Summary: Paul told the Ephesian elders that wolves would arise from among the own number. How were they to be able to tell when someone (like an Elder) had become one of the bad guys?
OPEN: Last week I told you I loved superheroes. And I have done extensive research for this sermon series for years. I’ve read superhero comic books/ watched superhero TV shows/ went to superhero Movies. I’m what you might call an “expert” in superheroes.
And one of the things about superheroes you can always count on is that they always have a super villain - an enemy who almost matches them in their abilities and skills.
• Superman has Luthor
• Batman has the Joker
• Spiderman has the Green Goblin
And those villains are fairly easy to spot.
I mean they’re bad guys… they look like bad guys.
But the Bible tells us our enemy isn’t so easy to spot.
When we think of our enemy – many tend to think of some guy standing around in a red suit with a tail and a pitchfork. But 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us
“… Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”
He looks almost righteous.
He looks almost religious.
In other words, you’ll not always know he’s evil by how he looks
Even false teachers don’t always show up with snake oil and a handlebar mustache.
Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:15
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
They look like the flock.
They have wool just like the other sheep.
And here in our text this morning Paul warned the Elders at Ephesus that some of those wolves would show up from amongst their leadership. “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
In the first Iron Man movie the villain was Stark’s (the hero’s) supposed friend and mentor.
Through the first part of the movie he looked like a friend, he acted like a friend, he talked like a friend. He even looked like he was protecting the hero.
But inside, he was seething with anger and rage.
Underneath, he desired to destroy the man who stood in the way of his power.
(Play clip – From when Iron man confronts Obadiah on street and is thrown into the bus, to the point where Obadiah ices up and Stark says “did you ever solve that ice problem… think about it” and then thumps him)
Notice that Stark’s adversary (Obadiah) felt that Iron Man was his enemy.
The hero had stood in his way to rightful leadership of the company.
“For 30 years I’ve built up this company.
Now no one’s going to get in my way! Especially you!”
The hero was someone to be destroyed so that Obadiah could attain his true right. Power.
In order to deal with the Stark, And Obadiah had developed a suit that looked very much like Iron Man’s so that he even looked like the hero… but he wasn’t.
He was just a wolf in iron clothing.
In that one sequence we see the true nature of wolves
* They tend to look like us
* they feel they are in the right.
* AND they are willing to destroy anything in their way to get their way
So, let’s backtrack a bit.
The wolves Jesus and Paul talk about look like us.
* You can tell who the Jehovah Witnesses are. They’re the ones with the green Bibles and the funny looking tracts.
* You can recognize the Mormon missionaries. They’re the ones riding their bikes and wearing white shirts and ties.
* And you know the Hari Krisna types by the flowers in their hair.
But these wolves look like us.
That’s because they often ARE us.
They’re often “part of the family”
It could be an Elder, a Preacher, a Sunday School Teacher.
It could be me… it could be you.
AND that’s scary.
Often wolves don’t even realize they’re wolves.
They’re so convinced that they are right… nothing else matters.
And so, we might actually end up being wolves without realizing it.
How many of you here would like to be a wolf?
Of course you wouldn’t
Jesus didn’t call us to be wolves… He called us to be His sheep.
ILLUS: There’s an old camp song that goes this way
“I want to be a sheep, baa baa” (sing)
I don’t want to be a wolf, I want to be a sheep.
Jesus called me to be a sheep not a wolf.
Sheep and wolves are natural enemies.
But if wolves can arise from among our number, and IF those wolves could end up being you or me, how do I recognize when I’ve stopped being a sheep and become a wolf???
1st – I I’d know I’d stepped over that line when I find that I am consumed with power and influence.