BREAKING THE CHAINS

It is highly recommended that you read Comparing the "one true" churches before reading this section

Saul of Tarsus rode toward Damascus with chains in his luggage and a feeling of security in his heart. He was a member of the chosen people of God, as had been his father and grandfather and great-grandfather before him. He rode confidently to defend the faith.

But when God knocked Saul off his feet with the blinding light of His truth, Saul sat helpless and stunned in the dirt. His entire world had crumbled, his beliefs had shattered, his mission had aborted, and his social status had evaporated. With horror he realized the chains he carried to bind free people had been binding his own heart instead. The shock was too great. For days he curled up in the dark--blind, disoriented, and useless.

We who have been expelled from one of the “One True” churches have also sat for a time stunned in the dirt. Being knocked off our beloved heritage with light from God’s Word was a tremendous jolt. We lost our belief system, our identity, our friends, and even our family. Sitting in the dirt among our disheveled baggage and chains, we curled in the dark.

But God didn’t leave Saul helpless and confused. Having wrenched him from his Pharisee world, God caused the scales to fall from his eyes. The Apostle Paul saw the magnificence of the risen Lord Jesus Christ and the earth-shattering significance of the cross. All of his merit-seeking religious efforts fell among the scales on the floor. All of his self-righteous scruples fell among the discarded chains. He began growing in the grace and liberty that he was to preach with vigor the rest of his life.

Brethren, God did not wrench us from our comfortable life as Pharisees to remain blind and starving in the dark. He intends for us to have a joyful life in Christ. But to be truly free, all the scales must fall from our eyes. All the chains of our minds must be broken.

The Apostle Paul never yearned for his past lifestyle. He considered his former religious self as the chief of sinners and his former man-made religious system as dung. He scorched its legalistic lies with a fiery pen--but he didn’t hate his former brethren. He didn’t waste time in bitterness. Having been rescued from bondage, he lovingly yearned for their deliverance. And he went forward with Christ.

When every scale of twisted scripture has fallen from our eyes, when every chain of bondage has been unwound from our mind, when we begin to accept the nourishment of the true meat and milk of God’s Word, when we see the risen Lord in all His glory, when we exchange our dung-drenched Pharisee robes for the pure imputed righteousness of Christ, we will be free indeed.

And we will thank Jesus every day for the blinding flash of light that knocked us off our feet and into His waiting arms.

 

 

 

The Origin of the Chains that Bind us

Mankind’s original chains, ugly to all, is the bondage of sin from which faith in the shed blood of Christ frees us. But there are other chains, other bonds Satan uses to ensnare not just the unbeliever but the Christian. These chains appear beautiful like whitewashed tombs and are usually offered to us by friendly, moral, clean-cut people who have an attractive form of godliness. “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.” But like dead men’s bones, the system of the Pharisees, legalism, is corruption.

The Pharisees took God-given scriptural laws and “explained” them into hundreds more. They made a book of the extra rules, called the Talmud. So it is today--legalism “explains” God-given Scripture into an abundance of man-made rules. And thus we have our modern day Talmud, like the Amish Ordnung or the Holdeman Conference Reports.

Jesus was not gentle with the Pharisees. He called them sons of snakes. He cursed their cities with doom worse than the judgment of the sodomites of Gomorrah. He said that they didn’t enter into the kingdom of God and prevented others from doing so. He said their missionary work brought forth converts twice the sons of hell as themselves.

The Apostle Paul also harshly withstood these legalists who sneak into the church to spy out liberty and bring bondage. He accused them of bringing “another gospel” and “another Jesus.” He said that those who embraced this law-keeping religion had “fallen from grace.” He wished such teachers would go mutilate themselves, and he cursed them to hell.

Why does God hate legalism? Legalism denies the liberty Christ gives. Legalism denies the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. Legalism produces self-righteousness, anxiety, guilt, slavery to the ministry, and the break-up of families.

But the central reason legalism is so deadly is that it always diverts the sinner away from looking to Christ for his salvation. It pollutes the beautiful gospel message of salvation by grace through faith (though it may claim to teach it). It always adds the organization’s man-made rules to grace as the means to be saved, thus “making Christ of no benefit.” The Bible says commandments of men “turn from the truth” and “pervert the gospel.” Legalism to the Christian can mean lifelong slavery—to the unbeliever it can mean missing heaven.

