Fighting Wolves Takes Work

Fighting Wolves Takes Work


Revelation 2:1-3 ESV  “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.  (2)  “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.  (3)  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

You may be seated

  • We now begin the section of Revelation that deals with the seven churches.
    • Before Jesus showed John the many incredible things we will go through in the rest of the book…
      • Before he gave him a tour of heaven and a look into the future.
      • Before the apocalypse… the seals… the bowls… the horsemen…
      • Before the vision of New Jerusalem coming down adorned in beauty in glory…
      • Before all of this, Jesus starts by addressing 7 different churches.
  • What’s interesting about this is that the churches addressed actually existed and had very real and present issues that needed to be dealt with…
    • But if we look at all the seven churches and all the issues they faced we can see a total overview of pretty much every problem any Christian church or denomination has ever faced and likely ever will face…   
      • Remember, 7 is the number of completion, so as Jesus addresses these seven churches He is also addressing the complete and whole church.
    • Therefore we know that these letters can apply to us, and we also know that they have preeminent importance over everything else in the book of Revelation…
      • I.E. if we don’t grasp the concepts taught to the seven Churches, we have no business moving on to the rest of the prophetic Vission of Revelation.
      • FIRST we deal with our own issues, then we look forward to the things that must take place… y’all following?
  • So for the next 3 messages or so we are going to talk about the church of Ephesus, what they did right, were they went wrong, and what they we as a church and individuals can learn from it.
  • THESE MESSAGES COME WITH A WARNING THOUGH… They must be consumed as a set.
    • If you pay close attention to today’s sermon about solid doctrine, but ignore the next, you are in grave danger of losing your first love.
    • If you listen to the message about losing your first love but you ignore or miss todays message, you are in grave danger of letting in false doctrine.
    • If you listen to the third message which is about not mingling with the world but you ignore todays and next weeks then you are in danger of being woefully ineffective in evangelism.
      • You have to take these messages as a set, ok?
  • Praise God, let’s get into it.

Revelation 2:2 ESV  “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

  • This verse is one thought, not a list of multiple thoughts…
    • In other words Jesus is telling the church in Ephesus… “I know how hard you have been working and enduring to keep false teachers and evil out of your church.”
    • Or another way of putting it could be “I know how hard it is to keep fighting against false teachers and evil doctrines… but you have done and you keep doing it… good job!”.
  • Jesus is commending them, congratulating them, affirming them for keeping false teachers and evil doctrines out of their church.
    • And Jesus recognizes that this is hard work.
  • Fighting Wolves Takes Work.
  • I use the word wolves because that’s the word Luke used to describe false teachers and it paints a good word picture… here it is in the book of Acts.

Acts 20:28-30 ESV  Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  (29)  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;  (30)  and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

  • Fighting Wolves takes work.
    • Luke was writing to Pastors to look at for wolves in their church, and Jesus commends the Ephesian church for fighting against wolves.
  • But can I be real for a minute… are y’all listening this morning… because as the overseer of this church I can tell you that I have preserved that MANY of y’all don’t understand what a wolf really is. While others of y’all recognize SOME wolves, but miss the significantly more dangerous ones in our own midst.
    • So let’s remedy that this morning so that you understand the amount of work that the pastors of this church do to protect us all from wolves, BUT ALSO, so you can apply these principals to your lives to cast out evil doctrines and false wolves from your life.
  • Ok, everybody got their steel toe boats on, because there is going to be some toe stepping today… let’s get into it.
    • First let me define what I mean by wolf…
      • A wolf is somebody who comes into God’s flock of sheep, IE the church local and global, and actively tries to steal sheep away from it.
      • They try to separate sheep from the heard, then they devour, kill, or destroy those sheep.
      • They act as though they are Christ following Christians, they act as though they have your best interest in mind… but in reality they want to eat you!
      • A wolf is a false teacher, a false preacher, a false pastor, a false prophet, a false evangelist, a false healer, a false whatever… who tries to mimic Christian authority in order to pick off the weakest of the sheep.
      • And when allowed unchecked into churches or into your life, they always end up causing spiritual death and destruction, and often times they can lead to physical death and destruction too.
    • Finding such wolves takes work, defending ourselves from such wolves takes work, casting out such wolves takes work… but if we don’t do it we will die… as a church and as individual Christians.
  • I want to first talk about what I perceive to be the least dangerous kind of wolf, but also the easiest to recognize…
    • You ready, you got your toes protected…

Point One – Stay Away From Celebrity Wolves.

