The environment within both decoy churches that I have attended was harsh. There was a since of a fashion show. They stuck closely to what they considered traditional biblical standards however none of this reflected love. It was stressful to find a way to fit into fellowship. Not just for me but well most people.
Here are some things that I learned:
- They Cast Judgement without Speaking.
Those with a checkered past were not welcomed. Criminal histories are not good. However, each group should contain someone who has been caught making mistakes. This does not have to be extreme. But all these people had squeaky clean records. No one in the whole group talked about any faulty past behavior. It is fair to assume that all have made mistakes. When people seem flawless, they may be hiding active crimes.
Growing up in an environment where Christian people never confessed their mistakes influenced me as an adult. Because I was abused by those who had clean records I chose as an adult to cling to those who had a criminal history. Without understanding the source of my dysfunction, I began a series of codependent relationships in which over and over, I found myself attached to people who were unhealthy.
The Kingdom of heaven is full of those who have repented (Changed) without this it is something else.
- Condemning View of Others
Having the outward appearance of perfection was fed by the teaching of legalistic standards. Yes, they were hiding their wrong deeds and painting a picture of a people who had obeyed a set of legalistic standards, like dress codes. But is a dress code biblical? None of them were trying to follow old testament standards they were just defining the biblical standard of modesty however they preferred.
- Absence of Good Works
They looked like they were following all these legalistic standards. However, I had to search to find their good works. I am not one who believes it possible to earn a place into heaven. Yet, good works are an obvious sign of the those who truly follow Jesus.
- Pastor Worship
Legalism takes obedience way too far. In both decoys that I have attended the pastor was set on a pedestal. Pastor worship is a sign of a decoy church all by itself. A true leader is the one who serves the most. They get dirty and are willing to do without things that they want and some of what they need. They are servants, not just in title but in action.
It was not all about what they said and did. They could quote scripture, word for word. It was the effect that they had on my life. My fear of God changed. It was once a since of respect but in the influence of a decoy church it developed a since of self-condemnation. I felt separated from God.
God given discernment is required if one were to determine if their church is a decoy. There is just no way around that. On our own we can be easily overtaken by evil doers. They use drugs and hypnosis and can use a person in rituals without them knowing. The human eye can only see so much. We are all fallible. I believe that it is important for believers to know what a decoy church looks like. However, some of these characteristics are seen often in our corner churches. Sometimes even true churches follow tradition not Jesus. One must pray for discernment. It is impossible to navigate through the world without the voice of God guiding us.