than submit to the freedom of the Spirit. This principle is seen throughout scripture.

Afraid they would die, the Israelites begged Moses to be God’s messenger to them, rather than hear His Voice for themselves.

“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” ( Exodus 20:18-19)

God desired for the people to hear Him for themselves, but they refused. Effectively, the Israelites were elevating Moses as their mediator. The entire nation had been called as a kingdom of priests, but their preference was to be ruled by one man. (Exodus 19:1-9)

Many years later, when the prophet Samuel officiated as Israel’s judge, Israel’s carnal desire for a man-king surfaced again.

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day–with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods–so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behaviour of the king who will reign over them.” So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behaviour of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. So the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.” (1 Samuel 8:4-22)

The key to Israel’s demand for a human king, rather than the direct reign of Yahweh over them, was “that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” They wanted a name and a face that could “go out before” them. They wanted someone visible they could show the other nations. They wanted a symbol, a token leader who could take responsibility for how they would live and conduct their lives. They wanted someone with a reputation they could identify with. They wanted to be like the world. They wanted human “covering.”

You see, friends, there is a place for governmental leadership, there is a place for accountability within the Body, there is a place for submission to legitimate God-delegated authority. All these are valid and in order, but only insofar as they are not permitted to substitute for the direct rule of God in our lives. And only insofar as they are not sought out as a counterfeit for the sovereignty and rulership of the Holy Spirit within each believer.

IT’S OF A DIFFERENT SPIRIT

“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.” (Ezekiel 28:14)

Many Bible scholars agree that God’s rebuke to the “king of Tyre” recorded in Ezekiel 28:1-19 is prophetically addressed to Satan. In it, we find that originally this fallen angel was called the “anointed cherub who covers”. Some scholars believe he was especially anointed to cover the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. In the Presence of God, he walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones. The passage states that when iniquity was found in him he was cast out of God’s holy mountain, and removed from the midst of the fiery stones.

This Hebrew word “to cover” means “to hedge, fence about, shut in, block, overshadow, screen, stop the approach, shut off, cover” ( H. “cakak” Strongs 05526 ). It is a word than can be used either in relation to defense or oppression.

Beloved, Satan still desires to walk back and forth in the midst of God’s living, fiery stones. He still desires to be the covering cherub on God’s holy mountain, but the covering he offers is oppressive, designed purely to hinder believers and rob them of the freedom and full potential that is ours through Christ.

The doctrine of covering is an old lie with a new name. It is fundamental to the maintenance of a false hierarchical religious system controlling many Christians in this day. Without the power of this erroneous mindset, it is even doubtful that some sections of the “church” could survive.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is OVER ALL and THROUGH ALL and IN ALL. (Ephesians 4:3-6)

The scriptures plainly state that it is God alone who is OVER all. Only God can cover His people, and only the Holy Spirit can unite them. The most disturbing aspect about the covering teaching is that it subtly encourages believers to look to men and women rather than develop their own deep relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. It upholds a man-made church built on hierarchy rather than a spiritual temple built through the unity of the Spirit. It promotes a class system of rulership by title, human appointment and personality, and devalues the priesthood of every believer. It negates leadership by the Holy Spirit and discourages believers from hearing the direction of the Spirit for themselves. It is a doctrine of demons being used to deceive and bind countless believers.

Now, about that freedom we were talking about at the beginning of this article! Don’t, repeat DON’T, use your newfound liberty as a license for rebellion against authority. If you have been trapped in this covering doctrine be wise in how you appropriate your freedom. There are many, many humble and faithful men and women overseeing and serving the Body of Christ with humility and devotion, and it may well be that whoever has been “covering” you is one of them. If you are blessed enough to be aligned with a servant-leader who demonstrates true Biblical authority, honour them, support them, and submit to them. But don’t expect them to cover you – that’s not theirs to give.

False doctrines are mindsets and beliefs that can only be cast down by the Spirit and the Word together. And ultimately, our walk in the Spirit is not the responsibility of leadership; it is our own responsibility. It is time for each one of us to choose – do we want the rulership of kings, or do we want the rulership of THE King?

Finally, let me leave you with these thoughts:
1) Who covered Philip when He went down to Samaria and started a revival? (The apostles heard about it and sent Peter and John down to check it out!) (Acts 8:4-8)

2) Who covered Philip when the angel of the Lord directed him to the Gaza desert? (Acts 8:26-40) (There’s no record of the Ethiopian eunuch asking him for his “covering” credentials!)

3) Who covered Ananias when he was sent to pray for Saul? (He went to pray for a known enemy of the church and didn’t even get permission!) (Acts 9:10-18)

4) Who covered Apollos when he taught boldly in the synagogue, even though he had not yet received the full gospel? (Acts 18:24-25)

5) And who covered Aquilla and Priscilla when they took Apollos under their wing to instruct him further? (Acts 18:26)

6) Who covered Agabus when he traveled down from Judea to deliver a prophetic word to Paul? (Acts 21:10)
The answer is the same in each instance: The Holy Spirit covered, protected, led, and enabled. He is the only covering we need. The real question is this: is He the only covering we want?

“IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU.”

This article has been reproduced with the permission of Cheryl McGrath

©Copyright Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride Blogsite. Permission is granted to reproduce any of my original posts in emails, blogsites and internet forums, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

What is a Cult? What are the Characteristics of a Cult?

Cults are everywhere and they exist all over the world. A cult can exist in different forms. For example there are religious cults, political cults, sex cults, new age cults and many more.
Some groups are extreme and abusive cults, while others are very subtle and deceptive cults. Some cults are widely accepted and mainstream, while other cults prefer to be isolated from the general public.

However, the most important thing to understand about most cults is that there is a major element or culture of lying, deception, manipulation and control. Cult leaders or the group leaders will excessively or subtly deceive, brainwash and control their members.

The context of this article is specifically related to defining religious cults that are of a pseudo-Christian nature.

Since there is an overwhelming number of religious groups existing all over the world, it’s important for people to know and understand the difference between a legitimate Christian group and a religious or pseudo-Christian cult.

 

WHAT IS A CULT?
What is a cult? In the Christian context, a cult is a religious group that either subtly or blatantly denies or distorts one or more of the fundamentals or essentials of Biblical doctrine. Most religious cults are also known for exercising manipulative mind control techniques in order to brainwash or control the lives of their followers.
Therefore when understanding the characteristics of a cult, it is important to understand that a religious cult has 2 natures that govern how the group operates.

The two natures / aspects of a cult are the following:
1. The Doctrines / Beliefs of the Cult
2. The Group Dynamics of the Cult

A cult’s doctrines / beliefs and its resulting group dynamics are usually interrelated as these natures are like 2 sides of the same coin.

 

1. THE DOCTRINES / BELIEFS OF THE CULT
Every cult either denies or distorts the fundamentals or essentials of Biblical doctrine. For example, a cult may deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Some cults may deny salvation through faith alone and instead teach a works-based salvation. Other cults may distort the Biblical view of grace and instead they will teach a perverted type of greater grace / hyper-grace which is sometimes called antinomianism.
At their core, the doctrines of these groups creates a false concept of God and causes the followers to believe in a false gospel and to follow after a false christ (2 Corinthians 11:4). Furthermore, the doctrines of a cult can lead to false conversions or false believers (Matthew 7:21-23).

In 2 Corinthians 11:4, Paul says: For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Therefore there are many religious cults which claim to be Christian and may teach from the Bible, but yet because of their false doctrines and beliefs, these groups have created false believers who believe in their false gospels.
Therefore in the Christian context, a cult denies or distorts one or more of the fundamentals of the Christian faith by promoting the group’s own false doctrines and religious traditions above the truth of the Bible. Such groups are likely to prevent the genuine conversion of their followers. The nature of a cult is such that if the false doctrines of the group are believed, it will cause many of their followers to remain unsaved or to be under the deception that they are saved when the Biblical reality is that the members are not truly born again. Hence Jesus emphasizing that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-23).

