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MM00068 Wolves in sheep's clothing

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Mentoring Manna:  Wolves in sheep’s clothing

© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell

MM00068

 

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20)  “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29)  The sheep faced many threats including the lion, bear, and thieves, but none were as numerous and tenacious as the wolf.  Therefore the wolf was commonly used to depict the enemy of God’s flock in Scripture.

Without the shepherd, the sheep would be defenseless against the wolf. As a result, there is no love affair between the wolf and the shepherd. When faced with a threat, the good shepherd will fight for the sheep even at the expense of his own life.  But such was not the case with the worthless hireling: “But a hireling, he who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.” (John 10:12-13) 

 It is the shepherd’s duty to watch for the wolf.  Over time, a good shepherd learns to detect the nature and tactics of the wolf. He learns that the wolf can stalk its prey alone or in a pack.  He learns that the wolf prowls at night under the cover of darkness while the sheep are sleeping.  He knows that the wolf seeks to scatter and divide the sheep from one another, separate them from the protection of its shepherd, isolate an individual sheep so that it is defenseless, catch it, kill it, tear it apart, and gorge itself on its flesh.  Such is the fierceness of the wolf.

In the natural, it is easy to distinguish a sheep from a wolf.  But in the context of God’s flock, it is not as easy to discern the difference because of the masks that people wear. Jesus warned of those who would come “in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” This warning makes it a righteous thing to diligently scrutinize and prove those who claim to be messengers from God. True messengers of God are not afraid of honest scrutiny.  They know that honest scrutiny will validate their life and ministry.  However, wolves growl and snap at the shepherd who seeks to peek under their sheepskin. Ignoring the process of honest scrutiny can prove disastrous for the flock. Some misguided “unity movements” are nothing more than a détente with false doctrine and a peace treaty between shepherds and wolves. Imagine how confused and vulnerable the sheep become when shepherds reclassify the wolf as a friend. The only ones with anything to gain here are the salivating wolves! 

A wolf in sheep’s clothing is nothing more than a pretender. Unfortunately, many play the part so well that they even fool themselves! The “sheepskin” cloak of the false prophet is his disarming use of Scripture, religious terminology, superstar charisma, and lying signs and wonders. Consider Satan who twisted the Scripture in an attempt to deceive Jesus during His wilderness temptations. Jesus was not deceived, however, and used the Scriptures to expose the heresy of Satan. If Satan used the tactic of twisting the Scriptures with Jesus, does it seem any less likely that he and his false messengers will do the same with us? How about signs and wonders? Consider the coming of anti-Christ who will work all types of lying signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). We cannot afford to trade substance for sheepskin. Jesus said that the substance is the fruit. In other words, we will know the true from the false by their character, the fruit of their ministry, and the affect they have on those who follow them. Don’t be fooled by a “warm and fuzzy” sheepskin covering.  Look for the substance.

 

Application:  Not everything that glitters is gold, and not everyone in the limelight is what he or she professes to be.  Jesus warned us to beware of false prophets. Since a false prophet will not call himself a false prophet, it is our responsibility to judge. While we are not to be unjustly critical of the imperfect human vessels that God uses, neither are we to be gullible. The honest evaluation of a person’s life, ministry, and doctrine is necessary and needed to protect us from the wolf in sheep’s clothing. True ministers of God have no need to be afraid of legitimate scrutiny. It is part of the process in distinguishing sheepskin from substance.

Prayer:  “Heavenly Father, I thank You for giving Your flock shepherds with substance. I understand that there are those who would be pretenders and predators---wolves in sheep’s clothing.  I will heed your warning to beware of those whose life, ministry, and doctrine demonstrate something different from the truth of Your word. Help me not to be gullible but discerning in these last days.  I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
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