Author: Ron Graham
Withstanding the Wolves
This page continues to study Matthew chapter 7 and the Sermon on the Mount.
1 Casting Pearls Before Swine (Matthew 7:6)
Let’s say that your "pearls" are your "treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:20). The "swine" are the worst sort of people described in the rest of chapter seven —people such as the hypocrite, the false prophets, and the foolish man.
We realise that there is a limit to how far we can have fellowship with people of that sort, in trying to share our treasures in heaven with them. These are not just lost souls seeking the true way. These are people deliberately living a lie, and not loving the truth (2Thessalonians 2:10-12).
With some people, those who oppose the truth, we must "contend earnestly" (Jude 1:3). With others, those who seek the truth, we must "be ready always to give an answer" (1Peter 3:15). Let’s be wise enough to distinguish between the two.
2 Withstanding the Wolves (Matthew 7:15)
Imagine a strong church in a big city with several elders shepherding the flock. Among its ministers was the great apostle Paul, who stayed and worked with this congregation for three years. Sounds like a pretty good church, and no doubt it was. It was the church in Ephesus. However, following his ministry there, Paul called together the elders. What he said to them echoes what Jesus himself had once said, "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15).
Paul said, "I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:28-31).
Three other giants of the early church issued similar warnings.
- Peter (2Peter 2:1-3)
- John (1John 2:18-24)
- Jude (Jude 1:3-4)
The Risen Christ’s Warning
The risen Christ likewise spoke from heaven to the Christians at Thyatira, whom he commended for their love and good deeds. But they were failing to note the false, self-styled prophetess at work in their midst (Revelation 2:18-20).
There are three main things to know in order to withstand the wolves.
- Know that the devil and his angels are at work to deceive and destroy (Ephesians 6:10-13).
- Know the difference between genuine truth-based love and artificial powder-puff love (Romans 12:9).
- Know (eido) and respect those who lead the church in truth (1Thessalonians 5:12-14).
3 Deep Thought
1. What does it mean to "Enter through the narrow gate"?
2. Compare Matthew 7:13, Luke 13:24-25 and Matthew 7:7-8. What does this tell us about when one should enter by the narrow gate or narrow door?
3. Why do so "many" choose to go on the way to destruction and misery, and so "few" choose the way to everlasting life and joy? The answer lies in what Jesus means by "narrow". If you are puzzled, look up Acts 14:22.
4. The idea of Matthew 7:13-14 is expanded in verses 15-27. What is the main principle? Compare 2Peter 2:1-3, 1John 4:1, and 2Thessalonians 2:7-12 especially verse 10.