Examples of mainstream or well-known religious groups that claim to be Christian but are actually cults are Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons (Latter Day Saints) or the Moonies.
These religious groups and many more are known for preaching a different gospel, a different Jesus and they are under the influence of a different spirit (2 Corinthians 11:4).
Their teachings deny the essentials of the Christian faith and put emphasis on the doctrines and traditions of the group rather than on the true interpretation of the Bible.
(read Are The Jehovah’s Witnesses a Cult?); (read What Do The Mormons Believe?)

However, besides well-known groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, there has been a fast-paced growth for several decades of a different breed of pseudo-Christian groups that teach a variety of false gospels and heretic doctrines. For example, such false gospels / doctrines include the prosperity gospel, seed-faith teachings, hyper-grace / antinomianism, spiritual covering doctrines and word of faith theology.
Many of these groups, whose leaders have become extremely wealthy due to their false teachings, have either become cultic in nature or have over the years evolved into full-blown cults that have distorted the true gospel of Jesus Christ and Biblical Christianity.

In 2 Timothy 3:13 Paul speaks of evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

In Matthew 7:15 Jesus said that we should “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Ultimately a group becomes a cult simply because it denies or distorts the essentials of the Christian faith and the group’s false doctrines & traditions are promoted by its false teachers above the truth of God’s word.

 

2. THE GROUP DYNAMICS OF THE CULT
Group dynamics refers to the interactions or system of behaviours that occur within a cult and influences the attitudes and behaviours of the followers / members.
The Bible speaks concerning the negative effects of our social and spiritual associations. It says that “bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33) and therefore the consequence of being a member of a cult will psychologically and spiritually influence the members in a negative and ungodly way. Members may become morally, spiritually and also psychologically corrupted because of the social system and cultic methods that may exist within the group.
In most cases the cult leader is a narcissist who seeks to intimately control the lives and decisions of his followers for his own personal gain. Therefore control and dominance is a very big thing within a cult.

Some of the group behaviours or characteristics of most cults are as follows:

A) The Cult Leader is a “little christ” – In a cult, the focus shifts to a man and not to the Biblical Christ. In a cult, the cult leader can be a dead person. For example in groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons and many other groups, the heretical teachings of the founders of these groups are still believed and practiced by the members long after the founders / leaders have died. Therefore the founder of the cult is extremely revered and adored by the cult members as if he/she were a type of deity.
The founder can be either dead or alive, but his heretical teachings will remain as foundational doctrine to the members and to the overall function of the group.
Followers perceive their leader as a “spiritual father”, “God’s man”, “God’s anointed”, “God’s apostle”, “God’s prophet”, “God’s special messenger” or a type of “christ”.
If an outsider were to speak or comment negatively about the group’s leader or even the cult itself, the members are likely to get very upset and even vindictive for being against their leader or the group.
Therefore the cult leader, whether dead or alive, is revered by the members as one who stands as a human deity for the group – or as spiritual mediator on behalf of his group. (read 12 Characteristics of a Cult Leader).

B) Authoritarian Leadership – A cult leader will teach and enforce false doctrines such as spiritual covering theology or use various submission and fear techniques to influence their members to submit to them and their control. A culture of legalism is also introduced in the group.
The leader demands total submission and unquestioned obedience from members even when there is a conflict with the scriptures. The leader claims to be a “spiritual covering” or a “spiritual father” over his members. The “touch not my anointed” phrase is used to subdue members. Therefore the leader can never be challenged; he is always right and no one should correct, judge or criticize him or else they will encounter curses or the wrath of God for “touching the anointed”.
In the authoritarian system of a cult the members are always under pressure to please the group leader and to gain the leader’s approval rather than God. The members also fear to disappoint the leader rather than God because in the cultic system the leader and God are perceived to be one. As a result the members fear opposing or criticizing their leader even in situations where it is Biblically justified because they are falsely warned of inviting a curse from God if they disagree with their leader.  (read  Who Is Your Spiritual Covering? Is It Biblical?)

C) Group Over Individual – The group’s goals, objectives and purpose supersede the individual’s needs, concerns and aspirations. Therefore the group always comes first. To say “no” to the group is to say “no” to God or to the group’s leader, which is considered to be unacceptable. Members can be persuaded to deny or forsake their friends, family and even job for the sake of the group agenda or group goals.
Members lose or shed their original personality / individuality and take on a cultic personality or the personality of the group or the group leader.
Therefore there is always a psychological and emotional pressure by individual members to please the group and its leader. Fear, guilt, love bombing, and other forms of emotional manipulation is also used to coerce and control members.

D) Critical Thinking Not Allowed – The cult leader is the exclusive means by which the “truth” is revealed or taught. Therefore members will often quote the leader or reference the leader’s teachings instead of referencing Bible scripture or Biblical truth. To the members, the teachings of the cult leader on particular issues are more accurate than what the Bible actually says about those particular issues. The group leader’s teachings must not be questioned.
Therefore members lack critical or independent thinking regarding many topics that are taught within the group.
Members become a clone of their leader and will often channel their group leader’s characteristics through mimicking / imitating the leader’s personality and traits. Members will often quote the leader’s phrases or talking points almost word-for-word and use loaded language to promote or defend the group.
Members are also spoon-fed spiritually instead of learning to be Bereans (Acts 17:10-11) or to think for themselves because the group leader is believed to be infallible or always right.

E) Us versus Them Mentality – Anyone who is outside the group is either viewed as inferior or as an enemy. Cults often have a superiority complex because they believe that it is the group alone that has special knowledge and revelation whilst other religious groups or individuals are perceived as lacking the special revelation or knowledge that the group has.

F) It Is Difficult For Members to Leave the Group – In a cult there is great spiritual bondage which is caused by fear and manipulation. Therefore members are threatened with spiritual, emotional and even physical punishment if they consider leaving the group. Members may want to leave the group but they fear retaliation or harassment from the group leaders or the other members. Members may also be told that if they leave the group they may face curses from God.
Members also fear being unable to cope with life outside of the group. They question themselves if there is any group that is “better” or they fear joining another abusive group.

G) Sexual Exploitation of Members – In a cult, the leaders have a culture of sexual promiscuity and abuse. Therefore a leader will commit sexual immorality with many members within the group. Sex is used as a form of initiation and power over members. This exists because of the amount of spiritual and psychological control that the leader may have over individual members. (read How Cult Leaders Use Sex to Control Followers)

H) A Culture of Lying & Deception – Many members in a cult are taught to lie or deceive on behalf of the group. Cult members are taught to behave unethically as long as it is in the best interests of the group. Therefore in a cult, the end justifies the means. In a cult, lying and deception is not a sin if it is for the “good” of the group and its leader.
There is also a culture of deception among the group members themselves where they may spy on each other and report back to the group leader.
A new member cannot know or understand the true and dark nature of the group until he/she has been either properly indoctrinated, brainwashed or initiated.
Therefore manipulation, deception, brainwashing and coercive techniques are consistently used in order to manage and control a member’s decisions and behaviour.

I) Economic or Financial Exploitation of Members – Leaders may use various manipulation and coercive techniques to financially exploit their followers for their own monetary or personal gain. Unbiblical doctrines and techniques are introduced to deceive followers out of their money for the purposes of enriching the group leaders (read What Does The Prosperity Gospel Teach) , (read Seed-faith teachings).

