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Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr. D.Min.

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The Sermon On The Mount

Wolves Among Us

Matthew 7.15-20

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[Our Lord has just taught us that there is a wide gate and a narrow gate in our lives and we must choose between one or the other.  The wide gate leads to destruction the narrow gate to everlasting life.  Multitudes upon multitudes are going in the broad way, but only a remnant (few) will follow the narrow way that leads to life.  Now, our Lord immediately gives us a stern warning about one of the major catalysts that cause many of these multitudes to go in the wrong way in their lives.  There were deceivers that led them to believe the wrong things, caused them to go in the wrong way, and led them into everlasting destruction.]  

[Billions of people will be cast off the precipice into eternal damnation while crying out about those deceivers and their mistaken beliefs.  But all their religious pleas will avail them nothing.  They allowed themselves to be deceived and stopped their ears from hearing the truth when it was proclaimed.  Telling God about the deceiver that led you astray will not save you in that day, for God gave you a multitude of warnings but you refused to hear Him.  Many will ask, “When and how did God warn me about deception and deceivers?”] 

A.    The Fact of Deceivers [- Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. – Consider what Jesus said in this text, 

1.      The Bible and Deceivers (vs 15; Matt 24.5,11,24; Col 2.8; 2 Pet 2.1-3; 1 John 4.1; Deut 13.1-3; 1 John 2.15-17) [– Beware of false prophets, . . . -  Deceivers, even deceivers in the Church, have not caught our Lord by surprise.  Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself warned us about these deceivers who would be among us. Time and time again God warns mankind about the many deceivers that are among them.  In or text our Lord said,  Beware of false prophets, . . . In other Bible passage we read,] 

[Matthew 24:5 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. ]

[Matthew 24:11 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.]

[Matthew 24:24 24 For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.]

[Colossians 2:8 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.]

[2 Peter 2:1-3 1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.]

[1 John 4:1 1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.]

[This is but a short list of the multitude of warnings that God gives in His Word about false prophets, false teachers, deceivers, Anti-christs and many other kinds of deceivers.] 

[Since the beginning of the Bible God warned His people about false prophets and false teachers.  Consider,] 

[Deuteronomy 13:1-3 1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. ]

[Don’t be foolish and refuse to hear the warnings of our Lord.  Know that there are many deceivers in our world.  God knew that they would be among us and warns us to be alert and aware of their presence and their persuasion.] 

[Various forms of deception – By the way it is important for Christians to realize that deception finds its way into our lives in a number of different ways.  People are not the only deceptive influences in our lives.   The Bible says,] 

[1 John 2:15-17 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. ]

[Often our own desires or lusts will lead us into a deception that is all our own.  However, in this message I will focus on those individual deceivers that are among us.]

2.      The Body and Deceivers (vs 15; Rev 2.1-2,9,14,20) [– . . . which come to you in sheep's clothing, . . . - They are right in our Church and churches.  They are all around us.  They look like us and talk like us.  Notice our Lord says they are in sheep’s clothing.  Now our Lord often referred to His people as sheep or the flock.  So a reference to sheep is speaking of those who belong to the good shepherd.  This is referring to the Body of Christ which is composed of Born Again believers and is referred to as the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These deceivers are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They are outsiders who have disguised themselves to find an entrance into the fellowship of the flock.] 

[Familiarity breads contempt - Now being the literalist that I am, I ask myself, “What would a wolf have to do to get himself into a flock of sheep, even if he put on a sheep’s skin?”  We all know that animals seem to sense things, smell things, know things, long before we people do.  So, how would a wolf, even in sheep’s clothing get near the sheep?  Surely they would smell the wolf, they would sense the danger.  Animals just have a sense for these sort of things.  Well, the wolf would have to ease his way into the heard. As the seep got used to the presence of his smell and the sense of his danger, he would eventually find an entrance among them.] 

[This is how a deceiver finds his way into the Church fellowship.  He eases his way in little by little.  He will come in and be friendly and caring, and will initially not reveal his false doctrines and beliefs.  Then after he has developed some friendships, little by little he will reveal what he really believes.  Then, because of their friendships people will tolerate his false teachings, for the sake of their friendship and to keep the unity of the Church.  They will say, “Well, I don’t believe it that way, but it doesn’t really matter anyways.”] 

[Doctrinal Truth Outweighs Friendship and Unity in the Church.] 

[The Bible clearly identifies deceivers within the Church and deals with them directly.  In the letters to the seven Churches of Revelation John wrote to seven existing Churches and gave them warnings and corrections.  These Churches actually existed and consider what the Apostle John wrote,] 

[Revelation 2:1-2 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: ]

[The Church in Ephesus had false apostles in their church.]

[Revelation 2:9 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. ]

[The Church in Smyrna had blaspheming Jews in their Church.]

[Revelation 2:14 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. ]

[The Church of Pergamos had teachers after the example of wicked Balaam in their Church.]