The Bible says that those who embrace legalism have been “bewitched,” which Greek word actually means to be under an evil spell! Other terms associated with legalism are “seducing spirits” and “doctrines of devils.” There is spiritual power from Satanic forces that deceives and keeps in blindness those who embrace legalism.

Dear expelled Christian brother and sister, this is the power, the deception, the blindness to which we were once in bondage. It is no light thing to have been “bewitched” by Satan and his power. Commandments of men, law-keeping religion, is the metal from which our chains were forged. When an aberrant “one true church” organization warns so often about being deceived, it warns of a very real danger—but the ironic thing is that the deception described in the Bible permeates the very foundation of every “one true” church group.

 

Introducing the Founder of the Genuine One True Church

Jesus Christ is the founder of the Church (Matt. 16:18) .

Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22, 5:23) .

Jesus Christ adds members to His Church (Acts 2:47) .

Jesus Christ purchased the Church with His blood. (Acts 20:28)

Jesus Christ broke the wall down between Jew and Gentile and brought His “other sheep” into the One Fold, the Church (Eph. 2:14-16)

Jesus Christ cleanses and sanctifies the church through the “washing of the water of the word.” (Eph. 5:26) .

Jesus Christ will someday present the Church to Himself, pure and spotless (Eph. 5:27) .

Jesus Christ nourishes and cherishes the Church (Eph. 5:29) .

Jesus Christ walks among the Churches (Rev. 1:13) .

Jesus Christ opens and closes (Rev. 3:7) .

Jesus Christ holds the keys (Rev. 1:18, 3:7) .

 

Introducing the Genuine One True Church

Jesus said there is only One Body (Eph. 4:4) and that His Body is the Church ( Eph. 1:23 Col 1:18). Jesus said after the middle wall of partition was broken between Jew and Gentile there would be only One Fold (John 10:16 Eph. 2:14-16 John 11:52). Jesus said that all believers are one in the Father and Himself (John 17:20-23). Christ is not divided (1 Cor. 1:13). All attempts to split Christians into two groups, “kingdom and church” or “outer court and inner court” are non-Scriptural inventions.

All who call upon the name of the Lord are part of His body, the church (1 Cor. 1:2 with 12:27).

All those who have faith in Jesus Christ are overcomers (1 John 5:5), and all overcomers have their names written in the Lamb’s book of Life (Rev. 3:5), and all who have their names written there are part of the Bride of Christ, His Church (Rev. 20:27). Everyone else goes to the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).

All who are called to be saints are part of His body, the Church (Rom. 12:5 with 1:6)

All who are called are called into one body, His church (Col. 3:15).

All who are chosen are part of His body, the Church (Eph. 5:30 with 1:4).

All who are the saints and faithful in Christ are part of His body, the Church (Eph. 5:30 with 1:1).

All who are adopted as sons are part of His body, the Church (Eph. 5:30 with 1:5).

All who have obtained the inheritance of salvation are members of His body, the Church (Eph. 5:30 with 1:11).

All who have Jesus as Shepherd are part of His one Fold, the Church (John 10:16, Eph. 2:14-16, John 11:52).

All who do the will of God are His brethren, part of His family (Mark 3:33) .

All who are sanctified are His brethren, part of the Church (Hebrews 2:11,12) .

All who are sanctified are part of His body, the Church (1 Cor. 12:27 with 1:2) .

All who are joined to the Lord are One Spirit and have been baptized by the Spirit into One body (1 Cor. 6:17 and 1 Cor. 12:13) .

All who are saved are added by the Lord to the Church (Acts 2:47).

Throughout church history, devout Christian preachers have contributed much to the Church. Though new denominations may have formed around their particular understanding of certain issues, they did NOT claim to be reorganizing the one true church. Authentic Christianity has always recognized that the Church, made up of all born-again believers, has not nor will fail nor need reorganizing.

The men listed below, however, are quite different. They deviated from authentic Christianity in that they believed the Church had failed completely and that they alone were chosen of God to re-organize it. Most received this lofty delusion through visions. Most made prophecies that failed, proving themselves false prophets. All established the age-old system of Phariseeism and bondage. And millions remain enslaved to them.

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Introducing the Founders of the So-called “One True” Churches

JOSEPH SMITH thought he received word from God that he should reestablish the True Church. In 1830 he established the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). This “one true” church claims its superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they have unity, and have prophets and apostles. Their form of self-denial is wearing holy undergarments, refraining from coffee, tea, and cola, and serving on the mission. They are extremely submissive and yielded to the authority of the leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership of eleven million.