  • The least dangerous, but still very destructive, and easiest to recognize kind of wolf?
    • The celebrity wolve.
      • Who is a celebrity wolf? No I am not talking about Shia La Buff or Nicholas Cage or Rick Astely…
    • No, I am talking about so called Christian leaders who have massive Hollywood style followings.
      • Some are megachurch pastors.
      • Some are so called Christian musicians.
      • Some are authors.
      • Some are television show hosts.
    • But HEAR me church… not every celebrity Christian Leader is a wolf…
    • Remember this point is “Fighting wolves takes work” and part of that work is identifying the wolf.
      • So how do we differentiate between the earnest, true, Christ adoring leader who has a large celbrity following, like say Billy Graham… how do we differentiate between the Billy Grahams and the Celebrity wolves…
        • Well we do it through testing… remember the key verse for this point…

Revelation 2:2 ESV  “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

  • How do we test them? Simple… are they preaching the true gospel, are they lifting up the authority of Scripture, and are they submitted to others?

Galatians 1:8-10 ESV  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  (9)  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  (10)  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

  • If someone is teaching that there is no such thing as hell… or they are teaching that everyone goes to heaven eventually… or they are teaching that there are many paths to heaven… or that Jesus wasn’t God… or that Jesus didn’t rise on the third day…
    • THESE ARE FALSE GOSPELS. And the teacher of that false gospel is called to accursed.
      • The Gospel is that we have all sinned against an infinitely holy God, and thus deserve an infinitely severe punishment of hell… but that God loved us so much that he died for us and rose again on the third day.

2 Timothy 3:16 ESV  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

  • If anyone teaches that any part of the bible is false, outdated, or not useful… they are a WOLF! ALL SCRIPTURE IS BREATHED OUT BY GOD. The Old Testament, the New Testament… all of it.
    • RUN AWAY FROM ANY CELEBRITY TEACHER THAT SAYS THINGS LIKE “We need to unhitch ourselves from the new testament” or “But those are the words of Paul, not Jesus”! NONESENSE! ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD BREATHED!

Ephesians 5:21 ESV  [Submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Philippians 2:3 ESV  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

  • Any preacher more concerned about building himself or herself up instead of others, that’s a wolf.
    • Any preacher who doesn’t have any authority over them… any kind of accountability… that’s a wolf… STAY AWAY.
    • I see these celebrity preachers fall into sin all the time… sometimes going as far as to rape staff members…
      • And when you examine how it happened you find out the celebrity wolf didn’t have anyone they submitted to…
        • Sure they expected everyone to submit to them… but they did not submit to anyone else.
  • BUT LISTEN… knowing these things about celebrity wolves is not enough… it takes work! YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK.
    • Listening to a podcast about how icky pastor so and so is… THAT’S NOT DOING THE WORK.
    • If you are going to call someone out as being a wolf you better be DARN SURE they really are… you need to study for yourself…
      • Have you heard them repeatedly deny scripture?
      • Have you heard them specifically teach that Jesus is not God or that hell is not real or that the Bible is not true?
        • Or have you only heard clips taken out of context and some commentator fired up about it?
    • I have been guilty of this myself… I used to hate a well known celebrity preacher… I would bad mouth them on facebook and to anyone who would listen…
      • Our church even used some of this preachers material and I would protest LOUDLY to pastor Matt.
      • Finally Pastor Matt asked for proof so I did some googling (note, I did not have proof at all before being asked to present it… THEN I sought proof… that was a problem).
        • And I found a clip of this preacher and this is what they said “Whales make whales, Giraffes make giraffes, monkeys make monkeys… this is nature… so what does God make? Gods! Therefore we are all little gods!”
        • I was so proud of myself! I had found the proof! I showed it to pastor Matt and everyone else! SEE THIS PREACHER IS A HERITICH…
          • The following week I turn on the tv and I am flipping through the channels… and low and behold here is that same preacher and I feel a check in my spirit to watch.
          • It was a rerun from an old episode… and you know what the preacher said…
          • “Guy’s, I need to repent publicly… last week I said “Whales make whales, Giraffes make giraffes, monkeys make monkeys… this is nature… so what does God make? Gods! Therefore we are all little gods!”… it was something I heard from somewhere else and I said it off the cuff… I was wrong… REALLY WRONG… after studying I found out how dumb that statement was… God made all those things and made us too, we are not little gods, we are humans… please forgive me.
      • Dang it… I didn’t honestly do the research… I found one clip after 30 seconds of googling… and I became the wolf… then I myself had to go on an apology tour.
    • Do the work y’all, before you allow someone to speak into your life AND before you try to say something bad against another Christian… do the work…
  • So that is the easy one to identify, the celebrity preacher… and honestly, if CLC is your church home you don’t need to feel that threatened by celebrity wolves… because you hear the truth here every week and we encourage discipleship and private study of the Word, therefore it should be easy for you to hear a wolve and to say “yeah, no, I am not doing that”.

