Some misguided or unscrupulous people use a false doctrine of sudden destruction as a method of hindering people from leaving their group. This false doctrine is a technique of mind control and it preys upon vulnerable people. The New Zealand Cult list web page cites this as a reason people tend to not leave cults; “Cults teach their members that only the cult offers salvation or the truth. Leaving the cult is the same as leaving God, and no relationship with God will ever be possible if they leave.” The International Cultic Studies Association points out that: “Fear that what the cult said would happen to them if they left actually might happen.” is a common issue in post-cult recovery.
Any false doctrine of sudden destruction will unfold something like this; ‘If you leave our group then you are going out of God’s will for your life. If you’re out of God’s will for your life then you’re heading for sudden destruction. You will die and go to hell!’ This kind of doctrine inflicted upon a vulnerable person leaves fear especially when the person takes the courageous step of leaving the cult group. The Exit and Support Network website cites a number of common emotional difficulties when people leave a high demand controlling group including – fear; “‘What if I am wrong?’ ‘What if harmful events actually do happen? ”I can’t ever be happy outside the group.’ ‘What if I run into a present member?’. . . and fear of going crazy.”
When counselors and religious leaders push a false doctrine of sudden destruction on those they claim to serve they are committing a terrible form of spiritual and emotional abuse. ” Deceptive ministers distort the Bible (heavily using the Old Testament Law) to enhance their control on the unsuspecting and vulnerable. Due to the implementation of these deceitful tactics, recruits often suffer a loss of identity, will, and the ability to think critically. Members may no longer control their own life due to the reasons mentioned above; instead, following the loss of their critical thinking skills, they surrender their life to the authority and direction of the authoritarian leader.” (Exit and Support Network website) The damage done to vulnerable individuals is lifelong.
Some false prophets claim they are watchmen and style themselves right out of Ezekiel 33 claiming that they are accountable for the fate of those who are in their church; “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’” (Ezekiel 33:6) The twisting of scripture involves the claim by the ‘watchman’ that since he is accountable for the person’s blood he must warn the person AND the person must do as they are told. Yet the verse simply states that the ‘watchman’s’ responsibility is to watch and warn (blow the trumpet) only!
If the person accepts the distortion of the twisted scripture – that the ‘watchman’ has say over his life then the false prophet can proceed to the next deception. If the wicked refuse to do as they are told by the ‘watchman’ , they will die for it; “But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.” (Ezekiel 33:9) This twisted mind control leaves people at the mercy of those who want to enslave rather than help people to freedom.
Of course the ‘watchman’ or false prophet will claim to be the only one who knows God’s will for those under his ‘care’ and ‘authority’. God’s will becomes his will on every detail of the person’s life choices at all times. The group think becomes; ‘If you don’t check with the prophet you’re not in God’s will!’ Scripture tells us what God’s will is; ” For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8)
The telling mark of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is that he always puts himself first and between his flock and God as a mediator. In this way he denies Jesus.
When a false doctrine of sudden destruction is combined with attack/confrontational therapy a particularly nasty kind of hell develops where people are broken, condemned and sentenced to a life of abuse or sudden destruction if they leave the group.
It is time to declare a final moratorium on the use of harsh, humiliating confrontational techniques in addiction treatment. It is time to lay to rest once and for all, the arrogant notion that we should or even can dismantle other human beings and then put them back together in better and wiser form. With impressive consistency, research tells us that authoritarian confrontation is highly unlikely to heal and may well do harm, particularly to the more vulnerable among those we serve. Within this context, such confrontational treatment is professionally unethical, and is doubly problematic when used with coerced populations such as court-ordered or employer-mandated populations. (William R. Miller, PhD and William White, MA in Confrontation in Addiction Treatment)
Sadly the wolves in sheep’s clothing who preside over such destructive environments in the guise of ‘Christian Rehab’ don’t read on to the next chapter in Ezekiel; “The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.” (Ezekiel 34:4)
A proverb tells us that after a long process of trying to help a person see reason, that person if they continue in their stubbornness will come to a bad end; “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Proverb 29:1) Jesus’ view on sudden destruction was that in this world bad things can happen to anyone and we all must be prepared to stand before God; “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? ‘I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'” (Luke 13:4)
Jesus knew that in a broken world misfortune and good fortune falls on everyone; “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” For Jesus, it wasn’t about sudden destruction but rather patience and love in action. Jesus urged the opposite of those that would doom and curse with this false and terrible doctrine of sudden destruction.
The Bible tells us that sudden destruction will come on the entire world at the end; “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:33) Sudden destruction is clearly an event that will happen to the world when Christ returns. Jesus said; “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” This kind of sudden destruction is predicted to fall upon the world and not some poor individual who has had enough and decides to leave an abusive group. And when this day arrives, Jesus told us plainly what God’s will was; “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
What false prophets tend to ignore in the Bible is that sudden destruction can fall on them; “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” (2 Peter 2:1-3) Such false prophets and their followers will do a lot of damage.
They will reap what they sow. “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour.” (Hosea 8:7 and Galatians 6:7)