JOHN HOLDEMAN thought he received word from God that he alone should reestablish the True Church. In 1858 he founded the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they have unity, and a supposed doctrinal “lineage” back to the apostles. Their form of self-denial is a uniform dress code with caps for women and beards for men, rejection of tape recorders, musical instruments, or photographs. They are extremely submissive to the authority of their leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership of nineteen thousand.

ELLEN WHITE thought she received word from God that she would reestablish the True Church. In 1863 she founded the Seventh Day Adventists. This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they have unity, worship on the Sabbath day and keep all the commandments. Their form of self-denial is Sabbath keeping, accepting economic loss for their Saturday rest, and not eating meat. They are extremely submissive to the authority of the leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership of one million.

CHARLES RUSSELL thought he received word from God that he should reestablish the True Church. In 1888 he founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they have unity and go from house to house preaching the kingdom. Their form of self-denial is refusing blood transfusions, birthdays, Christmas, all other holidays, holding public office, or serving in the military. They are extremely submissive to the authority of the leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership of fourteen million.

WILLIAM IRVINE thought he received word from God that he was to bring the last message from Jesus to the world. In 1897 he founded what became known as the Church with No Name, also called 2x2’s or Cooneyites. This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they have a supposed lineage back to the New Testament church, because they have unity, worship in homes rather than church buildings, and because

their ministers own nothing and go two by two preaching. Their form of self-denial is a dress code including uncut women’s hair in a bun, rejecting stereos and jewelry, worldly amusement, and the fads and fashions of this world. They are extremely submissive to the authority of their leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership of  fifty to one hundred-thousand

FELIX MANALO thought he received word from God that he was to re-establish the true church of Christ. In 1913 he founded the Iglesia Ni Cristo. This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they have the proper name and complete unity, even voting alike. They are extremely submissive to the authority of the leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership of three million.

PAUL WEI, LINGSHENG CHANG and BARNABAS CHANG in 1917 founded the True Jesus Church This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they have wonders and miracles and correct doctrines. They practice feet-washing and have unity. They are extremely submissive to the authority of the leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership one and a half million.

KIP MCKEAN thought he received a call from God to evangelize the world. In 1979 He founded the International Church of Christ. This “one true” church group claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they pair their converts with a personal discipler, and they tirelessly recruit new people to undergo baptism and discipling. Their form of self-denial is attendance to the many meetings per week, and personal morality, including rejection of musical instruments. Members are extremely submissive and accountable to their “disciplers” and leaders. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership of one and a half million.

BILL HAWKINS believed through dreams that he was one of the Two Witnesses in Revelation and was called of God to re-establish the true church. In 1980 he founded the House of Yahweh. This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they hold the proper name for God and observe the Jewish feast days and all 613 laws of Moses. They are extremely submissive to the authority of the leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership is twenty-five hundred.

GERALD FLURRY believed he had been called by God to re-establish the true church. In 1989 he founded the Philadelphia Church of God. This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they follow the Mosaic law and reject medical treatment. Their form of self-denial is not eating unclean foods, not celebrating birthdays, Christmas, Easter, or other holidays, and dressing modestly. They have unity and are extremely submissive to the authority of the leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership is six thousand.

RODERICK MERIDITH believed God had chosen him to re-establish the true church. In 1998 he founded the Living Church of God. This “one true” church claims superiority to “corrupt Christianity” because they follow the Mosaic law and reject medical treatment. Their form of self-denial is not eating unclean foods, not celebrating birthdays, Christmas, Easter, or other holidays, and dressing modestly. They have unity and are extremely submissive to the authority of the leadership. Questioning the church is always seen as a sign of a spiritual problem in the questioner. Estimated membership is six thousand.

The claims of all “one True” churches

1. All "One True" Churches Claim to be the Only One

2. All "One True" Churches Claim to be the Restoration of Christ's "Failed" Church

3. All "One True" Churches Claim to Have the Only Truth and Practice

4. All "One True" Churches Claim to be the True Church Because of Their Unity

5. All "One True" Churches Teach that either Salvation or Complete Christian Life is Impossible Outside Their Group

6. All “One True” Churches teach their members to evaluate truth by feelings, impressions, proving spirits—instead of the Word of God.

7. All "One True" Churches Claim Defectors Have a Bad Heart or Foreign Spirit and are arrogantly standing alone against “The Truth.”

