I have been in ministry long enough to see and notice that there are wolves in sheepís clothing. It becomes tiresome to see so many people who say they are a Christian and then undermine all that God is doing in and through the church. This doesnít come as a surprise since Satan is continually trying to undo what God is doing. So we know that Satan is also at work in the church. Jesus warned us about such people when He said, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.Ē (Matt 7:15, NIV) So what do these wolves look like?
1. Wolves gossip. They go around talking about people they are offended with and donít actually talk to the person they are offended by. This may involve lies and slander. Always beware of those who gossip. They are bad news. (2 Tim 3:1-5; 2 Pet 2:3; 1 John 4:20)
2. Wolves are easily offended. (Prov 18:19; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 1 John 4:20)
3. Wolves misuse the scriptures. (2 Tim 4:3; 2 Pet 2:1-2, 12)
4. Wolves speak against the spiritual authority God has placed over the church. This applies to speaking against the elders, but primarily against the pastor. (2 Pet 2:10; 1 John 4:20)
5. Wolves are always right. They have the attitude: ďit is my way or the high way.Ē (2 Tim 3:1-5; 2 Pet 2:14)
6. Wolves are argumentative. It is as if they look for fights. (Prov 18:19; 1 John 4:20)
7. Wolves do not seek all the information needed to make a decision. They will only listen to what supports their opinion. (2 Tim 4:3; 1 John 4:20)
8. Wolves vie for power. (2 Pet 2:14, 19)
9. Wolves undermine the work of the church as commanded by Jesus, to make disciples through discipleship and evangelism. (Matt 28:19-20; 2 Pet 2:1-2, 12)
10. Wolves are unwilling to admit when they are wrong and never apologize or ask for forgiveness. (2 Tim 3:1-5; 1 John 4:20)
11. Wolves are proud. (2 Tim 3:1-5)
How can you tell if you yourself are a wolf in sheepís clothing? You read the above list and are offended by it.
This list does not mean that Wolves fit the whole of it. Even if we see one of these points we must be cautious at the possibility and wait for more signs before concluding that they are wolves in sheepís clothing.
Church leadership needs to be aware of such people, because these people are very destructive to the church. Church leadership also needs to watch for it in their own ranks, because church leadership are not immune to having wolves in sheepís clothing. When a wolf in sheepís clothing is identified the church leadership needs to deal with the issue promptly so to keep the damage at minimum. Some may be afraid of dealing with these wolves because of how this might affect the church. Let me be clear with this. No matter what you do, wolves will cause damage; itís just a matter of how much damage you allow them to do. The sooner the wolf is dealt with, the less damage there will be.
The next question may be how do we deal with wolves? We must follow the example Jesus gives us in Matt 18. We are first to go to the person. If there is no change, then two witnesses must be brought. If the person still does not comply they must be brought to the church leadership for discipline. This discipline may include expulsion from the church should the person fail to comply with the church leadership. This doesnít mean that the person cannot come back to the church; but that they can, should they follow the directives given by the church leadership. Remember, church discipline is always about restoring. It is up to the person being disciplined to comply with the standards God has given in order to be restored to fellowship.
It is always good to be proactive so there is less chance of a wolf to gain power within church leadership. One way is to be diligent to follow 1 Timothy 3 when choosing elders and deacons. This will minimize the possibility of selecting wolves in leadership. The pastor or search committee must ask good questions of the elder or deacon candidate. This includes asking the person if they agree with the vision of the church and support the pastor. If they donít, DO NOT ENTERTAIN HIS/HER NAME TO STAND FOR LEADERSHIP. They will cause problems.
Here are a few vital questions to ask of a elder/deacon candidate.
1. How frequently have you been reading your Bible in the past four months?
2. How frequently have you been praying to God in the past four months?
3. In your prayer times have you been praying for the church and itís pastor?
4. How have you been helping to fulfill the vision God has given this church?
5. What has God been teaching you in the last week? Month? Year?
If the elder/deacon candidate cannot answer these questions to the degree expected for the church leadership, then do not entertain the person for church leadership. They will cause problems in the church, because they are not hearing Godís voice for the clear direction needed to be a part of church leadership.
Let us be diligent in the work God has called us as leaders, to lead the church in His direction, while protecting the flock from ferocious wolves.
I agree with your post on all counts, and it is important that we remind ourselves and others about being aware of wolves in sheep's clothing.
I would like to add one thing, though - a point I think a lot of us overlook and that is how we are to treat sinners. When Jesus told the disciples how to handle the situation of being sinned against by another person, he ends with "treat them as you would pagans and tax collectors". Jesus routinely ate with pagans and tax collectors - healed them - fed them - raised them from the dead - befriended them...
Matthew 18:15-17 (New Living Translation)
Correcting Another Believer
15. “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16.But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
Yet, Jesus apparently associated with such people at dinner parties. The Pharisees charged that Jesus was "a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners" (Luke 7:34). Even though Jesus belonged to the middle class, he reached out to people of the lower class. On one occasion Jesus said to some religious leaders in Jerusalem, "The tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you" (Matthew 21:31).
Of course, Jesus did have a message to proclaim to them. But his message was not, "Straighten up your life and keep the law." Rather, his message was, "The kingdom of God is yours; you are included." By eating with them, he was extending to them the kingdom of God.
Malachi 3:10 - . . . Test Me, and see if I won't return to you a blessing too vast for you to receive. To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.