Shoot the Wolves
Wolves are heretics, false teachers, and, generally speaking, anyone who ravages the flock and feasts on the sheep. In addition to calling them wolves Ezekiel 22:27-28, Zephaniah 3:3, Matthew 7:15, Matthew 10:16, Luke 10:3
Acts 20:29, the Bible also calls them dogs and evildoers, empty and deceitful (Colossians 2:8), puffed up without reason (Colossians 2:18), given to mythical speculation and vanity without understanding (1 Timothy 1:3–7), products of a shipwrecked faith (1 Timothy 1:19), demonic liars with a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:1–2), peddlers of silly myths (1 Timothy 4:7), arrogant fools with depraved minds (1 Timothy 6:3–5), the spiritual equivalent of gangrene (2 Timothy 2:14–18), foolish and ignorant (2 Timothy 2:23), chatty deceivers (Titus 1:10–14), destructive blasphemers (2 Peter 2:1–3), ignorantly unstable (2 Peter 3:16), and antichrists (1 John 2:18). The Bible does not call wolves best-selling authors, bishops, TV Evangelist, Mega- Church pastors, Popes, though the wolves commonly prefer to use those names on their business cards.
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 example from the New Testament:
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.
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. Scripture 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.
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 6:3-4 (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.
Many times when those who stand firm in God’s Word as truth and call out false teachers they are told they have a critical or judgmental spirit, it is because we have stepped on the tender toes of a false teacher that is teaching the opposite of what biblical Christianity teaches. We are told that they are humble people with good hearts, and we need to stop bashing them.
May I suggest that these well-meaning scolders and followers of false doctrines are possibly venting at the wrong people? The real dividers in the Church can be found throughout scripture.
Romans 16:17-18(HCSB)17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, 18 for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites.They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words.
Many have bought into the truth-be-damned, politically-correct view that it is disgusting and divisive to hold up unsound teaching to the sound teaching of Scripture. But in doing so, these well-meaning folks who yearn for unity are hanging up a neon welcome sign for all sorts of doctrines of demons.
Liberal Christians continue to lift up those who have departed from truth because they want to be seen as loving, and they want the rest of us to pipe down in front of those who do not know or care to know Christ. As if somehow the warnings about wolves from those faithfully contending will chase the unsaved away from the salvation that was just about within their grasp – but we ruined it. As if false teaching will save them anyway.
The Bible is clear that we are not to treat wolves in the same way that we treat sheep. The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther said it well: “With the wolves you cannot be too severe; with the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle”. Luther also said, A preacher must not only feed the sheep so as to instruct them how they are to be good Christians, but he must also keep the wolves from attacking the sheep and leading them astray with false doctrine and error; for the devil is never idle. Nowadays there are many people who are quite ready to tolerate our preaching of the Gospel as long as we do not cry out against the wolves and preach against the false doctrines or false teachers. But though I preach the truth, feed the sheep well, and give them good instruction, this is still not enough unless the sheep are also guarded and protected so that the wolves do not come and carry them off.
Sheep are to be kind to sheep. Shepherds are to be kind to sheep. But if a shepherd is kind to wolves, that is just another way to let them ravage the sheep. Kindness to sheep is hostility to wolves. Kindness to wolves is hostility to sheep. All attempts to get the wolves and sheep together for some kind of all together universal non denominational lovefest will only result in fat, contented wolves.