8. All "One True" Churches Claim Anyone Leaving Their Group is Lost

9. All "One True" Churches Claim the Bible Must be Interpreted by Their Group

10. All "One True" Churches Impose Commandments of Men and Extreme Legalism

11. All "One True" Churches Encourage Submission, Not Questions

12. All "One True" Churches Lull Members to Trusting Babe-like Sleep

RECOGNIZING OUR CHAINS

We who have recently left a “one true” church group are emotionally damaged goods. Since it is almost impossible to leave one of these groups without being disfellowshipped or expelled, most of us have faced the trauma of being shunned by friends and family members. The American Indians have long used shunning as one of the most coercive ways to force an offending member back into conformity with group approval. The excommunication that is supposed to “bring the apostate back to the Fold” is effective in all “one true” churches, as evidenced by this testimony: "We noted Lynette's comment about her choice 'to cut herself off completely from all association' with her disfellowshipped sister Margaret. She and her Christian relatives 'believed that Jehovah's way is best.' And it is! Lynette's sister later told her: 'If you had viewed the disfellowshipping lightly, I know that I would not have taken steps toward reinstatement as soon as I did. Being totally cut off from loved ones and from close contact with the congregation created a strong desire to repent. I realized just how wrong my course was and how serious it was to turn my back on Jehovah.'" Jehovah's Witness WT Sept. 15, 1981

Nobody withstands such a powerful force without some emotional wear and tear.

We are also spiritually damaged goods. God has opened our eyes, but they are filmy with leftover indoctrination. God has awakened us from spiritual slumber, but our long reliance on someone else to do our thinking has made our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit sluggish. God has renewed our awareness of His Word, but we are daunted by the thought of searching it for ourselves. We are grossly out of shape spiritually.

Some of us lived in one of the “one true” churches since birth. Some were exposed only a few short months. But all of us, if we truly embraced those maverick religions, have some deprogramming to undergo and some spiritual weightlifting to do before we can fully recover.

RECOGNIZING THE SOURCE OF OUR CHAINS

All human relationships—marriage, family, friendship, and church—were meant to be nurturing. But any of those relationships can deviate and become abusively controlling, and almost always it is a misuse of power that causes it.

Jesus Christ established His church, and the gates of hell will never prevail over it. But even before His church began at Pentecost, Jesus warned of false prophets, false teachers, and wolves in sheep’s clothing. In fact, so great is this danger that every book except one in the New Testament mentions spiritual deception and deceivers.

When an individual congregation becomes influenced by false teaching and begins to veer from Bible truth, it can become immoral, or it can become legalistic. We have an example of a permissive congregation in Corinth that was allowing gross immorality. We also have an example of a congregation in Galata that was being infiltrated by legalism, and another whose power-hungry leader, Diotrephes, was excommunicating Christians unjustly.

But how does a congregation begin to consider itself the only One True Church? Like an auto-immune disease that attacks its own organism, “one true” churches develop by hypercriticism toward the Christian church and other Christians. And of course the root of this criticism is the old familiar nemesis of mankind—pride.

All “one true” churches began with a single man who looked around at the inevitable faults of his fellow church-goers and decided they were all apostate. As his criticism grew, each came to believe that Christ had chosen him (usually through visions) to cleanse and reorganize His Church. And each one of these men formed “One True” churches remarkably similar in the methods of mind control. This mind control, these chains on our hearts, these scales on our eyes are what we must recuperate from to live spiritually healthy lives before Christ.

One of the most powerful eye-openers to the falsehood of our own group is to examine the other groups just like it.

 

BREAKING THE CHAINS OF ELITISM

Human pride desires elitism. We like to belong to the “best” group. Children want to be accepted by the popular crowd. Teenagers want to be on the winning team or in the best clique. Adults want whatever marks them as being one of the prestigious levels of society. One of the gimmicks of a well-known discount store is to offer card membership to people in certain professions only; this makes people want to “make the grade” and shop there.

Christians usually try to steer clear of such obvious pride. But what happens when our Christian heart wants to belong to the best church? The one that is special? The one that is more spiritual, more godly? What happens to a Christian who goes looking for the “right” church? The “true” church?

Those of us guilty of this very subtle elitism were easily snared by the bait of one of the “one true” churches. We saw a group that looked so very pious in their clothing, their demeanor, their speech, their dedication that we suddenly wanted to be a part of this spiritual clique.

And as we began wearing their uniform, observing their restrictions, talking their talk, we were special. Though of course we spoke much about humility, we were still publicly portraying our heightened spirituality—just like the Pharisees with their broadened phylacteries and lengthened tassels.

