Q: Who are the wolves in sheep’s clothing?
Jesus said in Matthew 7,
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
Later on, He said to His followers,
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues.” (Matthew 10:15-17)
It kind of looks like these “false prophets” (wolves in sheep’s clothing) from Matthew 7 are the same as the “men” in Matthew 10 who will hand some of the followers of Christ “over to the courts” and “scourge you in their synagogues.”
The “false prophets” are evidently religious leaders who think they are doing God a favor by persecuting true believers. As such, we have a good clue as to who exactly these “false prophets” (or “wolves in sheep’s clothing”) are.
1. They “appear” as religious leaders but are not, in fact, genuine followers of Christ.
2. They are offended by the message of the cross of Christ. As a reminder, the message is that salvation is found in none other except Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12) and that salvation is a free gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus Christ was the Son of God who was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). So the false prophet must be opposed to this message in order to qualify as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. They may proclaim a form of this message, but do not adhere to it fully. Or, they may entirely deny all aspects of this message. It can go either way. But either way, they deny at least one aspect of this message.
3. They are willing to persecute those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Those who believe must therefore pose a serious threat to those who are doing the persecuting. The ones doing the persecuting “get in the way” or “affect the lifestyle, power, and/or authority” of the ones doing the persecuting. This is the way it usually is with persecution. The one being persecuted is perceived as a “threat” to the other, to the point where the one doing the persecuting is willing to abandon all sense, reason, and dignity, in order to get his way. This is obviously not the way of Christ.
How should a Christian respond to persecution?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
Wow! What a tall order! But that’s what we have been commanded to do. And if we do it, we shall be called “blessed.”
Be blessed! (It’s not always easy being blessed.)