The minds of most people have not been trained to think critically about the groups that they follow, so that they are able to discern whether their group is grounded in truth, or is ruled over by error. Also most people will not think to examine the legitimacy of their group. Instead, people are prone to blindly following what seems right, and what appeals to their senses. However, mankind has been sinners since the fall of Adam, and therefore their senses are corrupt. That is why Scripture says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked”, and “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be”(Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 8:7). Therefore, what appeals to the senses of sinful man, and what seems right to them, cannot be trusted. Instead, whatever messenger, or message, that claims to be “the truth” must be tested by the word of God, so that people can know if what they are hearing, and learning, is true or error & deception.
Scripture is the only measuring rod for discerning truth from error. That is why Jesus, who is the Word of God, and “the Word made flesh”, said “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”, and “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, and “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth”(John 8:12, John 14:6, John 17:17). The Apostle John also spoke of God, and the word, in this way: “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1John 1:5). The word of God also says “The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times”, and “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.” (Psalm 12:6, Proverbs 30:5-6). Therefore, Scripture affirms itself as true, without errors, and it is not open to additions, but it exposes those who add to the word of God as liars.
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
People who follow cults, and cult leaders, are not following the true God, but a counterfeit God. The cult leaders may claim to be Christians, and the cults may claim to be Christ’ church, but they deviate from the gospel of Jesus Christ, and require their followers to trust their interpretation of the gospel.
Some cults are more deceptive then others. Some are so extremely heretical that they are easy to fall away from. Nevertheless, people’s departure from particular cults is just the beginning of breaking away from error, because there are many cults that claim to be Christian churches. So people must be willing to examine the doctrine of every church that they attend. It is not sufficient to merely identify the heresies within other churches. Any hypocrite can do that (Matthew 7:3-5). Jesus revealed the importance of abstaining from error when he said “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Therefore, leaving a cult, and deciding to attend a church that seems better simply isn’t good enough. Those “who names the name of Christ must depart from iniquity”, because there are many false teachers, who are teaching people to follow heresies that contradicts the gospel, which is a work of the flesh, which will prevent many from inheriting the kingdom of God (2Timothy 2:19, Galatians 5:19-21). That is why Jesus said “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). In order to escape the trap of damnable heresies, believers must test their own church to make sure that it is a church that teaches, and obeys, the true gospel. There is no perfect church, but a true church teaches the true gospel, and obeys it (Matthew 5:13-16, John 8:12, Ephesians 4:1-16, Galatians 1:6-8, Galatians 5:4-9).
Whenever believers join churches that teaches the true gospel, and obeys it, the believes must also test themselves to make sure that they are following Christ, and not merely his people, nor pastors, nor their favorite teachers, because Jesus commanded every believer to follow him. He also gave this warning: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2). He also said “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:5-6). This means that those who are claiming to be believers, yet are not following Christ’s teachings, will be taken out of the congregation of the righteous, and burned by the wrath of God (Psalm 1:-6, Psalm 119:1-11, Hebrews 6:1-8).
1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this we will do if God permits.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;
8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
This is the reason why many Christians will not inherit the kingdom of God. They do not endure to the end. They may be in the congregation of the righteous, and mimic the behavior of believers, and even expose the heresies of false churches, yet they, themselves, are not following Christ. They are merely indoctrinated into church culture. Though it may be a true church, God’s word has not taken root in their own hearts. They are merely following their group, or their pastor, and when their group falls into damnable heresies, they might also follow without protest. These kind of people are members of true Christian churches, yet they follow their church just as any other cult member.
There are also many professing Christians who follow their favorite teachers, whether they be local pastors, or televangelists. These are personality cults. Many of these cults are international. The danger with these type of cults isn’t merely the doctrine. The doctrine could be true, yet the cult aspect will still lead many to Hell, because the people are not following Christ, but a mere human celebrity. This cult is extremely dangerous, because it seems safe to the human senses, but it is idolatry. Idolatry is a work of the flesh, and those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). The way to eternal life is narrow, and difficult. (Matthew 7:14). Therefore, every believer must test themselves to see if they are really in the faith, and not following, and worshiping, idols, because it does not matter if a preacher that they are idolizing is preaching the true gospel. If Christians are following an orthodox preacher, rather than Christ, then that believer will go to Hell for their idolatry.
Believers, therefore, do not need to be pointed to great preachers, but Christ, himself. He is the true God, and abiding in him will lead to eternal life. Preachers do not need to be exalted, but Jesus said “if I am lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).
10 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.
11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.
12 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.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
26 “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.
27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise that He has promised us — eternal life.
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.
27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
2 Timothy 2
19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.