J) Salvation Can Only Be Experienced / Achieved Through The Group – Anyone who is not part of the group is either lost or not saved. Anyone who leaves the group has lost his salvation. Therefore it is common that most cults are obsessed with deceptively recruiting followers into the group because they believe that joining their group is the pathway to salvation.

K) Isolation of Members From Family or Anyone Who Is Likely to Expose The Group – Many cults do not respect marriage nor the family unit. If a member joins, they are likely to isolate that particular member from his/her family so that they may effectively control the individual’s life. Some cults or cult leaders will separate marriages and destroy relationships between parents and children.
Members are also trained to avoid or smear people who may expose the group’s true nature especially family or ex-members.

L) A Culture of Double Standards – There are standards or rules that are applied unfairly where some are expected to achieve or follow but other people are not. Therefore a culture of hypocrisy is very rife in a cult, especially among group leaders.

 

What Can Christians Do?
Cults are very controlling and very deceptive groups by nature. They employ different manipulative and coercive techniques to brainwash their members. They cause their members to live in spiritual bondage and they spiritually and psychologically destroy or corrupt the lives of their followers.
Quite often, the last people to know that a group is a cult are the cult members themselves. More often it is those who are not part of the cult who can easily discern a particular group’s aberrant doctrines and abnormal behaviour whilst the members themselves are either unaware or totally deceived about the group’s true dark nature and beliefs.
As Christians we should always pray for people who are involved in a cult and seek to minister to them the true gospel of Jesus Christ whilst exposing any false doctrines that may be detrimental to the salvation of many people.
In Matthew 15:3 when Jesus asked the question: “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” , Christ knew that there were people who had no interest in obeying the true Scriptures, but instead many people preferred to follow their religious and legalistic traditions than to follow the authentic word of God.
Matthew 23:1-39 is one of the major chapters in the Bible where Jesus dealt with the hypocritical and cultic nature of the Pharisees who sought to exploit and abuse their followers through false teachings and for the purposes of gaining power, wealth and control over the people.
The Bible encourages us to test the spirits because of the rise of false prophets and teachers in the world (1 John 4:1).
We must also be diligent to expose any group that teaches demonic doctrines that are contrary to the fundamentals of the Christian Faith with the hope that people will be educated and not be trapped or deceived by various cultic groups (Ephesians 5:11-13).

 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Index of Cults and Religions | Watchman Fellowship, Inc

 

Is The Selling of Anointing Oil & Holy Water Biblical?

In many churches or religious groups there has been a trend where various items such as anointing oil, holy water, handkerchiefs, and many other “anointed” products are sold to church members with the belief that the purchase and use of such objects or products will attract God’s blessings, favour and protection.
Therefore church leaders will encourage their followers to purchase their products with the promise that if the followers purchase and use their “anointed” products, then God will answer their prayers.

However, what does the Bible say about the sales of anointing oil and holy water? Should Christians use various “anointed” objects or church products in order to attract God’s favour and protection in their lives?

In the Bible, there is no record of Jesus Christ nor His disciples ever selling anointing oil, holy water or any product with the belief and promise that these products will attract God’s blessing or protection.

Jesus said the following in Matthew 10:7-9: “And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts,”

There is no record in the scriptures where Jesus or His disciples healed anyone for a price.
God does not sell miracles. The gifts of God are for free and God’s gifts and blessings cannot be bought or sold by anyone.

 

Selling of “Anointed” Objects Is a Form of Witchcraft and Idolatry
In Acts 8:9-24 there is the story of Simon the Sorcerer who was strongly rebuked by Peter for thinking that the gifts of the Holy Spirit could be purchased.

Acts 8:18-22
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.

The selling or purchasing of “anointed” items or products such as anointing oil or holy water in exchange for blessings and miracles is equivalent to practicing witchcraft.
God’s word does not teach that people must purchase “anointed” or “holy” objects in exchange for God’s miracles because the power to heal or bless does not come from objects but the power comes directly from God.

It is a form of practicing witchcraft when people purchase objects and trust in those “anointed” objects in exchange for blessings and miracles. It is the same practice when a person visits a sorcerer or witchdoctor. Such practices are therefore cult-like and demonic in nature. Any power or results that are experienced because of trusting in various objects for miracles is likely sourced from satan and not from God.

Having faith in an object for miracles and blessings is also similar to practicing idolatry. Our trust and faith must be directed towards God alone (Mark 11:22) and not towards objects.
Our function as Christians is simply to pray to God whenever we have a problem or petition (Philippians 4:6-7).
We do not need to pray PLUS purchase an “anointed” object for God to answer our prayers.
God is sovereign. Therefore God cannot be manipulated or coerced by the purchase and usage of “anointed” or “holy” objects or products which are sold by various church leaders.
God will answer our prayers without the need for us to pay anybody any money.

 

False Teachers Are Profiteering From Sales of “Anointed” Objects
The crux of the matter is that the selling of such products as anointing oil or holy water is done for the purposes of making money and exploiting gullible followers.
The Bible warns that there will be many false teachers who will exploit people for the purposes of making money and enriching themselves.

For example, 2 Peter 2:1-3 (KJV) speaks about false teachers and says “through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you”
1 Timothy 6:3-5 says that we must beware of anyone who teaches false doctrines and of false teachers who “think that godliness is a means to financial gain”
Romans 16:18 says “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

Therefore, one of the primary objectives of many false teachers is to make a lot of money by exploiting the gullibility of their followers. They deceive their followers by suggesting that their products have the power to miraculously change the lives of their followers if their followers purchase and use their “anointed” products.
These false teachers exploit people who are in genuine need of help and who are desperate by selling them “anointed” oil and water. Yet this was never what Jesus did nor what Jesus taught.

It is therefore necessary to avoid any religious group or persons who exploits followers through selling “anointed” objects and products. Such people are false teachers who seek monetary gain and they are used as instruments of the devil to lead people into both witchcraft and idolatry.

 

Is the Unification Church / the Moonies a Cult?

The Unification Church is a religious group that was founded in 1954 by Rev. Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012). Another name that the group is known by is the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
It was started in Seoul, Korea and it is believed to have a worldwide membership of more than one million followers. Currently the group is led by Moon’s wife, Hak Ja Moon.
This organization has attracted members from more than 100 countries, from America to Asian countries such as Korea and Japan, to African countries such as Zimbabwe.
Members who join The Unification Church are also sometimes known by the nickname the “Moonies”.

The Unification Church has been categorized as a cult by many Christians and ex-members primarily because their theological beliefs and practices veer off from Biblical orthodox Christian beliefs even though they claim to believe in the God of the Bible.
The Unification Church is also known for practicing cultic mind control and brainwashing techniques upon their members in order to intimately control and manipulate the lives of their members. In addition they have been known to use deceptive recruitment techniques in order to get people to join them.

Some of the beliefs and practices of the Unification Church are as follows:

  • They do not believe that the Bible is God’s infallible word. They do not believe that the Bible is God’s final authority. Sun Myung Moon instead wrote a book called The Divine Principle which is promoted by the Unification Church as having more weight and authority than the Bible.
  • The Moonies are also famous for organizing mass wedding ceremonies for couples or their members. A single mass wedding can consist of more than 30000 couples or participants.
    Moon teaches that “God-centered families are the building blocks of a world of peace, stability, and love,” and that only those who are married through their group will be saved, or qualified, for the kingdom.
  • The Moonies also believe that the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was because of sexual sin where they believe that Eve had sexual relations with Satan / Lucifer.
  • They do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. Instead they believe that Jesus was just a man and not God.
  • Only Unification Church members are considered the “True Family” and Moon and his wife are the world’s “True Parents”. Members celebrate as “birthdays” the day they joined the Unification Church.
  • The theology of the Unification Church is believed to be a mix of Christianity, Shamanism and Confucianism.
  • The Unification Church does not believe that salvation is totally by grace through faith in Jesus but instead they teach that members should earn their salvation by their devotion to the religious activities of the group and also by marrying and producing sinless children (Divine Principle, p. 148).