Jesus himself was known to shoot the wolves. He sends the most bullets flying in Matthew 23 — the equivalent of a gunfight between him and some of the most devoutly religious people in his day. They started off fighting for the Bible but wound up fighting for religious ideas not founded on the Bible. Jesus says “Woe to you” 8 times then ends with “Snakes, Brood of Vipers”
Commenting on Matthew 23, D.A. Carson says:
Jesus now goes on the offensive, and “offensive” is not too strong a word for much of the language he uses. . . . It shows Jesus as a fierce controversialist, quite willing to make enemies when the cause demanded it. The target was the scribes (teachers of the law, a class of professional interpreters of Scriptures and of rabbinic tradition), and the Pharisees, a religious “party” to which most scribes belonged, and which was devoted to scrupulous observance of the full range of rabbinic legislation. They were, generally speaking, earnest, moral people, and Jesus’ attack here seems to many harsh and unfair. But his concern was not so much with their performance as individuals, but with the system of religious observance which they upheld. In insisting on a huge and growing corpus of rules and regulations, they were in danger of ignoring inner attitudes and motives and of putting adherence to the system before the will of God. (Carson, “Matthew 23:1,” New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, [InterVarsity, 1994])
Standing in line with the Old Testament prophets, in Matthew 23 Jesus pronounces seven woes on the wolves. The language of “woe” was a public, passionate declaration, with some of the guilty present for his proclamation of displeasure, grief, judgment, and righteous anger. Jesus’ words are a devastating series of shots at the wolves in front of the sheep:
Matthew 23:3–33(HCSB)3 Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.
8 “But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You lock up the kingdom of heaven from people. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in.
14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You devour widows’ houses and make long prayers just for show. This is why you will receive a harsher punishment.]
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the sanctuary, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by his oath.’ 17 Blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that sanctified the gold? 18 Also, ‘Whoever takes an oath by the altar, it means nothing. But whoever takes an oath by the gift that is on it is bound by his oath.’ 19 Blind people! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore, the one who takes an oath by the altar takes an oath by it and by everything on it. 21 The one who takes an oath by the sanctuary takes an oath by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And the one who takes an oath by heaven takes an oath by God’s throne and by Him who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. 24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. 28 In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn’t have taken part with them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ 31 You, therefore, testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ sins!
33 “Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell?
This harsh language was undoubtedly very shocking to a bunch of guys who spent their lives studying and memorizing the Old Testament. They had really prayed about it and did not agree that their inner child needed such a spanking, If Jesus did that today all the social media sites would say “ Jesus needed to take some meds and a meeting with Dr. Phil because he was angry and not loving”
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.
Our speech should not be judged by the standards of “American politeness, politically correct tolerance, or Pansy Niceianity.”
When he shoots the wolves, a shepherd is not only protecting the sheep but also evangelizing non-Christians. Jesus shot the wolves publicly in front of a crowd. In that crowd would have been an assortment of wolves, sheep, and lost people. By calling the religious people to repent of their proud, hypocritical, unbiblical, unloving, legalistic, and self-righteous religion, he was demonstrating the fact that God, as Paul says in Acts 17:30(HCSB)30 “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, For repentance to occur, sinners must be called to repent of their sins, and religious people need to be called to repent of their religion.
Sadly, most gospel preaching is only half true because it calls only the “sinners” to repent of their sin. Porn addicts, fornicators, adulterers, perverts, liars, thieves, and the like are called to repent of their sin.
This is quite good. However, what is often lacking in gospel preaching is an equally passionate call for the smug holier-than-thou religious types to get off their high horse (Jesus called it “Moses’ seat” in Matthew 23) and repent of their religion that is simply another kind of sin.
When the example of Jesus in Matthew 23 is not followed, the result is that sinners just think Christians are mean-spirited, self-righteous, religious prudes who want them to become religious too; The smug religious types cheer on the preaching-to-the-choir preachers who lather the wolves into a frenzy, shouting about how the wicked people outside their church are kindling for the flames of hell. True gospel preaching will not divide people into sinners and righteous, but rather into repentant and unrepentant, with both unrepentant sinners and religious wolves wanting to silence the shepherd and ravage his repentant flock.
We see wolves being shot elsewhere in the New Testament. Paul admonished the Judaizers in Galatia, who thought they were holy because they were circumcised a bit, to go all out and cut the whole thing off. This literally would have meant that these wolves would no longer be accepted as Jews, and not only cut off physically but also cut off spiritually from temple worship. Paul says:
Galatians 5:11–14(HCSB)11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!
13 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.
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.”
How curious it is that sheep and wolves alike are prone to quote the latter half of this section of God’s Word and argue that we should be loving, as Jesus taught, while conveniently ignoring the part about cutting ones manhood off. Indeed, when the Bible says we need to be loving, we need to read the verses around those words to see how the Bible also exemplifies how to be loving to God, sheep, lost people, and wolves. Apparently, in some cases telling religious wolves to castrate themselves is loving.
