Summary: This is a sermon about identifying cults, what they have in common why people join a cult and also what can be done about it.

How To Know A Cult When You See One

Cults today are multiplying like rabbits and growing like weeds. In the USA alone there are an estimated 5,000 cults actively recruiting people of all ages, from all walks of life, at the rate of tens of thousands of new recruits every year.

Several research studies estimate that five to ten million Americans have been at least transiently involved with cultic groups. A study which randomly surveyed 1,000 San Francisco Bay Area high school students found that 3% of students reported that they were members of a cult group, while 54% reported at least one contact with a cult recruiter.

Another study, which analyzed survey data from Montreal and San Francisco, found that approximately 20% of the adult population had participated in "new religious and para-religious movements," although more than 70% of the involvements were transient. Other data in this study suggest that approximately two to five percent of the subjects had participated in "new religious and para-religious" groups that are commonly considered cults.

A survey of primary care physicians in Pennsylvania found that 2.2 percent reported they or a member of their family had been involved in a cult. A study published by the Pennsylvania Medical Society in 1995 also indicated that at least 1 percent of the population has had a cult involvement.

What is A Cult?

With such an overwhelming number of religious groups around these days, it is necessary to understand the difference between a legitimate religious organization and a cult. While many religions may not believe or teach the entire Bible, they are not cults. The major religions of the world like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism are not cults. They are classified as “world religions.” Some people say, "The only difference between a cult and a religion is a hundred years," but that only blurs the vast distinction between the two.

Cults are false religions that have some specific identification marks that separate them from other false religions. It should not come as a surprise that the Bible warns us that there are going to be many false teachers and false religions in the world.

2 Timothy 3:13, “In fact, evil men and false teachers will become worse and worse, deceiving many, they themselves having been deceived by Satan.” (TLB)

Why Should I Study The Cults?

• Because they are present IN OUR WORLD

2 Peter 2:1, “False prophets were among God’s people in the past, as false teachers will be among you. They will secretly bring in their own destructive teachings.” (GW)

• Because Jesus WARNED US about them

Matthew 24:11, “Many false prophets will come and cause many people to believe false things.” (ICB)

• Because they are a sign of the END TIMES

1 John 2:18, “Children, time is just about up. You heard that Antichrist is coming. Well, they’re all over the place, antichrists everywhere you look. That’s how we know that we’re close to the end.” (MSG)

• Because they force us to KNOW THE BIBLE

Acts 20:29,32, “I know full well that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 32 And now I entrust you to God and the word of his grace—his message that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.” (NLT)

Ephesians 4:14-15, “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15...we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” (NRSV)

The American Banking Association has a training program that best describes the reason for studying about the cults. Each year hundreds of bank tellers go to Washington in order to learn how to detect counterfeit money. It is interesting to note that during this training course not a single teller ever touches a counterfeit bill. The reason for this is because the American Banking Association is convinced that if a person is thoroughly familiar with the original then they will not be deceived by the counterfeit, no matter how much it might look like the original. One reason for studying about the cults is to be able to detect them from true Christianity.

In this study on cults, occult and religions we’re going to compare what they teach and at the same time learn the truth concerning many of the major doctrines found in the Bible.

How Can I Identify A Cult?

One way to identify a cult is by using the B.I.T.E. method. This stands for:

• BEHAVIOR Control


• THOUGHT Control


These four components are guidelines. Not all groups do every aspect or do them extremely. What matters most is the overall impact on a person’s free will and ability to make real choices. A person’s uniqueness, talents, skills, creativity, and free will should be encouraged, not suppressed.

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David Hodgin

commented on Aug 12, 2011

Outstanding message!

Craig Benner

commented on Jun 24, 2012

Excellent exposition

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