“Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
In our culture, we are often asked to trust in the unknown. Our fellow citizens have been manipulated into thinking that character doesn’t matter. We are told it’s not appropriate to look into someone’s past to determine how he or she might act in the future. Opposed to this is the Christian Faith. It is a step into the light not a leap into the darkness. Christians don’t possess a blind faith. We trust in what we have “learned, firmly believed and been convinced of” 2Timothy 3:14.
In light of the above, the Bible states the means by which we can know someone’s character. We can gain information from a person’s past to help predict his actions in the future. Of course, there are no guarantees. We are not omniscient as God is. Yet, we can make reasonable decisions concerning a person’s character.
My title is from the greatest sermon ever preached. We all know it by its full name, “Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount”. I would encourage everyone to read it regularly. You will find it in your Bible in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapters 5 through 7. The entire sermon was a teaching that Jesus gave to His disciples. Matthew sets the context on a mountainside. Jesus saw the crowds that were following Him and He went up on the mountain and then He sat down. Matthew 5:2, “And he opened his mouth and taught them (his disciples) …”
This sermon was given by Jesus not as another Law but to describe His ethic or practice. In other words, Jesus laid out the standard of life in His Kingdom. He lived out what He preached. The purpose of His Sermon is to drive those who have been born again, citizens of the Kingdom, to their knees. We, citizens of His Kingdom, profess Christ by the sovereign grace of God who has raised us from death to life. We read the sermon and realize that it presents an impossible life-style. We are compelled to rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit in order to live the Christian Life. Jesus was the only one who actually lived in accordance with His sermon.
The verse re: “wolves in sheep’s clothing” is near the close of Jesus’ sermon. He declares that there will be false prophets. He said that these false prophets will look and dress like sheep but will actually be wolves. These wolves will seek to devour the sheep. The sheep represent the people of God. The wolves naturally, are those who are opposed to God seeking to destroy God’s people. They arise from within the visible church.
The Bible is God’s word to His children. It is absolute and universally true for all men. What the Bible says, God says. What God has said is binding on all people. Jesus declared a universal truth concerning discerning another’s character and genuineness. He said it is recognizable regardless of the circumstance or context. The character of an individual is not found in eloquence or erudition, real or imagined. It is not found in appearance or popularity. Character can be assessed by looking at past behavior. In order to recognize a man or woman of character it is necessary to study his or her past behavior. “Wolves” produce rotten fruit as they seek to destroy people
Whereas this principle of discerning wolves from sheep is universal, Jesus’ main concern was the visible church. “Sheep” can be easily deceived. That is, members of churches have demonstrated that they are more impressed by appearances than content. Christians have fallen for the lie that success is measured by size and programs. Beloved, neither large or small is relevant. God has given us the standard. It is His word written. God’s purpose for organizing the visible church is to grow up each member into Christ. Success is faithfulness to God’s word!
Beware of “wolves” who teach sweet-sounding lies that make you “feel good” about yourself. They may occupy the pulpits in large churches or small ones. Paul warned Timothy that men would surround themselves with teachers who will “tickle” their ears, 2Timothy 4:3. The same Apostle warned the elders in Ephesus that after his departure, “fierce wolves” would enter the church, Act. 20:29.
As we come to the close of another year, be all he more diligent to “make your calling and election sure “, 2Peter 1:10. Be discerning. Grow in the truth!