IN CHRIST JESUS
“Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints… For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians (1:16-18; 2:10-13).
When you made Jesus the Lord of your life, something happened to you. You were created in Christ Jesus. You were given an inheritance. Now, you are in Christ Jesus. You are born of God.
In the physical realm, you were born of your mother. You weren’t created; you were born. But in the spiritual realm, when you were “born of God,” you were re-created by God. A change took place. You were reborn. The Bible says in II Corinthians 5:17 that you became a new creature, a new creation. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” One translation says that any man who is in Christ Jesus is “a new species of being that never existed before.”
When you accepted Jesus as your Lord, and actual creation took place. The old man – your unregenerated spirit man – was replaced by a new man, created in Christ Jesus. Old things passed away and all things became new. The new birth that occurred in you was done by the creative power of God. It took place inside you – in your spirit.
The “creation” that ocurs at the new birth is the same type of “creation” that took place in the first chapter of Genesis. The word translated created in Genesis 1:1 gives the impression that before God brought heaven and earth into existence, there was nothing like it anywhere else. The same is true with the “new creation in Christ Jesus.” You are a “new species of being that never existed before.”
Being in Christ
You are a complete and total individual. There has never been, and never will be, another person just like you. When you received Jesus as Lord, God brought you into existence by His creative power. You were born of the Spirit of God. A seed was sown in your heart – the incorruptible seed of God’s Word – and you were placed in Christ Jesus.
You need to know and understand the reality of being in Christ. It is an outstanding revelation from God’s Word that will affect your thinking, your believing, your actions, and your speech.
Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”When? NOW. When are you in Christ Jesus? The moment you make Jesus your Lord.
Who is in Christ Jesus? Ephesians 1:10 says, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” So it’s not just those who have died and gone to heaven who are in Christ Jesus. This scripture says, “…all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” The 13th verse says, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”
The most effective way that I have found to develop the reality of being in Christ is to begin with the Book of Romans and search through all the letters of the New Testament for the phrase, in Christ. For example, as we have read in II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” Scriptures that refer to being “in Christ,” “in Him,” or “in whom” occur 134 times in the Bible. Find those scriptures and read them carefully. Study them and run cross-references on them. You can be sure that whatever the Word says about being “in Christ,” it belongs to you because you are in Christ Jesus.
Being in Christ means that you are “the saved.” Why? Because you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and have believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).
Being in Christ means that you are “the healed.” Why? Because Jesus went to the cross, bore the curse of the law, and broke the power of sickness and disease. He was made sick with our sickness; but He didn’t stay sick.
Today, He is healed; and because we are in Him, we are healed, too!
Being in Christ means you are “the delivered.” Why? Because Colossians 1:13 says God has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Jesus said He was sent to preach deliverance to the captives (Luke 4:18).
All of the power that it takes to save any human being, to heal any human being, to deliver any human being, came into this earth on the Day of Pentecost. When Jesus walked into a place, the power was there to heal the people. Why? Because the power was in Him. He said, “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10). Now, that power is in you because you are in Him. Because you are in Christ Jesus, you can live like Him, talk like Him, and act like Him. The Word of God will change you – spirit, soul, and body.
The Bible says that God sent Jesus that He might become the first born of many brethren (Romans 8:29). God planted the seed of His Son, Jesus, in order to get a harvest; and He reaps that harvest as new souls are added to the kingdom of God. The hundredfold principle is now in operation.
You are called a joint-heir with Christ Jesus. The Word says that when you made Jesus your Lord, you became one spirit with Him. You are in Him. God sees you in Jesus. He not only came inside you, but you went inside Him.
We have preached that Jesus comes inside a person, but we have thought very little of the fact that we have entered into Him. You are the body of Christ. Jesus said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). You are abiding in Him.
Ephesians 1:4 says, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love….” You are holy and without blame before Him in love. Jesus provided for you that God is your own heavenly Father. You are no longer without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12). You have been accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6). The epistle that Paul wrote to the Ephesians was written to you as well because you are in Christ Jesus. It’s a letter from God to you saying, “I have accepted you in My Son. You are in the beloved. You are Mine.”
Have you ever heard the phrase: “But I’m so unworthy”? That was true before you got saved. You were not worthy to receive what Jesus did. But He did it anyway! Because He died for you, you can live in Him. He made you worthy. You have been created in Christ Jesus and there is nothing unworthy in Him.
