Friday, October 28, 2016

Cults: You Can't Get Good Fruit from a Bad Tree

Jesus said something very interesting in Matthew 7:18: "A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit." He says it in the context of recognizing false teachers. How can we recognize them? "You will recognize them by their fruits," He tells us.

I find that an interesting choice. He doesn't give us a doctrinal checklist (though there is such in other portions of Scripture). Rather, He tells us to watch what happens as a result of their teachings. And I don't think that is limited to the teacher's actions specifically, but also the fruits it produces in the lives of the those who follow him. I have been having this experience recently with members of a certain cult group. It doesn't matter which one. They deal with opponents, not with Scriptural or logical arguments, but with ridicule, including mocking and name-calling. They make extravagant claims about having the Holy Spirit. However, what do I see from them? "Enmity, strife, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions" (from the "works of the flesh," Galatians 5:20). What do I not see from them? "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (from the list of "fruits of the Spirit," Galatians 5:22). While they are claiming glorious gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and revelation of Scriptural truths, I see their fruits. And, according to the description of Paul in Galatians 5, those fruits are not what are credited to the Spirit, but rather those attributed to the flesh. I have referred to these exact verses and told the folks that, based on their fruits, it is not the Holy Spirit they have but rather a deceiving spirit (compare I Kings 22:20-23). Of course, that rebuke only stirred them to greater expressions of the same rage, as I anticipated.

Of the things that marks a cult is that its leaders will sweep uncomfortable truths under the rug. That is, they try to keep their moral or personal failings out of the public eye. However, if the godly person watches for them, eventually the evil will be revealed, because that is its nature.

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