There have also been many allegations by Moonie ex-members who have testified of being subjected to brainwashing and mind control techniques by leadership. There have also been allegations of authoritative teachings in order to subdue followers and prevent followers from exercising their free will and critical thinking.
It is believed that the Unification Church organizes arranged marriages and many couples who participate in their mass weddings have had no previous mutual or genuine relationship prior to their wedding.
The above beliefs and practices are just a few issues which reflect that even though the Unification Church may claim to be Christian, there is consistent and verifiable evidence that this group does not follow nor believe in orthodox Christianity.


What Does The Bible Say About the Beliefs of The Unification Church?

  • The Bible is clear that we should be careful to avoid false teachers and we are warned about false prophets who preach a different gospel and a different Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-9)
  • The word of God is clear that the Scriptures were inspired by God and that the Bible is our final authority for what Christians should believe and how Christians should live (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
    Therefore there is no other book that is written about mankind or spiritual matters that should be elevated or obeyed above God’s word.
  • When any group claiming to be Christian denies the deity and Lordship of Jesus Christ then such a group is not a true church. It is a cult or a false church. The deity and the finished work of Jesus Christ are essential to the beliefs of the Christian faith and the Bible tells us that Jesus was not only a man – but He was also God (John 1:1-3,14).
  • The sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden had nothing to do with sex or adultery. Instead Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3:1-24).
  • The Church is the body of Christ. All true Christian believers around the world are members of the universal Church or body of Christ. Therefore we must be careful of any single group or “church” that promotes itself as being the “only true church” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
  • Our salvation is not through our own effort or personal works. Instead, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus Christ alone is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Christ (John 14:6).

 

Conclusion
The Bible clearly teaches us that false teachers and false prophets are on the rise (Matthew 24:11).
Therefore we must be careful to avoid the growing cultic deception that is attempting to distort and destroy orthodox Christianity.
Due to the rise of false teachers and false doctrines, the Bible warns us to not believe every spirit but instead we should test every spirit to see whether it is of God (1 John 4:1-2).
It is important for every Christian believer to be vigilant and to be like the Bereans who studied the scriptures and fact-checked whatever they were taught (Acts 17:10-11).
We are not to esteem any person or religious leader above Jesus Christ. We must realize that we are all equal before God’s eyes and Jesus Christ alone is supreme above any man or founder of any ministry or religious group.
God’s word and God’s teachings must be valued above the teachings of man. We must therefore beware of being deceived by the doctrines of demons and the philosophies of men.

 

What is the Word of Faith Movement?

The Word of Faith or Word-Faith Movement is neither an organization nor a denomination. This movement traces its roots from the “positive confessions” and New Thought teachings of E.W Kenyon who is said to be the originator of the movement. However Kenneth Hagin is said to be the “father” of the Word-Faith Movement because he was responsible for popularizing Kenyon’s theology and teachings since the late 20th century.

To this day, the Word of Faith Movement consists of a wave of popular but heretical teachings that have been popularized by other preachers such as Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Murdoch, Benny Hinn, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Hagin and many others.

This movement is known as Word of Faith / Word-Faith mainly because of their false teachings and distorted perceptions regarding faith. Many Word-faith preachers such as Kenneth Copeland for example are on record as teaching that faith is a “force” which can be used to get or achieve whatever you desire.

Since this movement consists of some of the most popular preachers and televangelists, it is no surprise that the Word-Faith Movement and some of its heretical teachings have been very popular all over the world.
The heart of what word-faith preachers teach is that God promises health and wealth to anyone who practices their faith related formulas and theologies.

Some of the theology and false teachings of the Word of Faith Movement are as follows:

1. Faith is a “Force” Controlled By The Words You Speak
One of the foundational theologies of the Word-Faith movement is the belief that faith is a “force” through which a person is able to acquire whatever he wants if he conjures up enough faith.
They believe that the words you speak or the words you confess will control or manipulate the faith force in order to get the outcome that one desires.
Therefore your success and experience of material prosperity is dependent on how successful you are able to manipulate the faith force through your positive confession so that you get your desired outcome.
The Word-Faith movement subtly or indirectly promotes faith in faith instead of faith in God. Their theology clearly attempts to remove or ignore the sovereign will of God as it puts man as being the one who has the control and power to create whatever he so desires by simply using his words to control the faith force.

2. Prosperity Gospel / Health & Wealth
The prosperity gospel is the teaching that every born again believer is meant to obtain material wealth and riches. These riches are available by using faith and positive confessions whilst making deliberate and practical effort to seek the riches that one desires.
The Word-Faith movement also believes that the death of Jesus Christ extends to Christ giving every born again believer the ability to obtain the material riches and possessions that one desires.
Word of Faith preachers therefore teach their followers that one of the primary objectives in a person’s life must be the pursuit of material wealth. In the theology of this movement, the possession of material wealth is a visible sign that a person has the “favour” and “blessings” of God upon his life.
Therefore, a bankrupt bank account can be translated as one having a bankrupt faith. Or if you do not get healed from a sickness, then it is because you lacked enough faith to receive your healing.
Therefore the Word of Faith Movement teaches that if you desire to have whatever you wish, then you must use enough of the faith force to bring your desires or material wealth into existence. (see article: What Does The Prosperity Gospel Teach?)

3. Men Are Little Gods
The Word of Faith movement also teaches that men are like “little gods”. They have the belief that people are just like God in that they can control their reality and destiny by the use of their words.
The Word-Faith movement believes that since man is made in the image of God and if God created the universe by the power of His words, then it means that man also has creative power by the use of his/her words.
The Word-Faith movement therefore believes that just like God, man can control the weather; or just like God, man can change any reality or destiny.
The Word-Faith movement also heretically teaches its followers that God cannot do anything without the permission of man.
Therefore the subtle deception of this movement is that not only is man a “little god”, but that man can also control the Creator of the universe.

4. Seed-Faith Teachings
The Word-Faith movement also promotes the false doctrine of seed-faith offerings. Oral Roberts is known as one of the initial originators of this false teaching.
It involves followers being coerced into “seeding” or giving their money in “faith” with the belief that God will give them back a multiplied harvest or return of their initial offering.
For example, the belief is that if a person gives or “sows” $10 in “faith” to a prosperity preacher or his ministry, then God will be obligated to give that person a monetary or material reward of $20 or more in return. (see article: Can A Man Bribe God? What Is The Seed-Faith Teaching?)

5. Name It & Claim It
The Word of Faith Movement teaches that by using the power of your words, combined with the faith force, you will be able to use the technique of naming whatever you want into existence. Therefore a car, a house, a job and many other things can be acquired simply by naming it, claiming it and declaring it into existence.
So it is believed that positive confessions and declarations for the items you need will result in obtaining the possessions or reality you want in life. However, they also believe that “negative confessions” will create a negative reality or destiny since they believe that man is a “little god” who has the power to create his own reality by the words that he/she speaks.

6. Other False Doctrines & Beliefs

  • They believe that Jesus died spiritually and that He had to be “tortured in hell” and “born again in hell” before He rose from the dead.
  • They believe that the office of apostles and prophets still exists today. While most Word-Faith teachers do not outright claim to have an authority that matches or supersedes the Bible, they do allege that God gives them direct or special revelation in the form of words of knowledge, prophecies, and visions. Therefore the teachings of word-faith “apostles” or “prophets” cannot be questioned or challenged by their followers as they allege to hear from God alone because they claim to hold the spiritual offices of prophet and apostle.
  • They believe that Jesus and His disciples were rich and that to be poor is a sin or to be sick is a sin.