You are not worthy because of anything you did, but because of Jesus and what He did for you. Some people say, “Brother, I know we’re in Christ Jesus, but I just can’t stand up and say that I’m healed. I don’t deserve to be healed.” None of us deserve it in and of ourselves, but God knew that. If you have sin in your life, get it out. If you can’t receive healing from God because of the way you have been living, quit living that way! Repent and get rid of it! The Word says that God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins when we confess them (I John 1:9). When you confess the sin, He will forgive you. Don’t rebel against God. Don’t run from God when you sin, run to Him! If you have to rebel, then rebel against the devil, not God. The Bible says, Awake unto righteousness, and sin not (I Corinthians 15:34).
As a born-again believer, sin has no dominion over you. It can’t dominate you. It has to leave you. Satan is a defeated foe; he is not your god. James 4:7 says that if you resist him, he will flee from you.
You need to see yourself “in Christ” and know the reality of it. If you ask some people today, “Are you a son of God?” They’ll say, “Who me? Certainly not!” When you ask, “Are you saved?”, they’ll say, “Oh yes, thank God, I’m just an old sinner, saved by grace.” No , you are not! You were a sinner; you got saved by grace! You can’t be both at once. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. You have been born into the kingdom of His love. As far as God is concerned, you are holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. So quit thinking, speaking, and acting like the world. Let go of all those religious “sin tags.” Begin confessing that you are the righteousness of God in Christ.
What does it mean to obtain an inheritance? Acts 20:32 says, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”The Word is what will build you up and give you your inheritance.
Ephesians 1:11 says, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will….” This doesn’t say you are going to obtain your inheritance; it says you have already obtained it. This verse of scripture is past tense. You have obtained an inheritance. You have been accepted in the beloved. Part of your inheritance includes your family position with God in heaven after you lay down your body; but you have entered into your inheritance in Him right now here on this earth. You have the right to operate in that inheritance today.
Colossians 1:12 says, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light….” The word meet is an Old English word that means able. God has made you able to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Verses 13 and 14 say, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood.”You are “the redeemed.” Jesus has made you able to be a partaker of that inheritance. It’s yours! You are able to receive it and walk in it because God has said you are able. A literal translation of the 12th verse is, “…who has made us able to enjoy our share of the inheritance.” You are to give thanks unto the Father, Who has made you able to enjoy your share of the inheritance. So thank God for it! Praise and thanksgiving unto the Father play a big part in receiving your inheritance.
What did you inherit in Him? Did you just inherit heaven as your home? No. Hebrews 1:4 says, “Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” You have inherited Jesus’ authority as well as His name. You have inherited the kingdom of God. Colossians 2:9,10 says, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” There is embodied in you all that is in the Godhead – Jesus, the Spirit of God, the heavenly Father, the mind of Christ, the faith of God, the love of God. You have in you the very life of God, because you are in Christ Jesus.
Everything Jesus received when He was raised from the dead, everything that has happened to Jesus since He was raised from the dead, is yours – not just part of it, all of it!
When Jesus was raised from the dead, He received a glorified body. You will get one, too.
Where did Jesus go when He was raised? To the right hand of the Father. That’s where you are now! Ephesians 2:6says, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Jesus was raised from the dead by the mighty power of God and was seated at His own right hand in the heavenly places. That same mighty power of God worked in you when you made Jesus the Lord of your life. It raised you up and set you in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
He is in you and you are in Him. His inheritance and your inheritance are one in the same. You are a joint-heir with Him.
The Apostle Paul prayed that the eyes of our understanding be enlightened to know the glory of our inheritance in the saints and the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward us who believe.
The exceeding greatness of His power. What does His power mean to the believer? Let’s read on in Ephesians 1:20-23:
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
The body of Christ is “the fullness of Him.” He is not full and complete without you and you are not full and complete without Him.
Colossians 1:21-23 says, “And you…hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard.” Don’t be moved away from the gospel. Don’t be moved away from the things the Word is telling you. Don’t think: That couldn’t be for me. Don’t allow the devil or anyone else to move you away from the inheritance that rightfully belongs to you in Christ Jesus. When the Word says that you are holy, unblameable, and unreproveable in the sight of God, then receive it.
We see from God’s Word that in Him you are holy and without blame before God. Philippians 2:15 says, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” We shine as lights. Where? In the world.