There do exist false brethren, false apostles, and false teachers in the world and in the churches. There are entire denominations that have no part of the truth of Jesus Christ, and a modern evil is to combine them all into ecumenism. It is not wrong to want to worship with a church that teaches the Bible correctly. It is not wrong to desire to walk closer with Jesus. The pride of elitism comes when we unite with a particular denomination and then turn and denounce all the rest of the Christian groups as non-churches. This would be as arrogant as one child claiming to be the only heir of his father and denouncing all his siblings as illegitimate.

There is a one true visible church, an organism composed of all true believers everywhere on the globe. But there is no one true denomination, no one true organization. Jesus Christ evaluated the seven churches in Revelation as individual congregations and found some to be strong, some weak, and one dead. He looked at each congregation with its particular strengths and weaknesses individually. Each stood or fell on its own, without denominational umbrella coverage. What He did not do was recognize one denomination as His church. And that’s the first mistaken notion we must discard before we can be free.

We must stop looking for the “one true” denomination. It doesn’t exist. But the One True Church does.

 

BREAKING THE CHAINS OF CRITICISM

When a body is healthy, its white blood cells attack foreign substances, germs, viruses, and diseases. The Church of Christ is a body, Christ’s body, and every Christian is a member of it. Every diligent Christian arms himself with the whole armor of God to fend off false doctrine that constantly attempts to infiltrate the Body of Christ. By skillfully wielding the Sword, the Word of God, a congregation can fend off spiritual disease with this healthy immune system.

But when white blood cells go awry and begin to attack the body itself, something is seriously wrong! When Christians begin to fight, not the world outside, but their very own brothers and sisters, this auto-immune disease causes all sorts of havoc. The body attempts to kill itself.

Does this mean we are to simply ignore sin and false doctrine in the church? No. When our brothers and sisters in Christ wander into actual sin, we who are spiritual are to “restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” If someone embraces actual heresy, we are told: “a man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject”

But every founder of a “one true” church went far, far beyond the normal housekeeping of a congregation. There has never been a founder of a “one true” church that did not first reject all Christian churches. Many of them were churchgoers who became hyper-critical of their fellow churchgoers. Some had true concerns, for the church on earth is made up of faulty human beings who err. But instead of contributing to the health of their congregations, these men begin attacking first one practice and doctrine, then another, and another, and another—until no church on earth measured up to their personal collection of convictions.

They attacked, not merely in the realm of essential orthodox doctrine, but in the realm of non-essential practice

the area the Bible gives flexibility to the Christian, such as eating meat or not eating meat, holding one day above another or holding all days alike, etc. They failed to recognize that in such things God said, “ Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth.” They began to view as unspiritual all who did not conform to their own rigid convictions.

Such tomato-throwing at the Bride of Christ eventually causes a loss of spirituality and replaces it with delusions of grandeur. Almost every founder of a “one true” church felt that Christ’s church had utterly failed and that he, usually through a dream or vision, was appointed by God to re-establish the True Church. And of course, Jesus doesn’t need, now or ever, someone to “re-establish” His Church or lay a new foundation. The Bible says, “For other foundation can no may lay, which is Christ Jesus.”

It is also a sad thing to admit, but before we even met our particular “one true” group, we who joined them were probably already well down the road to hyper-criticism of the local churches. For it is usually hypercritical people these “one true” churches appeal to. Our immune system may have started out well, zealously fending off false doctrine and desiring to live uprightly before God. But then it had gone wild fending off doctrines and activities that should have been respected as matters of individual Christian conscience.

When we become critical of our true brothers and sisters in the Christian churches and join one of these groups, our conditions only worsens. Then when we contemplate leaving, our criticism, grown stronger, causes us to say, “But if not this church, then which one? All the local churches are inferior.” This is a common protest of almost all ex-cult members, no matter which “one true” church they are from.

