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I grew up attending a protestant covenant church and accepted the Lord as my Savior as a young girl. I had a strong biblical background.  I began to backslide as a teenager and so I wandered for over 30 years. One day I came back to the Lord by His drawing. I was so convicted of my sin that I wept in repentance. I became hungry for the Word of God. I joined BSF Bible Study when invited to attend. I hungered and thirsted for righteousness. Something I did not experience as a young believer.

I was immersed in the Word and loving every minute of it. But something started happening the year 2000. I began to receive open visions. I saw the Lord’s pierced hands. Gigantic numbers once appeared in the sky as I was driving. Once I felt my body shake hard and I saw the letters EArThQuaKe jumbled in my mind’s eye.

Then I began to get messages. Oh how I thought the Lord was using me. I told my mother who thought I was being extremely blessed. I began to take the advice from the voice that I was hearing. I told only a few people but one was impressed with how close I was to God and asked if I had a “Word” for him. Not being familiar with Pentecostal theology I had not heard of this. So I asked God for a “Word” for this person. Indeed, I was given specific information regarding this person and shared it with him. It was an extremely joyful experience. However it only deepened my delusion.

The messages I received were varied. Some sounded like scripture. Some were odd dreams. I dreamed about evil hanging over the city of Kansas City and the IHOP. (That one was true). Satan mixes truth and lies. I had strange manifestations at night. I would hear sounds like zippers, a soft puppy bark, or zinging noises. One time in the middle of the night I heard a mystical and hauntingly  beautiful chanting.

I once had two open visions of water flowing down the hallway in my home. A week later a water hose slipped from the connection and flooded the house. The demonic world can see circumstances around you and make you think you are prophetic. This list of experiences could go on and on.

Since I was a Christian and was “hearing” a voice, I thought surely I was hearing from God. I did not even question my experience. Satan is a tricky and deceptive being. He will use the best devices at his disposal to pull you away from God.

One message I received was an upcoming judgment of a city with a time frame of two weeks. It was specific. Kansas City. Tornado. Two weeks. Alarmed I started to look for others who were receiving similar information.

Oh my! What I found was a whole world of prophetic people. I came across something called the The Elijah List. I poured over their predictions and visions. I was hearing some of the same things others were. I read them all. I did notice that some of the older posts had predicted future events that did not happen. One was a tsunami for the West Coast reaching up into the Willamette valley. That date had passed. I wondered about that.

But something happened…or didn’t happen I should say. The prediction I was given didn’t come true. It was a failed prophecy. I also read that these predictions are not always right that the prophet can be off, but still be a prophet. This is a standard teaching in the hyper-charismatic world.  Someone said to me that perhaps my prayers had diverted the disaster. I wasn’t buying it. Something was wrong. I started praying for the truth…constantly.

Research took up most of time at this point. I was learning about all of the false doctrine entering the church. I was shocked. Contemplative prayer, LatterRain, yoga in the church, prosperity teachings, and the prophetic ministries. Mind boggling. While I was trying to find out why I was receiving these false messages, I was learning discernment. I also learned that I already had discernment because of the doubts in my mind. Some of the discernment sites I found were of immense help. Let Us Reason, Discernment in the Church, Herescope. These are still on my blogroll today. I read my first book on discernment, “The Seduction of Christianity” by Dave Hunt.

One day I opened my Bible to Deuteronomy 18. I read in verse 22 where it says, “if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken…” This sent me to the floor. I was devastated. What I had heard was NOT from God. I knew then that I had been listening to the enemy. It is hard to describe the deflation of pride that happens when the Lord reveals HIS truth. He opened my eyes and the scales started to fall off.

I asked the Lord to take away any gifts that I had that were not from Him. Truly I did not want anything that was not of God. The messages and the visions stopped.

Three to fours years before this started, menopause had hit me and my doctor prescribed Celexa, an anti-depressant because I had become rather weepy. I didn’t think much of it… because it seemed to help. Then I started having colon problems. Another doctor prescribed a pill that seemed to take the pain away. This worked too.

I didn’t know it at the time but the second pill was also an anti-depressant. I was on two powerful psychotropic drugs and I was seeing things and hearing voices. These drugs pierce a protective veil in the mind and are mind-altering. I had opened up my mind with drugs. Another factor is that these drugs affect the pituitary gland. This can also open up a person spiritually and this is dangerous. I didn’t know it at the time, and I surely did not want this to happen…But it did.