You are in the Body of Christ here on earth. If you are in His Body, then you are in Him. You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus. In the eyes of God you are holy and blameless, beyond reproach and without rebuke. You, as a believer, are to hold forth the Word of life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
If you have a working revelation of your redemption in Christ Jesus, there is not one prayer that needs to go unanswered or any need that has to go unmet. When you see that your inheritance contains a complete redemption from the curse of the law, you will want to close the door to Satan and to the things of this world. You are redeemed from the curse, so don’t allow it to operate in your affairs.
Isaiah 54:17 says, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” Your righteousness is of the Lord. You need to see yourself in Him. See yourself the way the Word says you are, not how you are going to be.
John said, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God…” (I John 3:2). When? NOW! Paul wrote in Galatians 4:7,“Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
God’s Word has the capacity and the power to give you an inheritance. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
God has already unleashed in your life all the blessings that heaven has to offer. They are already yours! But God won’t force them on you. You have to accept your inheritance in Christ Jesus and allow it to be a part of your life before you will be able to walk in it.
Living in Righteousness
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, (or to know) that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation…
For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. II Corinthians 5:17-21
Being in Christ Jesus makes you a new creature, or a new creation. The literal Greek text says a new species of being which never existed before. When you become a new creature, your spirit is completely re-created. Old things are passed away, all things become new, and all things are of God. You need to realize that you are not a spiritual schizophrenic – half-God and half-Satan – you are all-God. The problem area is not in your spirit; it lies in your mind and body. It is every believer’s responsibility to take God’s Word and renew his mind; then he can use that Word to control his body. Look at Ephesians 4:20-24:
But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, he was explaining to them that they had been delivered from their sinful flesh and had been re-created in righteousness. However, it was their responsibility as an act of their will to put on the new man in Christ and stop the works of the flesh. The same principle applies to you and me as believers today. We have been re-created by God in the spirit, but we must take the Word of God and use it to renew our minds and control our flesh.
Just knowing that you have been made the righteousness of God in Christ is not enough. You need to have a full understanding of what righteousness is and what it means to you as an individual believer. Many sincere Christians are living far below their privileges in Christ simply because they do not understand their place as children of God. Righteousness is one of the most vital areas in the Christian walk. Without a knowledge of righteousness, you will never obtain all that is yours in God.
The word translated righteousness literally means to be in right-standing. When a person receives Jesus as Lord of his life, he is made righteous. By being brought into rightstanding with God, every believer is given certain privileges or rights as God’s child.
Some people confuse righteousness with holiness, but righteousness has nothing to do with the way you act. Holiness is your conduct; righteousness is what you are – the nature of God. You didn’t come into right-standing with God by being good or acting right. It was faith in Jesus Christ and His redemptive work at Calvary that brought you into right-standing with God.
Your position in the Body of Christ can be compared to your position as a citizen of India. As an Indian citizen, you have certain rights that are outlined in the Constitution. American citzens have rights there.British citizens have rights in the UK.
In old English terminology,we would have called it, “The Bill of Righteousness.” As long as you obey the laws of the land, you are a citizen in right-standing with the concerned government.
These same principles apply to you as a child of God. Being a believer (being in Christ Jesus) makes you a citizen in the kingdom of God and entitles you to everything in that kingdom. The Bible is your spiritual “bill of righteousness,” outlining all the rights and privileges available to you; whether or not you partake of your rights is another matter. Ignorance will rob you of the abundant life that is freely available to you.
The best illustration of this is the story of the man who saved for years to be able to buy a boat ticket to America. Once he had saved enough, he bought his ticket and boarded the ship. Since he didn’t have any money left for food, he brought along some crackers and cheese. Every evening at mealtime, he would look into the dining room at the other passengers enjoying their food; then he would return to his cabin and eat his crackers and cheese. The day the ship docked in New York harbor, a steward came to him and said, “Sir, have we offended you in any way? I noticed that you didn’t eat any of your meals in our dining room.” The man answered, “Oh, no! You see, I didn’t have enough money for meals so I ate in my room.” Then the steward said, “But sir, your meals were included in the ticket!”
As Christians, we have an abundance of privileges available to us. They were bought and paid for by Jesus at Calvary. But if we don’t know it, how can we take advantage of them?
