2002-05-09 - Savage Wolves
Acts 20:29 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (NAS)
Paul is on his way to Jerusalem speaking to the leaders of the church at Ephesus. He has with him an offering collected for the believers there from all the churches Paul has traveled to see. There is great sorrow at this departure. They all believe it will be the last time the Apostle Paul visits this church which he founded under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Paul gives his friends a strong warning which we can all take to heart. Jesus gave the same warning to His disciples.
Matt 7:15-16 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? (NAS)
But if a false prophet comes wearing sheep's clothing, won't they be hard to spot. Yes, they will. But a wolf has a very different diet than a sheep does. Wolves eat sheep. They will ravage a flock of sheep left unchecked. Outwardly, their doctrine is correct, their speech, hair and dimples are correct. But off to the side, they mummer. They will pick on some minor point in the sermon that didn't quite fit, or take a background comment out and disagree vigorously with it. The purpose of this back biting is to draw attention to themselves and away from the message and Jesus.
They may feed on the newer Christians first, or others who are not well grounded in the Bible. If they can sink their teeth in and draw others to their way of thinking, they will form a group of clique of followers. The Holy Spirit is our guide. In His ministry, the Holy Spirit never points to Himself, but always to Jesus. The conviction we may feel in our hearts is placed there to lead us to Jesus. If there is a question about something someone has said, go to that person and talk with them. Maybe they have a piece of the puzzle you've never seen before. Maybe they have missed the mark in their thinking and you can help them see where their logic falters.
Prov 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (NAS)
If we help each other, work with our teachers and elders, we are sure to grow in wisdom and humility. If we are so sure that we are right that we can't talk, there is no humble heart left. The person who can not take correction is someone standing on a very slippery slope.
Prov 15:32-33 He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. 33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility. (NAS)
If there is confusion of strife in a situation, it is not from the Holy Spirit. Paul pleads with the Galations in Galations 3, "Who has bewitched you...". They had been sold a bill of goods. They were working to please God by those works instead of living by faith. Paul had to go back and untangle the knots and show them the simple faith they had once been given. One way to not get caught up like this is to keep it simple. The deepest, most powerful truths of the scriptures are the simplest. "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." was quoted by one theologian as the most powerful truth he knew. This gentleman was fairly liberal in his theology, but he knew the power and depth of the love that Jesus has for His children. Start there, work slowly outward, keeping it simple. Build a strong, well grounded faith.
Titus 3:9-11 But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (NAS)
The warning against these false teachers and prophets still has merit. There are those who have their own agenda, not God's in the church today. Pray for them. Guard against those who will not humble themselves before the Lord. Keep your own faith strong and simple. Study the truth, so you will immediately recognize the subtle error that can be spun by a wolf in sheeps clothing.
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (NAS)
Lord Jesus, please guard our hearts from pride and error. Keep our hearts rooted deep in the simple, powerful truths that are the basis of our faith in You. When we know these truths, men and women who would come in to deceive and destroy the flock will be known for who they are. Reach them with Your love and grace. Amen.
Grace & Peace,