We hear about young people on anti-depressant drugs and the demonic voices tell them to sin or to harm themselves or others. That method wouldn’t be effective on me or many other Christians, so the voices instead pretend to be God or the Holy Spirit. Satan masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14

I want to add that while the drugs were the catalyst for my deception the same problems can happen by being open to false teachings, eastern-style meditation, and receiving impartations from occultism.

A friend alerted  and informed me of the influences I was under with the drugs. I had an answer. I went on a tapering program to get off the drugs and now I am totally free of them.

But here is the deal. I was joyful at the thought that I was being used by God. I felt “special”. What rises in a person is thinking that you have special spiritual information not available to others. This is a form of Gnosticism. Special knowledge. Now I can see that this caused spiritual pride. What a lesson. I had only discussed my situation with a handful of people but I had to confess to those I given a “word” to.

I was yet to receive another blow to my pride. One night I opened to 1 Samuel and read 15:23. “Rebellion is like the sin of divination.” I had been in rebellion to God by loving the false messages. It was sin. Later the Lord instructed me on the next step of my undeceiving.

Because I had been reading my Bible every day for six years, I was able to find the truth. Prayer was a staple I needed to get through this situation. But I can see how beguiling the prophetic movement is and how much it actually harmed me and others spiritually. What if I had decided to try to post my “revelations“, lies from Satan, on one of the prophetic sites? I would have mislead many people.

Unfortunately, my problems did not totally stop at this point. While the messages and visions stopped I still was suffering from some manifestations. Once while commenting on this blog  with a student of “A Course of Miracles” this young person said he was going to send me a benevolent spirit that night. A spirit did show up that night but it was anything but friendly. A cold bony hand gripped the back of my neck. I slipped to the floor and prayed it away in the name of Jesus.

It was an interesting experience. The deceived student thought the spirit he was communing with was good but as a born again believer it appeared to me in its true form as an evil spirit.  But again I began to wonder, why I was able to discern the spirit world? Is this also a form of divination? Deuteronomy 18 also lists mediums or spiritists under detestable practices. Would spirit contact in the manner I experienced be considered detestable? I decided yes. So I was still under the influence of some open door that I needed to close. But how? I didn’t know yet.

I had a written personal journal of “messages”, or “visions” that I had received over those three years. I was then led to Acts 19:19 which said that the people burned their magic books. This would be my next step. The very next morning I took my journal and burned it on the back porch on a pizza pan. That night I saw the angry red eyes of a demon. They turned away and left. Now I was also free from the manifestations that had lingered and I now knew who I had been communicating with. This demon could see I was still reading his messages to me.

This gave me much freedom from the confusion this situation had been causing. I need to warn the reader again…some of the personal visions I received, did actually happen, and I think this was to enforce the delusion. Satan can see our personal instances and the world we live in and can make us believe that we have received a personal revelation confirming circumstances surrounding us.  Some of the messages I received sounded very scriptural, but this is how Satan deceives, by mixing truth and lies together. Satan twisted scripture when he tempted Jesus, but Jesus resisted by using the Word….”It is Written” he replied. We need to resist temptation also, and we can use the Word of God and prayer as our strength and power to defend ourselves.

It was not that long ago I prayed…”Lord, why did I have to go through this? Why me?”

I knew immediately…I had been tested. Who was I going to turn to? The Lord and His Word in the Bible, or Satan and his false words outside scripture? I think of Peter who Satan wanted to sift.  Luke 22:31 Jesus would not allow Satan to destroy Peter but he did falter. Jesus prayed for Peter and Jesus knew he would return to Him.

“in the Christian life, we may falter, but we must never fail. If we have denied Jesus in some way, then we must return to Him immediately.  And, having returned, we must turn our focus towards helping others”  David Guzik

With all the false teachings that are abounding the one thing I fear most for the church at this time is the “anointing”. Those who desire this “impartation” must be prayed for. I have heard the stories of how these so-called prophetic powers can be passed onto someone by the laying on of hands. My situation was only one way that a person can open themselves to deception. But there are many ways. There is the impartation, false anointings, drugs, alcohol, eastern meditation, repetition of words, hypnosis, visualization (very occult) , and the seduction of today’s hypnotic music. The church is being bombarded with all these deceptions and spiritual influences. Sadly the church is embracing many of these occult methods because these methods create an “experience” of feelings, like the “soaking” we hear so much about today. Instead of serving God in humililty we are being taught to soak in ecstasy.

