Christ, The Good Shepherd: Our Only Protection
When I was a child, I use to love fairy tales. Often in these tales, wolves were portrayed as cunning and ravenous villains. But are they that bad? In the movie "Never Cry Wolf", based on a non-fiction book of the same name, a young scientist discovers that wolves are creatures that are striving to survive just like any other: this is not to say that wolves are not a threat to shepherds and sheep.
Wolves are cunning hunters. Although they tend to be loners, they hunt in packs. They are also nocturnal. They prefer to hunt after dusk under the cover of night. Wolves test herds for signs of weakness, taking advantage of the very sick and old. They sniff the air for wounds or the smell of infection. Once they chose their prey, the wolves travel in the opposite direction from which the wind blows to prevent the victim from catching their scent. Wolves also observe ravens for finding prey. Ravens circle in the air, just above sick animals. Circling birds mean that food is near. The wolf pack quietly will close in on their target, often in a single line. They seize their prey by the rump or the sides, preferring to attack from behind.
In the case of sheep, as the wolves try to catch the sheep they are targeting, the rest of the flock scatters. Now, the shepherd has not only lost the one sheep to the wolves, but they also have to find the other sheep: this can take hours or days. The wolf will also attack the shepherd if he tries to defend his flock. However, the only defense the sheep have against the wolf is the shepherd. As we can see, Paul didn't compare the enemy to wolves for nothing.
Referring to false prophets, Jesus says the wolves that attack us many times will come "to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Mat7:15). Their disguise is very deceiving, which is why Christ says in Matthew 24:24,
Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
The deception is so great that even the elect could be deceived. This is perhaps why John was impressed, back then, to warn about the perils of "the last hour." He says on 1 John 2: 18 – 19,
1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
1Johnn 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
What kinds of dangerous teachings could these be? Are we today confronted with anything, both within and without the church, that if accepted would lead us astray? How can we protect ourselves from these deceptions?
John gives us an idea of the deception. John describes Antichrist as one who denies that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:221) and that He is God incarnate (1 John 4:32, 2 John 73)
Very few professed Christians deny Jesus as God and as coming in the flesh. Could it be that there is more to this than meets the eye? Could we - in this last hour – profess to believe that Christ is God and came in the flesh, but truly do not? This is the essence of deception: it is so close to the truth we cannot tell them apart. It is as a forged object or counterfeit. How can we tell the counterfeit from the real one? We study the actual one to get to know it so well, so that when we see the counterfeit we can say, "It is a fake." The "Truth" is our only safeguard against the deception. The "Truth" is Jesus.
Our only defense against the wolves is the Shepherd. Christ says so Himself in John 10: 11 – 15,
John10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
John10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
John10:13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
John10:14 I am the good shepherd …
John10:15 … and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Our best defense is staying within the shepherd's eyesight and where you can hear "the Truth." Because, His sheep, "hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out … and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice" (John 10: 3, 4). Any strange voice the sheep will not follow (John 10:5), even if it is a sheep in wolves clothing. How well do you know the voice of Jesus?
1 1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
21 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
32 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.