In Ephesians 6:10-18, the Apostle Paul is describing the armor of God. One of the most important pieces of this armor is the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate covers the vital parts of a soldier’s body. Your right-standing with God acts as that breastplate. It covers the vital part of a Christian’s identity – his right to the authority provided for him in Jesus Christ. You need to put on your breastplate of righteousness and wear it victoriously. It will bring the force of righteousness into operation on your behalf.
One of your rights in the kingdom is answered prayer. According to I Peter 3:12, “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers.” James 5:16 says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” When you pray in faith, you have a right to expect your heavenly Father to answer.
Developing what I call a “righteousness consciousness” will cause you to live an overcoming, victorious life. Jesus was in right-standing with the Father during His earthwalk and the results He obtained were outstanding. As a child of God and joint-heir with Jesus, you should expect to receive the same results. Jesus Himself said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father”(John 14:12).
Spend time in God’s Word and find out for yourself the rights you have. When you do, righteousness will become an active, powerful force in your life.
Standing in a Point of Authority
One of the hardest things for people to understand and receive is living from a point of authority.
When you made Jesus the Lord of your life, Colossians 1:13 says you were delivered from the power of darkness. The word power is literally translated authority. You have been delivered from the power, or authority, of darkness and placed into God’s kingdom. The kingdom of God includes both heaven and earth. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore…” (Matthew 28:18, 19). That power was given to you as part of your inheritance in Christ Jesus. You have entered into this position of authority because you are in Him.
The Word says that righteousness has come upon all men (Romans 5:18). You may ask, “Then why don’t all men become righteous?” Because in order to receive it, you have to act on righteousness from the point of authority.
On November 2, 1962, I used my authority as a human being and made a choice. I made the decision to receive Jesus as Lord of my life. At that moment, the righteousness that had been upon me came inside me. I was made the righteousness of God in Christ. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Because you have made Jesus your Lord, the new birth is now a reality in your spirit. You have been made the righteousness of God in Him. God wants to treat you like that. He wants to treat you as if you had never sinned. He sent Jesus to the cross to bear your sin, to completely wash away the sin that had been in you. Because you are in Jesus, God sees you the same way He sees Jesus. He wants to treat you like He treats Jesus – so let Him!
God’s power is in His Word. He is upholding all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). You need to learn to minister and walk from a point of authority. In His earth-walk, Jesus said such things as “Be thou made whole. Take up your bed and walk.” Then to a lame man Peter said in Acts 3:6, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” He, too, ministered and spoke from a point of authority.
It’s time for you as a believer to begin to act that way. You have obtained an inheritance, and in that inheritance you have been given all authority. The God of the universe lives inside you! He lives and walks in you. Become God-inside-minded and you will begin to walk in this point of authority.
Keep right on building yourself up in your inheritance. You live in a world that is full of evil influences. Satan wants to see to it that you forget the reality of being born again. When you see in the Word that you are in Christ Jesus, that you are in Him, then confess it with all of your heart. Then you will be strong, standing in a point of authority and operating in your inheritance in Him.
Let This Mind Be in You
Philippians 2:5,6 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” You are to think the way Jesus thought. He didn’t think it robbery to be equal with God.
Then verse 8 says, “…he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” You have to humble yourself. No one else can humble you. You are to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and at the same time, keep in mind that you are a joint-heir with Jesus (I Peter 5:6; Romans 8:17).
Kings and Priests
According to Romans 8:29, Jesus is “the firstborn among many brethren.” Glory to God! Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God. Revelation 1:5,6 describes Jesus as “the prince of the kings of this earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” You have been made a king and a priest unto God because of Jesus and the inheritance that He provided for you.
From the Book of Acts to the Revelation of John, Jesus is known as the first begotten from the dead. If there is a firstborn, then there has to be a secondborn, a thirdborn, a fourthborn, etc. Every believer is counted as a child of God. We are members of God’s family and heirs to all He has.
Jesus has made you a king and a priest. He has made you the righteousness of God in Him. In Him, you are the accepted. In Him, you are the beloved. You are His chosen and His elect – a royal priesthood that has been bought with His blood and made His own child.
I John 4:17 says, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” As He is, so are you in this world! Because you have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary and received Him as your Lord, you have the power and the authority to walk in the inheritance that He made available to you. But if you don’t know what is yours and what belongs to you, you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of it. Find out what is included in your inheritance in Christ Jesus and then resist any influence that would try to convince you otherwise.
