Today there are a plethora of voices and opinions crying out for our attention within Christian circles and we simply must take stock and decide who we will listen to, and whom we can trust.
Do we merely allow ourselves to be cowed into passive, submissive silence simply because someone else is shouting louder or behaving in an intimidating and controlling fashion? Or ought we instead to be listening out for the voice of our true Shepherd and acting in obedience to Him only and thus speaking up for His truth?
I am writing today to encourage you in the latter, as I share some of my own stories of my dealings with various “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” that have proved to be quite prolific in England, as I feel sure they are in your part of the world too.
Firstly, let’s go to the basics and look at what Jesus said about Himself being the Good Shepherd and compare that to the qualities of “the hireling” shepherds that He warned us of. Here it is in John 10:1-16.
Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
Biblical Traits Of Good and Bad Shepherds.
A. The Good Shepherd: – cares for His sheep; knows them personally by name; gives them life more abundantly; He goes before them; the sheep hear His voice and follow Him because they know Him.
B. The Hireling, on the other hand: – does not care for the sheep as he does not own the sheep; is a thief/robber as he does not enter the fold (the kingdom of heaven) in the correct manner; does not stand up to the wolves but allows wolves to scatter the true sheep, even running off himself if things get too hot for him.
I guess we’ve all met plenty of type B. Sad to say, the world is awash with “hirelings,” and that is why we need to be alert and watchful if we are not to be deceived, derailed and even devoured by them! Unfortunately for the undiscerning, they have learnt to mimic good shepherds, at least to a certain extent.
So, they wear the right clothes, they surround themselves with appropriate selective props, and they talk the talk, of what they think shepherds ought to say. Yet Jesus warned that one of the signs of the end of the age would be “deception”. This is recorded for us very clearly in all three synoptic gospels.
Take Heed that No One Deceives You
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying,
“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” Matthew 24:3-5
“And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you.For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many.” Mark 13:5-6
“And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.” Luke 21:8
Jesus told us that there would be a huge prevalence of deceiving spiritual teachers prior to his return and He clearly said that MANY would be thus deceived. His true followers, however, are warned to “take heed” that we do not get entangled with such false teachers and become one of the “deceived many”, that He warned us about.
In the book of Acts we are also warned to watch out for savage wolves.
“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch…” Acts 20:29-30
So how can we recognise the difference, as many such deceivers stand in church pulpits, sit on the bench of elders and deacons, as well as besides us on the pews?
By their Fruit you will recognize them.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.”
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 7:15-20 & 10:16
(The next scripture is when Jesus was speaking to some Pharisees who had just said to Him that He was casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.)
“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things?
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37
OK, so Jesus said we were to be wise and harmless but that we must beware of and learn to recognize the false prophets, teachers and deceivers. He said that we would be able to recognize them, by their words and their other fruits, such as behaviour. You will notice their fruit of lying, false humility, false works, false prophecy, false teaching, false anointings, following false apostles, and trying to be justified by their works.
The things they do and say will not match a proper exegeted, in context, understanding of scripture. Yes, they will use scriptures to their own ends, cut and paste, mix and match, a little here and a little there, suit-yourself kind of faith beliefs; but it will not stand up to proper scrutiny of the bible subjects handled properly.
But Everyone Says They are Right –
How Can I Know What to Believe?
How are you getting on with sorting the real from the false, the true from the fake, the faithful follower of Jesus Christ from the deceiver and hireling?
Have you only ever heard the voice of the Lord, on the straight and narrow path, walking in obedience to His word only?
Or have you, like me, been through the exhausting mangle of the hireling halls, that has messed with your mind; seeking to spiritually seduce; tempting, tantalising and taunting you in the process? Are you currently feeling strong in the power of the Lord or beaten down and chewed up, rather like a rag doll in the jaws of a vicious Rottweiler?
If it is the latter, then please pray earnestly that the Lord Jesus Christ would increase your spiritual discernment and wisdom, cover you with His blood and take a prayerful stand in His mighty name to be set free from all that is not of God.
Pray too, that He will lead you to the right information to help you in this process as there is much to learn if you are to steer clear of deceivers in the future. He has always been faithful to me in these regards and He will certainly, likewise, care for all of His precious lambs and sheep.
My Hireling Experiences
I think that most believers today have had some experience of the hirelings that Jesus warned us about. I am exceedingly glad for the internet which is a great source of truth and exposé of the wolves and hirelings and is helping people to be set free from them.
As a consequence of this fact, you may even hear hirelings speak derogatively about the internet! I was astounded to hear such strange, negativity from a “church pastor,” even recently. They do not like blogs and websites which expose them, they do not like their own methods of darkness being laid bare, as it gives more people a chance to free themselves from their clutches.
This is the wonder and blessing that the internet is currently bringing. The hirelings will fight back verbally, and it will not be sweetness and light, I can tell you! Please beware of any person or group who warn you not to use the internet – this is a red flag warning to them wanting to control your thoughts (and your money flowing towards them, of course)!
I found another blog article dealing with this very issue, by Evelyn, that is called, “False-shepherds-on-social-media.” She wrote:-
“Just as the internet and social media have provided a powerful tool for false shepherds to reach a bigger audience, it has also provided a powerful tool for discerning Christians to warn a bigger audience about false shepherds and their evil deeds. The sword slices both ways.
False shepherds are no longer able to hide behind a pulpit in a controlled environment where everyone admires them, fears them, and hangs on their every word. The internet is a microcosm of the real world. And in the real world, there are people who aren’t impressed by their titles, false authority, eloquent speech, degrees, charming personality, talent, wealth and popularity.
If false shepherds can use the internet and social media to promote works of the devil, then surely, we can use the internet and social media to do the work of Christ.”
