I used to wonder, at times, what it would look like if a wolf in sheep’s clothing entered my church or perhaps my denomination. Does anyone else think of these things? I think it must be important, because both Jesus and Paul and every other writer in the New Testament warn of men entering the flock of Christ in order to steal people away for themselves. If the idea weren’t worth mentioning, why would this warning be given by every writer in the New Testament, and wouldn’t it be naive to simply brush it off, saying ‘it could never happen to me’?
To be honest, it is difficult for me to believe that spiritual wolves would be satisfied by simply stealing a local church for himself, but I do have to wonder about some of the things that hit the news from time to time like “God **hates** gays!” Did Jesus hate anyone when he died on the cross? From what I understand much of these kinds of slogans, masking themselves as Christian, originate from local pastors on an ego trip and taking their local disciples with them. Gays, pro or con, have absolutely nothing to do with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Nevertheless, many spiritual wolves, at least as far as I can see, wouldn’t be satisfied with just a few hundred people. No, there is much more power to be had and much more money to accumulate, if they could attract tens of thousands—even millions! The media is both a wonderful tool in the hands of the godly for the sake of the Gospel, and has shown itself to be a monstrous tool in the hands of spiritual wolves, seeking to attract godly people to support their own ferocious appetite for wealth and power.
I don’t know how a person ends up going down this road. Did he ever love Jesus at all? Did he lose his love for Christ by looking too long at the enticing values that pertain to this world? Did he actually believe he could serve Jesus by using this world’s values? No matter what the real answer, it is so troublesome to see that such people end up defaming Jesus and the Kingdom of God (cp. Romans 14:13-20).
Paul warned that wolves, such as we have today, would enter the flock to claim authority over what is God’s in order to profit thereby (Acts 20:29-30; cp. Matthew 21:33-41), just as it was done in Jerusalem. Keep in mind, the present offering Paul was collecting and bringing to Jerusalem shows the gentile churches of God, scattered across Asia and Europe, cared more for the poor at Jerusalem than did those Jewish leaders who rejected the Gospel of Christ. They, who prided themselves in keeping the Law, were seen throughout the world, at least in the eyes of those gentiles embracing the God of Abraham, as enemies of the true intent of the Law.
As it was in the land of the Jews, so it would be in the churches of God (cp. Matthew 13:24-30). Men would arise who cared not for the Gospel, but would seek to profit through the power and the wealth of this world, using God’s heritage as the base of that power and wealth. Paul saw the seeds growing even then, before the fruit was seen and known by all. And, today it is not all that difficult to see who represents the Gospel of Christ, and who represents the abomination that brings desolation—the power and wealth of this world. Even those who don’t claim to be Christian are able to see the ugly fruit that tries to represent itself as Christian, just as the ugly fruit of the Judaism that rejected Christ for the rewards of this world wasn’t all that difficult to point out as aberration of the true Jewish faith that looked for the Messiah, the Prophet like Moses.