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[outline]: Identity Confusion

This is an excerpt from my e-book, How to Heal from Religious or Spiritual Abuse:


III. What are the areas of struggle faced by those who leave a cult or any other religious group or organization?

B. Identity Confusion (Who am I?)

1. Three major losses were experienced as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden: loss of purpose, loss of worth (value) and loss of identity.

a. Every person is now in search of a purpose in life, personal worth and value and identity.

1) King Solomon is a classic illustration of all three losses as described in the book of Ecclesiastes.

a) Ecc. 1:26, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

b. The cult or legalistic church attempts to illegitimately fill those three needs.

c. False religions and philosophies major on all three weaknesses (i.e., loss of purpose, worth, identity).

2. Most cults develop a group thinking mentality. Members must all think from the same core belief system.

a. This “group think” identity process bleeds over from the need to feel worth and value and a sense of purpose which is now the cult’s purpose to give its victims.

b. Col 2:8, “Beware, lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

3. The “group think” process results in all members undergoing a major personality change.

a. This will show up in the way they dress (hair, makeup, jewelry).

b. They could lose interest in past things they may have enjoyed (friends, hobbies, even their jobs).

c. They will talk differently and use a subculture language that is primarily known only to the group.

d. They may use the same words as orthodox Christianity would use but have very different meanings.

1) Mormons will say they believe Jesus is the Son of God. They believe the heavenly Father had sex and Jesus was born as a man who later became God (as most Mormons hope to become), not God who became man. The fifth president of the Mormon church, Lorenzo Snow, developed a couplet expressing this principle that stated, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Joseph Smith stated in the King Follet Discourse, that we “have got to learn how to become gods ourselves” (Apologetics Resource Center – KC).

4. False religion stresses conformity to their system of thinking, acting and speaking.

a. In order to conform to the cult system, the members must first abandon their former sense of personal worth, purpose and identity and assume that of the cult or legalistic system.

b. The stress on conformity is done to control their adherents with no regard for an eternity separated from God.

1) Matthew 23:15 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

5. The stress on extreme conformity may result in young people dropping out of school activities such as sports, drama or music. // One who would like to wear bright colors is put on a guilt trip by being accused of a (lie) so they will conform to the bland dress of the cult in order to lose their personal identity.

6. One of the few first tasks of the one leaving the false group is to sort out what part of their present personality is truly theirs and what parts were adopted to conform to the standards of the group.

a. What complicates this task is that they may not have known who they really were before joining the cult. // They may not have established who they are themselves.

1) Most cults target people who are followers and are personally dependent, needy and non-thinkers.

2) ill: When I asked Dr. Ralph Porter where he got the members in his church in Salt Lake City, he said they began to ask questions of Mormon leaders and discovered their teaching did not line up with history, archeology or scripture.

b. One of the draws to the cult is that it artificially fills the vacuum of worth, purpose and identity.

7. The ex-member’s major task is to reprogram the core belief system as to who they are in Christ.

a. As this reprogramming process continues, they will begin to see who God originally made them to be with talents, interests and personality.

b. They mayneed help discerning what their spiritual gift (gifts) is that equips them to minister to others in the body of Christ.

1) Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

c. God will restore their true identity and then they will seek to reflect their personality in a Christ-like form.

1) Our identity in Christ does not destroy our innate personality. God restores it so we can reflect Christ-likeness in word, action and attitude.

a) Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

8. The ex-cult member’s task is to first rediscover who God made them to be with their individual gifts and talents.

a. They will need to undo the cult brain washing and begin to replace lies, myths and deception with truth.

b. They must then, conform that personality into the image of Christ in word, action and attitude.

1) Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

c. Remember, all the New Testament human authors writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit sounded like themselves. Paul wrote and sounded like Paul. So did John, Luke and James.

1) II Peter 1:21 – “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

9. The ex-cult member’s task then is to be conformed to Christ in his words, thoughts (core belief systems), and actions.


For more information regarding my e-book, How to Heal from Religious or Spiritual Abuse, click here:

[outline]: Affirmation

This is an excerpt from “Five Aspects of Biblical Counseling

V. Affirmation

A. There may be a need to simply agree with them that what they are doing is appropriate
and they just need to keep up the good work.  // You can be a confirmation to their right

1. I Cor. 11:2, “Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to
the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.”

2. Gal. 6:9, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow

Read the rest of [outline]: Affirmation

[outline]: How can an angry person change? Part 2

This is an excerpt from “Correcting Unhealthy Anger


B. How can the angry person change?  // All long term change must start with a
change in the core belief system God calls the heart.

4. Realize the change attempted to be made by using anger is usually based on
selfish motives. // Why?
a. Unhealthy anger is a selfish effort to shape, mold and conform another into
what we think they should look or act like, instead of God’s image and
reflecting His character.
1) Remember, anger-based changes are not under the influence of God’s
Holy Spirit but selfish flesh-based changes inflicting a deep sense of
a) Gal. 5:19-20 ANow the works of the flesh are evident…
(20) outbursts of wrath… (thumoi)
2) These changes are rarely permanent because they are out of fear, not a
change in the core belief system.
b. Remember, it’s God’s responsibility to change someone.
c.  Anger does not produce this righteousness.
1) Therefore, if righteousness is not being produced then what is?
Rebellion, bitter compliance, resentment?  A task can be accomplished
through anger, but the fruit of the anger will be relational pain for
generations as seen in guilt, shame, fear.
2) Religious appearing parents who are using anger to change behavior are,
in reality, in major denial and deception of their own personal issues.
a) Rarely is the issue causing the anger the real issue. The issue is not
the issue.