What Does The Bible Teach About Word-Faith Movement Beliefs?
The Bible teaches us that God alone is Sovereign and He alone is able to create something from nothing (Genesis 1:3). Therefore God cannot be commanded and neither do we have the ability to manipulate Him based on our faith.
We are not supposed to have faith in our faith nor faith in our own words. Therefore God alone should be the object of our faith (Mark 11:22). We must have faith in God and God decides when and in what manner He will respond to prayer or our requests
We are not “little gods”. We are not deity. Instead we are God’s creation. Therefore we do not have the power to change the weather or create nothing from something by the power of the faith force or “positive confession”.
Therefore there is only one God who exists in 3 Persons (The Father, The Son & The Holy Spirit).

The prosperity gospel is a false doctrine according to scripture (1 Timothy 6:3-10). We cannot bribe or manipulate God with our monetary offerings. The seed-faith teaching encourages manipulation and coercion. The teaching is an insult to the divine nature of God and it promotes money as having some kind of power to influence the hand of God.

The Word of Faith movement is deceiving countless people around the world. It is a cultic and deceptive movement that uses both subtle and blatant methods to promote the self and individual interests rather than the genuine pursuit of Christ.
Most Word of Faith teachers have become enormously rich and wealthy because of the Word-Faith doctrine. Their prosperity gospel has made these preachers rich whilst their followers either become poorer, covetous or seek an unbiblical lifestyle in the pursuit of monetary riches.
Word-Faith preachers have managed to commercialize Christianity and make merchandise of their followers (2 Peter 2:1-3).
We must therefore be vigilant and careful to avoid being deceived by any preacher or religious groups that teach Word-Faith theology as such teachings have distorted genuine Biblical Christianity.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff

 

Who Is Your Spiritual Covering? Is It Biblical?

The term spiritual covering is an authoritarian false teaching that is usually used by the Charismatic movement and various religious cults in relation to authority and submission.
The spiritual covering doctrine basically teaches that your leader, your pastor, your prophet or your apostle is a human “spiritual covering” over your life or the personal affairs of your life. Therefore if you are not under the spiritual covering of your leader then you are not “covered” or “fathered” or protected from spiritual curses or from problems in life.
Believers of this false teaching therefore teach that every Christian believer needs a human spiritual covering to protect the believer from deception, curses, problems and even the devil himself.
The spiritual covering doctrine also teaches that without your human spiritual covering, whatever you do will not be blessed by God unless it has the endorsement of your particular human spiritual covering.

The spiritual covering theology has its roots in The Shepherding Movement of the 1970s which came out of the Charismatic movement. The Shepherding Movement created cult-like manipulation techniques and intimidation tactics over its followers through its emphasis on the non-biblical teaching that every follower needs a human “spiritual covering” in his life.
Today the spiritual covering doctrine is either openly taught or subtly imposed by certain religious sects and cult leaders upon their followers as a method of control and manipulation over people’s lives. The acquiring of money and the control over people’s lives is at the heart of this doctrine.

Religious groups that teach the spiritual covering theology can be identified by the following teachings and practices:

  • Followers cannot make any major life or personal decisions without the input, knowledge or endorsement of one’s spiritual covering
  • Approval from your human spiritual covering is more important than approval from God or from God’s word.
  • Approval from your human spiritual covering is also believed to be equivalent to being approved by God. Therefore if your spiritual covering does not approve, it is presumed that God does not also approve. Or if your spiritual covering approves – then it means that God also approves.
  • Followers must have unquestioned loyalty and obedience to one’s spiritual covering. The doctrines or teachings by the spiritual covering cannot be questioned or challenged even by those considered to be the “lowest” members or followers within the hierarchy.
  • Followers have an obligation to confess sins and problems to their spiritual coverings, accountability partners or “shepherds”
  • The group has a hierarchical system of accountability; the hierarchical system looks more like a pyramid than the Biblical church body.
  • Followers must conform to the group’s traditions and beliefs even if these traditions oppose the scriptures.
  • Biblical and spiritual knowledge and revelation only flows downwards from the spiritual covering to the followers. The spiritual covering is seen as the source through which all spiritual revelation flows. Therefore without the revelation and protection of your human spiritual covering – you are deemed to be “lost” or in “rebellion”.
  • There is legalism, manipulation, intimidation, fear and coercive control by leadership over members. The followers are taught to be spiritually, psychologically and practically dependent on their human spiritual covering.
  • There is total dependence by the followers for their spiritual covering’s approval and endorsement.
  • There is information control. Followers are prohibited from information or literature that is likely to free them from deception or from discovering the truth.
  • Anyone who disagrees with their spiritual covering can be subjected to humiliation or expulsion for questioning the leadership or its teachings.
  • Anyone who questions or does not conform to the standards of his/her human spiritual covering is categorized as being “rebellious” or unsubmissive.

 

JESUS CHRIST IS THE TRUE AND ONLY SPIRITUAL COVERING

Jesus Christ is the only true spiritual covering that any Christian believer needs. Ultimately if we do not have Jesus Christ in our lives, then we do not have any genuine spiritual covering.
We must beware of any religious group that practices “shepherding,” “submission” and “spiritual covering” concepts. Though these groups may speak about Christ, they do not ultimately point people to Christ but instead they subtly point people to controlling and manipulative men for spiritual direction instead of God. These groups can create a counterfeit Christianity or hinder a genuine relationship with God because it promotes a mere man as being a type of mediator between you and God. It promotes the concept that you should always seek the approval and endorsement of man instead of seeking the approval of God. It also promotes the concept that the human spiritual covering is “perfect” or “infallible” in his advice or teachings when in fact every man is a sinner who is subject to error and deception. Unfortunately many people have fallen for this spiritual covering manipulation, especially in many coercive religious groups where the followers are taught to seek the approval of their “spiritual covering” or “spiritual father” rather than the approval of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:4
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

Galatians 1:10
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

When leaders view themselves as a “spiritual covering” over others, they also directly make themselves to become spiritual mediators between God and their followers.
1 Timothy 2:5 says: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

Christ died for our sins and His blood provided the ultimate covering from curses and from all kinds of sin so that because of His blood there is freedom in Christ and forgiveness of sins. We have been bought by the precious blood of Christ Jesus and “brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Jesus Christ is our true protection and our only covering from all curses, bondage and sin because of His finished work on the Cross.
There is no human being who can copy or imitate the effects or results of what Christ did on the Cross and the functions that Christ plays in the life of an individual. Without Christ we are nothing.

Jesus Christ is Lord over your life – not man. Colossians 3:23-24 says that we are to do everything “as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ”.
Therefore Jesus Christ is your true and only spiritual covering because He is with you wherever you go; He resides in you and He knows you more than you know yourself.
Therefore when various leaders, false teachers and cult leaders elevate themselves to the unbiblical status of a “spiritual covering”, they’re in fact making themselves a “false christ” over the people they lead because they claim to mediate between God and man. The “spiritual covering” leaders claim that their approval or disapproval of what you do is equivalent to God’s approval or disapproval.

Matthew 23:8-12
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

A “spiritual covering” leader is the exact opposite of what Christ expects from a Biblical leader. A “spiritual covering” leader lacks humility but instead seeks to be served by his followers rather than to serve them. The spiritual covering leader sees himself as a “spiritual father”.
In the body of Christ there are no “spiritual coverings” or “spiritual fathers” – but instead according to Matthew 23:8 we “are all brothers”.
In the body of Christ we have different gifts and different functions (Romans 12:5-8) but we are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of God. Nobody is more important than the other in the body of Christ. The functions and gifts may be different but we are all equal and play a pivotal role in the body of Christ.
According to Romans 12:5 we are “members of one another” and NOT members over one another.