[Revelation 2:20 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. ]

[The Church in Thiatira had teachers after the sort of the vile and idolatrous Jezebel in it.] 

[These are but four of the seven Churches and each had deceivers in their congregation.  The warnings throughout the New Testament are plentiful.  It is hard to read a portion of the New Testament without finding some stern warning about deceivers and false teachers.  In the New Testament we discover that, 

a.       [Deceivers are Preachers  and teachers- Leaders in the Church, leaders of our faith.] 

b.      [Deceivers are Parishioners - Fellow Church members.  Those we ought to be able to trust.] 

c.       [Deceivers are People – People in our community, trusted family members, people we would like to believe we can trust.] 

[With all of the warnings in the Bible about false teachers and deceivers I am astounded to find that so few Christian’s actually find it necessary to take a stand against false doctrine.  It seems that there are far more who are willing to excuse false beliefs to protect some friendship then there are those who are willing to take a firm stand on what the Bible actually teaches.  Which brings us to our next point.]  

3.      The Battle with Deceivers (vs 15; 2 John 1.8-11; Rom 16.17-18; 1 Cor 16.22; Gal 1.8-9; 2 Tim 3.5; Titus 3.10) [- . . . but inwardly they are ravening wolves. – Our Lord Jesus Christ does not speak lightly nor softly about these deceivers.  He is direct and firm.  He calls them ravening wolves.  As a matter of fact the whole Bible is stern about false doctrine and false teachers.  The Bible says,] 

[2 John 1:8-11 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. ]

[Romans 16:17-18 17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. ]

[1 Corinthians 16:22 22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema [cursed and exterminated] Maranatha. ]

[Galatians 1:8-9 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. ]

[2 Timothy 3:5 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. ]

[Titus 3:10 10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; ]

[God does not tell us to just hang around with those who are teaching false doctrine.  He tells us to recognize who they are and to get away from them.  We are to reject their false teachings and protect ourselves and other Christians from their heresies.]

B.     The Fashion of Deceivers [– Now lets try to be clear about how these deceivers work.] 

1.      They Manipulate (2 Tim 3.5-9; Jude 1.4; Titus 1.10-11) [- Do you know the difference between a deceiver and a liar.  You know a liar because you caught him in a lie.  But a deceiver is a deceiver because he has disguised his lie so that you and possibly him don’t recognize the lie.  Many deceptions even contain a portion of truth in them.  Many deceivers are sincere in their false beliefs and their sincerity seems to add credibility to their false truth.] 

[Let us be again clear, Sincerity and passion do not make a false truth true. Either one believes the truth of God’s Word or they believe a lie, there is no middle ground or gray area.  There is right and wrong, there is truth and error.] 

[Listen to how God says these wolves work,] 

[2 Timothy 3:5-9 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.]

[Creep - ἐνδύνοντες (Gk) - enter secretly, worm one’s way, creep in (2Ti 3:6+)[1]] 

[Jude 1:4 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. ]

[Crept Παρεισέδυσαν (Gk) - from pará (3844), unto or at the side of, and eisdúō (n.f.), to enter in, which is from eis (1519), into, and dúō (1416), to go down, sink. To enter in craftily, secretly, without notice, like a thief. Used of the action of false teachers entering into the church under false claims (Jude 1:4).[2] ] 

[Titus 1:10-11 10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.]

[Subvert - ἀνατρέπουσιν (Gk) - from aná (303), again or used as an emphatic, and trépō (n.f., see below), to turn. To subvert, overturn (2 Tim. 2:18; Titus 1:11; Sept.: Ps. 118:13; Prov. 10:3).[3] ] 

[Hence, false teachers sneak their way into the Church seeking to overturn those things that the people know.] 

2.      They are Magnificent (Matt 7.21-23; Deut 13.1-5) [– Many deceivers manifest some magnificent gifts and abilities.  Notice what our Lord says in the text immediately following our passage today.  Jesus said,]   

[Matthew 7:21-23 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. ]

[Notice they call out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They say, “. . . Lord, Lord, . . .” but Jesus will reply “. . . I never knew you: . . .”  Notice their claims in this text they say they have,] 

·         [Prophesied in Jesus name (vs 22)]

·         [Cast out devils in Jesus name (vs 22)]

·         [Performed miracles in Jesus name (vs 22)] 

[All magnificent works or incredible spiritual prowess and power.  But yet none of them really knew our Lord at all.  Magnificent spiritual power and ability are meaningless without the redemption provided through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Even these deceivers thought that they must surely be right with God or they wouldn’t have been able to do the works that they could do.] 

[So what about these powerful yet false spiritual leaders and their magnificent works?  Does God give any guidance about them?  The Bible says,] 

[Deuteronomy 13:1-5 1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. ]

[Now someone might say, “but these people aren’t trying to get us to follow a false religious, they are proclaiming Jesus.”  Now, you hear this well, if someone uses the name of Jesus to teach a false doctrine or the manipulate the Word of God they are teaching another religion.  They are not teaching the doctrinal truths of the Word of God, they are manipulating the Word of God and are teaching a false religion.  They are deceivers.  They are false prophets.] 