Point Two – Remove the Wolves From Your Life

  • You see I have never seen a sheep from this church fall away because of the influence of a celebrity wolf… I just haven’t seen that… I am sure it happens from time to time, but celebrity wolfs like picking off sheep that are already not in line with God’s Word.
  • But the local wolf, the wolf in sheep’s clothing that comes through those doors… I have seen people devoured by those wolves.
    • And I will tell you right now that there are wolves influencing people in this church, and if you do not get them out of your life you will find yourself DEVOURED by false doctrine and evil teaching and it will DESTROY you.

Matthew 7:15 ESV  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

  • I am going to speak boldly and plainly, because it is my job to defend you against wolves.
    • But it is ALSO your job to do the work and defend yourself from such wolves.
  • There are CURRENTLY wolves trying to devour people from this church.
    • Wolves who have been in this church. Never submitted, but visited just enough to build relationships with people in order to devour them.
      • Listen, fighting wolves takes work… and I need you to examine the people in your live and find out if anyone of them is a wolf… and if they are, END YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM!
  • How do you find out if someone is a wolf who has gotten close to you? YOU TEST THEM!

Revelation 2:2 ESV  “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

  • We test those who call themselves Christian leaders and are not… fighting wolves takes work.
    • So the first thing is… is there someone in your life who is claiming to be a Christian leader?
      • They claim to be a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor, a preacher, a teacher, a miracle worker… If so, THEY COULD BE A WOLF.
        • That includes me, I could be a wolf, because I claim to be a Christian leader.
  • Wolfs are not people who come in broken looking for healing, and instruction, and fellowship…
    • Wolfs claim to be leaders… so if you friend you invited to church who just got saved says they don’t believe in hell… THAT DOESN’T MAKE THEM A WOLF.
      • They just need more truth and love to help instruct and grow them.
    • But if someone comes into your life and says “I have this ministry” or “I lead this prayer team” or “I have a masters in Biblical theology and love teaching”… and they convince you or try to convince you to follow them… and then that person starts saying things like “Well only the words in Red matter, because the rest of scripture was written by flawed men” THAT PERSON IS A WOLF.
      • You understand the difference? Only people who claim to be Christian leaders should be examined as wolves… people who are trying to lead you.
  • So you have started following someone who you meet at a church event, they want to have a Bible study with you, or hold prayer services with you, or do ministry with you… how do you determine if they are a wolf?
    • Test them just like before… do they affirm scripture? If not, STAY AWAY! How dare someone claim to be any kind of ministry leader and deny the scripture in which our ENTIRE faith is based on!
      • And sometimes this is subtle, saying things like “Well we don’t have to submit to THAT part of scripture anymore because Christ came to destroy the law”.
        • NO CHRIST DID NOT! He came to fulfil the law, not destroy it.

Matthew 5:17-19 ESV  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  (18)  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  (19)  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

  • Do they preach a different Gospel… one where sin is not punished or Jesus did not die… STAY AWAY FROM THEM.

Galatians 1:6-7 ESV  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—  (7)  not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

  • But here is the big one… are you listening? DO THEY SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY?

Hebrews 13:17 ESV  Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

  • No real and effective Christian is an island…
    • If you have allowed someone into your life to lead you, teach you, or influence you who does not submit to a local church they are almost certainly a wolf.
      • People who come to this church service once or twice, then go across town to another church for that service, then go to this revival over here, and that prayer meeting over there…
        • They do all of these things but they don’t have a church home.
        • A group of believers they call family.
        • A group of leaders to watch over them, pray for them, lead them and correct them.
    • You know why there are people who will go to every Christian event but never join a local church? They do it because they don’t like the idea of submitting to authority, in other words, they are rebellious.

