MM00069 Discerning the wolf
Mentoring Manna: Discerning the wolf
© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell
“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) Jesus said that we would know a false prophet by their fruit. But what does this mean? What are the evidences that expose a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
First we must consider their message. What does the person teach? False prophets and teachers use the Bible but are notorious for building exclusive teachings around a few passages while ignoring an overwhelming number of clearer passages that shed a different light upon these isolated passages. False teaching is usually off-balance teaching at its best and a twisting, ignoring, or rejection of Scripture at its worst.
Next we need to consider the voice behind the message. I am speaking of the voice we hear with our spiritual ears. Over time, those who walk with the Lord become familiar with their Shepherd’s voice. Just as a person can discern the voice of a good friend on the telephone, so it is in our heart with the Lord. Jesus said in John 10:4-5 concerning the good shepherd: “And the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” A thief may try to imitate a shepherd to draw sheep after himself, but the sheep can discern that it is not their shepherd’s voice. It seems that Little Red Riding Hood is more discerning than many believers today. Even she could discern the imposter and address its wolf-like characteristics. The reason she could discern the imposter was because she knew her real grandmother. Do we know Jesus well enough to discern an imposter?
Next we must consider their walk among the flock. A wolf may dress like a sheep but it will leave wolf tracks rather than sheep tracks. Sheep are meek and lowly but wolves are fleshly, controlling, divisive, rebellious, and proud. They are not led by the Spirit of God but by the highest bidder. They do not serve the sheep but themselves. While it is true that a workman is worthy of his hire, these wolves require an upfront guarantee of money or position. They require the best churches, the best salaries, the best offerings, the best hotels, the best restaurants, the best transportation, and the best of treatment. They are insulted by anything less and do not care about the burden it places upon the people. When they do give, it is for the sake of being noticed and applauded. They serve for the sake of gaining position and authority. Their ways do not reflect the ways of Jesus.
Next we must consider their associations. Wolves normally run in packs and live in dens. Wolves will move into the house of God in order to reproduce their error. Jesus was not afraid to confront the wolves in His Father’s house. Jesus drove out those who bought and sold in the temple saying, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves.” Jesus had no tolerance for wolves.
Finally, we must consider their relationship with the shepherd. Wolves are rebellious and defiant toward authority. They do not come through the door of the shepherd to gain influence with the sheep. They secretly and privately prowl around looking for those who are new or weak in their relationship with the shepherd. They exploit the weakness of a sheep/shepherd relationship in order to draw sheep away from the shepherd. When the shepherd uncovers their tactics, they snap back by distorting the shepherd’s motive as one of control. If a sheep is not discerning, they can be deceived into taking sides with the wolf rather than the shepherd! Wolves do not want a reconciled relationship with the shepherd but rather influence with the sheep. They will actually portray the shepherd’s correction or discipline in their lives as an attack by the devil and then initiate a campaign against him!
Wolves are not interested in building up the Master’s flock. The wolf is deceived by the devil and has become his tool to steal, kill, and to destroy the sheep and the church of God. The good shepherd will discern the wolf and confront it with the rod of Scripture. The true sheep will discern the wolf and flee to their Shepherd.
Application: If you are one of God’s sheep, then you have the ability to discern the wolf in your midst. Don’t be fooled by the trickery of evil men. Remember, if a wolf courts you to his table, it is because you are on the menu!
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I determine to hear Your voice and not to follow the voice of a stranger. I determine today to develop a strong relationship with Jesus, my Good Shepherd, so that I will know His voice. Give me ears to hear the truth of Your word. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”