Again we must turn to the Word of God for guidance. In the New Testament churches we find problems and flaws. If we had gone looking for a good church in the first century, this is what we would have encountered in the congregations at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Antioch, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Colosse, Crete, household of Gaius, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicia: divisions (1 Cor. 11:18), contentions (1 Cor. 1:11), fornication (1 Cor. 5:1), lawsuits (1 Cor. 6:6), envying (1 Cor. 3:3), pride (1 Cor. 5:2), weak brethren (1 Cor. 8:11), heresies (1 Cor. 11:19), disorderly conduct (1 Cor. 11:20-22), false teachers ( 2 Cor. 11:4), false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13), Satan’s ministers posing as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:15), debates (2 Cor. 12:20), deceivers (Titus 1:10), backbitings (2 Cor. 12:20), uncleanness (2 Cor. 12:21), lasciviousness (2 Cor. 12:21), legalism (Galatians) perversions of the gospel (Gal. 1:7), hypocritical ministers (Gal. 2;11-14) ministers who expelled wrongly (3 John 9,10), false doctrines (Rev. 2:14,15), unruly (1 Thess. 5:14) rich greedy men (Jas 5:1-5) liars (Titus 1: 10-14)

As there is no perfect human on earth, so there is no perfect church, even those that truly teach the Word of God. And we find that though they had unity in the Spirit of Christ, even the earliest Christians never did have complete harmony in non-essential issues. But God gave us the instructions for dealing with varied convictions in Romans 14. Unity in the essentials, forbearance in the non-essentials, and charity in everything.

One of the biggest hurdles of ex-”one true” church members re-entering the local churches is usually not doctrine. It is ingrained legalism that continues to make us “puffed up for one against another.” When we feel that Phariseeical indignation rising up, we must carefully investigate the truth of our “convictions” to see whether they are truly Bible –based or whether they are simply man-made legalism or personal preferences. For example, an ex-Mormon might cringe when he sees a professing Christian drinking coffee, an ex-Cooneyite when he sees professing Christians worshipping in church buildings, an ex-Holdeman when he sees a Christian man without a beard or owning a picture album, an ex– PCoG when he sees a professing Christian go to the doctor, and an ex-Seventh Day Adventist when he sees professing Christians eating meat.

When we can’t fellowship with everyday normal Christians because our latent legalism makes us consider them “worldly,” there is only one remedy. Grow up, grow strong, and grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. His Word will dispel our erroneous Phariseeism and expose our legalism as manmade convictions.

 

BREAKING THE CHAINS Of Fear and depression

Life within a “one true” group can be a haven of belonging, a guaranteed social life, an oasis of “unity.” There is perceived love and safety within “the fold.” The “truth” is finally laid out for us, the questions are answered, our lives ordered, and we no longer need to search the Scriptures daily to guard against deception. This dependence becomes a strong opium to give up. As one ex-member put it, “My five years in that church were a sabbatical from the effort of thinking on my own.”

Living in a “one true” church is like living in a perfectly climate-controlled room. We look through a small window and see that those who have the freedom to venture outside must endure heat and cold and wind and rain. We congratulate ourselves on our snug room and warn doubters of the hot sun or the cold rain outside.

Leaving such a group is extremely hard. It’s like waking from a dream to face reality. It’s like being thrown from a warm cradle into the battlefield. This is very frightening to an ex-member of a “one true” church.

There was a newspaper story in which a man and wife escaped a communist country and were granted asylum in the United States. But in the land of the free, these people suffered the extreme anxiety of having to make their own decisions. Finally, they returned to the familiarity and perceived safety of their tyrannical government. Many ex-cultists flounder in the real world of liberty in Christ and return to familiarity—and slavery.

When we who have been taught to be submissive trusting babes are suddenly thrust on the battlefield of Christian life, it is traumatic. Here are some testimonies by ex-members of various “one true” churches:

"It was hell. I went through some depressive attacks…” ex-Potter’s House

“Since I left, I have been suffering from psychological trauma. I'm taking anti-depressants and am seeing a counsellor. The Church manipulated me through guilt and fear. Now I have lost many of my friends, and have to find my own answers to everything. It's scary. They used to tell us that if you left, you'd go to hell. I still believe it sometimes.” ex– Universal Church of Christ

‘We're kept inside this little make-believe world and it doesn't work. Then suddenly, you are out and you still have those church things buried inside your mind’” ex– Universal Church of Christ

Depression is my constant companion these days. I am not saying what I am feeling. I can't. Words do not convey the

inner turmoil and spiritual uncertainty that bubbles inside me….This church destroys lives.” ex-United Pentacostal

All change is stressful, and in addition to having to think again on your own, there is no greater traumatic change than being suddenly rejected by friends and family and being told you are on your way to hell. It is normal for human emotions to be affected at such a time. Depression is a common reaction, and Satan loves this environment! This is usually the stage when we also receive many cards, phone calls, and letters from well-meaning members who urge us to repent of our “deception” and return to the “fold.”

