Feed the Sheep, Shoot the Wolves

The big idea is that some go too far, and some don’t go far enough.

Some people won’t fight for anything. Some fight for everything.

1. Christians are to feed the sheep.

We deal with different people differently, and we have to discern who goes into what category. When we’re dealing with Christians, the effort should be to love, encourage, grow them. I love my people with all my heart, and I’ve given them my life. I love and adore my people.

Jesus gave Peter a three-fold command to “feed my sheep” in John 21:15-17(HCSB)15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Feed My lambs,” He told him.

16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.

17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.”

“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. . Each time Jesus said, “Feed my sheep,” it was in response to Peter’s three-fold declaration of love for Jesus. The setting was one of the last of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus prepared a breakfast of fish and bread for them, and then commissioned Peter with the task of feeding His sheep and tending His lambs.

Jesus is both our Good Shepherd and the Door of the sheepfold. By describing His people as lambs, He is emphasizing their nature as immature and vulnerable and in need of tending and care.

The second time, the literal meaning is “tend My sheep” (v. 16). In this exchange, Jesus was emphasizing tending the sheep in a supervisory capacity, not only feeding but ruling over them. This expresses the full scope of pastoral oversight, both in Peter’s future and in all those who would follow him in pastoral ministry. Peter follows Jesus’ example and repeats this same Greek word poimaino in his first pastoral letter to the elders of the churches of Asia Minor: 1 Peter 5:2 (ESV)“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers”

The third time, the literal translation is “pasture (tend) the sheep” (v. 17). Here Jesus combines the different Greek words to make clear the job of the shepherd of the flock of God. They are to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food for God’s people, from the youngest lambs to the full-grown sheep, in continual action to nourish and care for their souls, bringing them into the fullness of spiritual maturity. The totality of the task set before Peter, and all shepherds, is made clear by Jesus’ three-fold command and the words He chooses.

What is this food with which shepherds are to feed the flock of God? It can be no other than the Word of God. Peter declares that Christians are to desire the pure spiritual milk of the Word so that by it, we can mature in our salvation 1 Peter 2:2(HCSB)2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation,. As early as the book of Deuteronomy, we see the Lord describing His Word as food for His people who live not by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from His mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus reiterates this thought in His temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4). The importance of the Word of God as food for our souls cannot be over-emphasized.

Clearly, the job of the shepherds of God’s people is to provide them with the pure milk of the Word of God so they can move on to the meat and solid food of the spiritually mature (Hebrews 5:13-14(HCSB)13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Pastoral ministry should be primarily one of pastors feeding their people the Word of God. Only then can pastors declare, as Peter did, their love for the Lord Jesus.

We see this in the ministry of Jesus. He speaks to the woman at the well in a loving way. Jesus speaks like this to Zaccheus. Romans 14 shows us this as well. Paul says “It doesn’t matter what you eat or don’t eat. Love your brother.”

Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” This is speaking of sheep. We’re NOT supposed to be kind to wolves or false teachers. We’re not to be kind to those speaking false doctrine. Some Christians, when you begin to critique others, quote Ephesians 4:32. We are supposed to be kind, but to one another. We are not to be kind to wolves.

The importance of being under a solid leader who preaches just the Word, one that doesn’t put opinions in the Word or taint the Word, or proof texts the Word,One that encourages you and equips you to read and understand the Word is that when the Wolves or the False teachers come in you can discern the truth.

Pastors(used that term loosely) that are too afraid to shoot the wolves or call them out are nothing more than hired hands, they are false teachers.
John 10:11-13(HSCB)11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. 13 This happens because he is a hired man and doesn’t care about the sheep.

Shoot the wolves.

Galatians 4:16(NLT)16 Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?

These are false teachers. Martin Luther says, “With the wolves you cannot be too severe. With the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle.” My point is that many of us have become worldly, thinking that you only say certain words. Worldliness is not having courage or speaking truthfully. We worship a guy who got murdered. The cross is an offense, and if we don’t speak of it in an offensive way at times, we may be false teachers.

Matthew 7:15-16(NLT)15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

The Pharisees were wolves but they were the devoted Biblicists.

Matthew 23:13 – (ESV)“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”

You are so worried talking about what you should be against that you don’t win people to Jesus.

Matthew 23:16-21 – (ESV)“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it.”

These are people that have memorized the entire Pentateuch. Didn’t Jesus tell us not to call people fools? He did. We should call fools fools. That takes discernment.

Matthew 23:27-28 – (ESV)“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

You look nice, ladies,you put your makeup on, gentleman,you comb your hair,. You cover tattoos, wear suits and ties,etc.You look wonderful to everyone but God who sees the heart.

Matthew 23:29-33 (ESV)– “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”

These are church-going folks, they teach Sunday school, they have memorized books of the Bible, they have given their lives to teaching Scriptures, they have masters degrees in theology, and he says “How can you possibly escape being sent to hell?”

Jesus shoots the wolves. Some of you get very frustrated because you want everyone to be treated like sheep, but the problem is most people are acting like wolves. We are supposed to love the sheep and shoot the wolves because we love the sheep. A wolf who cries is still a wolf.

Consider the following examples from the New Testament:

Philippians 3:2 – (ESV)“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.”

Colossians 2:8 – (NLT)8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

Be watchful for those people who tell you they have visions and speaks to angels but are not connected to a church.

Colossians 2:18 –19(NLT) 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.

when 2 Corinthians 11:14-15(NLT)4 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. tells us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light,” it means that Satan capitalizes on our love of the light in order to deceive. He wants us to think that he is good, truthful, loving, and powerful – all the things that God is. To portray himself as a dark, devilish being with horns would not be very appealing to the majority of people. Most people are not drawn to darkness, but to light. Therefore, Satan appears as a creature of light to draw us to himself and his lies. Satan presents sin to us as something pleasing and beautiful to be desired, and he presents false teaching as enlightening and life-changing. Millions follow his pied piper songs simply because they do not know God’s truth.

Joseph Smith – (MORMON)Angel of light called Moroni appeared to him and told him there were “more” gospels and that the bible was in error and not reliable.

Muhammed (ISLAM)said an angel of light proclaiming to be Gabriel told him he was a prophet at a young age

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NLT)Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 (ESV) “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

2 Peter 2:1-3 (NLT) But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

We feed the sheep, we shoot the wolves. Paul does it. Look at Galatians 5.

Galatians 5:11-12 – “But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!”

The Judaizers are saying “Jesus plus circumcision.” Jesus plus anything for justification ruins everything. This is a very serious issue. The gun needs to be loaded and wolves need to be shot when they are hurting the sheep.

Paul here is fighting for the sake of the gospel and the welfare of the church.

The cross is offensive by itself. We will offend people by preaching it. What we believe is so offensive that half the pastors don’t want to talk about it. Seminaries are saying “Don’t say that; you might get hurt.” The guy who first preached it got murdered. I don’t expect anything better.

These people in Galatians 5 are saying a little circumcision makes you closer to God. Paul is saying, “Go all the way! Cut it all off if that makes you saved.” You don’t say that to sheep. You say that to wolves.

Paul goes on to say, Galatians 5:13-14(ESV)“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” 

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is destroy someone’s self made theology before they go to hell.

People love to prooftext verses, and they don’t read the context. The guy (Paul)who said “love one another” prefaced it by saying “cut your thing off.”

Paul even names people sometimes who are false teachers. He is saying,”Don’t read their books, go to their conferences, don’t watch them on TV, etc.”

1 Timothy 1:18-20 – (ESV)18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

2 Timothy 2:16-17 (ESV) 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,

2 Timothy 4:14-15(ESV) 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.

You shoot the wolves, and occasionally you have to name them.

We’ll talk about Martin Luther, the man who, outside of Scripture, elevated this into an art form. Some of you would judge Luther and say he was too hotheaded. Well, we got the Reformation out of it.

Luther said that he has “not been hesitant to bite my adversaries….What good does salt do if it does not bite? What good does the sword do if it will not cut?”

We are told that our speech is to be seasoned with salt

(Colossians 4:6(HSCB)6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.. You know what salt is? Salty.

The Papists would never quote verses. Luther called on them to quote Scripture, calling them “coarse asses.”

Hebrews 4:12(NLT)12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Luther often debated Erasmus of Rotterdam. “Erasmus of Rotterdam is the vilest miscreant that ever disgraced the earth. Shame upon thee, accursed wretch! Whenever I pray, I pray for a curse upon Erasmus.”

Here’s what he says of his anger: “I have no better remedy than anger. If I want to write, pray, preach well, I must be angry. My entire blood supply refreshes me….My mind is made keen and all temptations depart.”

Matthew 10:34-39(HCSB) Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 39 Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it.

Pastors have a very difficult job, because we have to decide who is a sheep and who is a wolf. We don’t know peoples’ heart, and sometimes we get it wrong. It can become so paralyzing that we treat everyone like a sheep and wolves take over the church.

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