Not only does the Word of God record the shooting of packs of wolves, such as Pharisees and Judaizers, but it also names individual wolves to be shot. It is ok at times to call out the names of the wolves as to warn the sheep. Paul says,
1 Timothy 1:19–20(HCSB) having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have suffered the shipwreck of their faith. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them, and I have delivered them to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme. Later he speaks of “Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth”
2 Timothy 2:17–18(HCSB)17 And their word will spread like gangrene; Hymenaeus and Philetus are among them. 18 They have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are overturning the faith of some. and how “Alexander the coppersmith did [him] great harm” 2 Timothy 4:14(HCSB).
Outside of Scripture, one of the most legendary wolf hunters in the history of the church is Martin Luther. He was a good shot with bad popes. Like the Old Testament prophets,Jesus and Paul, Luther used colorful language in order to repulse readers and make them see how vile apostasy and sin really are. Gordon Rupp writes that, for Luther, “blasphemy and apostasy are not simply evil: they are filthy things, which must be described in language coarse enough and repulsive enough to nauseate the reader” (E. Gordon Rupp, Righteousness of God: Luther Studies.
Luther defended his usage of colorful and incisive speech as being both Christlike and apostolic. Luther writes:
It is true, I have, by and large, sharply inveighed against ungodly doctrines and have not been slow to bite my adversaries, not because of their bad morals but because of their ungodliness. Of this I am so unrepentant that I have resolved to continue in this burning zeal and to despise the judgment of men, after the example of Christ, who in His zeal called His adversaries a generation of vipers, blind, hypocrites, children of the devil.
John 8:44(HCSB)44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. And Paul calls the sorcerer a child of the devil full of all deceit and all fraud.
Acts 13:10(HCSB)10 and said, “You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? and some false apostles he calls dogs, deceivers, and adulterers of the Word (Philippians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 11:13(HCSB)13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
If the modern day sensitive ears had heard this, they would probably say that no one could be more biting and intolerant than Paul. Who is more biting than the prophets? But nowadays, of course, our ears are made so sensitive by the mad multitude of flatterers that as soon as we find that we are not praised in all things, we cry out that people are vicious; and when we cannot ward off the truth under any other appearance, we escape from it under the pretext of the irritable, impatience, and immoderateness of its defenders. What good does salt do if it does not bite? What good does the edge of the sword do if it does not cut? Cursed be the man who does the work of the Lord deceitfully! (Luther, What Luther Says, 1057)
Luther never denied that his strong attacks were forceful, passionate and intense. Luther defended his colorful language by appealing to the fact that God’s Word was being attacked viciously by wolves.
Luther reserved some of his strongest and most colorful language for his theological opponents. One such opponent was 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.” Erasmus was the chief translator of the KJV.
For modern ears finely tuned to prefer only tender tones, the words of Luther are perhaps quickly dismissed as the rants of an angry man, as if all anger is bad and less civilized than passive aggression, deep-breathing exercises, gossip and backbiting. The truth is that sometimes Luther’s public speech was fueled by intense anger. Martin Luther, the man who, outside of Scripture, elevated shooting wolves 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 his 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.
What do you think of Christ? Was He abusive when He called the Jews an adulterous and perverse generation, an offspring of vipers, hypocrites, and children of the devil? Paul, too, speaks of dogs, vain babblers, seducers, unlearned. In Acts 13:10 he rages against a false prophet in such a way that he might seem to be insane. He says: “ and said, “You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord?” Why does he not rather flatter this fellow in order to convert him instead of insulting him in such a way? The truth, which one is conscious of possessing, cannot be patient against its stubborn and uncontrollable enemies.
Ecclesiastes 3:8(ESV) rightly says that there is also “a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Discernment is knowing what time it is. Courage is doing what the time requires. While not every church needs a Martin Luther, more than a handful of denominations could use a good shooter, because the wolves have the sheep praying to the demon gods of other religions while encouraging the rams to have sex with the rams and the ewes to have sex with the ewes.
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.
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is destroy someone’s self made theology before they go to hell.