“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
The Simple Answer
This is going to all come down to one simple thing. How well do we know Scripture? If we know Scripture well, we know what we are looking for. I am not saying that we need to have Genesis to Revelation memorized, but it is good to start to know where to look for something. Thank goodness for Google. I enter in my paraphrases, and typically find exactly what I am looking for. I really have had a year of increasing not only my knowledge of Scripture, but also in truly understanding it. Don’t sit idly by, waiting to receive understanding. Increasing knowledge takes work. Think of how much effort and work is put into becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer, and really anything else at all. My background is in culinary, and I did not merely walk into a kitchen and inform the executive chef that I was good without whatever he had to teach me. Not because I was humble, but because that would have simply been a lie. I needed the knowledge he had to make me a better cook. I could have obtained the same knowledge elsewhere, but not without at least the same amount of hard work that I put in to learn.
Don’t Fall Prey
So often anymore, we decide that we don’t need the Bible or the relationship with God, we just want that fire insurance. Then, we end up confused as to why life doesn’t seem to be working out. The problem is, we accept what others preach and teach, no matter what it may be. Part of it is to not offend, but let’s be honest, a lot of it is because we are too uneducated on the opposing side to stand up for truth. We aren’t solid enough to not make ourselves look like fools. I’m not saying that we need to go out looking for disagreements, but I am saying that many of us have fallen prey to a wolf at least once, and it’s because we lacked the knowledge of the truth.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves
Wolves in Their Different Forms
Wolves come in oh so many forms. They are disguised in whatever form benefits their cause, which is to serve themselves.
Church Leaders: The most well known kind seems to be the church leader. In certain churches, there are little to no consequences to bad behavior because the main goal is to keep the clean appearance. It goes well beyond that, but the appearance of being good and holy can cover up all sorts of evil. If the elders aren’t involved in the corruption, they are usually happy to cover it up for their own names sake, which is still corruption. The Scripture is often twisted to suit the leaders need. So many vulnerable people go to churches to seek healing, and these leaders are counting on those people to prey upon. They need those people’s money, trust, bodies, or whatever it is that they seek to fulfill their own needs. We cannot deceive ourselves into believing that everyone in the church is well-meaning, and following God, because that is not the truth. There will be some great leaders, teachers, and church goers, but there will be just as many that are corrupt. We need to have the discernment to know better, and discernment comes from knowledge.
False Teachers: Along with the church leaders, we need to be aware of those who preach prosperity and happiness. I’m not saying that those things are wrong, but when someone says that God wants you to be happy or have money, I’d love to see where in the Bible it says either. If you come across people preaching these things, collecting money, and promising that they can gain you wealth or healing, please run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Family, Friends, and Love Interests: Other types of wolves can often be found in our own families, friends, or as our love interests. We need to be aware of the people that never take blame for any of their own actions. The ones who throws tantrums when they don’t get their own way. They are the ones who go out of their way to make others lives miserable. They put others down, and elevate themselves. They often have extreme tempers, but are extremely kind when they need something from someone. If they know you are a believer, and want to do right by God, they make a point to know certain Scripture, and they become professionals at twisting it. You will hear them say terrible things about people who are no longer in their lives. They will tell you that these relationships ended due to the other people acting the exact way that they do in order to create the illusion that every one else is the problem. We are called to something more in these types of relationships, but if they do not repent and seek reconciliation, the best thing we can do is have no contact with them. We do not want to let the cycle continue in our lives or even in our childrens’ lives.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
I can guarantee that I did not cover every type of wolf (hello…politicians!), but they get easier to spot once we start looking for them through the eyes of the Word. Wolves are abusers. They trick us. They lie. There is no benefit in a relationship or in following after any person who is like this. There is grace for all, but not without repentance, and that is something that too many of us forget too often. Grace is beautiful, but do not hand it out as if it were forgiveness or love (see Conditional Grace). We can forgive and love from a distance out of obedience, but nowhere does the Bible say to keep a relationship with a wolf, an abuser, or anything along the same lines. So, now go make this a priority by increasing your knowledge. You will find that you will reap the benefits far beyond just being able to identify a wolf.
If you feel like you may in an abusive situation or are dealing with “wolves” in your life please comment below, shoot me an email, or reach out via social media.
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