However, the spiritual covering or Shepherding Movement doctrines are used by cult leaders and false teachers who seek to have unbiblical control, power and influence over people’s lives for their own self-ambition and personal gain. The spiritual covering doctrine creates a culture of manipulation, control, fear and intimidation of which the followers become the victims and false teachers become the benefactors. It also opposes Christ’s leadership model of servant leadership.

Matthew 20:25-28
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Many religious cults and high control groups control the lives of their followers because of the spiritual covering doctrine. Many people are controlled and manipulated both for selfish and monetary gain by their leaders because of unbiblical methods of leadership that are being used. We must therefore beware of leaders who demand or coerce people into blind loyalty and submission. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and 1 John 4:1 says that we must “test everything” or “test the spirits” because “many false prophets have gone out into the world”. God’s word therefore encourages us to test, question and verify whatever we are are taught in order to avoid being deceived or being led astray by false teachings.

The spiritual covering teaching shifts the focus of our spiritual relationship away from Jesus Christ and His Lordship. Instead the false doctrine shifts people’s focus into following man or the “spiritual covering’s” personal desires instead of following God. Such an unbiblical relationship indirectly blinds people from individually exercising discernment regarding their spiritual life.

The Bible indeed teaches us to obey those who are in authority – but only as far as what they teach and say is in agreement with God’s word. It’s therefore important for every Christian believer to study the word of God as a Berean and Biblically research and verify the things we are taught (Acts 17:10-15).
Christian believers should not rely on a human “spiritual covering” for truth and revelation but instead Christians must learn to check what they are taught against the word of God to see if what they are taught is actually true.
Christians also need to get into the habit of personal study of the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).
Christians need to be led by the Holy Spirit who is the revealer of all truth (John 16:13) and not only look to man as a revealer of truth.

The reason why so many people are led astray is because they look towards man or “spiritual coverings” to lead them instead of looking towards Jesus Christ who is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

 

 

12 Characteristics of a Cult Leader

According to many studies, cult leaders are people who tend to be narcissists and they generally exhibit sociopathic and abusive characteristics. In most cases cult leaders do not lead a legitimate Christian church, but instead they lead a cult or cultic group which they themselves created or founded. (read – What is a Cult? What are the Characteristics of a Cult?)
Within Christianity they are hardly shepherds, but instead they are actually wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).
The Bible speaks of false teachers existing in the world and the cult leader is a type of false teacher who exists within the religious realm.
Many cult leaders will claim to be Christians, but in fact, they are deceived instruments of satan who seek to deceive their followers for personal gain and for demonic motives.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says the following:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Throughout the world, many cult leaders will exhibit the same character traits and employ the same manipulative and coercive techniques. By nature, a leopard cannot change its spots. A bad tree will always bear bad fruit (Matthew 7:15-19).

Below are at least 12 Traits or Characteristics of a Cult Leader:

A Spiritual Abuser
The cult leader is a false teacher who not only teaches false doctrines, but he also seeks to intimately control and abuse the lives of his followers. For example, he can control who you should and should not marry; he separates members from their families; he destroys marriages; No major personal decisions are made by various cult members without consulting the cult leader or without his knowledge; He brainwashes his members to perform unethical activities on his behalf or on behalf of the cult.
The cult leader is obsessed with manipulating and controlling his followers through authoritative leadership style and coercive techniques. This ultimately leads many members of the group into a state of spiritual bondage.

They Twist The Scriptures For Personal Gain
Cult leaders will constantly twist and misinterpret the Bible in order to justify their scandals or justify their sinful lifestyle. For example, many cult leaders are known to twist the Scriptures to their followers in order to justify their sexual immorality or polygamous relationships. Some will also twist the scriptures for monetary gain or for demonic mind control purposes.
2 Peter 2:3 says “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

Narcissistic Sense of Self
Cult leaders basically believe they were born to be better than others. In fact, they are tempted to believe that nobody can be better than them. They are basically arrogant and are driven and motivated by a spirit of pride.
Eventually cult leaders tend to claim or insinuate to have power, position and authority that is exclusively godlike. They not only claim to speak for God, but they believe and teach their followers that disobeying the leader is equivalent to disobeying God. Matthew 24:24 speaks of the rise in false christs or false messiahs. This scripture does not only refer to people who claim to be Jesus Christ, but it also refers to narcissistic people who will claim to have equal authority to Christ. (see article: What Does The Bible Say About Narcissism?)

Superficial Charm & Charisma
Cult leaders are actors and pretenders. They understand that discovering your weaknesses, needs and desires are a gateway to putting you in bondage. Projecting superficial charm and charisma to members or potential followers is a method of disarming people from seeing the true deceptive and controlling nature of the leader.
In their mind, it’s essential that they draw followers to themselves and therefore they feel the need to stand-out and be noticed because inwardly cult leaders consistently crave attention and recognition from their members. Therefore the charm offensive is an important part of a cult leader’s act to gain trust and admiration from unsuspecting followers.

Lack of Guilt or Remorse
The cult leader is sociopathic by nature and is therefore incapable of showing genuine empathy, guilt or remorse for any sinful behavior. For example, a cult leader may feel no remorse for destroying marriages or for exploiting and abusing his members, because cult leaders are generally proud and arrogant at their core. Sociopaths are generally known to be incapable of showing genuine love or empathy. Instead they project superficial “love” and emotions which always has the deceptive motive of desiring something back in return for their own personal gain and agenda.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 makes reference to false teachers who are hypocritical liars and have a seared conscience. This alludes to the fact that false teachers are incapable of having a good conscience because they feel no sorrow or guilt for sinful behavior. They also see no need to repent as a result. Instead a cult leader usually projects his faults on others such as his own members. Therefore their conscience is so seared or so deceived that they cannot truthfully differentiate between right and wrong.

Pathological Liars
Cult leaders are very skillful speakers and they are never at a loss for words. However, they are also pathological liars. Lying and deceit is part of their inbuilt nature and culture. Hypocrisy is their second nature. Deception is integral to achieving their objective of power and control over others. Even Jesus said of the Pharisees (who were religious leaders) “You are of your father the devil who has been a liar from the beginning” (John 8:44).
In Matthew 23:1-38, Christ also addressed the culture of lying and the hypocrisy by the Pharisees. He not only exposed their deception but He warned them of the consequences of their wickedness.
Therefore a culture of lying, hypocrisy and deception is common among cult leaders.

Authoritarian Leadership Style
Cult leaders are always authoritarian in the manner in which they lead their members.
For example, some cult leaders demand obedience from their members at the expense of obeying the scriptures. Cult leaders will also equate obeying them as being equal to obeying God, therefore insinuating that God and the cult leader have equal authority. It creates fear within the cult members so that they live to please the cult leader instead of living to please God. Cult members are taught to obey the leader even if he is wrong. The cult leader therefore creates the false perception that he is infallible and that his teachings and wisdom cannot be challenged even when he is wrong. For example, many cult leaders will also lean towards teaching authoritarian and submission false doctrines such as spiritual covering theology or shepherding movement doctrines (see article: Who Is Your Spiritual Covering? Is It Biblical?