Luke 12:31, 32 says, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It is God’s will to give you the kingdom, the whole kingdom! When the reality gets down in your heart that you are an heir of Almighty God, that He has given you the whole kingdom and has instructed you to seek first that kingdom, then all the benefits of your inheritance will be added unto you and you will grow and develop in God’s Word.
However, you will never receive any portion of your inheritance until you begin to acknowledge it. With your thoughts, your words, and your actions, you acknowledge the fact that you are in Christ Jesus, that you have received an inheritance, that you have the right to walk in all the blessings and promises of God’s Word. Acknowledge the things of God and allow the assurance of them to enter into your heart. Then see them become a part of your life in every area.
How have you been approaching God…on the level of a king or on the level of a beggar? Are you backing your way into the presence of God, hoping to get a handout?
When you made Jesus your Lord, He made you able to stand in the presence of the Father God as a king and a priest, not as a beggar – as the righteousness of God in Christ, not as a sinner. You have been redeemed out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. You have been redeemed into kingship and priesthood. You are a king and a priest in Christ Jesus!
BEWARE AND BE AWARE
Posted on August 23, 2011
The American community woke up in shock on that day in November, 1978, getting news of the mass suicide committed by nine hundred people in Jonestown, Guyana, South America. What had happened? The finding of tapes later on proved that this was done at the behest of cult leader Jim Jones, founder of the “Peoples Temple”.
1993 again had news agencies talking about the Waco massacre where David Koresh, another cult leader led 76 souls to destruction in Waco, Texas.
But this is not a modern day affair alone. Socrates , in his account “History of the Church” tells us of a man named Moses of Crete. He had led his followers to believe that he was Moses reincarnated and that he would lead them all through the Mediterranean to Israel from the island that they were on. At his command many jumped off the cliffs into the sea expecting the seas to open up as in the days of Moses of old. Many were dashed against the rocks, many drowned, and the ones who were saved by some fishermen, after searches for their leader found that he had vanished without a trace.
In 1127 another man is reported to have made prophetic statements about Christ returning in 1127 on Passover day. His followers were warned not to love the world and anything in it and instructed to wean themselves away from it if they wanted to be “gathered up” at Christ’s coming. The followers sold all their possessions, gave it all away and waited for the Passover of 1127.Passover came and went. But Jesus didn’t. The incident left these people penniless and their leader Moses Al Darii absconded.
Today too, cults exist all around us. Our state of Kerala has a half naked man with a waist length beard who calls himself the Holy Spirit. Another Keralite lady calls herself ‘Dhaivam’(God), professes to be Jesus and receives worship from devotees. India, if taken for study, arguably would have one of the greatest number of cults in the world today.
The damage they are doing to innocent people’s lives on earth and the fact that they lead their followers down the road to eternal damnation are one reason we need to be aware of and beware of such cults. But there is a greater reason why we, as Christians should be in the know of things.
It is a common myth that ‘unbelievers’ are the ones who join cults. But modern day studies show that a good percentage of people who join these aberrant groups formerly attended Christian churches. Dr. Paul Martin of the ‘Wellspring Retreat’ where former cultists adjust from their harmful experiences writes that 25% of these formerly attended evangelical, fundamental churches. Over 40% had backgrounds in large, more liberal protestant denominations.
The International Churches of Christ, a cult led by mind control artist Kip Mc Kean has the largest number of church converts because it is their main goal to go into churches and remove people.
And, people from all walks of life are being lured into these kinds of groups. We need to realize that it is not just the uneducated or the unbelieving who are at risk – anybody can walk into one of them.
Christians also need to be aware of the fact that many cults are formed by people who come under the influence of deceiving spirits.
Joseph Smith, founder of the ‘Latter Day Saints movement’, now called the Mormons started off studying the bible. Charles Taze Russel, founder of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” initiated his work as the ‘Bible Student Movement’. Mary Baker Eddy who founded the ‘Christian Science Religion’, Sun Myung Moon who founded the ‘Unification Church’,etc were all in part inspired by certain Biblical themes.
…And, this could happen to any one of us. The bible warns “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls”
So that we can be wary and overcome the wiles of the enemy in this area we need to be well informed about this. Because, as Jesus said “…it is the truth that we know that will set us free”(John 8:31-32)
As we look to study and become aware of groups that are in the above mentioned category I believe that it will be to our profit to find answers to a few questions.