Read the rest of [outline]: How can an angry person change? Part 2

[outline]: Identify Basic Needs or Issues

This is an excerpt from my book, “Five Aspects of Biblical Counseling


B.Identify the basic needs or issues that need to be worked through.

1. There are four reasons this may be difficult to do.
a. There may be a truth (or reality) they do not want to acknowledge.
1) About themselves or others
b. There may be a feeling they do not want to feel (i.e. guilt, shame, fear).
c. There may be a responsibility they may not want to assume (forgive an offender).
d. There may be a motive they don’t want to acknowledge (selfishness, greed, jealousy).


2. God only gives healing grace for the truth or reality.
a. John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
b. Jesus did not give just truth or just grace.

Read the rest of [outline]: Identify Basic Needs or Issues

[OUTLINE]: Those who use anger to control Part 2

This is an excerpt from “Correcting Unhealthy Anger


A. Description

6. Their deepest fear may be that of the fear of abandonment which is a childhood
emotion, rarely an adult emotion. // Why?
a. Adults know and feel secure when they believe what God says, AI will never
leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5b).
b. Heb. 13:5b is a partial quote of Deut. 31:6 God speaking to Israel through
Moses,  ABe strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for
the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you
nor forsake you  (NKJV).
c. But there is a lie that they can be or are abandoned which is usually a lie.


7. People, instead of God, are given the responsibility to provide for their security.
People become their security blanket.
a. This is typically called co-dependency or relational addiction.

Read the rest of [OUTLINE]: Those who use anger to control Part 2

[outline]: How can an angry person change?

This is an excerpt from “Correcting Unhealthy Anger

B. How can the angry person change?  // All long term change must start with a
change in the core belief system God calls the heart.

1. Remember, it is in God’s circle of responsibility, not yours, to ultimately change
someone.  But the angry person has a core belief that he can, should change
a. Phil. 2:12-13, ASo, then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as
in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your
salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to
will and to work for His good pleasure.
b. Phil. 1:6, A For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good
work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
c. John 16:8, AAnd when He (Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of
sin, and of righteousness, and judgment.
d. God never gives you or me the responsibility, power or ability to do what is
uniquely in His circle of responsibility.

Read the rest of [outline]: How can an angry person change?

[OUTLINE]: Those who use anger to control Part 1

This is an excerpt from “Correcting Unhealthy Anger


A. Description

1. One who uses anger to control another is often fear-based themselves.
a. Their managing emotion is fear – fear of failure, rejection and/or abandonment
or re-feeling or experiencing a past hurt.
b. That is the reason fear-based controlling people are not very loving.  Why?
As love pushes out fear (1 John 4:18), fear pushes out love.  Worried, fearful,
anxious people have difficulty expressing love.  Fear wraps you up in yourself.
Love wraps you up in others (1 Cor. 13).


2. The anger designed to control may come from one who has experienced loss or
pain in the past and does not want to re-feel this pain or re-experience this loss
again. // The fear based anger is a defense mechanism.  He is totally managed
by fear which God describes as sin and not by faith.
a. Rom. 14:23 A…for whatever is not from faith is sin@ (NKJV)
1) Anot from (ek, Aout of A); context, a stronger believer causing a weaker
believer to sin.  It is a strong/weak issue.
2) Ill: ANo woman will control me like my mom controlled my dad.@
b. Whatever unhealthy tool we use to protect ourselves will ultimately destroy us
and/or our relationships.  Self protective games lead to relational loss.

Read the rest of [OUTLINE]: Those who use anger to control Part 1

[outline]: Responding to those who use anger to change others

This is an excerpt from “Correcting Unhealthy Anger

C. How to respond to those who use anger to try to change others

1. Stop reinforcing (rewarding) their anger by any actual or perceived benefits. //
People who use anger to change other=s behavior, opinion, or personality, may
have been rewarded by them in the past or they saw it work in their family of
a. Unrewarded behavior tends to lose power.
1) ill. When a child throws a tantrum you may inquire, ADone yet? You may
need to explain to onlookers AWe are having a learning activity.
Tantrums lose their value when they are not rewarded.
2) Pouting should not be rewarded with begging from you.  Express once or
twice you would like to talk about it, then confidently go on about your
business with the commitment to talk when they’re ready.
b. Caving in to anger now will only cause you to crumble inside later.
1) Temporary peace is usually delayed warfare.
c. We have seen people stop rewarding an angry person=s immature behavior
and it drives them crazy.  They even complain that their mate or family
members are no Afun@ because they do not get hooked into the dance of
anger – a dysfunctional communication game.

