15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Wolves were common predators in Palestine at the time of Jesus. The countryside was dotted with shepherds herding their flocks to pasture. Good shepherds were vigilant and ready for a fight in case one appeared.
When David was a shepherd, he had fought and killed a lion and a bear on separate occasions.[i] This was the aggressive side of shepherding. You had to be a roughneck if you wanted the job.
So, when Jesus warns of wolves, people knew the risk and danger he spoke of. But a wolf dressed up as a sheep? What was this in reference to? Matthew Henry ties the wolf in sheep’s clothing image to the common dress of Old Testament prophets.
Jesus is talking about people who claim to represent God. He’s saying that you cannot trust everyone who appears to be a prophet or teacher. You need to consider investigating their character before you sign up as a monthly supporter or get involved personally. Not everyone who appears to be doing God’s work actually is.
The purpose of a sheep costume is deception. You can fool shepherds at a distance and cozy up to the sheep. Once you have close proximity to the flock, your true nature can be unveiled.
We need to watch out for spiritual wolves. There will always be people who use spirituality and religion as a disguise to get what they want from others. Wolves love power, money and sex. They will sneak in undetected to rob you blind. They might look like a lamb and sound like a lamb, but they’re after the lamb chops! In the end, their house will fall flat and be demolished.
Don’t follow wolves. They will lead your house to ruin as well.
[i] 1 Samuel 17:36