Christian Destiny Christian Destiny
The Marks of a Cult

by Dr. Dave Breese

11. Financial Exploitation

By this we mean the call to pay and pay, and keep on paying.

The New Testament Scriptures tell us that salvation comes to us as an absolutely free gift. “The gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). We are “justified freely by his grace” (Romans 3:24). The word “freely” means “without a cause.” The grace of Jesus Christ is the all-pervading doctrine that applies both to the reception of salvation and our continued walk with God. By the grace of Jesus Christ, each of us has become rich. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Each Christian is warned in Scripture that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). He is told, however, that he will be put upon by false teachers to him “gain is godliness” (1 Timothy 6:5). The Apostle Peter, in the Book of the Acts, strongly repudiated the individual Simon, who tried to buy the gift of God with money (Acts 8:18-20).

By contrast, the cultic practitioner of today strongly implies that money contributed to the cause will buy numerous gifts, powers and ability on the part of the receptive follower. He can be healed for one hundred dollars. He can be delivered from an automobile accident for life for one thousand dollars. The follower of the cult is often promised that he can escape the many purgatories in this world and the next because of the investment of his money. To the average cult, tithing is but the beginning. Then comes the real pressure. The follower, as the screw is turned, is massively promoted to exhaust his economic potential. The stories are legion of wives and children who have been brought to the point of hunger and impoverishment because of the cultic contributions by the head of the family. Enamored of his new spiritual leader, the head of the house forgets the clear teaching of Scripture: “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8).

The consequence is that conscienceless religious leaders have built for themselves massive homes, spacious estates and large holdings in the commercial world. Some of them even quote as their excuse, “No good thing will [God] withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). What is this but one wresting the scripture to his own destruction?


1. Extra-Biblical Revelation — False doctrine from outside the Bible

2. Salvation by works — Denial of salvation by faith alone

3. Uncertain Hope — Cultistis are never sure of heaven

4. Presumptuous Messianic Leadership — Arrogant religious rulers command others

5. Doctrinal ambiguity

6. Denunciation of Others — All others are infidels, reprobates

7. Claim of “Special Discoveries”

8. Defective Christology — Denial of the Deity or humanity of Christ

9. Segmented Biblical Attention — Ignoring the whole counsel of God

10. Entangling Organizational Structure — Membership equals salvation

11. Financial Exploitation — Money is the object


This 1981 booklet is an early version of what later became the full-length book, The Marks of a Cult: The Warning Signs of False Teachings, published by Harvest House.
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The Marks of a Cult