Note: This is third post in a series.  You may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 first.

The Bible warns that there are many who preach false beliefs:

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
-1 John 4:1

I want to tell you a few “warning signs” or “red flags” to look for in terms of false religions/beliefs.

You may be a member of one of these false groups/churches. You may think that I am talking specifically about your church. Trust me when I say that I am not talking about any one particular group–I am speaking of any group that has wavered from the truth of the Gospel. Many of them seem to share these common traits:

RED FLAG #1: denying the Divinity/Deity of Jesus Christ. Some religions teach that Jesus was just a special man, angel, or something that is not equal with God the Father. This simply does not fit what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that Jesus was with God the Father since the beginning (John 1:1-3), was worshiped while on earth (John 9:38, Matthew 2:11, Matthew 28:17), will be worshiped at the final judgement (Ephesians 2:10-11), and is the exact representation of God the Father (Colossians 2:15). You simply cannot honestly read the Scripture and conclude that Jesus is not God in the flesh.

RED FLAG #2: Claiming you must be part of their religion to truly be saved. We are saved only through a relationship with Christ (John 14:6). Many false religions, however, teach that they are the “one true church.” They claim that you must be part of their group or be baptized into their group to be saved or to truly please God. Some groups claim that they have the same apostolic authority that Paul or Peter had. This is ironic, since Paul did not put himself about the truth of the Gospel (Galatians 1:8). Remember what I said in previous articles–our authority for truth is the Bible, not someone claiming to be an apostle.

RED FLAG #3: Adding to the requirements of salvation. We are saved by faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:1-8). Many false religions tend to add to the requirements of salvation, teaching that genuine faith alone is not enough. This is often done to manipulate people into working for or giving money to the church. Many false religions spread rapidly because the members think they can only please God by giving money, going door-to-door, or other acts of service to the church. They are trying to earn salvation, which God is willing to give us freely. Of course God called us to serve Him, but true believers simply do this out of love. I serve God because He has saved me–not because I’m trying to save myself.

For a more in-depth analysis of false religions, I highly recommend The Institute for Religious Research.