Read the rest of [outline]: Responding to those who use anger to change others

[outline]: Identify with Compassionate Understanding Part 2

This is an excerpt from “Five Aspects of Biblical Counseling


A. Identify with compassionate understanding as the counselees tell their story or
expresses their need.  // This is the time to listen.  Potentially, it also may be the starting
time for their healing.

5. One of the purposes of the body of Christ is to demonstrate compassion to those who are

a. I Cor. 12:26, “And if one member suffers, all members suffer with it.  //  if one member
is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

6. Focus on listening and understanding; avoid judging, criticizing or condemning, evaluating
and planning your response.

a. The Old Testament Hebrew word for “understanding” is “hearing.”  This is reflected in
King Solomon’s prayer as he began his reign as the new king.
1) I Kings 3:9, “So give Your servant an understanding (hearing) heart to judge Your
people to discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great
people of Yours?”

b. (God says) It is a source of shame to speak before you hear and understand.
1) Prov. 18:13, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to
2) Prov. 29:20, “Do you see a man hasty in his words?  There is more hope for a fool
than for him.”

7. Mirror back to them what you hear them saying. // Repeat it in similar words without
evaluating or interpreting them.

a. “Am I hearing you say…”

b. Again, do not judge, evaluate, criticize, interpret, just reflect.

c. Your goal here is just to understand and confirm that you understand by reflecting back
what you heard.  A mirror reflects back the exact image placed in front of it.  It does not
alter it.

d. This will allow them to correct any misunderstanding and confirm to them you did hear
and understand.

8. Listen with an open, accepting facial expression like God does when we go to Him.

a. Open your eyes wide, don’t squint, smile faintly.  If appropriate, reflect back the same
sense of grief you are hearing expressed.

b. At the heart of the Old Testament priests’ blessing is a hope that God’s face will be
open (shine) and reflect love, acceptance and favor.
1)  Num. 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; (25) the Lord make His face
shine (smile) upon you, and be gracious to you; (26) the Lord lift up His
countenance upon you (turn His face toward you), and give you peace.”

c. People want to know you are safe to express their emotions to without you reacting

9. Utilize at least three ways of identifying with your counselee.

a. Acknowledge you are or have been where they are now when appropriate but do not
start telling them your story.
1) Secular psychological training is now encouraging therapists to share personal
struggles with clients when appropriate.
2) This honest sharing with discretion can be a real source of strength as the
counselee continues on their journey toward healing.  The apostle Paul role
modeled this practice.
a) I Cor. 2:3,   “I was with you in weakness, in fear and in much trembling.”
b) Philippians 3:12,   “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these
things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that
perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”

b. Admit you have needs, too.
1) Spiritual leaders have sometimes given the impression they have no needs and
therefore something must be wrong with you if you have needs that they never had
or do not have now.
a) “If you were spiritual like me, you would not have problems.”
2) God is critical of those who convey to Him or others they have no needs.
a) Rev. 3:17, “Because you say, ‘ I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need
of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and

c. Affirm their feelings as valid. // Even if it is anger.  “That had to hurt.”
1) This affirmation is a deep desire of one in emotional pain or in a troubling conflict.
2) People who are afraid of other’s emotions tend to shame or minimize their
emotions such as “Real men don’t cry.”  Does this statement include Jesus?  (John
3) If their pain gets in touch with your unprocessed pain, you may want to seek further
healing for yourself.  We are all wounded warriors.  You may need to refer them to
someone else.

Learn more about “Five Aspects of Biblical Counseling

[outline]: Responding- Establish Boundaries

This is an excerpt from my e-book, How to Live with a Self-Centered Person:


How to Respond to a Self-Centered Person

IV. Establish Reasonable Boundaries

A. Boundaries are limitations a person establishes for himself towards others to protect from verbal, emotional or physical harm or loss.

1. Boundaries determine how far a person will allow another person or group to enter their physical, mental or emotional space.

2. Boundaries set the limits of who can come through the gate of your life from the outside in. Circles of responsibility identify what you are responsible for within those gates.

3. God has boundaries. He says we won’t take His name in vain. We are to have no other gods.

4. To be able to set reasonable boundaries with appropriate consequences, one must first determine what he values. You will only build a fence (boundary) around something or someone you value. If you don’t value yourself (and you won’t if you see through the eyes of the self-centered person and not through the eyes of God), you won’t be able to set boundaries. We build a fence around what we value. Then we are better able to determine what will happen if someone doesn’t value what we value; i.e. “If you speak abusively to me on the phone, I will no longer receive phone calls from you. As long as you see me as valuable and vulnerable and precious and treat me accordingly, you may come inside my fence. The moment you forget and don’t treat me as the valuable person I am, you will be shown the gate and it will be locked behind you.” Each of us will have to determine what that actually looks like. You may have different boundaries with different people depending on their level of trustworthiness.

B. Boundaries are not selfishness

1. Distinguish in your mind the difference between selfishness and self- preservation. The self-centered person will accuse you of being selfish if you establish healthy boundaries and consequences if they are violated. Healthy people will be flexible and will adjust with reasonable limits. The self-centered person would never understand the difference because his behavior is always selfish (Let’s, p. 60).


For more information on my e-book, How to Live with a Self-Centered Person, click here: