This is the third in a 4-part series on Sheep, Goats, Wolves and Sheepdogs. Today, we discuss Wolves.
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Unlike sheep and goats, wolves are carnivorous, flesh-eating animals. They don’t feed on the pasture, but on the flock. Jesus said that they would often come disguised in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Every pastor and elder needs discernment against the operation of wolves. The Apostle Paul warned the elders of Ephesus about wolves in his farewell speech to them:
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves
The sole desire of wolves is to devour the flock. Notice that Paul said “after my departure.” Wolves know when the pastors are in authority and when they’re not. Wolves aren’t looking for a fight, they’re looking for easy prey.
An isolated, solitaire sheep will easily be devoured; he is no match for a wolf. As mentioned, sheep have no defense system to fight off enemy attacks. The only defense a sheep has against a wolf is to stay in the fold, and stay submitted to the shepherd. When a wolf enters a sheepfold, sheep will press up tight against one another. The wolf will jump up on top of the sheep and pounce up and down, trying to separate them. Individually, the wolf will devour them; If the sheep stay in unity, the wolf has no penetration. It is imperative for sheep to stay in the fold!
It is also important that sheep be in a fold where there are true shepherds, not hirelings. Jesus warned us that the hireling will see the wolf coming and flee for his own safety, leaving the sheep as open prey. A shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep (see John 10:11-13). Elders must also fall into this category. This was the emphasis of what Paul was saying to the Ephesian elders.
The following are some of the traits of wolves:
a. Wolves, run in packs, but have little respect for one another and will easily turn against one another.
b. Wolves do their best to stay away from the shepherds and cling to the sheep. However, the ones in sheep’s clothing often try to seduce the pastors.
c. Wolves are easily exposed when flesh and carnality crop up. They will be all over it.
d. Wolves have problems with church leadership wherever they go. They have common denominators of being “hurt” by their previous pastors and “not having their gift received” in their last church. Beware!
e. Wolves often display a deceptive charismatic charm.
f. Wolves are sent by the devil to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). They are Satan’s agents of destruction.
As seen in Acts 20:30, some people can turn wolfish without being properly submitted to the pastors. They will “draw away” other members of the congregation with their deceit. The chief aim of a wolf is to draw sheep away from the flock which God placed them. They will speak smooth words of how the pastors have “hurt” them, or how the Holy Spirit has “shown them” that the pastors are in error. This is designed to inject distrust for the leadership and instill confusion about where they’re supposed to be.
In summary, wolves must be kept out of the flock at all costs! There are no exceptions. Compromising to entertain a wolf will always result in the loss of one or more sheep.
Part of the protection against wolves in the sheepfold is the ministry of sheep dogs. That will be our next discussion.