I say, a hearty “Amen,” to that.
Shoot the Messenger
I once asked a church “pastor” about something I had read on a blog about “Christian worship leaders” and strange dark information, and instead of dealing with the matter being discussed he turned on me, accusing me of digging around on the internet looking for such information! He was cold, hard and uncaring, totally acting like a hireling. This is typical hireling behaviour – don’t deal with the message simply shoot the messenger!
Condemnation & Accusation
Another time I questioned a “church pastor” about the strange manifestations of weird behaviour that were occurring in the congregation, (a Torronto-Blessing/NAR type church) and this person turned on me and said, “You have come very close to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit!” I had not done any such thing, of course, but he was simply demonstrating that he too was a hireling.
He also said that I had “spiritual pride”. This is another of their tactics – they attempt to deflect attention from themselves, and their false teachings and practices, and onto you. Often the thing they accuse you of is the very thing that besets them, as it was in this case!
Love of Money
Another time, when I questioned the issue of “tithing” being just old testament for farming produce for the Levites and not at all for the new testament church, I met with strong hostility and finally a warning to not be so critical and leave the church and never come back!
This again was a case of shoot the messenger and not deal biblically with the issue being questioned. This too demonstrated the leaders “love of money”.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10
Anyone with simple insight can tell that once a “pastor” is paid by a person or group then they can become silenced, controlled and entangled due to this issue. I have certainly noted this problem. On the other hand, some truly evil people are attracted to the role of pastor simply due to the money and power that they can gain from such a role.
Having said that, I do need to clarify that I believe on some occasions it is good to financially support Christians who are faithfully doing the Lord’s work to such an extent that they haven’t got time to fit in paid employment. However, I feel that it is much healthier for all concerned, if possible, for such workers to have part-time employment, as did Paul of the New Testament with his tent-making. Though we must bear in mind the following scripture:
“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4
Manipulation & Control
In one church “house-group” that I attended, we were subject to much manipulation and control techniques. The leader had prepared leading bible questions that we were being forced to answer in a set way (contrary to my beliefs) and he said we could ONLY look up the verses of scripture that he had written on his pre-prepared sheet of paper. We were discouraged from looking at passages in context and from looking up other relevant scriptures.
Also when anyone asked any questions that he didn’t want to answer, he would smoothly say, “We’ll come back to that later,” and then, of course, he NEVER did! Freedom of thought was not allowed in that group.
These are just a few examples of my dealings with hirelings. I’m sure that you, my readers, all have had your own battles for truth, as the wolves in sheep’s clothing reveal themselves as such by their words, methods and demeanours.
The Bible Says Woe to the Shepherds Who Destroy…
Today I have read a section from Jeremiah, chapters 22 to 26, where he deals with poor shepherding issues.
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord.”
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You shall have peace”, and to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.” Jeremiah 23:1 & 16-18
So here we learn that false shepherds and prophets will give wrong advice. They say, “peace and safety” when that may not be the case. Beware of those telling “visions” that are of their own wicked hearts. Jeremiah said their aim was to destroy and scatter the sheep. Don’t become their victim. Don’t succumb to their lies. Flee from them and depart from their places of dominion. Remember that Jesus said, that they have come to steal, and to kill, and to destroy! We all need to seek the Lord and His voice and let Him be our teacher via the Holy Bible. Remember that John told us:
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” 1 John 2:27
Some years ago I really noticed the relevance of Ezekiel chapter 34. I will just pick out a few verses for you here, but please read the whole chapter, as it is most edifying.
One True Shepherd – The Lord Jesus Christ
“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying; “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd…
Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, … I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”
‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture—and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet? And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.”
‘Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep.
Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them…”
I am so very grateful for the mercy of the Lord Jesus who not only gives us salvation but rescues us, His sheep, from the jaws of the “false shepherds” and calls us to Himself. When we have endured the pressures of being pushed around, butted and scattered, then He Himself is with us to strengthen us and feed us from good pastures and clear, still waters and to restore our souls. Do you remember what happened to the man born blind when Jesus healed him and gave him sight, not only was this innocent man thrown out of the synagogue but Jesus Himself sought him out and ministered to him personally. Praise the Lord indeed!
Oppression From False Shepherds
I want to encourage you all to pray, read the bible for yourselves, read the internet prayerfully and take a courageous stand for truth and righteousness. Do not be afraid of man or even of being alone.
God is with us in our lives lived for His glory. He absolutely LOVES HIS sheep. He is not letting us perish or leaving us helpless in the enemy’s hands of wicked shepherds. His comfort and joy and strength are all available as you seek Him and His kingdom with all your heart, strength and soul. If you feel oppressed, chained up and stifled to silence, then I advise you to pray, speak, take a stand. Do not fear. To do otherwise, can cause depression and a slow death of your vibrant life in Christ.
I will end this post with the lovely verses from the end of Habakkuk, as he mentions the flock being cut off from the fold, and it is a testimony of faith in the Lord God regardless of our circumstances.
“Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labour of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
May God bless you and grant you liberty in Him, and a Holy boldness to be about the Father’s business.
You can find the article, that I mentioned above called, “False-shepherds-on-social-media” on her blog, ExitChurchianity.com here.
A great article called, “10 invalid arguments in defense of false teachers,” can be found at Famine In The Land here.
For further study: You can see an article called, “The Responsibilities Of A Good Shepherd” on website “Deception In The Church.com” here
A valuable resource site that has information on the main well-known false teachers can be located here, at false-teachers.com
You can read about the false using of Jesus’ name at Tricia Tillin’s site “Banner.org.uk” here.
Also another website I have recently found interesting is WickedShepherds.com which you can access here.
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