“One True” Churches operate on fear. They teach that leaving their group is leaving God. When we have been brainwashed for years to believe this, Satan can easily stir up this fear once we have left. It is as if we escape from a poisonous snake, only to carry the venom already inserted. We may get far away, but we are still dying. When we are weakened by shock and feeling depressed with the life changes, Satan likes to whisper his accusing words, bringing doubts and fears. How do we live through this stage of recovery?

First, if we were indeed excommunicated for scriptural reasons of immorality and open sin, we need to speedily repent of this to God.

However, if we were excommunicated because we have chosen to follow the Word of God instead of an organization, to worship Jesus instead of “the church,” we must gently allow ourselves to go through this short period of depression. Our physical bodies almost require it.

But it is very important to recognize this depression as an emotional reaction rather than a loss of peace. Remember, we have just left an environment where truth was evaluated by whether it “feels good” or not, so when we are not feeling good, we will be tempted to immediately suspect we have lost grace with God.

There is only one remedy. Grow up, grow strong, and grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must begin feeding on the pure milk of the Word, then on meat, and then pick up our Sword, the Word of God, and continue, as a Christian solider, to defend ourselves against deception. And one of the worst deceptions is that leaving one of these groups is leaving God. It is Jesus Christ who holds the keys, not some minister of a cult (Rev. 1:18).

Jesus Christ says, “ For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).

 

Breaking the Chains of Shame

One ex-Mormon confessed that when his Mormon friends come to visit, he hides the coffeepot. When we are afraid to abandon manmade rules for fear our former brethren will think us worldly, we need to realize the Bible commands us to stand fast in liberty and not “be entangled again in the yoke of bondage.” The Bible commands us not to allow anyone to judge us in conscience matters, nor are we to turn back to the weak and beggarly rudiments of the world, observing ordinances such as touch not, taste not, handle not. It is commandments of men that are called in the Bible “elements of the world” and “rudiments of the world” Legalism is worldliness! Those who impose it are said to be false brethren, deceitful workers, listening to doctrines of devils and seducing spirits. There is absolutely nothing good about commandments of men, for they “pervert the truth of the gospel” and cause men to “turn away from the truth.” The apostle Paul said he would not submit to legalism for even an hour. Neither should we.

It is one thing to “not eat meat” for the sake of an individual’s weak conscience—it is quite another to bow to the imposed legalism of an entire group. The Apostle Paul braced Peter publicly for such damaging hypocrisy when Peter curtailed his usual liberty for fear of the legalists.

When we continue observing commandments of men so our former brethren will not be offended, we are yielding to legalism. We are inadvertently supporting that legalism, testifying we agree with it. We are giving credence to manmade rules. We are sinning. Jesus did not conform to the legalism of the Pharisees, whether it offended and shocked them or not—and it did offend and shock them.

So ex-Mormons, do not hide your coffeepot; ex-Cooneyites, do not hide your newly grown beard, ex- Holdemans, do not hide your photographs or piano, ex-JW’s, do not hide your Thanksgiving turkey. As long as we are embarrassed living our liberty in front of our former group members, we are still in bondage and we further their bondage. Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath set us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. “For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty.” And “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” To heal, we must grow up in the grace and liberty of Jesus Christ.

 

Breaking the Chains of unforgiveness

One man, having left the Jehovah’s Witness church after thirty years, felt outrage at being deceived, outrage at all the wasted years, outrage that his children now avoid him. This anger is a common reaction of people from all “one true” churches. The hurts are real. The feelings of betrayal are real. The consequences, especially if family or even spouse shuns us, may last a lifetime. But we absolutely must forgive and lay down the anger. Our precious Savior, Jesus Christ, requires this of us.

Unforgiveness causes many ex-cult members to gnash their teeth in bitterness the rest of their lives, being preoccupied with the hurts they suffered within the cult. But anger is toxic to the heart that fosters it. Those that remain angry wither spiritually. Some reject God completely. Sadly, they provide yet another failure statistic for the “one true” churches to point to as an example of one who has “left the Fold.”

It is necessary to sort out what actually happened—why we joined this cult, why we believed its propaganda, what caused us to leave, etc. It is very necessary to take the time to learn just how very deceptive its tactics are—and why we fell for them. This can safeguard us from returning or falling into another cult. But if there is any blame to lay, let us lay it at the feet of Satan, the mastermind of all counterfeit religions. He is the one who persuaded us to believe a lie. He is the one who laid the trap. He is the one who clothed the wolves fin sheep’s clothing. He is the one who hoodwinked us. He’s been doing it to mankind for centuries.

