Dear Esther :: March 28, 2016

Dear Esther,

It has been a blessing to read all the letters from other brethren and the sound biblical counsel that you give them. I want to share my testimony/struggle with you and maybe help another believer that may have this same struggle.

I have been a born-again believer since I was 16 years old. I am 50 years old now. The Lord Jesus saved me in March 1980 when I was living a life of fornication, lying and deception. I was so excited about my faith and my new relationship with the Lord Jesus.

I started sharing with my family and friends, of my new found faith, but I had a secret of still indulging in sexual sin with my boyfriend because I didn’t know God’s Word on fornication (since my parents lived together and were not married).

I knew a little bit about God’s Word from occasionally going to church, but I didn’t know the depth and seriousness of it. I was mentored later in my relationship with Christ by three mature believers and they helped me to understand what it truly meant to walk in faithfulness to the Lord Jesus, and what His Word required of me as a new believer.

I have been walking in love and obedience to Him since that time. Not perfectly, but by His grace and mercy.

I met some other believers and we moved to a place in Philadelphia, which I thought was a church of born-again believers who loved Jesus. Unfortunately it turned out to be a CULT and I was taught the Word of God, but there was a lot of Scripture-twisting and the most damaging of the experience was a works-salvation gospel, which I was taught instead of the true grace-salvation gospel (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The greatest part I will say of the entire experience is that I have made some great lifelong friendships with sisters who were there and have since left, and are now living for the Lord.

Today, not very often, but at times I’m bombarded in my mind and I struggle with thinking that the Lord is displeased with me—if I’m not doing some kind of work. We had a chart of works/activities that we had to fulfill every day before 12 midnight. We were working 24/7 trying to make sure we were doing some religious activity (otherwise the LORD would not be pleased with us).

If I’m not reading my Bible or something spiritual, I feel harassed and out of the will of God. My desire is to read the Bible every day so I can fellowship with my Father and know His will and commune with Him. I delight in serving Him with the gifts He has given me. It’s not a chore or “have to” mentality.

I just get overwhelmed with all of this sometimes. I continually give it to the Lord and ask Him to take this from me. I know His finished work on Calvary paid my sin debt in FULL. I know I’m saved by grace and faith alone. I just get overwhelmed with this in my mind sometimes and I’m praying for it to be removed.

I feel assured right now as I’m writing you and confident in God’s Word (no matter what my feelings say), I know they are feelings and attacks from the enemy. Would you please share some biblical counsel and suggestions?

God bless you and may the Lord continue to use you and shine upon you!

We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

RP

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Dear RP,

Thank you for your very kind and thoughtful words. You are obviously dedicated to the Lord. He has brought you through some rough territory. The enemy is an expert at portraying himself as an angel of light, as you well know.

Too few Christians are aware of how Satan does this through other so-called Christian ministries; especially, when the approach is to lure in unsuspecting people who are genuinely seeking biblical truth. But what the devil means for harm, the Lord counters with blessings and goodness. You are a living testimony to that, today.

False religions and false teachings are Satan’s greatest method of deceiving people. You are not alone in getting caught-up in a group that may look godly initially—but then the Scripture twisting and blasphemous doctrines emerge. One of the greatest after-effects from being involved in a cult is the brainwashing, the mind-bending indoctrination that haunts a person long after renouncing anything to do with the cult.

Many years ago I met someone whose job was to rescue people from cults. He was hired by family members who had lost a son or daughter to a cult. This man’s job was to deprogram victims who had been emotionally and mentally abused by the cult. He was strongly grounded in the Word of God and understood the subtle tactics used by cult leaders—to confuse and indoctrinate the “flock.” The after-effects can linger on for a very, very long time. I think that is what you are dealing with (to a small degree).

The keeping busy for God tactic is a common theme in cults; works, works, and more works is a way to make a person feel like they are unworthy no matter what they do. At what point are our works enough? Never; so this is a way to control and confuse people. This slavery that you were subjected to has a way of breaking the spirit of a person—if it were not for the Lord Jesus’ intervention at some point.

You are already doing everything a believer is asked to do. Continue to pray throughout each day as we are commanded (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17), read, study, memorize and meditate on Scripture. It is up to the Lord to open the door for us to do more.

We serve Him by being available 24/7, as certainly you are, but as you already know that does not mean your life must evolve around any particular strict spiritual routine of trying to earn God’s love and favor.

If a church member or a neighbor needs help, we help them. When the pastor needs someone to do something in the church and we have the gift to do it, we do it. This is all we can do. God is never displeased with us if we are not doing things in the church 16 hours a day. He wants you to spend most of your time with Him in prayer and in the Word. It sounds like you are doing that, already.