The first question to ask and answer in this case would be
WHAT IS A CULT? WHAT DOES CULT ACTIVITY LOOK LIKE?
As the best place to find the definition of a word let us look to a dictionary first. The ‘Grolier International Dictionary defines the word cult as
- A system or community of religious worship and ritual, especially focusing on a single deity or spirit
- Obsessive devotion, affection or veneration for a person, principle or ideal. The object of that devotion
- An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric (intended for or understood only by only a small group – mysterious.)interest
The bible does not use the word ‘cult’ – but the idea is there at least in seed form. It is represented by the Greek word “ hairesis”(Strong’s Concordance 139) and is rendered in English as “sect”. The root meaning of the word is “to choose”. W.E.Vine explains it as a form of self willed opinion that rejects the authority of truth, leads to division and causes the formation of a sect.
Look at the following biblical references where the word is used.
- Acts 5:17 sect of the Sadducees
- Acts 15:5 sect of the Pharisees
- Acts 24:5 sect of the Nazarenes
- Acts 26:5 sect of our religion
- Acts 28:22 Romans call Christianity a sect
These biblical references help us in defining the sect as
- A group of people
- Sharing a unique belief system
- Separated from others because of this
- Having life styles, rites and ceremonies unique to them
But the meaning of “cult” as a Christian believer needs to understand is slightly different
- It is a group that has an aberrant belief system contrary to the word of God
- They practice rites and rituals that are contrary to the standards of the Holy Bible
- They have the potential to deceive us into playing ourselves into the hands of the devil and lead our souls to eternal damnation
LET ME NOW BRING YOUR ATTENTION TO THE COMMON CONCEPT OF A CULT
The average person pictures a cult as having bizarre religious ceremonies, having their members to wear cloaks, makes their members to shave their heads bald, etc. These pictures may be inspired by the Malayala Manorama reports on Satanic cults in Kerala.
Now, this description may be correct for a few of them, but some of the cults have a completely different appearance. Their “touch point’s” with the external world are radically different.
Some today, have special programs for children and families and may openly appear to be very Christian.
Some are prominent in the marketplace. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification church cult was publisher of the Washington Times. Some cults in the city have shops selling great cakes, bedsheets, etc. There are some that conduct fairs during the festive seasons of Onam & Christmas.
There are some that have large beautiful places of worship, programs for aiding the sick, the needy and the aged, etc. Many run clinics and hospitals.
They may appear to be the most loving of places and may seem to have all the answers for all your problems
They are subtle in their approach and take time to indoctrinate a person – making them the most dangerous of the lot.
WHAT ARE THEIR OPERATIONAL STYLES? WHAT DO THEY SAY AND DO? HOW DO THEY LURE PEOPLE IN?
Let us look at common practices in most cults:-
- Flattery: in different forms is used as a tool in bringing people into the fold. Cultists will normally keep telling you how talented you are, what great heights you can soar to, etc. They might talk about God having a great plan for you. The problem is that all this hype about being called and going places will include the cult as ‘the way’ to get there. But the flattery often takes peoples eyes off the main issue in this connection. It makes correctly viewing the invitation of the cult a hazy affair. In times when evaluating the invitation to join a new/unknown group comes your way it will be profitable to remember Proverbs 26:28 that says “..a flattering mouth works ruin”. (Please also refer Romans 16:17,18 and Jude 26)
- Love Bombing: Cultists whom you don’t know (and when you come to think of it don’t know you either) act as though you’ve been friends from before the foundations of the world were laid. Acts of instant friendship are often displayed. Why?…to make their invitation all the more harder to refuse.
- Secrecy: Questions on the history of the group, their faith statement, what their operations are, etc attract vague answers or silence (at least before you are part of them)
- Indoctrination before admission: The bible tells us that we can believe what the bible says, confess our faith and be saved in a moments time(Romans 10:10).The simplicity of the gospel and its procedure is something that makes it so potent. But, cults refuse to let you be a Christian the biblical way. They insist that you take a bible study or such…the true purpose being indoctrination and attachment to the groups teaching, goals and doctrines. The ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ take you through a 2 year program
- Exclusive Spirituality: Cults often point to themselves as an elite spiritual group. They will tell you that joining up with them is the only way to get to God and/or heaven. The tell you that they invite you because God told them about enrolling you too…All this works well because it appeals to pride. But it will be wise for us to remember that Jesus didn’t introduce Himself as one of the ways to heaven, He said “I am The Way” and groups and leaders who tell you they are the only way are trying to take His place – which is impossible!
