Beware of Wolves
Warning signs are for your good. They call attention to the real danger that lies ahead. This text calls attention to a danger that is sometimes hard to call attention to – other people and pastors. It’s hard because we know that we’re supposed to speak well of others and just be really nice (niceness seems to be an outward mark of Christianity for many). Sometimes though, the nicest thing you can do is protect yourself and others from real harm. That’s obvious when the person you are protecting yourself and your family from has looks like a wolf, sounds like a wolf and barks like a wolf.
There are some wolves out there in this world and perhaps in your life. Beware, they want to harm you and eat you. Beware, your only protection from them is to become like them and fit in and attack the same sheep as them. Beware, because you are tempted to do just that.
Remember You Are a Christian, Not of the World
Little Red Riding Hood knew to at least avoid the wolf. She’s much better than we are, too often. We have to be reminded over and over again, “You are not of the world, you are a Christian. You believe in the Bible. You believe that the Jesus who loves you, died for you so that you don’t have to fear your sin or the devil or the world, and lives for you is real and He is God and He wants what’s best for you and knows what’s best for you. You believe that what the world says about unborn babies, sex, marriage, lust, pornography, greed, lying, drugs, self centeredness, dishonoring authorities, pleasure and entertainment and always getting what you want no matter the cost is a lie.” Those are wolves that seek to destroy and devour and will end in death and fear and punishment. That’s the world, though, and that is not the warning that Jesus has for us today.
Some Wolves Dress Up Like Sheep
The warning is “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. They say the word “God” all the time and maybe even “Jesus” and they do it with a smile. They might be eloquent. They might speak powerfully. They certainly claim the Bible and the Spirit and they probably do it a lot because they want to you know how much they love the Bible and how much the Spirit speaks to them and through them. They condemn and judge. Boy, do they condemn and judge! But they don’t condemn and judge what the Bible condemns and judges. They soft peddle sin and often condemn those who take sin and it’s danger seriously. They offer hope. Boy, do they offer hope! But it is a vain hope offered often in the things the Bible condemns. They say, “it will go well with you” if you continue in your sin when it won’t go well with here or when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead.
Know Them By Their Fruit
Jesus says to us that we have to say to them, “Prove it.” Show me your fruit (16You will recognize them by their fruits. ). Don’t just talk about how much you talk about the Bible, actually talk about the Bible. The whole thing. Don’t just talk about Jesus. Preach, teach, live and pray the way Jesus preached, taught, lived and prayed. Listen to Him and then tell me about Him. That guy whose biography is in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the One whom God the Father set His seal and the One whom that Spirit you keep claiming descended and remained on Him – tell me about Him. Prove it, dear pastor. Prove it, dear Christian who claims to be Christian.
If they can’t prove, if I can’t prove it, if you can’t prove it, then beware of false prophets who dress up in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Wolves seek harm and kill and scatter. Beware.
No One is Forcing You to Hear and Heed This Warning
One of the things about warnings is that they can be ignored. This is not warning only from me. This is not a warning only from you to the one you love. This is a warning from Jesus.
The Warning Comes From Jesus and He Loves You
The same Jesus who is the Good Shepherd, who protects you from the snares of the Evil Wolf, who feeds you, who died receiving your punishment and death so that you are free in the Spirit and have life and call God “Abba! Father!” He is the Judge and He has revealed Himself to you proclaiming that He judges you innocent and blameless and you are His people and He will be your God forever and guide you forever.
Jesus is the True Prophet and Offers True Hope
If there are false prophets, there is also a True Prophet. If there are false hopes, there is also a hope that will not fail. If there are warnings of the danger, there is also One who protects. He has proven it and He will continue to.
Beware, dear saints. Warning signs are good. Beware, but also do not be afraid. Warning signs are good, but so to is having someone lead the way to the destination for you. The will of your Father, of Your Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit is that He strengthen and keep you firm in the true faith unto the end. He has made a promise to you. Jesus has given His life for you and has risen from the dead for you. Your faith is not in vain and mere men or devils cannot stop God. He has laid His claim upon you. He has sealed you in the waters of His death and feeds you with the good Fruit from the cross: His Body and His Blood. He has always known you, even before He formed in your mother’s womb. He has called you by name. Amen.