Psalms 68:6 ESV  God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

  • You want nothing to do with the rebellious… that way leads to death!
    • It’s good to be settled in a church home, it is good to have leaders to submit to. I DO! I HAVE MANY PASTORS THAT I SUBMIT TO AND I EVEN HAVE SOME THAT HAVE THE LEGAL AUTHORITY TO REMOVE ME SHOULD I REFUSE TO SUBMIT. That’s accountability.
  • So for someone to claim to be a leader or a minister… and they don’t have a church that they submit to… Anathema… I don’t want anything to do with you…
    • I am not saying they need to be submitted to or a part of this church… but they better have a Bible believing church that they serve in, worship in, fellowship in, learn in, grow in, and SUBMIT IN… or they are no true leader in Christs Kingdom.
  • And what always follows with this kinds of wolves is they will do everything they can to try to tear down churches, pastors, and leaders…
    • They will say things like “Going to church on Sunday isn’t biblical”
    • “There where no church buildings in the bible”
    • “We don’t need to go to church, we are the church”
    • “Religion is a demon, we should have nothing to do with it”
  • “GoOnG tO cHuRch oN SuNdAy iSN’t BiBLiCal”… well, I don’t care what day you go to church but you better be going regularly…

Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  (25)  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

  • “ThErE WeRe nO CHuRcH bUilDings iN thE bible”… what?! You clearly aren’t reading your Bible…

Acts 5:42 ESV  And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

  • Guess what, the Temple… THAT’S A BUILDING… and those Houses they preached in… those were buildings too.
  • “We dOn’T nEeD to gO to cHuRcH, wE aRe tHe cHuRcH” … yeah… and my eye is my body… NO it’s only part of my body…

1 Corinthians 12:19-21 ESV  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  (20)  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.  (21)  The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

1 Corinthians 12:27 ESV  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

  • “ReLiGion is a DEmoN” SHUT YOUR MOUTH. How dare you speak ill of what God says is good.

James 1:27 ESV  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

  • You think it is demonic to visit the widows, and the orphans… you think it is demonic to stay away from the sin of the world?
    • No, false religion is evil.
    • Vain religion is wicked.
    • There are religious spirits that are evil trying to get you to do things out of works based righteousness or vain repetition…
  • But this is the kind of stuff wolves say, because they want to remove you from the flock…
    • They want to convince you that you don’t need a church body, or leaders watching over you…
    • They want you to think church is bad, pastors are bad, organization is bad…
    • Because they want to DESTROY your faith.
  • The wolf is never someone who sits next to you at church, watches your kids on the weekend, mows your lawn when you are sick, helps you pay your bills…
    • No, it is never someone who serves you, it is someone who always wants to look holy, and powerful and anointed… always someone who leads but refuses to follow. THESE ARE WOLVES. STAY AWAY PLEASE STAY AWAY.
  • Fighting wolves takes work! Test those who call themselves leaders in your life.

Revelation 2:2 ESV  “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

  • If anyone claims to be a Christian Leader in your life, test them!
    • Where do you go to church?
    • Who do you submit to?
    • Who is overseeing this ministry other than you or you and your spouse?
  • And if they don’t give you good answers, stay away!
    • Listen, I had one lady try to come in and teach in our church… wanted to do a whole seminar.
      • But the lady didn’t have a church… she said her and her kids started their own.
      • I said “Who sent you to start the church”
      • She said her old church sent her and her husband out to start the church.
      • SO I CALLED HER OLD CHURCH and they said “We did not send her out… WE KICKED HER OUT! STAY AWAY!”
    • Fighting wolves takes work! And you need to do it. And you need to keep doing it… and when you do, Jesus will commend you for it!


Revelation 2:1-3 ESV  “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.  (2)  “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.  (3)  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

The irony of this latter condition of the “Ephesus syndrome” is that the Christian becomes totally preoccupied, fascinated by themes and goals which would have never won him or her in the first place to have joined the church: arguments over fine doctrinal points, distinctives of polity, esoteric giftedness, etc. How can it happen to us? It happens to marriages; it happens to human friendships; it happens to the life of discipleship.

  • Gospel Call


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