Whenever I hear of the church participating in something that sounds like a “spiritual awakening,” I cringe. New age techniques almost always accompany these gatherings.

The church is being tested right now!….Are you being refined or are you being mislead? Can you spot deception and avoid it or are your participating in it? Are you reading and studying the Bible for truth from God or are you following the wicked paths of man?

The deceptions today will pull you AWAY from Jesus Christ if you know Him. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord then you will have much difficulty finding the truth. Those who have compromised themselves by a false spirit cannot pray or have difficulty reading the Bible. Christians following this false spirit or desiring its power, have lost all desire for these two mainstays of the faith. If this is the case then you need to repent and turn back to the Jesus of the Bible.

Truth found in the Word of God has to be paramount today. Accept nothing else.

Please show patience and mercy to those caught up in these deceptions. Pray for them. Some truly want to serve the Lord and walk with Him. But the evil one knows who to go after. Those who want the truth will eventually listen to it. It may be a process for them.  Others are not sheep and need salvation first. Some who come out of deception seem to recover quite quickly. Others suffer for years learning or relearning Biblical truth.  The Lord works in His ways to draw His sheep back to Him. Not one will be lost.

This article has been updated from a post from 2008.

Kim

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*Special note to those in Bethel/IHOP/SOZO type organizations.

Having been misguided by thinking that I had found some special knowledge I fell into deception easily. How foolish we can be thinking that we cannot be deceived. The Bible teaches that there will many false teachers in the end times. There were many at the times when the Bible was being written. Think of how many false teachers we have now.

If you are in an experience based religious organization, please test the spirits to see if they are from God. There is no new teaching under the sun. We cannot feel the Holy Spirit.

If you desire to walk in power, then you will want to be filled with Holy Spirit to demonstrate what a Christian looks like. One who hates their sin. One who has died to self and gives glory to God. One who seeks to find truth in the Written Word. One who prays not merely for what we can get but how we can show others we need a Savior from our sin. The Gospel is that Jesus died because we cannot save ourselves and we need a mediator who shed His blood. There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. Jesus took the wrath of the Father which is leveled at us. This is called propitiation. He drank from the cup of wrath so we will not have to experience God’s wrath. He rose from the dead to demonstrate His power and glory and to who He is. He is the only way to eternal life. We must place our faith in Him knowing that we may not receive our rewards in this lifetime. The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 demonstrate this.

Once we understand this basic tenet of the Christian faith and WALK, then we will be begin to live for Him. We slowly become sanctified as we grow in the Lord. He must increase and we must decrease.

Blessings to all who love the Lord and want to serve Him. Do it HIS way and not man’s.

 

 

When I first got saved and joined a small Bible church that was not part of a denomination my friends were concerned that I had joined a cult. The church was small (50 or so attendees), we met in a school hall, the pastor was a foreigner (any American teaching just smelled suspicious), and we had a lengthy membership process, part of which required baptism because my “mainstream” Catholic christening didn’t count. It also included signing a document that said I understood the practice of church discipline, resulting in excommunication for violating Scripture.

In retrospect, I can sympathize with their concerns. My beliefs and behavior altered, and albeit for the better, it still seemed radical. I attended three Bible studies a week, two services on a Sunday, and listened to countless hours of John MacArthur tapes. I started dating a girl in the church who had refused to date me while I was Catholic. I can see what this looked like. At one point the pressing concerns of a close friend of mine caused me to pause and consider: had I joined a cult?

I asked a friend in another church how I could know if I was in a cult. I have been asked the same question by others, and I’ve had Christian parents enquire how they can know if the church their college-aged child has got involved in is a cult or not.

First, let me say that the mere fact that you are asking the question is a good sign. Even if someone in my own (Baptist) church asked me if we were a cult I would not be offended but encouraged. It signals that the person is thinking critically about their faith, rather than accepting it based on an authority figure spoon feeding (or worse: force feeding) it to them. I would also recommend to the enquirer that they not accept my answer as final either, but that they read widely and research other sources to check what I say.

Also, bear in mind that cultic patterns occur on a spectrum. The more characteristics your church exhibits, the more concerned you should be. And just because a group is missing one or two of these traits does not mean it is a safe spiritual place.

Your church might not be a cult, while still exhibiting cultic behavior, that you should address with the leadership.

So here is the short answer, in 500 words…

5 Characteristics of Cultish Groups:

Read the Characteristics HERE 

 

 

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