How To Identify A Cult

The Apostle Peter provides us with a detailed description of false teachers and their followers in 2 Peter 2:1 - 22. I suggest you read this chapter and familiarize yourself with its contents. A word of warning concerning the cults. If you don't know your Bible, you will be easily deceived. J. Vernon McGee said, "Satan never gets very far from the Bible. And every one of the cults, even Satanism, uses the Bible." That's why we need to be mindful of Paul's warning in 1 Corinthians 11:13 -15: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." Satan's game plan is one of deception. He pretends to be what he and his followers are not - ministers of righteousness. 

The following list is based upon Dave Breese's book KNOW THE MARKS OF CULTS. Knowing this list is important but when someone comes knocking on your door there are two things you should do. One, ask the question, "Who do you believe Jesus Christ is?" If they do not confess Jesus Christ as the the Son of God come in the flesh, equal with God, the second person of the trinity [1 John 4:1 - 4], you should do the second thing scripture requires - do not let them in your house, do not engage in an attempt to witness to them. Why because while they are on their evangelistic forays, the time spent with you is part of their works salvation and serves to encourage them to continue knocking on doors. [2 John 7 - 11] The best time to witness to a cult follower is in an informal one on one conversation when they are not in their evangelistic mode. While they are in their evangelistic mode they are taught to let you speak but not listen and then go on with their presentation. Ask the right question and, if you don't get the right Biblical response, shut the door sending them on their way. All cults do not demonstrate equally all these marks but marks #1, #2, and #5 are found in and identify all cults.


1. EXTRA BIBLICAL REVELATION: False doctrine based upon another source of authority other than the Bible - example: Christian Science uses a companion book to the Bible -  Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.
2. SALVATION BY WORKS: Usually teach a form of salvation by works or combination of works plus faith.  The works usually are associated with advancing the teaching of the cult.

3. UNCERTAIN HOPE: because salvation is based upon works, the members of the cult can never be sure they have done enough to be saved. 

4. PRESUMPTUOUS MESSIANIC LEADERSHIP: Usually the leader[s] is the final authority and control everything the group does.

5. DEFECTIVE CHRISTOLOGY: Denial of the Deity or humanity of Christ. Part of this defective Christology is the denial of the Trinity.

6. SEGMENTED BIBLICAL ATTENTION: Ignoring the whole counsel of God. They usually base their teachings on isolated passages of scripture.

7. FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION:  2 Peter 2:3 says they make merchandise of others.

8. DENUNCIATION OF OTHERS: They believe their group that is right and all others are false. 

9. SEXUAL EXPLOITATION:  Often group members are sexually exploited their leader[s].  

10. SYNCRETISM:  They usually draw some of their teachings from a number of groups but the real problem is that they use the same terminology as mainline Christians but with an entirely different meaning.

11. RELIGIOUS ENSLAVEMENT:  This is an outgrowth of #8. They demand of their members that they make the group their number one priority.

12. ENTANGLING ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE: There is no salvation outside the group. 

For more detailed information read: KNOW THE MARKS OF CULTS by Dave Breese