Summary: How do you tell the wolves from the sheep?
ILLUSTRATION: Years ago, the "Glory Barn," led by Hobart Freeman, was a wondrous experience. His church had established a beautiful auditorium inside a refurbished barn. It was packed - even on Sunday nights - as people left their communities and traveled 30 to 100 miles to attend and hear this dynamic speaker preach from the Bible. Ordinary workmen were studying Hebrew and Greek there throughout the week and worship services were "exciting." I know, I went a couple of times. Still after a couple of weeks visiting, I came away troubled.
Jack and Mary (not their real names) were a young couple from my home church that regularly attended the Barn on Sunday Nights and who also attended a Bible Study I was involved with. One night, at that Bible study, I shared a song I had written that quoted a prophecy about Christ from Isaiah. Mary took me aside afterward and told me that the way I’d used that prophecy was not the proper interpretation. She said that Dr. Freeman interpreted it entirely differently.
I smiled and replied "That’s OK," I replied. "I can be wrong…and Dr. Freeman can be wrong."
"Oh no," she said, almost shocked. "Dr. Freeman can’t be wrong - he’s a prophet"
Suddenly, I knew what was wrong at the Barn.
In time, the "Glory Barn" and it’s "Faith Assemblies" began to infer, if not outright teach, that if you had enough faith, you wouldn’t need to go to a Doctor to be healed (in fact if you went, it was a sign you didn’t have enough faith). Jack (Mary’s husband) who was diabetic, believed Freeman and his teachings and - after several incidents where he blacked out because he hadn’t taken his medicine- died of a lack of insulin.
Jesus said "Watch out for false prophets, for they come to you in Sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."
People die physically and spiritually at the hands of false prophets (pause) because wolves devour their prey.
I. What are these wolves hungry for?
Not your food or you money. These wolves are hungry for you. Paul warned in Acts 20:
"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to DRAW AWAY DISCIPLES AFTER THEM" (Acts 20:28-31).
Wolves desire YOU… because you are their power base. You give them importance. You become their flock.
Jude condemns such devourers in very direct terms: "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord…. these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals— these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm— shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted— twice dead." (Jude vss. 4, 10 , 12-13)
II. The way Jude describes them, you’d think these teachers were some kind of 3 headed monsters that could be easily seen and identified. But, they’re not. Satan, we’re told, appears like an angel of light. Satan and his followers don’t hand out calling cards saying: "I’m an enemy of God." They disguise themselves to gain your confidence. Because it’s easier to deceive you if they look like you.
ILLUS: At one time, the cover on the Jehovah Witness Bible was green. But lately, it’s been changed it to black. Why? Jehovah Witnesses want to look like you. When they come to your door, they’ll quote from KJV. Why? Because they want to sound like you.
Mormons spend millions each year on magazine, radio and TV ads to convince you they are just like you. In fact they grow offended to be accused of NOT being Christians. Even their extra books are called "ANOTHER Testament of Jesus Christ."
III. If they tend to disguise themselves, how are we supposed to recognize these evil people?
Jesus tells us, we can recognize them "by their fruits."
DO THEY TEACH ANOTHER GOD?
In the Old Testament, God’s people were told in Deuteronomy 13:1-4
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.