3.      They are Misguided (2 Pet 3.16-18) [- Deceivers and false teachers will catch many people of guard because they will carry Bibles and use their Bibles just as Christians should and often do.  As a matter of distress, many false teachers seem to know their Bibles better than many Born Again Christians.  The problem is that they do not use the Bible properly.  Instead the wrest the scriptures, Peter wrote,] 

[2 Peter 3:16-18 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.]

[Wrest - στρεβλοῦσιν (Gk) - strictly twist or wrench limbs on an instrument for torturing people called a rack; hence torture, torment; figuratively distort, twist, misinterpret words to a false meaning (2P 3.16)[4]]  

[Hence, these will twist and torture the Word of God to get the result that they are after.  In our day many have taken this torture to a more resourceful extreme, they simply retranslate the Bible and create their own corrupt version of the Bible, much as the Jehovah’s Witnesses have done with their New World Translation.  Any first year Greek Student will immediately identify the translational errors in this translation of the Bible.  There are literally multitudes of vile translations of the Bible in our English language today.] 

C.    The Fruit of Deceivers (vs 16-20) [– Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. -  Our Lord not only warns us that there will be wolves in sheep’s clothing among us, but He also tells us that, if we will look and watch, we will be able to indentify them.  Jesus says we must be fruit inspectors.  But what does the fruit of a deceiver look like?  They have,] 

1.      A False Guide (Psalm 119.105; 19.8) [– We have just notice how false teachers will wrest and torture the scriptures.  Because of what they do to and with the Word of God they destroy any authoritative truth that God has provided for them.  Folks, the Bible, the Word of God is the only source of divine truth that you and I have in this life.  Twist and destroy the Word of God and you have nothing to guide you into any real truth in life.  You will be hopelessly lost and undone.  The Bible says,] 

[Psalm 119:105 105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.]

[Psalm 19:8 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.]

2.      A Form Of Godliness (2 Tim 3.5; 2 Pet 2.1) [– Make no mistake about it deceivers are devoutly religious people.  They go to Church.  They participate in traditional religious ceremonies.  They carry Bibles.  They use religious language and terms.

[2 Timothy 3:5 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. ]

[They truly have a form of godliness but they deny the true power of our Christian faith.] 

[Now to deny the power of true godliness does not mean that they are powerless.  Many Christians make the mistake of thinking that if some is a deceiver then they must be on the out’s with God and God will render them helpless.  The truth is that many religious deceivers are incredibly, spiritually astute.  They often appear to have incredible and unimaginable spiritual abilities.  This fact throws many Christians into confusion.  However, we have already considered their magnificent abilities in this message.  The problem with their power is that they deny the true power of our Christian faith.] 

[The Power of true Biblical godliness is simple it is the power of the New Birth, it is the conversion found in salvation, it is the adoption of lost souls into the household and family of our Heavenly Father.  This is the power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that every deceiver lacks.  No spiritual gift, magnificent miracle, or supernatural spiritual exhibition can compare to the salvation found through the simple Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.] 

[2 Peter 2:1 1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. ]

[Notice that these don’t know the way of salvation.  They have so manipulated the Word of God that they do not know the way of salvation.  How is this manifested in our day?  It results in a false gospel, our next point.]

3.      A False Gospel (John 14.6; Rom 5.18; 6.23) [– They don’t know the way of salvation and regeneration.  They will always teach and preach a works based salvation rather than salvation through faith by grace. They will teach,] 

a.      [Jesus plus baptism – Teaching that one must be baptized in order to be saved.] 

b.      [Jesus plus communion – Teaching that one must partake of communion in order to be saved.] 

c.       [Jesus plus church – Either you are a member of their Church or you are not saved.  One major denomination openly declared that if people are not a part of their Church then they will not be in heaven a few months ago.  They proclaimed this so openly that I saw it on Fox] 

[Jesus said,] 

[John 14:6 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. ]

[Romans 5:18 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.]

[Romans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ]

[Gift Illustration – Hold out something valuable and say to someone, “If I were to give you this as a gift, when would it become yours?”  Many will answer, “When you give it to me.”  Without giving it to them ask, “Is it yours yet?”  Then ask again, “When does this gift become yours?”  They will now answer when I take it.  Say, “That’s right.  I could try to give to you for all eternity but it will never be yours until you take it.”

[Now ask, what if I were to say, “I will give this to you as a gift for one dollar.  Is it a gift?” They will say no.  Say, “That’s right because you earned it.”

[Jesus plus anything is a works based salvation. The bible says,] 

[Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.] 


[1]Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.) (GGK1905). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2]Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G3921). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[3]Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G396). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[4]Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (358). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


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