They Take Sexual Advantage of their Members
The issue of money, power and sex are intertwined within a cult. When cult leaders have unquestioned power and authority, it is evident that a cult leader will begin to take sexual advantage of his members.
Cult leaders often have a history of extramarital affairs. Therefore adultery and many different forms of sexual immorality are very common among cult leaders due to their grandiose sense of self and the imbalance of power that exists within the group.
With various cults, sex or sexual immorality is used as a method of control. Therefore the cult leader will have sexual relationships with his own followers as a method of emotional and psychological control over his members. For many cults, sexual immorality is also used by cult leaders as a method of initiating new members into the cult or for purposes of supposedly “bonding” with cult members (see article: How Cult Leaders Use Sex To Control Followers)

Cult Leaders Lack Boundaries & Exploit Weaknesses
2 Timothy 3:5-6 speaks of men who have the “appearance of godliness” but yet they take advantage of “weak women”. Paul tells Timothy in verse 5 that such people should be avoided.
Cult leaders do not respect individual or relationship boundaries. They feel entitled to impose or worm their way without any respect for the personal or relationship boundaries of others.
They are always looking for weaknesses in an individual’s life so that they can manipulate for their own personal gain.
Cult leaders also tend to look for followers who are gullible, easily exploited and weak minded.

They Use Sycophants to Ensure Compliance from Members
Sycophants are informers and self-seeking cult members who usually praise the cult leader in order to gain advantage. The cult leader uses them to spy on other members and to ensure that members are complying with the cult’s values and traditions. Sycophants pass information upwards to the cult leader about who is complying and who is rebelling within the group. They also update the cult leader about what individual members are saying, feeling or behaving within the group.

Cult Leaders View Outsiders as Enemies or Inferior
Cults generally have an Us versus Them mentality where anybody who is outside of the cult is seen as inferior to the cult. This mentality also forms the basis of why cults generally tend to promote themselves under the deceptive guise of “evangelism” as they feel that anyone who is not part of the cult is not fully enlightened. Therefore cults believe that people require the cult’s specific indoctrinations or to be recruited into the group.
The cult leader therefore projects himself as the “best” among preachers and he presents his doctrines as the “best” among other religious groups and anyone who is not part of the cult is considered to be “lost” or unenlightened.
Any non-members who disagree with the cult leader’s theology are seen as potential enemies and likewise cult members are not allowed to associate with any outside religious groups or individuals who are likely to discover the cult’s true deceptive nature.
The leader therefore isolates his group from ex-members or from families or from religious groups that are likely to discern and expose the true nature of the group.

They View People as Assets & Objects
Sociopaths do not really view people as friends. Instead to a sociopath, people are assets; people are victims; people are accomplices; people are fools who can be conned for his own personal gain.
Just like a sociopath, cult leaders are interested in only achieving the objective that meets their personal and selfish gain. As a result, a cult leader views his cult members as inferior to himself and as people whom he is meant to control, manipulate and dominate.

 

Conclusion: You Shall Know Them By Their Fruits
Jesus said that false teachers are inwardly like “ravenous wolves” by nature. He also said that we shall know false teachers by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).
The character and nature of cult leaders clearly reflects that their fruits are demonic and ungodly. Ultimately the majority of cult members become deceived and fall into spiritual bondage as a result of following cult leaders.
It’s important to note that cult leaders are self-deceived individuals. They are also spiritually and psychologically dangerous. Based on the strange activities and tragedies that happen within many cults such as mass suicides, mind control techniques, cultic behaviour, family separations, scripture twisting, sexual scandals and a culture of lying and deception – it is clear that cult leaders are either demon possessed or demonically inspired in their actions.
Cult leaders do not represent Jesus Christ and they preach a false gospel that is filled with false interpretations of the scriptures. Even though they read or preach from the Bible, it is important to realize that these type of false teachers are used by the devil in an attempt to deceive, distort and destroy the Body of Christ.
Titus 1:16 says the following of false teachers: “They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work”
It’s therefore very important that people be vigilant and aware of the false deceptions and the many deceivers who now exist in the world.

1 John 4:1 says: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

 

 

 

 

How Cult Leaders Use Sex to Control Followers

Is there a relationship between sexual immorality and the activities of demonic sects such as cults, the new age movement and even the occult? How do cult leaders use sex as a method of control over some of their members?

Jim Jones, a cult leader of the People’s Temple was one of the most well-known cult leaders in the world. He had so much control over his followers to the extent of causing the mass suicide of more than 900 of his own cult members as he manipulated them into drinking poisoned Kool-aid or Flavor-aid.
The other thing that Jim Jones was also known for was his immoral sexual behavior. According to Wikipedia, “while Jones (hypocritically) banned sex among Temple members outside of marriage, he voraciously engaged in sexual relations with both male and female Temple members. Jones, however, claimed that he detested engaging in homosexual activity and did so only for the male temple adherents’ own good, purportedly to connect them symbolically with him (Jones).”

So Jones’ cultic reason for being promiscuous was that having sex with his followers would “connect” his followers “symbolically” to himself.
Jones is also on record as telling his followers that he was “the only true heterosexual”.

In the religious world, there are thousands of cult leaders that exist. One of the major marks of all cult leaders pertains to their desire to manipulate, control and exploit their members for their own personal gain and also for the gain of the group.

Almost every cult leader is known to be abusive, spiritually corrupt and manipulative by nature (see article: 12 Characteristics Of A Cult Leader).
However, one of the key methods that cult leaders use to control their followers is through sex.
Just like Jim Jones and many false teachers throughout the world, it’s difficult to find a single cult leader who leads a group and yet has never had promiscuous affairs with members of his own group. It’s also difficult to find a cult leader who has not manifested any obvious signs of sexual perversion.

2 Timothy 3:5-6
Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions

2 Timothy 3:5-6 addresses the fact that there are religious men who are predatory in nature and they deceptively desire to “capture weak women”.
These men have the “appearance of godliness” but in fact, they are hypocrites.
They have the “appearance of godliness” but the truth is that they are demonic and ungodly in nature.
These men even enter into people’s homes but their intentions are never truthful or innocent. They seek to seduce, manipulate, control and exploit people.
The cult leader uses his position of leadership to take advantage of his members. He does this to satisfy his sexual lusts and to gain control over them.
Therefore under the guise of “counselling”, “ministering” and “assisting” women with their problems, the cult leader exploits a woman’s vulnerabilities in order to eventually manipulate her for sex.

All over the world many false teachers have been exposed for their promiscuous behaviour. This clearly points to the fact that there is a connection between the unbiblical power that cult leaders give themselves and their immoral sexual relationships.

So the question is this: Why are most cult leaders inevitably sexually immoral? Why do these leaders use sex to control their members?
The answer is found in the fact that the core inspiration behind using sex to control people is simply rooted in demonic doctrines and demonic foundations.

Sex and the Demonic
The demonic concept about sex is the complete opposite to God’s original intention for sex. According to God, sex is an expression of union between 2 married people and it is to be performed only within the confines of marriage for enjoyment and for procreation. Sex is not only physical but it is also spiritual.
However, satan has corrupted the meaning of sex. The demonic concept of sex encourages fornication, adultery, incest, homosexuality and even bestiality. Sexual immorality has a negative spiritual effect in that it causes a person to corrupt his soul and to sin against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).
The demonic expression of sex is not related to godly union between married couples but instead the demonic purpose for sex is to express self-gratification, domination, perversion, manipulation and initiation.

Jim Jones hypocritically preached against premarital sex and he banned his members from having sex outside of marriage. Yet ironically, Jones had both homosexual and heterosexual relationships with the very same cult members whom he banned from having sex. What Jim Jones did was an example of him using sex to control his followers.

