I had a conversation with a friend the other day that was hoping to revitalize a community through revitalizing an old church positioned in the middle of it. He expressed some disappointment as he discovered the church leadership wasn’t willing to make some needed changes due to doctrinal beliefs. It seems the pulpit of the church was only open to Church of God in Christ members. It is evident that the loyalty and devotion of that church’s leadership are to a denomination or Charles H. Mason as the founder of COGIC. According to Merriam Webster, this fits the definition of a cult.
Cult: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.
All who declare themselves as Christians should be the servants of Christ alone. The bible is clear that you cannot serve to masters. When I look at the number of individuals and organizations which have people serving them with great devotion, I realize that many people have been indoctrinated into cults, for example: Jehovah Witnesses (Charles T. Russel), Mormons (Joseph Smith), Church of God in Christ (Charles H. Mason). All those organizations were born from the doctrinal viewpoints of mere men. Those that follow these individuals and organizations give more credence to their particular concocted doctrines than the ancient and holy word of GOD.
All of the aforementioned organizations were founded in North America in the 1800s. I attribute the establishment and prevalence of cults like these to a lack of knowledge. The literacy rate in North America during the 1800s is said to have been between 75% to 91%. I believe those percentages reflect more American pride than actual fact. I tend to believe the literacy rate was even lower based on what was required at the time to make a living. Most families lived off of income made from farming, mining, or factory work, and the work force included what we have come to know as school age children. There was only a hand full of states that had compulsory schools during that period. Due to the level of illiteracy, there wasn’t a lot of fact checking in those days.
There is still not much fact checking in the 21st century. I find that most religious people are guided by “feels right” theology. The feelings that people have are rooted in their affections, affections which have been shaped by experiences in this world. As the bible teaches, this world has fallen to the influence of many deceivers who have been ensnared by the seductive lies of Lucifer through a love for money.
“1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” (1 Timothy 4:1-2 KJV)
When you hear “doctrine of devils” the mind tends to think of things like witchcraft, superstition, and demonic rituals, but one does not have to descend far to enter this realm of darkness. Many religious organizations that have strayed from the word of GOD have entered such darkness. Look at the counsel of the Spirit to King Saul.
22 So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 NKJV)
We often don’t like to think of things in such narrow terms as what the prophet Samuel has described here, but this is truth from the eternal Spirit of GOD. When men deviate from the word of GOD, they are seeking to establish a reality outside of the power of GOD. That is the same objective of witchcraft. When men place the influence of people or even their own thoughts above the expressed will of GOD, this is in essence idolatry.
We must guard against deifying our feelings because this is idolatry, also because it makes us vulnerable to darkness since our feelings are rooted in a soul that needs salvation from corruption. Taking up the cross of Christ requires that we subject all things to the light of His Spirit. We have to try all things to see if they conform to the will of GOD. GOD’s will is made manifest to us through His Word and by His Spirit. The Word and the Spirit always agree. If it “feels right” but it doesn’t agree with the Word of GOD, then we must reject it as false. Many people have established beliefs on what they feel, and they are in darkness because of it.
3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.” (Romans 3:3-4 NKJV)
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 KJV)
We have been encouraged to question and verify all which men attempt to disseminate as being inspired by GOD. We all need to take full responsibility for what we accept as truth because we all have access to GOD through Christ the High Priest. Devotion to a man or an organization does not satisfy the call of GOD to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Many who are devoted to a sect of religion instead of the true and living GOD will be shocked at judgement as Christ explains.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)
True religion is obedience to the Father from a communion where His Spirit abides in you, and you abide in His Spirit. This is not an unobtainable state, it is the promise of GOD. If you truly hunger to know GOD and to find the life that is in Him, He will reveal himself to you. Just be willing to follow Him wherever he leads, even into the uncomfortable and unfamiliar, and into the unpopular and infamous. He who seeks to save his life will lose it, and he who loses his life in seeking GOD will find life abundantly. We can put together a life for ourselves based on our own strength and reasoning and by men’s standards it can be fairly good, on the other hand there is the life that is in GOD which exceeds anything we could have imagined for ourselves. It is a life with a peace, and a joy, and a satisfaction that only the one who created you knows how to supply. Our GOD knows us better than we know ourselves.
All of that declared, let nothing or no one get between you and the true and living GOD. Vigilantly guard that relationship by spending the necessary time to get to know GOD personally. Make spending solitary time with GOD a priority every day. Frequent sharing leads to intimacy and intimacy leads to knowing. Christ says He knows His sheep by name and no other voice will they follow.