The thoughts you are having that God is displeased with you, as I said before, is part of the mind bending tactics by the cult. It is not always easy to ignore the accusatory voices, but you can, with the Lord’s help. As long as you are praying throughout each day, spending time in the Word every day and are available to serve God—that is all you can do.

Consider all the nice people who are unsaved but are very religious. Day after day they toil to please the Lord. But they are in bondage to their religion (as you once were, although you were saved).

In Christ we are made free, and that is what we must remember and think about. When those voices of condemnation start working on you, the best thing to do is start quoting Scripture out loud, and start praising and thanking God for His greatness. Not silently, but out loud. There is power in the Word of God and we are strengthened when we actually hear it. Jesus is the Word made flesh (John1:1-4).

It is also a good idea to find a good audio version of the Bible and play it while you are driving your car, and at home. Fill your mind with God’s Scriptures at every opportunity. But don’t use Christian media as a substitute for reading, studying and speaking the Word of God. Use Christian media resources only as an addition to worshipping the Lord and studying His Word.

From reading your letter, it is evident that you are a mature and serious believer, and a great blessing to the cause of Christ. Your involvement with the cult has given you a perspective that many Christians don’t have. Your effectiveness in reaching others is strengthened because of your experience. You bring a type of depth to your faith that can only serve to benefit others.

You are in a position to discern problematic teachings; you have developed spiritual radar that can detect so-called biblical teachings that are amiss. You have also developed a sense of identifying phony Christians with hidden agendas. You are blessed in ways that can help you minister to others—who are confused about their faith and counsel them in what constitutes authentic Christianity.

Because you have the Holy Spirit living within you, coupled with your experiences with false Christianity, you can overcome any doubts about the Lord being pleased with you. After all He died for you! He loved you long before you were saved. He knew you before you were born. His love for us is incomprehensible. That is what you should focus your thoughts on.

Christ deliberately placed Himself in a position where He willingly suffered—tremendously, to bring us to a point of reconciliation and redemption. God is our abiding companion in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to pour our hearts out to Him when we are shaken by the cruel and vicious dynamics in this fallen and corrupt world. He is ever-present in our time of need. We are never alone. Lean on your Heavenly Father for comfort. Realize your great worth in the Lord’s eyes.

“For as many who are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:14-18).

The more you read the Scriptures that speak of the Lord’s love for you, the doubts about your good standing with Him will diminish. Healing from the type of abuse you endured comes through worshipping and praising the Lord. It is a miracle in some ways that you were able to get away from the cult.

Praise God in all things and communicate with Him all day long. Acknowledge Him in all you do as you navigate through your day. Trust in Him completely, in His Word. We are to live by faith, and that means we TRUST Him. I know you already know all of this, but it is good to be reminded and encouraged—to keep our focus on God’s loving kindness.

By praising the Lord and offering Him a joyful heart, the accusatory voices that are causing you to doubt, will subside. You are already a champion for Christ. You have victory in Him. All the glory goes to God, and you are a benefactor of His tremendous grace.

Whenever those accusatory voices fill your mind, quote Scripture and thank God for all the blessings in your life, and particularly for saving you from going down the road of destruction.

I have said this many times: When the devil knows we belong to the Lord, he is fully aware he has lost the battle for our souls. But he will do whatever possible to make us think that God does not love us, that He is disappointed with us and that we are useless to Him. Satan will try to keep us from living a productive life so we can’t reach others for Christ.

But we know greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, and nothing can keep us from the love of God. Be encouraged. The Lord loves you deeply and sees you as a redeemed child of God, not a failed one. The failed one is the individual who foolishly rebels against Him never admitting a need for the Savior. People like this are often hopelessly lost and tragically condemned for all eternity, because of their foolish pride.

Surely you bless many because of the wisdom you have gained. Through your struggles to get clarification regarding your faith about true Christianity, you have come out on the winning side. I will leave you with this very important Scripture that I hope you will meditate on every day:

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do,forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Rejoice, RP, you are in a position to minister to others from a unique perspective. Spiritual deception is running rampant, and you have gained spiritual discernment to alert others to this growing epidemic in these last days.

Use all of what you have been through to God’s glory. Can you see how God has given you much to work with to help others gain a genuine walk with the Lord? Surely you are very special in His eyes.

On that day glorious when you finally see Him face to face, rest assured that He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21b).

In God’s love,

Esther

“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul. Therefore I have hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24).