Within a congregation of believers, as well as within Christian denominations all over the world, there have always been different kinds of sheep and shepherds.
Seekers are constantly in pursuit of truth. Like the good Bereans (Acts 17:11), they search the scriptures daily to make sure they stay on the path closest to god’s perfect will, in thought and in deed, regardless of the doctrines and teachings of their human leaders. They are in regular communication with the Father through prayer, humble and most willing to repent and correct their errors and wrong thinking. If they receive a word of knowledge from a fellow believer, they also seek confirmation through the Word and through prayer.
Those who know Your Name trust You–for You, Adonai, never have forsaken those who seek You. ~Psalm 9:10
Now without faith it is impossible to please God. For the one who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. ~Hebrews 11:6
The complacent are satisfied with their church doctrine whether it is accurate or not. They refuse to listen to reason when confronted with truth which does not fit their church brand or world view. These are not developing and protecting their personal relationship with Yeshua and are the most likely to be led astray. Unfortunately this makes up the majority of those who say they belong to Yeshua.
For the time will come when they will not put up with sound instruction, but they will pile up for themselves teachers in keeping with their own desires, to have their ears tickled. And they will turn away from hearing the truth and wander off to myths. You, however, keep a clear mind in all things, withstand hardship, do the work of proclaiming the Good News, and fulfill your service. ~2 Timothy 4:3-5
For you say, ‘I am rich, I have made myself wealthy, and I need nothing.’ But you do not know that you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may dress yourself and so the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed, and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore, be zealous and repent. ~Revelation 3:17-19
The Ravenous Wolves
Wolves are seekers of a different kind, with the goal to deceive as many blinded and ignorant souls as possible, they themselves also being blinded with pride. These are the most dangerous of all because they are very skilled in presenting themselves to be most devout and most pious. It is difficult to believe that this is possible and even if one is identified, most others would not believe it to be true of the individual. Wolves work for satan both unknowingly and even knowingly.
For such men are false emissaries, deceitful workers masquerading as Messiah’s emissaries. And no wonder, for even satan masquerades as an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be according to their deeds. ~1 Corinthians 11:13-15
No Clear Distinction
As much as we want to beware of false teachers, leaders and even strange sheep, we also do not want to create chaos. It is not our job to make distinctions within our congregations unless some are causing obvious harm. I would say that these groups overlap so that there is never clear definition even within individual families. As believers, most of us have to confess to have found ourselves in even prideful complacency at one time or another and yes we would be dishonest to say we have never caused purposeful harm to another individual. We also must be careful not to misjudge because we do not particularly get along or agree with with an individual.
So the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ But he replied, ‘An enemy did this.’ Now the slaves say to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go out and gather them up?’ But he says, ‘No, for while you are gathering up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time, I will tell the reapers, “First, gather up the weeds and tie them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’” ~Matthew 13:27-30
Now flee from youthful desires; instead pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love and shalom, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, tolerant. Let him give guidance with humility to those who are in opposition– perhaps God may grant them a change of mind, leading to the knowledge of truth. Then they may regain their senses and escape the devil’s snare, in which they had been held captive by him to do his will. ~2 Timothy 2:22-26
There is no greater protection from false teaching and from falling astray than to abide in the Word as the seekers do and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth (John 14:26, Romans 8:14).
Then Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!” ~John 8:31-32
He who dwells in the shelter of Elyon, will abide in the shadow of Shaddai. I will say of Adonai,
“He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. ~Psalm 91:1-2
Select humble teachers and leaders who encourage personal study of scripture and are humble enough to publicly admit their flaws and correct their own errors. They should always be leading people to follow Christ and to listen to the Holy Spirit and not lift up themselves as someone of ultimate knowledge and authority.
And I, brothers and sisters, could not speak to you as Spirit-filled but as worldly—as infants in Messiah. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready. Indeed, even now you are not yet ready, for you are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, aren’t you worldly and walking in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere humans? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to trust—and to each as the Lord gave. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. Now he who plants and he who waters work as one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. ~1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool so he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the sight of God. For it is written, “He catches the clever in their craftiness.” And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are useless.” So let no one boast about men. For all things are yours— whether Paul or Apollos or Kefa (Peter), (or your favorite pastor/teacher) or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come. All are yours, and you are Messiah’s, and Messiah is God’s. ~1 Corinthians 3:18-23
Love God. Love People.
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