What Does the Bible Say About Cults?

Cults have become increasingly common and visible in our society today. As Christians, it is important for us to educate ourselves on what God’s Word says about false teachings and dangerous groups that masquerade as churches. In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine relevant Bible passages to gain insight into how we can identify and respond to cults from a biblical perspective.


Cults are groups that claim to be Christian but teach doctrine and theology that departs from biblical truth. They often focus their teaching on extra-biblical sources of revelation, such as the cult leader who has special access to God. Cult leaders exercise abusive and authoritarian control over their followers. They use manipulative techniques like fear, guilt, and shame to prevent people from leaving the cult. Even though cults may initially appear wholesome, theirfalse teachings can shipwreck people’s faith and lead them away from the grace of God.

As Christians, we must be vigilant and discerning when it comes to cults. God’s Word gives us insight for detecting and avoiding false teachers who secretly introduce destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). The Bible teaches us to test all spirits against the standard of Scripture to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). We are called to turn away from those who distort the gospel and rely on the sufficiency of God’s Word as our guide and authority on truth.

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In this post, we will explore several key biblical principles about cults and how Christians should respond:

Key Takeaways:

  • Cults add to the Word of God with their own ideas and distort essential doctrines like the deity of Christ.
  • Cults rely on human works for salvation rather than God’s grace.
  • Cults manipulate and control people through fear, guilt, and intimidation.
  • God’s Word warns us to test all teachings against Scripture and avoid false prophets.
  • We must rely on the Bible alone as the sufficient, inerrant source of truth.
  • Christians should avoid and expose cults’ unbiblical teachings with humility and grace.
  • Only God’s truth can set people free from the spiritual bondage of cults.

Now let’s explore these principles in greater detail…

9zshnt5opqe What Does the Bible Say About Cults?

Cults Distort Essential Christian Doctrine

One key sign of a cult is that they add to the Word of God and distort the core doctrines of the Christian faith. Cults redefine and deny fundamental biblical truths like the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the atonement, and salvation by grace. The Bible warns against false prophets who come disguised as sheep but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15), those who secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1), and those who teach a Jesus other than the Jesus of the Bible (2 Corinthians 11:4).

For example, the Mormon church claims to be Christian but teaches heretical doctrines like polytheism, God being an exalted man, and the possibility of man becoming a god. The Jehovah’s Witnesses deny Jesus’ deity and teach salvation by works. The International Church of Christ requires works-centered discipleship for salvation. These teachings go beyond biblical truth and cannot lead people into a saving relationship with the one true God and Jesus Christ of Scripture.

As Christians, we are exhorted to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). We must rely on the Bible alone as the complete, inspired, and authoritative Word of God, not additions, distortions, or contradictions from cults. Scripture warns us, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8, ESV)

Cults Rely on Salvation by Works Rather Than God’s Grace

Cults universally teach a works-based system of earning salvation rather than relying on Christ’s finished work on the cross. The Bible clearly teaches we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is the gracious gift of God, not something we can earn by our own righteous deeds and law-keeping.

Cults burden their members with performance checklists, recruitment quotas, rules, and regimens designed to keep them striving for a salvation they can never attain on their own. The Bible condemns any attempt to add human efforts as requirements for salvation or sanctification. Scripture declares that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6). Paul warns in Galatians that those who rely on works of the law are under a curse, while those who have faith are blessed as sons of Abraham and receive the promised Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:1-14).

As Christians, we rest secure in the sufficient sacrifice of Christ that purchased our full redemption. We renounce any cult that teaches salvation must be earned through tireless labor and performance. We rely fully on God’s grace and Christ’s finished work, not our own futile efforts. God’s grace and mercy give us assurance of salvation through faith in the gospel.

Cults Use Manipulation and Control Tactics

Cults frequently use manipulative tactics like fear, guilt, shame, isolation, indoctrination, and information control to dominate members’ lives. They impose rigid legalism and obedience to the group’s teachings as the price for acceptance. Members who question the leader or group’s practices are made to feel unspiritual, prideful, and rebellious. Shunning and excommunication are commonpunishments for nonconformity.

