The thought isn't very pleasing, but there are real wolves out there...
Considering false teachers to be “wolves” is one of those topics that turns off most people. America is a very inclusive culture. However, the Bible is picky about preachers and teachers. The standard is much higher. As followers of Christ, we should avoid wavering from what the Bible teaches about this.
Jesus teaches his followers about false teachers. The Lord calls them wolves.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16a).
Yep. He just went there. If this wasn’t important, Jesus wouldn’t have said it. He said it, and it’s important for us to remember and learn from.
The truth is, faithful pastors have your back. They watch your back. Protecting you is their God-given duty. They are not interested in using you for personal gain. Leading you to healthy ground is their mission—their calling.
As God’s sheep, you need nourishment. You need guidance. You need fed. When you fall into a pit, you need someone to help you out of it. And it’s the pastor’s job to point you to The Good Shepherd, who can provide all this for you. The Good Shepherd's name is Jesus Christ.
One of the easiest marks to determine whether a teacher is a wolf or not is to see who they are pointing you to. Are they directing you to themselves? Maybe another pastor? To no one? Who is your current pastor pointing you to? They better be pointing to Jesus. Otherwise, you’ll never get the nourishment you need.
Another easy mark to spot a wolf is to look at which Jesus they’re pointing to. In case you haven’t noticed, more than one Jesus exists. In fact, there’s a different Jesus between Christianity and other religions. We must be aware of which Jesus we are talking about. Faithful pastors lead God’s sheep to the Jesus of the Bible. If the Jesus proclaimed isn’t the Jesus of the Bible then it’s a different Jesus.
Here's a third mark to spot a wolf—you will know a tree by it’s fruit, and you will know an animal by its diet.
Is your pastor’s diet one of a sheep, or a wolf? What does your pastor feed on? What encourages him, excites him? Is your pastor desiring the desires of God? Is he loving what God loves? Is he hating what God hates (sin)? Have you noticed what drives your pastor? This may indicate something.
This discussion is important because Jesus talked about it.
It’s not enough to follow just anyone! We must watch who leads us. A faithful pastor will watch your back. They will have your back because they care for you. They will care for you because they ultimately care about God. They will love you well because they love God.
Wolves do not. They love themselves.
Now, we understand that God alone is perfect. You will not find a sinless pastor to lead you. So be wise with the name-calling thing. Don’t see the speck in your pastor’s eye and shout, “You hairy wolf!” Be careful with this, but keep your eye out.
To many, this teaching seems archaic, as if it was only a problem in Jesus’ day. It’s as present today as it was then. False teachers still exist, and it’s really important to choose your leaders wisely. Faithful pastors have your back, while wolves have their own.
Faithful leaders will do their best to point you to Christ every chance they get so you can get the nourishment you really need. They will take care of you because Christ has taken care of them.