- Divisive: One of the biggest problems with cult groups is that they, almost always divide the family unit. Scriptures saying “if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes and his own life also , he cannot be my disciple”(Luke 14:26) are taught in an unbalanced way. This kind of teaching brings division into the family unit. But the bible advocates the importance of the family, relationships, etc. The balance in such teaching has to be done on the basis of the ”whole counsel of God” and if we based it on this the correct teaching can be found in understanding Luke 14:26 along with Mathew 10:37 that says ”he who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”. The issue in discipleship would not be whether you hated parents and siblings but whether you loved your Lord more than you loved them.
- Devaluation of the Bible: Cults often teach that the bible is either incorrect or incomplete. They also claim to have other up to date inspired scripture.(Usually these are revelations that the groups founder claims to have received from angels, or through visions, etc .They usually project these writings as something to be either used instead of or alongside the Bible.
- Closed Door rituals: Most cults have rites and rituals that are done in secret. Only a select few are allowed to participate. If asked why all aren’t allowed they will tell you something like the ritual being ‘sacred’ or so..
- Deification/Exaltation of leader or founder: In most cults the leader becomes/is the supreme authority. His commands are never disobeyed. Questions are not entertained. Absolute loyalty is demanded. This is all done with the suggestion that the leader is the only God or at par with the one true God. In many cults the leader becomes a mediator between you and God. This is totally contrary to the teaching of scripture that says that there is only one mediator between man and God-Jesus! Slowly, steadily, he will even take away your ability to decide for yourself by keeping on deciding for you.
- Doctrinal aberrations: Almost all cults deny the Apostles creed of the Virgin birth, deity of Christ, His resurrection, His atonement on the cross and His second coming. They almost always devalue the deity of Christ. Their doctrine of salvation will always include a system of works. They will end up denying God’s grace or adding performance. It will not be easy to spot but closer examination of teaching and comparing with the truth of God’s word will reveal this. The Trinity, the doctrine of eternal punishment etc are also in many cases denied. Some cults while denying major doctrines like the above make a big issue of relatively minor things. An example would be those that teach that you must speak in tongues to be saved. Even good spiritual disciplines like fasting, holiness, separation, etc are some times taken to an extreme thereby making the teaching and ensuing lifestyles aberrant.
- Rejection of Accountability: Cults and their leaders often put themselves above being accountable for doctrine, administration etc thereby making it impossible to receive correction
- Withdrawal: Cults often times talk about their need to keep their faith pure, the need for separation so as to remain holy, to shun the ‘world’ to love God, etc and get their people to move into some form of seclusion or the other. Teaching/preaching of other preachers outside the group, literature other than what the group publishes, etc are not entertained/ are banned. They appeal to peoples needs for safety and security and just get them to close themselves to the outside world. But, we need to realize that this is contrary to what scripture intends for us to do when it echoes God saying ”Go”, be salt and light in this world, ie influence the system, don’t go into seclusion.
HOW CAN WE DEFEND OURSELVES/AVOID BEING PART OF A CULT?
- The first thing to do is to pray the prayer that Jesus taught “…lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one”(Luke 11:4).This prayer, I believe will open our eyes to see what we should see and our ears to hear what we should hear.
- Always remember that you are competent to judge things for yourself.Ask questions.Evaluate preachers and messages to see if they stand up to the standards of the word of God.Look at the fruits(Gal 5:22) borne by the preachers.Check to see whether they are placing themselves or any other human in Gods place.Look at the results of the preaching(whether people are being blessed,being set free,etc).
- Familiarize yourself with the truth of God’s word.A long time back I was watching an interview with a staff member of the national mint.He was an expert on counterfeit notes.He could spot the wrong one instantly.The interviewer asked this man as to how he studied the counterfeit notes to identify them so well.The expert replied”I don’t study the counterfeit at all.I just make myself so familiar with the true one that any deviation from the true shows up to me immediately.”This is the very same thing we also need to do.Be so sure of the word that any deviation shows up immediately.
- Always check if you are growing spiritually(Watch for my article on this topic)and to see if you are truly enjoying the liberty in the Lord that the ‘Son’ has blessed us with.
- Your comments, questions & suggestions are welcome.God Bless!