Introduction: Basic principles of cult discernment


This study and the articles following, that explain some of the main cults in operation today, are not to be considered hate propaganda. The purpose of producing these works is to openly expose the works of darkness that have deceived many who are actually searching for the truth. While these works are not exhaustive, they will provide tips and enough knowledge to help you show the truth “in love” to anyone you know who is caught up in these movements.

People involved in the occult or in the cults, have joined these movements to seek a deeper spiritual life but the enemy of their souls will seek to sway them from the true path. Should our Heavenly Father bring these people across your path, or you find friends or family involved in them, your mission is to encourage them to seek the truth in an unbiased way. Ultimate truth can be known and if anyone is willing to discover truth, they will find doubt become their friend and ally in leading them into the true light.

The word cult is derived from the Latin “cultus” meaning a ritual ceremony. It is defined as a teaching group or movement which deviates from orthodoxy while claiming to represent the whole truth or The Faith.

The Cults should not be confused with the occult which is defined as follows

  1. Kept secret and hidden.
  2. Esoteric: only for the initiated or private or confidential.
  3. Obscurity – little known.
  4. Mysterious.
  5. Beyond the range of natural knowledge.
  6. Supernatural, mystical, magical.

Occultism is rapidly growing and holds great fascination for the uninformed. It appears to offer a way in which the individual can change his circumstances or situations by manipulation of the environment. Many people are also drawn by the mysterious element and it offers identification to individuals striving for recognition. More often than not you will find degrees of advancement such as in Freemasonry. The occult aims to control absolutely.

There is no difference between white and black magic except profit.  The occult is dangerous and will ultimately result in the participant’s death.

Cults: – similarities between what is the truth and what is false. The enemy will always counterfeit.

  1. Strong leadership is essential.
  2. Both stress the need for loyalty and commitment to leadership.
  3. Both believe in deep involvement and commitment to the group's vision and goal.
  4. Both believe we are living in the end times.
  5. Both work to establish a hope for a different and better lifestyle.

Cults will always reject:

  1. The authority of the Bible.
  2. The deity of Jesus Christ.
  3. The cross and its blood atonement.

Matthew 24.24 Satan tries to frustrate Gods purposes and prevent the building of the true Kingdom by raising up false prophets: – Matthew 7.13-23.   False apostles: – 2 Corinthians 11.12-13.  False teachers: – 2 Peter 2.1–22 and false pastors and shepherds: Acts 20.29–30.

A cult will say that only they hold the truth and reject or suspect all authority other than their own.

The following six tactics are used by the cults to retain a hold of their adherents: –

  1. Abuse of their authority by destroying faith in the Bible and Jesus Christ.
  2. Abuse the time of the adherents by keeping them in a state of exhaustion so they find it difficult to think for themselves.
  3. Abuse the follower’s money by urging the giving of resources in order to keep followers in poverty and thereby remain dependant on them.
  4. Abuse discipline by keeping followers in fear of being punished.
  5. Abuse follower’s sexuality by using, abusing and perverting the natural to keep people in bondage.
  6. Abuse follower’s relationships by attempting to isolate friends and relatives to tone down outside influence and control. Isolationism.

Jesus warned us to be aware Luke 21.8.  They will say that “I AM".   Matthew 24.23–25.

Christianity is centred on the person of Jesus Christ and because cults deviate from the true Word (Christ) they do not except that Jesus Christ was God in human form.

The root of the matter when dealing with any who are suspect, is to ask: – what do you think of Christ?  Who was Jesus of Nazareth? This test will expose all who hold to a different Jesus.

2 Corinthians 11.4

The person, nature and work of Jesus Christ, is where all cults differ. They can be right in every other doctrine or practice, but if wrong on this one point they are eternally lost. It is the truth that Christ was the son of god, that He is in the Father and the Father in Him and they are one, that He died and rose again and ever lives to make intercession for us that makes one a true believer.


Because of the rejection of Christ as God, most Cults are against the doctrine of the Trinity and also do not accept the Holy Spirit as a co-equal member of the triune godhead.

The Holy Spirit is regarded as a being with: – Divine attributes, spiritual influence, personal force, divine influence and spiritual enabling from God.

Cult leaders:–

Are always an extra figurehead as a Messiah/Christ substitute who gives scriptural interpretation of so called truth, worldly affairs and God's chronology (timetable).

Characteristics of these leaders: –

  1. Charismatic – unusual ability to attract and inspire followers. They are egomaniacs (persons with large egos) and very ambitious.
  2. Usually base their authority on further revelation supposedly to be from God, angelic beings, or years of study and research. They also generally change revelation to suit situations.
  3. Usually the order or cult is established after a leader or founder has been in a period of fasting or prayer claiming to have received a revelation from God.
  4. These leaders were not sent out by a legitimate body of people but go out on their own authority, self-sent, self-commissioned, not validated by a Spirit guided body.
  5. Since they are their own authority, the founders or successive leaders do the thinking and are above question and expects blind obedience. This develops an attitude of closed mindedness to any other opinion whether rational, intellectual or factual. Decisions of followers will at times defy logic.

