Growing up in ATI, I was taught to be very careful about “wolves”. Not that the word “wolves” came up that often, but the teaching was still there: Beware of anyone who doesn’t have our standards. Beware of the world. Don’t let your children get deceived and defiled. Hunker in the bunker.
Who should we be concerned about? What kind of wolves are most dangerous? Who is most likely to destroy us spiritually?
Jesus told us what kind of wolves to look out for:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.
When a wolf shows up with no disguise, the sheep immediately recognize it as a wolf and run. He can’t trick them into thinking that he’s there peaceably, or that he’s a friend.
But when the wolf is disguised and looks like a sheep, he can sneak into the midst of the flock, become a trusted friend, and slyly attack when it works best.
Unfortunately, today, many people tell us not to identify wolves. People who call out someone as a wolf are told not to judge the other person—they are born again, washed in the blood of Jesus, and a brother in Christ. We must overlook the signs that they are not true believers.
Granted, it’s not a good idea to call everybody who disagrees with you a wolf. In fact, I would be suspicious of someone who did so. But when you see someone who claims to be Christian (follower of Jesus) but doesn’t walk like a Christian, it’s time to beware.
When Jesus sent His apostles out to preach, He warned them:
Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
As sheep, we are not big, fearsome animals like bears or lions. In and of ourselves, we do not have the ability to overcome a wolf. Therefore, we must be wise, realize that there will be wolves among us, and look out for them.
It’s significant to look at who these wolves were:
Jesus sent these twelve out, and commanded them, saying, “Don’t go among the Gentiles, and don’t enter into any city of the Samaritans. Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
These wolves that Jesus was warning his apostles about were not Gentiles. They were Jews! They were people like the Pharisees who claimed to be following God but were, in reality, children of the devil.
God warns us that Satan’s workers may appear to be righteous, and teachers of righteousness:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
(2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
The danger of being attacked by a wolf is serious. You could be killed spiritually. Your very eternal destiny could be changed.
However, do not think that somehow, a wolf will overcome you and kill you, and there will be nothing you or God can do about it. Jesus has promised us that no one can pluck us out of His Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who gives His life for the sheep.
All I’m trying to say is that the Good Shepherd has warned us to beware of hidden wolves, and the consequences of being overcome by a wolf are severe. And it is something that we must take personal responsibility to look out for. Otherwise, if Jesus automatically kept all wolves from attacking us, there would be no need for Him to have warned us.
To ignore the signs of a wolf is a perilous choice.
But what are the signs of a wolf? That’s what we’ll look at in the next post.
UPDATE: For more on this subject, please check out my free ebook, Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: How to Recognize and Avoid False Teachers.