Acts 20:29-32 ESV
“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
The Bible warns us about “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Some of them are pastors of church congregations and teachers of the Scriptures and authors of best selling “Christian” books and church marketing experts and politicians and actors and sports figures, etc. They are those who make an outward profession of faith in Jesus Christ but who are inwardly wolves made to look like sheep but whose goal it is to destroy God’s people and the gospel of Christ, and to lead people away from genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, they will put on a show of righteousness. They will come across as gentle lambs, even, and you will feel as though they are sincere and that they really care about you. And they will teach enough truth to make you feel as though they are actually teaching the truth. But they will subtly insert into it clever lies, or they will share a Scripture out of context and then make it to say something the Scriptures do not teach. And they are trained in how to manipulate and to con (deceive, trick) people into believing them.
And this is what Paul was warning the people about then, but these wolves have magnified in the number of them in our day. From my own experiences and my own observations over my lifetime of 72 years, and from what I have heard and read of what these wolves are saying today, usually coming from their own lips and their own writings, I would suggest that the majority of what is called “church” in America is now being led by some type of wolves or variations of wolves, for they are following man and not God.
The gospel message that is permeating the American church, although not in every congregation, is so diluted that it barely resembles the gospel that Jesus and his New Testament apostles taught. For they have reduced the gospel to a mere profession of faith in Christ and then give a promise of forgiveness of all sins and of heaven guaranteed them when they die. And some are even teaching that we do not have to repent nor obey the Lord nor submit to him as Lord of our lives, for they call that works salvation.
So, we are to be alert and we are to be people of discernment and of prayer who walk in obedience to our Lord and no longer in sin, and we should be those who are testing what we hear from the mouths of preachers of the Scriptures (male or female), and we should be searching the Scriptures to see if what they are teaching is truth or lies. And just because they quote Scripture or just because it sounds biblical does not make it truth.
And let me tell you something else. Just because the name happens to be Billy Graham, or Franklin Graham, or Rick Warren, or Max Lucado, or John MacArthur, et al, don’t assume they are telling (or told) you the truth, either. For they can be widely known and respected and they may still be wolves in sheep’s clothing (not that I am saying these men are), so no matter the man or his reputation, still test what he says, okay?
Many of these wolves in sheep’s clothing, or men of the pulpit who are man followers and not God followers, are teaching this diluted gospel which then does not lead people to die with Christ to their sins and to live to Christ and to his righteousness in obedience to his commands. And so many who are buying into this cheapened gospel message feel that they can continue living in deliberate and habitual sin and that heaven is still guaranteed them.
And so what we have in the gatherings of the church are many people professing faith in Jesus Christ who are actually still walking in darkness. They abide in their sin. It still has power over them. True belief escapes them. They are still bound in their slavery to sin. It still has mastery over them. They are still under the control of Satan, and although they claim to be free they are not free for they are still addicted to sin.
Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” has an inheritance in his eternal kingdom, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. And many of them are going to hear from him one day that he never knew them and they must depart from him. And he said if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin) and follow him in obedience to his commands.
And Paul taught that we must die with Christ to sin and that we must no longer live according to the flesh, but that we must live according to the Spirit. And he taught that if we continue living in sin that we will die in our sins and that we will not inherit eternal life with God. And John taught that we must obey the Lord and not walk in sin and that we must love one another or we don’t know God and we don’t have eternal life with God.
For Jesus Christ died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who died and was raised. And he shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we will now honor God with our bodies (our lives). And by faith in him we are crucified with him in death to sin and raised to walk in newness of life in him.
And Jesus told Paul that he was sending him to open eyes that are blind, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. So we aren’t saved by a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ but we must forsake our lives of sin to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will for our lives.
[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 5:16-21; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15,21; 1 Co 6:19-20; Ac 26:18; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 12:1-2; Gal 6:7-8]
He Lifted Our Burdens
An Original Work / February 15, 2014
Based off Isaiah 9:2-7
People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.
Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.
Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.
We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.
Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.
He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.