I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. If we are discerning, we can see the same breed of wolf lurking among us today that Paul saw in the early church, that is, wolves in sheep’s clothing, tearing apart the flock. He once warned the early saints of Ephesus:
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous [vicious, savage, fierce] wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:28–30; emphasis added.)
He also spoke of certain characters arising to speak perverse—distorted, twisted—things, seeking to draw away followers after them. The times and technology have changed, but people have not.
The goal of this post is to help free someone, anyone, from the jaws of such wolves in the last days, from those who would lead us away from Jesus Christ.
How can we discern between a true follower of the living Christ and someone who has hidden, dark motives? How can we know when someone is telling us the truth or is not telling the truth? We can know them by their fruits, as Jesus warned.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15–20.)
I have struggled to discern this dichotomy since my teens. After trial and error, I’ve come up with a chart of “fruits.” Here it is. The characteristics on the left are positive while the ones on the right are the opposite, negative characteristic. An honest, reliable person will show more traits from the left column and a dishonest, unreliable person will hover over the right. None of us will fit perfectly in either column, but it can help us pick up on trustworthy trends.
|Are they . . . ?||Or are they . . . ?|
|Modest||Immodest, showing off|
|No regard for personal gain||Covetous, greedy, taking personal gain|
|Patient||Impatient or exasperated|
|Positive bias||Negative bias|
|Respectful||Abusive, insulting, threatening|
It’s tricky business. People just don’t fit easily in one column or the other. A wolf may not demonstrate all the characteristics on the right, but he or she will show many of them. We all tend to show up on both sides. I’m talking about spotting trends and tendencies, not putting people in boxes.
This isn’t virtue signaling. I’m not pretending to fit 100 percent in the left column. I am just saying I’ve come to know the difference.
I have met and discerned some wolves over the years. They didn’t know they were wolves, but they were. Some have led people away from the Church, unwittingly or knowingly. Some are in prison.
Earlier, I’ve called anti-Mormon literature, so called, scornograpghy. I believe it is just as damaging as pornography. Does pornography contain elements of beauty? Perhaps it does. But it’s sinister purpose is to pervert human relationships, to conquer, addict, and enslave men and women to be preoccupied with a distorted view of sex. Does scornography contain elements of truth? Perhaps it does. But it’s sinister purpose is to pervert and twist the truth to make something to appear other than it is, to seduce, conquer, and enslave your emotions so that hatred, spite, fear, and unbelief fester where love once flourished.
So stop fooling yourselves! Evil companions will corrupt good morals and character. (1 Corinthians 15:33, TPT.)
Please don’t mistake my intent. Good people make mistakes, sometimes big ones. Good people commit crimes. Every human being is a disappointment, to themselves and others. It’s the nature of mortality. I make it a personal rule to not drink in other people’s vices, to allow the bad behavior of any person, living or dead, to diminish my connection with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I also choose to not judge anyone. Judging another is an arrogant gambit. Assuming that we know enough to judge another is a shallow, conceited act.
Think about it . . .
- Adam and Eve did something they were forbidden to do, but mankind is on the planet because of it.
- Noah built an ark and saved a generation, but later he got drunk and lost his clothes in the process.
- Moses led Israel through the Red Sea, but later gave himself a little too much credit.
- David slew Goliath but was later slew himself with lust. But he repented and stayed faithful for the remainder of his life.
- Judas, one of the twelve apostles, turned out to be a thief and betrayed his Master for 30 pieces of silver. He hung himself the next day.
- Peter denied knowing Christ, but went on to boldly testify of Him and die a martyr’s death.
- Paul hauled early Christians to prison, some to their deaths, but his New Testament letters have converted millions to Christ.
Blah blah blah. So what? Just because someone does something bad, or something I can’t understand, doesn’t erase the immeasurable good they have done or may do. Our mistakes, our sins, don’t define us. The healing power of Jesus Christ defines us.
Since I was a small child, I have never let other people form my views and opinions for me. Not my parents. Not my friends. Not my closest intimates. I was a subversive kid.
But I do not trust scorners or their writings or their videos, no matter how clever and sophisticated or convincing they are. I have learned, through research and experience, that I cannot trust what they say. I’m not going to buy what they are selling or drink their poison. I sincerely try to listen intently to the voice of the Lord and try my best to trust, understand, and follow that voice.
I am a sinner, but first and foremost, I am a believer. I always have been a believer, in God and in His word. I hope I never stop believing—or trying to move myself into the left column. I have a good ways to go. But at least I know this: “From such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).