The issue is – what do you think of Christ? Matthew 22.42

Before anyone can properly understand the nature of Christ he must first understand the nature of the Godhead. The study of the Trinity is a huge topic in itself but briefly:

Three views have been developed –

Modalism: – Emphasises the unity of God to the destruction of the Trinity of God resulting in Unitarianism (Jehovah witnesses is an example) this is error.

Trinitarianism:- This is the biblical view that God is one personal, triune being: three distinct personalities but still one. This is biblical truth.

Tritheism: – The trinity of God to the destruction of the unity of God and results in three Gods which is polytheism. This is error.

Abundant evidence is given in the Scriptures that the only one, living, true God, subsists in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, distinct though not separate. Just as water can be found as a solid (ice), liquid and vapour (steam) forming H2O, they exist as three totally different forms but are still each in their own right, water.

Complete salvation is found wanting in all the Cults. For Jesus Christ to have offered complete salvation he must have been God and also man. The only sinless being that has ever existed is God. Only a sinless being can fully atone for one who has sinned. Only a tripartite being could dispense with the sin of man (also a tripartite being) but man was sinful so God (un-sinful) could alone atone for man. Jesus Christ was fully man, yet fully God and as a representation of the whole Godhead was able to redeem the complete tripartite nature of man.

1. Cultist confrontation.

At some time in your life you will be in a situation where you will be confronted by a member of a cult. His aim is to convert you.

The key to conduct in this situation:- 1 Peter 3. 13–15

  1. Do not fear, 1 Peter 3. 13 - 14.
  2. You must be committed to Christ, sanctified, set apart for witness.
  3. Provide an answer to any who ask. 2 Timothy 2. 15
  4. Show gentleness and reverence. Speak the truth in love.

2. How to deal with them.

You must be prepared. Familiarity with their back ground is a great help. You must know the truth.  Banks train their tellers on real money so that the counterfeit can be spotted immediately. Do not get hung up in spending huge amounts of time studying the cults. You are better off spending that time studying the truth and when an error pops up, you will know straight away and how to deal with it.

  1. Know their background.
  2. Know their terminology. Most use all our terms but they mean different things. Don't just state a doctrine but also explain it fully as they have their own interpretation of every major truth and doctrine.
  3. Know the answers to dissect their false doctrine and show them their error.
  4. Know the way to lead them to the truth. Clearly communicate the gospel. Sound knowledge of the truth is the only proven and effective weapon against the demonic doctrines of cultism.
    1 Timothy4. 1–3 and verses 13–16.  2 Timothy 3:16-17  Remember the early Church was made up of simple folk who developed the capacity to know and speak the truth of God's Word.
  1. Know your own faith well. Not just what you believe, but why you believe it. Cults capitalise on ignorance, challenging you on why you believe.
    a. You will be challenged on the divisions within the Christian church, especially now in light of the TV evangelists fall from power and scandals that constantly rock the Christian Church.
    b. They will say at least we are united and agree on all points.
    c. Never hide such things away or make excuses. Point out the true Christian church is united around the basic issue and that is the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
  2. Have questions ready to place you on the offensive.
  3. Do not allow them to take initiative in prayer.
  4. As they are better versed in their beliefs than the average Christian, stick to the Bible, the primary source, not secondary publications.
  5. Stick to the Authorised Version of the Bible (King James) which is generally the only version of the Bible recognised after their own.
  6. Observe and quote all Bible verses in context.
  7. Check your attitude; don't be timid and inferior, nor prideful or superior.
  8. Ensure you try to relax the cultist; this makes them less defensive as they are used to being abused or on the defensive.
  9. Manifest Agape love and be a friend to them as this will drive a wedge into their beliefs. Remember they are unsaved. Many have become involved through self-acceptance, concern, loving fellowship and will not come out without us showing them a greater amount of unselfish love. Many believe that all that are not with them are motivated by Satan. An attitude of love will go a long way in breaking this belief.
  10. Stick to central issues – the person, nature and work of Christ. Remember to define terms, especially – the deity of Christ, incarnation, new birth, born again, justification, judgement, resurrection, eternal life.
  11. Ask them what initially drew them into the movement. This will expose the prime need or area of fulfilment. Remember to listen – an important part of witnessing is listening.
  12. Never be fooled by spiritual experiences they have had. Satan is a counterfeiter of all the gifts and gives people any number of experiences. Don't belittle those experiences because they have experienced something real to them. Experience swapping will go nowhere as cultists are experienced oriented.
    All valid experience is derived from truth – never the reverse.
  13. Ask why is it necessary for Christ to die? The answer will show their understanding of the nature of man, his condition before God as well as the solution (salvation). Few cult groups have a clear understanding of the cross, but have a low view of sin and judgement.
  1. Many believe it was not necessary for Christ to die. Point out that this is why Christ said he came. Matthew 16.21, Matthew 17.22–23. Luke 22.37, Luke 24.44–47 as examples.
  2. Give your testimony expressing your assurance of eternal life in peace with God, as these witnesses are missing to the cultist.
  3. Never, ever, blow your cool. Be spirit guided, not fleshly guided. If you should blow your fuse, (some will bait you) apologise.
    Finally, if they are not won to the Lord, warn them in love of the judgement of God. Don't write them off. If you are sincere they may well be back when doubts arise.




About Paul Fris