A cult leader’s motive for having sex with multiple members within his group is also a method of initiating and solidifying the member’s emotional loyalty to himself and towards the group. Jim Jones claimed to use promiscuous sex to “connect” his followers “symbolically” to himself.
Just like Jim Jones, a cult leader does not care if he is behaving hypocritically; he does not care if he has sexual relations with a man or a woman; he does not care if he is committing adultery; he does not care if he’s causing his members to commit fornication or adultery; he does not care if he is disobeying the word of God.

What the cult leader cares about the most, is that he fulfills his demonic sexual appetite and perversions whilst achieving “connection” and control over his followers through the sexual relationships. Therefore sex is one of the tools that he will use in order to accomplish his goal to control.
It’s no wonder that doctrines of demons such as witchcraft, occultism, new age movement and many other sects also include sexual immorality as part of their rites, rituals and initiations.

Even in the Bible, the worship of Baal, a fertility god, had infiltrated the Jewish people according to Judges 3:7.
Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic sex and prostitution in the temples. Even Jezebel who was a woman associated with sexual immorality, control and witchcraft was a champion for the worship of Baal.
Jezebel married and controlled Ahab who happened to be the King of Israel (1 Kings 16:30-31). Her exploitation and control of Ahab caused the widespread worship of Baal and the demonic doctrines associated with Baal.

1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Leviticus 20:13 and Exodus 22:19 all speak against sexual immorality. However, whilst these verses might be preached by the cult leader just as Jim Jones may have done, the cult leader will behave as if such verses do not apply to himself.

Anything that is demonic will ultimately meet its destruction before the Lord. The cult leader and every other false teacher will ultimately meet their demise before God’s mighty hand.
Those who willfully practice sexual immorality and seek to manipulate and deceive others will face a predictable end.
1 John 4:1 tells us to test the spirits because of the existence of false prophets and teachers. The reason we should test the spirits is because false teachers are spiritually motivated by the demonic.
It is therefore imperative that those who fear the Lord should always hate what is evil and cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).

 

 

What is the Illuminati and Do They Exist?

The Illuminati is believed to be a group or secret society of the most influential and powerful elite in the world. It is believed that the Illuminati has been existing for many centuries and they maintain the same bloodlines.

It’s also believed that the Illuminati also consists of branches of other secret societies such as freemasonry and these secret societies consist of international bankers, top government officials, leaders in the media, entertainment, sports and energy sectors.
It is believed that the Illuminati controls all major sectors of the world from the entertainment industry to the world financial markets and also the political world.

The name Illuminati comes from the Latin word illuminatur which means the “enlightened”.
This group believes that they are more “enlightened” than the rest of the world. They believe that they possess secret knowledge about many issues including knowledge of the future and world events. They believe that they are meant to dominate and control the masses and the world systems.
Therefore most people theorize that this group will be responsible for ushering the New World Order where there will be a one world government, one world currency and a one world religion.

It is believed that the group prefers to operate covertly but uses various symbols as a spiritual method of communication and worship. Some of the symbols most associated with the Illuminati include occult symbols, triangles, pentagrams, the all-seeing eye – pyramids – the number 666 and symbolism associated with Egyptian mythology. It is also believed that the group is heavily linked to many occult practices and that the Illuminati ultimately serves at the pleasure of the devil.

Is the Illuminati mentioned in the Bible?
The Illuminati is not specifically mentioned in the Bible. However the Bible does speak of a type of globalism or new world order scenario that will exist in the future or in the end times.
The presence of the Antichrist will usher in a one world government, a one world currency and a one world religion where the Antichrist will ultimately demand to be worshiped (Revelation 17:1-18; Revelation 13:1-14).
The devil is the master of all evil in the world and he is the creator of the demonic world systems that operate in the world.
The Illuminati and many other groups and individuals who perform wicked acts to dominate, manipulate and control the world are merely puppets of the devil who is their puppet master.

How should Christians respond to secret societies?
Christians need to always remember that it is God who is ultimately in control of all things and all situations. There is nothing that will happen in this world that will ever surprise God. There is nothing that is hidden from God.
Therefore God is the alpha and omega. Everything begins and ends with God.
This means that whatever the devil and his puppets may try in their attempt to control and dominate the world will ultimately end in failure.
God will remain God and the devil and all his followers will be cast in the lake of fire.

The role of every Christian believer is to continue to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need for people to repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (Matthew 28:19-20).
Christians are also to expose evil in all its forms and warn people from being deceived by the devil and his followers (Ephesians 5:11-12).

What is the New World Order?

The New World Order is defined as the period in time where there will be a one-world religion, one-world money system and a one-world government. It is also known as the age or era of Globalization.

There is the theory that an elite group of influential people, especially those people associated with secret societies such as freemasonry and the Illuminati are linked towards systematically and gradually introducing and implementing the New World Order system.

The ideology or philosophy of the New World Order or Globalization is that of bringing supposed unity, oneness of belief systems and an end to human suffering for all mankind.
Therefore to achieve such a goal, all nations must socially, economically and politically adopt the same value systems.

Socially and spiritually, different religions or cultural beliefs must be gradually eliminated and a one-world religion system must eventually be embraced. For example, a culture of tolerance and acceptance should be embraced in relation to such issues as homosexuality or transgenderism even if these lifestyles contradict Christian beliefs and Biblical values.
Therefore the ideology of the New World Order system will attempt to remove any systems or beliefs that oppose its own so that the New World Order becomes the dominant value system.

Economically, many nations will be forced to adopt a one-currency system under the New World Order. Therefore a borderless society will exist. The world will literally become a global village and the one-currency system will be the strongest evidence that the era of Globalization has arrived. Therefore, under a New World Order, attempting to economically operate outside a one-currency system would be difficult for any business or nation.

Politically, many nations around the world will be under a one-world government. Therefore control of the entire world will be officially centralized to an elite and powerful body of people who will make political, social and economic decisions for the entire human race. Individual nations will no longer have autonomy but will be accountable to a centralized one-world government.

The idea & philosophy behind the New World Order is also reminiscent of the ideology behind the Tower of Babel where mankind believed that anything was possible as long as they were united with a common cause (Genesis 11:1-9).
However, unity without God is dangerous. Unity that is based on a false philosophical system eventually leads to utter rebellion against God.

Therefore Globalization or the New World Order system may outwardly appear to be beneficial and noble for mankind, but the root inspiration behind this ideology must be closely scrutinized, not only from a worldly viewpoint but also from a spiritual perspective.

Scriptures such as Revelations 13:1-18, Revelations 14:9-12 and Revelations 20:4-6 refer to the Antichrist beast system that will dominate the world in the future. The beast system is very much likened to the New World Order because of the gradual and systematic attempt to introduce a one-world religion, one-world money system and a one-world government.

Biblically, the chief architect of the New World Order system is the devil himself. Therefore the New World Order is a prelude to the ushering of the Antichrist.
The Bible describes Satan as being the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) or the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31).
Satan once tempted Jesus by offering Christ “the kingdoms of the world and their glory” if Jesus would agree to worship him (Matthew 4:8-10).
The devil therefore has massive influence and control on the systems of this world. Satan is responsible for creating many philosophies, ideologies, false religions and economic systems that manage this world that we live in. The devil is therefore able to influence people, cultures, religions and governments. Globalization or the New World Order will not bring freedom, unity or an end to human suffering. Instead it will introduce the Great Tribulation through an Antichrist dictatorship.

One thing history should teach us is that since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, there is no earthly government that can bring peace, unity or an end to any kind of human suffering.
Therefore, if mankind looks towards human controlled governments with the hope of ending human suffering and becoming united, then such a hope will be in total vain.
Therefore the New World Order offers a false hope and false promises.

True unity, oneness and the end of human suffering will occur when mankind embraces God and the Kingdom of God through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
A life with God and a life in the kingdom of Heaven is the ideal lifestyle for mankind.