One of the most dangerous animals in the North Country of the US and Canada are wolves. While wolves may seem like a distant, nearly extinct animal, they have started to make a comeback and are showing up places they haven’t populated for quite some time. When a wolf is the predator, few animals stand a chance. A particularly vulnerable animal to wolves are sheep. They’re unable to defend themselves, so it’s the responsibility of shepherds to stand between them and the wolves. Of all predators, shepherds probably have the most concern over wolves. Without the shepherd, wolves have a field day as they prey on the sheep.
It is well known that Scripture compares followers of Christ to sheep (John 10:3), and pastors who lead them in a local church are referred to as shepherds (Ephesians 4:11). Pastors carry with them an enormous responsibility – not only to feed their sheep through the preaching and teaching of the Word (Titus 1:9a) but also to protect the sheep in their charge from those who teach falsehood (Titus 1:9b).
Posing as Shepherds
So, what do wolves look like according to Scripture? They are those that pose as shepherds but are really working for Satan (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). As Jesus preached The Sermon on the Mount he warned his listeners, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). The apostle Paul echoed Jesus’ words during his ministry. He warned churches that, “Fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).
What Paul writes is a sobering reality. Wolves, largely speaking, do not come from the outside, but from within. They graduate from evangelical seminaries, are hired by churches, and somewhere along the way, start to show their true colors as they begin to speak, “twisted things” (Acts 20:30). Instead of helping the flock the false shepherd harms the sheep, leading them away from the truth, and Paul makes it clear where they lead them to: themselves (Acts 20:30). False shepherds are those full of pride that want all the glory to reflect back on them. One might wonder why these men (and sometimes women) choose ministry as a career. The answer is obvious when you think about it. Churches are attractive places for those who desire power and influence in order to feed their ego. Satan is glad to use the fleshly desires of these false leaders to steer people away from the truth.
How to Spot Them
The grim reality is that modern American evangelicalism is flooded with false teachers, though we obviously don’t have an exact number. Still, when you consider that much of American evangelicalism is essentially a syncretistic synthesis of Christianity and worldly ideas, it’s no surprise. Secular ideas were introduced into the church by wolves and then accepted and spread by deceived leaders, who may be truly born again, but let down their guard.
So how do you spot them in our day? False teachers belong to the world and therefore push the world’s agenda. False teachers are passionate about what this passing world is passionate about, and the world approves of their teaching. But Jesus told his followers they would not be approved by the world (John 15:18-19). This life is a life of opposition to the world, not one where we link arms with the world for secular causes.
Don’t Be Fooled
When Christian leaders regurgitate mainstream propaganda, it causes us to question the genuineness of this shepherd. Do they belong to the world or Jesus? Teachers mixing secular philosophies with Christianity are either worldly (which disqualifies them as shepherds) or much worse, a wolf disguised as a shepherd, who is really working for Satan. Either way, there is no question that in these latter days, wolves surround us (2 Timothy 4:3-4). These wolves fill pulpits every Sunday, headline big conferences, sell many books, and are known and admired by professing and deceived Christians. But do not be fooled by them. They come as messengers of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) but are really ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). Watch closely. Are shepherds linking arms with the causes of the world or aligning with the holy cause of the Good Shepherd? Jesus tells us how we will know them: “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).
Tend to the sheep, follow the Shepherd, and watch out for wolves.