Our state is embroiled in controversy over the re-introduction of wolves near Yellowstone Park several years ago. Those wolves multiplied very rapidly and have spread throughout Montana, Wyoming and Idaho and very adversely affected ranchers, costing them thousands of dollars in the loss of livestock, not only from the wolves killing their cattle and sheep but also from their harassing the animals to where they lose weight and abort their young. It has also had a dramatic affect on hunting, as the numbers of deer, elk and moose have been greatly depleted, with hunters crying out to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department to do something. There has been a battle royal over hunting them by permits, with wolf advocates doing all they can to stop such hunts. I know first hand as a hunter here in Northwest Montana, it has been very discouraging in the past few years to see so little game and so many wolf tracks and wolf kills. The sad thing is that the wolves don’t just kill for food, they kill for sport and often leave a live maimed animal to suffer. I could easily get on a soap box here and really go off on this subject, but will just refer you to a website if you’d like to hear the real story of what has taken place. A Christian young man from the Bighole country of Montana produced a very informative video that you can view at http://www.lobowatch.org/ It will help you understand more fully why we have such a battle going on over wolves.
But, this is nothing new. The Apostle Paul had been to Greece and was hurrying to get back to Jerusalem to celebrate the Day of Pentecost. But, he really wanted to visit with the elders of the church at Ephesus in Asia Minor (Turkey). This church was much on his heart, and he knew that he might not ever see them again. But he also knew that if he went there his friends would surely delay him, so he invited them to come see him at Miletus, which would be his stop on the way to Jerusalem. He wanted to give them one last bit of instruction and encouragement. His major concern for them was the warning recorded by Luke in Acts 20:28-30: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert…” Paul knew that there would be those who would come in and try to destroy the church with their false doctrines.
We know that that happened too, because later Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus and wrote this to him: “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith” I Tim. 1:3,4). The Greek word Paul used, heteros, translated “strange” in NASB, means “a different kind of doctrine.” Paul wrote a similar thing to the churches in Galatia which had also been infiltrated by false teachers (wolves), saying: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different (heteros) gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-8). The false doctrine that concerned Paul the most was a works-oriented salvation, which is not “good news” at all because it can’t save anyone. His word heteros means something of a totally different sort altogether. It is quite the opposite of the truth–a perversion of the true gospel, the mixing of works and grace. Then it is no longer grace (cf Gal. 2:16; 3:1-11).
Paul also concerned himself with lifestyle, writing this to Timothy: “If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” ( I Tim. 6:3-5, NASB… the KJV adds: “from such withdraw thyself”). Paul concludes his letter with this: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ ” (gnosis…KJV has “science”). This “false knowledge” or “false science” is likely a reference to the age-old philosophy of evolutionary humanism. This anti-god belief has appeared in many guises throughout history, but has always been characterized by worship of creation instead of the Creator (cf Ro. 1:25).
Ironically their are many today who consider wolves more valuable than the Creator of the universe and unknowingly have fallen prey to the very warning Paul gave about the “savage wolves” that would come in and speak perverse things to draw people away from the truth. Jesus too had warned about wolves, saying: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Mt. 7:15). Even the prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament, in speaking of groups that would lead Israel astray mentioned them to be “like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain”
The list of characteristics of the false teachers given by Paul in I Tim. 6:4,5 contrasts markedly with those resulting from proper doctrine and life. Paul wrote: “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (I Tim. 1:5). True Christian love is built on 3 pillars:”A pure heart,” which is moral uprightness, a “good conscience,” which shows personal integrity and character, and a “sincere faith,” which can only come from doctrinal purity. When Jesus warned about the false teachers he said they would come in disguise, “in sheep’s clothing,” but they were really “ravenous wolves.” He did add, however, that “you will know them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:16,20). Beware of the wolves that have been introduced by Satan. Many will appear in “sheep’s clothing,” but do they have a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Do they have genuine love and do they teach the truth of God’s Word? Satan not only appears as a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Pet. 5:8), he (and his workers) also “disguises himself as an angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14), i.e., as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
When you hike now in our area, it is wise to be armed with a handgun or pepper spray because of the presence of predators: grizzly bears, mountain lions and wolves. Well, when we walk about in our world today, we also need the “armor of God” to be protected against the “schemes of the devil.” Especially, we need the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:10-18). Keep your armor on and be sure and go “armed” today!