The Bible warns against those who dominate and exploit people spiritually. Scripture encourages us not to let anyone judge us by what we eat or drink or with regard to religious festivals (Colossians 2:16). Cult leaders exert a heavy yoke of extrabiblical burdens on followers, in contradiction to Jesus’ invitation to find rest for our souls in Him (Matthew 11:28-30). The apostle James rebukes those who slander and judge one another, since only God has the right to make such judgments. (James 4:11-12)

As Christians, we follow Christ our true Master and Shepherd, not self-appointed gurus. We hold firmly to our freedom in Christ rather than submitting to spiritual abuse or legalism from religious overlords. God’s grace enables us to reject manipulative control tactics.

God’s Word Warns Us to Avoid False Prophets

In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus strongly cautions about false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but actually speak lies and bear bad fruit in people’s lives. We can recognize them by their fruits – deception, greed, abuse, division, etc.

The Bible repeatedly warns us to test all teachings against Scripture and avoid those who contradict God’s Word. Paul says even if an angel from heaven preaches a false gospel, we are not to believe it (Galatians 1:8). John tells us to test the spirits against biblical truth because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). We are exhorted not to believe every spirit but test them to see if they are from God.

As Christians, we heed God’s warnings about deceptive false prophets by measuring all doctrines against the Bible. We reject extrabiblical revelations or prophetic words that conflict with Scripture, no matter how alluring or supernatural they may seem. We let God’s Word always have the final say on truth.

We Must Rely on the Bible Alone as Our Authority

God’s inerrant and sufficient Word must be our supreme authority on truth and doctrine. All claims, experiences, and revelations must be tested against the measuring rod of Scripture. The Bible tells us that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) and breathed out by God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures also illuminates their true meaning for us (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Cults deny the sufficiency of the Bible by adding their own sacred texts and leaders’ divine revelations. Their extrabiblical sources of authority supersede God’s Word rather than submit to its critique. But the Bible declares that God’s Word is complete, lacking nothing for life and godliness (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). God warns us repeatedly not to add to His words (Proverbs 30:6; Deuteronomy 4:2).

As Christians, we confess the Bible alone as the supreme and final authority on all matters of faith and practice. We reject any cult that denies biblical sufficiency and undermines the uniqueness of Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

Christians Should Avoid and Expose Cults with Humility and Grace

The Bible calls Christians to humbly correct false teaching while avoiding quarrels or arrogance. Paul instructs Timothy, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). We expose darkness with the light of truth while lovingly appealing to those deceived by cults.

Christians should avoid spiritual entanglements with cults by becoming informed about their false teachings and manipulative practices. We can raise awareness within the Church about groups that disguise themselves as biblical while drawing people away from the true gospel. Most importantly, we bring the hope of the gospel with compassion to those enslaved in destructive counterfeits.

God’s Word commands us, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) While we remain open to gentle dialogue and discussion, we must avoid dangerous spiritual compromises with cults and their false teachings.

God’s Truth Alone Can Set People Free from Cults’ Spiritual Bondage

Cults bring people into spiritual captivity through deceptive false teaching. But Jesus promises, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). God’s Word exposes the bondage of cults’ false doctrines and offers genuine freedom in the gospel of Christ.

We should pray for friends or loved ones caught in cults that God would open their eyes with the liberating truth of the Bible. In humility and love, we can present the light of the gospel and assurance of salvation by grace to dispel cults’ oppressive darkness. With compassion, we leave judgment to God alone while bidding the captives to come to the freedom and rest found in Christ and God’s Word.


Cults remain a deceptive threat that can shipwreck people’s faith through false teachings that enslave them in works-based systems of earning salvation. As Christians, we must develop spiritual discernment and test all teachings against Scripture alone. Relying on God’s Word as our supreme authority enables us to avoid manipulation and expose the lies of false prophets. Yet we must always speak the truth in love, praying God will use the gospel message to set people free from cults’ spiritual bondage. By grounding ourselves in biblical truth, we can shine the liberating light of Christ to dispel the darkness of cults’ deceptions.

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