The members of these aberrant groups are not the perpetrators—they are victims, blinded by the same smooth tactics of Satan by which we were once blinded. Their behavior is only a result of that blindness. Many of them are very devout, sincere people who truly believe in the doctrines of their group. Rather than blame or become angry or bitter, we need to have compassion for them, to love them, to pray fervently for them, and to forgive them. As an ex-member of one of these groups said: "Pray for the people that are trapped in a system far removed from biblical teachings. Many are sincere seekers of truth that have been blinded by their own leadership that they trust and are told to obey." Yet we must forgive and pray for the leaders also, for they too are but victims. We can only do this as we grow up in the love of Jesus Christ.

Liberty at Last

Is liberty in Christ worth the upheaval and trauma of leaving the familiarity of a “one true” church? Suffering shunning? Being tossed into a society we are ignorant of? Those who have survived by keeping their eyes focused on Jesus Christ and His Word can shout a resounding “Absolutely!” The difference in quality of Christian life free from a controlling church that worships itself is the difference between worshipping in truth—and idolatry. It is the difference between freedom and slavery. It is the difference between honoring or dishonoring Jesus. It is the difference between having or losing first love to Him.

The most precious benefit to leaving the self- idolatry of a controlling group is the rich, sweet intimacy of a relationship with Jesus. Nothing in the world can equal this! The second is learning to walk by the Spirit as a dignified believer-priest, free from the tyranny and bondage of commandments of men. The third is being able to accept other Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ, and to be accepted and loved by them for who we are, not because we conform to the image of “The Church” or “The Name” or “The Way.”

Dear captive set free, focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and immerse yourself in His Word. He will uphold you through the difficult times. He will give you exceedingly great joy. It’s worth it. Oh how it’s worth it!!!

Links to Sites on Cult Exposure and Recovery:

Love Letter to the Holdemans: http://www.theholdemans.com/index.htm

Legalism vs Grace: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/2x2info_namelesshousesect/legalism.htm

Four Aspects of Mind Control: http://www.caic.org.au/biblebase/workers/mindcont.htm

Recovery from Mind Control: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/2x2info_namelesshousesect/recovery.htm

Common Marks of a Cult: http://www.equip.org/free/CP0201.htm

Intelligent People Become Victims of Religious Cults: http://www.watchman.org/cults/cultkill.htm

Patterns in the Cults: http://www.watchman.org/profile/patrnpro.htm

Aiding Exiters: http://home.datawest.net/esn-recovery/default.htm

There is Genuine Christian Life Outside: http://www.rickross.com/reference/door/door16.html?FACTNet

Post-Cult Trauma Syndrome: http://www.caic.org.au/leaving/postcult.htm

Stages in Recovery: http://www.caic.org.au/leaving/recstage.htm

It's Too Perfect: http://www.caic.org.au/general/jeanne.htm

How to Find the One True Church: http://www.utahchristianpub.org/TRUECHUR.htm

I belong to the One True Church: www.westmont.edu/~work/articles/onetruechurch.html

 

Which is the One True Church? http://www.letusreason.org/Cult12.htm

There is no such thing as the One True Church: (meaning the one true cult view of the church) http://patriot.net/~bmcgin/pearl-noonetruechurch.html

For Members

Love letter to the Holdemans:

Cover

Introduction

Why We Left

Who is My Brother in Christ

An Unbroken Lineage of Unchanged Faith?

Holdemans Calling Their Forefathers' Doctrines Blasphemous

The Forefathers Calling Doctrine Held by the Holdemans Heresy

Public Apology

Why So Many Doubts and Fears?

What Must I Do to be Saved?

Poem

Conclusion

 

Whether it be of God and No Proselytes in Zion--a Re-examination:  (this is the original pamphlet sent to 2,000 members of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite)

Re-examination

 

 

About the Authors

For Non-members

Origin of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite

What does the Church of
God in Christ, Mennonite,
really teach?

 

Holdemanism VS Anabaptism

Comparing the
"One True" churches

 

For Ex-Members

Breaking the Chains

The Sin of Obeying Legalism

Finding the New Testament Church

Should Christians Dress Plain or Should They Follow Christ's Example Who Dressed "Just Like the World"?

Audio Testimonies

Our Spiritual Journey to Jesus by Leona Nichols

Coming Out of Deception and Spiritual Bondage by Weldon Koehn

NOTE: If your computer doesn't already have RealPlayer®, download it here for free.