Lesson 14 - Modern Cults Identified Five Ways!
Cults are on the rise. False religious teachers continue to attract multitudes. Sincere people are being deceived. The stakes are high. It makes all the difference who you follow. More than 900 members of the Peoples Temple followed their leader, Jim Jones, on a path of death into the jungles of Guyana in the late 1970s. David Koresh’s followers died a fiery death in Waco, Texas. Members of Heaven’s Gate evidently listened to their leader, Marshall Applewhite, and committed mass suicide in an affluent southern California suburb.
Why were these people deceived? Are there some clear ways to identify false religious teachers? This lesson will present five clear identifying features of a cult to help you keep from being deceived.
1. What did Jesus say regarding false religious leaders at the time of the end? Matthew 24:5, 11, 24
Answer: Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
2. How can we be kept from the powerful delusions of the enemy? John 8:32
Answer: Shall know the truth and the truth small make you free.
3. What do the Scriptures say regarding placing implicit confidence in a human being for salvation? Psalm 146:3
Answer: Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
4. Who is the sole source of our salvation? Isaiah 45:22Answer: Look to Me, and be saved, all your ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
Jesus is the only source of our salvation. Cult leaders focus attention upon themselves rather than Jesus. They manipulate the minds of their followers. They become substitute saviors or counterfeit messiahs.
5. What does Jesus say about placing the teachings of any human being above the Word of God? Mark 7:7, 8; Luke 11:52
Answer: It is not wise. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered. In vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men...
6. What counsel does the apostle Paul give us to help us avoid being deceived? 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Answer: Test all things; hold fast what is good.
7. What is the only standard by which we can evaluate truth? John 17:17
Answer: Sanctify them by your truth; your Word is truth
There is only one source of truth. God's Word is a reliable guide. The old poem states it correctly when it asks, "What says the Bible, the blessed Bible to me? The teachings of men so often mislead me. What says the Bible, the blessed Bible to me? This my only questions be."
8. How does the Bible emphasize the necessity of freedom of choice? Joshua 24:15; Revelation 22:17
Answer: ‘Come!' And let him who hears say, ‘Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
The devil uses deception and force. He uses lies and pressure. He uses falsehoods and coercion as his weapons. God uses the freedom of choice, the power of truth, and the attraction of love.
9. How does the ultimate false religious teacher, the "beast power" of Revelation, deceive a majority of the earth? Revelation 13:13
Answer: Makes fire come down from heaven in the sight of men
10. Can the devil perform supernatural signs? Revelation 16:13; 19:20
Answer: Saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out...the false prophet who worked signs in his presence.
11. Why will so many be deceived by the false signs and miracles? 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Answer: Did not receive the love of the truth
The only safeguard against deception is a love for the truth. Truth is more important than so-called supernatural signs. Satan can counterfeit signs. God's truth provides a solid foundation for our faith.
12. When we are united to Christ, what does He offer us? Ephesians 1:6; 2:19
Answer: Fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God
In Christ we are accepted. We are forgiven. We are children of God. We become members of the royal family of heaven. Jesus is a leader worthy of our allegiance. His Word is a safe guide. The greatest miracle is the miracle of a changed life. In Christ we have the greatest sense of belonging.
13. Whom is God's last-day message a call to worship supremely? Revelation 14:7
Answer: Accepted in the Beloved, worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water
God's last-day message is a call to give our undivided allegiance to our loving Creator. It is a call to give our total allegiance to Him. God is looking for men and women:
• Who will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's pleading.
• Who will listen to His voice and follow Him in spite of the obstacles.
• Who will not devotedly adhere to the voice of an earthly religious leader, rather than His voice.
• Who will not deny the voice of the Spirit to listen to a human voice.
• Who will be true to conscience at any cost. "The greatest want
of the world is the want of men-men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall" (Education, p. 57).
Will you be God's man, God's woman? Will you say, "Lord, I choose to listen to Your voice, and Your voice alone. I cannot, I must not, I will not allow another's voice to drown out the voice of Your Spirit. I will be loyal to You at all cost"?