Recently I walked through some situations in business and in ministry that were greatly disturbing. I don’t need to go into specifics, but someone I thought I semi trusted turned out to not be what they claimed to be in their integrity and in their character. What appeared on the surface wasn’t all golden, and facing this situation was like facing a “Goliath” in my life. When everything was brought out in the open this person deceived me and manipulated me, and I learned some important lessons on how to spot wolves that appear to be in sheep’s clothing. While I will not be writing a book about this now because I have so many others on my list that I’m working on, I do plan on eventually writing a book about learning to spot wolves that have mingled in the kingdom or “sheep barn”. I believe God will give you discernment, but with that I’ve noticed some patterns in the situations I have faced. I want to write a few things I’ve observed. I think that there are several wolves that have deceived the sheep or are trying too, and I hope many can learn from this blog. The problem is in my life I’ve found that wolf behavior can be so subtle at first, like me many see the sheep coat and assume all is well. But here is a short list that I’ve been learning and thinking on, on how to spot a wolf.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
1. BE AWARE! The Bible’s warning here is clear. That not everyone who claims to be a fivefold will be one. There is a reason why we are warned to be on our guard. God wants us not to get hurt by people’s whose motives are not right. Yes, we want to believe the best in people. But we can’t pull the wool over our eyes when we see things that aren’t quite right. This doesn’t mean we don’t trust people. It just means wake up, and don’t be so naive that you don’t see what is in front of you. If it walks like a wolf, and talks like a wolf, then I don’t care if you want to pretend it’s a sheep, it’s not. Distance yourself from these people. The Bible says that satan roams around “like” a lion seeking who he may devour (1Peter 5:8). He isn’t a lion but he deceives. There are wolves looking like sheep in the sheep barn that aren’t sheep. They are roaming seeking who they can attack.
2. Wolves sense weakness: The devil does not know everything but he does know your weaknesses. He knows were your struggling and knows how to attack you. Just like the weakest lamb would be on the outskirts of the sheep, it’s the same way the wolf will attract to you. They’ll come at you at your weak places. This may not just be a physical weakness but a spiritual one. This is why you must study the word and allow God to strengthen you from all sides. This is why you need to be under The Shepherd (Jesus), and a shepherd (your pastor). This brings protection. Leadership may or may not sense a person is acting wolfish. This is one thing that tripped me up in one occasion. I kept thinking the person was okay because they were in a place of authority and the leader wasn’t spotting the behavior. That isn’t necessarily the case. Pastors and leaders aren’t always perfect. They hear from God, but in this case I should have eventually gone to the pastor.
3. Authority? Wolves have a problem with authority. Often they’ve gone from covering to covering, and are still struggling with the concept. The words, ‘Yes BUT…” tend to always be on their lips.
4. Check Their Fruit The Bible says in Matthew 17:15-20 that you'll be able to know people by their fruit. When someone doesn't display the fruits of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis, and refuses to listen to instruction or be repentant about it, then you might start checking for fangs. Every wolf I’ve ever encountered sorely lacked in the fruits. They were not patient; they were not filled with peace. They were not kind when angered and they lacked in self-control. We’ve all missed it at times in this area however wolves are easily angered. They turn vicious when crossed, and they lose all concern for the innocent around them.
5. They have a taste for blood This goes hand in hand with the one I mentioned before about wolves lacking fruit. Wolves have a taste for blood, and I’ve seen it time and time again. When they are crossed they automatically jump for the jugular vein to pierce the heart. They are always critical and jump on the smallest of things. It’s as if they silently get a thrill out of hurting people. Sure they will tell you that isn’t the case, but when you spend enough time around them you will slowly see behind the words is a grin.
6. They are always right Wolves are rarely repentant. Their pride deceives them from seeing what they are doing. They are blinded by blood and the lust for seeing people destroyed. The truth is of little importance to them unless it serves their needs.
7. Major rejection in their lives In every time in my life I’ve faced wolves they were always people that had faced major rejection in their lives. It’s as if in their own narcissistic ways they are destroying people for their own innocence being shattered at some point before they go to hurt others. The phrase that “hurting people hurt others” is very true. While the wolf may not see it that way, their own pain blinds them to continue to tear apart others. Often I don’t think wolves start out as wolves. They aren’t completely evil individuals, but have picked up wolf like qualities along the way. It’s easy to feel sorry for them. Pray for them from afar, but you have to separate yourself from them or you will get hurt.
8. Watch the manipulative lies As long as the wolves’ motives and needs are being met wolves can be very passive. They spin tales to make themselves look better, and can often be caught in their own lies. They will use people, and care little about those they hurt.
I am not a very confrontational individual. I like for everything to stay Rosie and beautiful, and I avoid conflict on a regular basis. However, every time I’ve encountered a ‘wolf in the sheep barn’ eventually I had to face the issue. I had to approach the person. But I’ll admit in both situations I wanted to be wrong for so long and waited utterly too long to face the issue. The Bible is very clear about how to handle confrontation. Whenever you do confront the person use wisdom as to how it’s best to handle the situation. No wolf situation I have ever faced has been a pretty picture.
Matthew 18:15-17 (MSG)
15-17 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.
Romans 16:17 “ Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
Now I certainly hope in all of this, I didn’t give the impression of me being bitter or unforgiving to these individuals that have been wolfish to me. That’s not the case at all. I forgive them, and pray for them. However call me a bit wiser now. I hope the lessons I’ve learned can help you not to get hurt by a wolf. I believe in my situation as in any you have faced the word of God is true and he can and will take all things and turn them around for the good, for those that love the Lord. (Romans 8:28) I stand on that promise and I know that He is my rear guard and my vindicator. (Isaiah 52:12 & Psalm4:2-4) He can be yours too!
Remember God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!