Summary: Teaching, The World, Divisiveness
JESUS STRAIGHT TALK - Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing
Matthew 7:15-20 (p. 679) May 21, 2017
Every Thursday morning I get to spend about a half hour reading with my 8 year old buddy named Ethan…and the Thursday before I left for vacation Ethan brought in a book about little Red Riding Hood, only this one was written from the wolf’s perspective. How misunderstood he was…how he was really trying to help Grandma out…how he really had the best of intentions…Ethan read and then looked at me and said, “I think he’s lyin.’” And I laughed out loud and said…“I think so too Ethan.”
And both of us were proved right because at the end of the story the wolf, dressed in Granny’s robe and cap still tried to eat Little Red Riding Hood. And he said “I can’t help it…I’m a wolf.”
Wolves by nature are predators. Their goal is to devour whatever they can…whether it’s pigs in straw houses…or little girls in red clothing.
If the wolf is at your door, then you know it’s bad news. No one is going to see a snarling wolf and think “Oh, what a cute little puppy…I think I’ll play with him.”
I remember Ethan saying during our storytime…I bet the wolf tries to disguise himself…and sure enough he did.
Scripture has a lot to say about wolves too. And it’s never good. Wolves are treacherous and dangerous when presented in God’s Word…and when Jesus says:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matt. 7:15)
This is spiritual straight talk from the Son of God.
And this warning takes place right after Jesus describes two ways of life…one that leads to eternal life and one that leads to destruction…It’s in this context that Jesus says:
I. WATCH OUT
I remember being at a lot of softball games where a foul ball was hit into the stands and everyone yelled “Heads up!”
If you weren’t paying attention there was a pretty good chance you’d get clocked in the head. Watch out…Heads up…aren’t spoken lightly. They are words of caution.
On the road of life it’s easy to get lulled into complacency…to lose sight of the finish line. It’s easy to be turned aside…to backslide in our faith unless we “Watch out.”
Have you ever known someone who was on fire for Christ…dedicated to following Him and His Word…They were serving out of love…connected to the Church as their family…and now they’re not? Anyone know anyone like that? Probably all of us…so what happened?
They stopped watching out…Instead of being self controlled and alert…their enemy, Satan, prowled into their life like a roaring lion…seeking to devour them. And, He probably used other people to turn them aside…People who taught false truths…false prophets.
We don’t stay on that narrow road by accident…we stay on it by being guided by Jesus and His Word…It’s why in this context Jesus says: “Watch out…heads up…be alert for those who would lead you off my path of life.”
But Jesus clearly tells us what to watch out for…or maybe better put…“Who” to watch out for.
II. WOLVES DISGUISED AS SHEEP
Let me ask you an important question. What do you think is the most important and probably the most dangerous priority of a shepherd?
We’d all agree it’s protecting the flock…guarding his sheep.
If a wolf shows up snarling and frothing out the mouth…stepping between him and his sheep is his duty…but it’s also dangerous.
But Jesus gives an even more dangerous situation…what if that wolf quietly slips in among the sheep…covered in fleece and disguised as one of them.
This is what false prophets and false teachers do…The Apostle Paul also knew this would be one of the greatest dangers for God’s Shepherds…He says, “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. So be on your guard.” (Acts 20:29-31a)
Be on your guard…Watch Out! Heads up!
So how do shepherds identify wolves among the flock?
Peter tells us in his second letter:
2 PETER 2:1-3 (p. 853)
1. They introduce divisive things secretly.
When you examine the fruit that comes from these people’s life, it’s destructive….it’s poisonous…it’s deadly…It doesn’t create a sweet unity of purpose and spirit…it preys on the weak…the spiritually immature…and it’s never about the truth of God’s Word…it’s about something false…heretical…and self focused.
God is a God of light…He reveals truth…His Word is truth…and His people walk in the light….they’ve put away secret and destructive practices.
John says in his first letter… “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you. God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”