Wolves, hired servants and the true Shepherd Are there wolves in our midst ? How can we tell ?

Paul Baars
Written by: Paul Baars
10 min read

“Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great,  and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery.” (Acts 8: 9-11)

When Philip went to Samaria, he arrived in a culture much like his own in many ways but oh so different in even more. The Samaritans had a shared history with the Jews. They were in fact the remnant of what was ones the Northern kingdom of Israel (with the Jewish kingdom of Judah to their south). This remnant  was deemed “contaminated” with foreign blood ever since part of the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile in the days of Cyrus the great, and Ezra the scribe. The Samaritans had intermingled with other peoples (the Babylonians had mixed peoples and countries in order to subdue them) and since the Jews base the promises they received from God, on the physical lineage started by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all the way down to them, interminglednes meant to them being: impure, unworthy and worst of all: non-Jewish.

The Samaritans were rejected and set aside by their Jewish brethren (remember the story of Ezra and the expulsion of all non-Jewish wives and children). As a result, the Samaritans had altered key aspects of their original Jewish faith to suit their specific situation. For instance, Jerusalem was no longer their place of worship but mount Gerezim, where they erected a temple. They did however await the coming of the Messiah, just as the Jews did.

Despite all the bad blood between Samaritans and Jews, Philip (a Jew) went to the Samaritans and preached to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with Power. His preaching was accompanied with great signs and wonders; signs of casting out evil spirits and of healings not a few. Many in the land were converted and they adhered to all that Philip taught them.

The people of Samaria were not unaccustomed to miracles. A man called Simon, lived among them and proclaimed of himself that he was a man of God, and that he himself was someone great. He did miracles by sorcery and the people heard him and professed that he was the great power of God.

Simon was eventually converted by God, through Philips preaching and came to saving faith, laying of his old works of evil, as we can see in the Book of Acts: verse 24 of chapter 8.

However, I want to look more closely on the differences between the Power through Philip and the power of Simon, before his conversion.

Simon was venerated by the Samaritans because he confessed of himself that he was some great one, he proclaimed to be of God, he did miracles, amazing the people by sorcery. The people were sign and wonder oriented. They believed what they saw, if it was tangible it must be true and the more wondrous the better, much like the way their Jewish neighbors acted, when Jesus taught them.

Philip was unknown by the Samaritans. He came as an unloved Jew, and preached the Gospel. He came proclaiming Christ as the only Name unto salvation and Faith as the key to eternal life. He spoke of the suffering of Christ and the need for conversion of dead works, of bearing shame and suffering for His Name, and of enduring all suffering, by looking for the promise of a better heavenly reward. God supported Philips preaching by giving him Power of healing and Power to set the people free from demonic bondage.

One came to lift up himself, by posing to be sent by God, using trickery and sorcery to woo the people into blind submission, for his own gain and admiration, proving to himself that he indeed was some great one.

The other came to lift up Christ, by humbling himself,  by proclaiming the uncomfortable truth of joining Christ on the Calvary way. He counted on God to provide both the words and the evidence in Power, as well as the actual conversion of the heart. And God moved truly and wholly, supporting the Word in Power, proving that Christ is the Great One, for the gain of the people unto the admiration of God.

In our days we see many pastors, preaching from the Bible. Some are false, some are true. We can tell which is which in two ways:

1.   We shall know them by their preaching

2.   We shall know them by their fruit

We shall know them by their preaching

The devil loves to quote Scripture. He knows the Bible backwards and forwards. He was present at its writing and knows its Author. He uses Scripture to confuse the hearers, blowing up billows of smoke like any self-respecting magician would do, to cover what he is really doing and to confuse the unlearned.

Just before Christ started His ministry, He was led into the desert where He was tempted by the devil, who used Scripture to tempt him. Christ was victorious overevil, by the Spirit and by the Word.

Satan used Scripture in an attempt to reel Christ into his service. He failed, because Christ not only knew Scripture, He was filled with the Holy Spirit, who is the Author and the Inspirator of all Holy Scripture. And Christ, by knowing the heart and soul of Scripture and by holding firm to the Promises set before Him, defeated the devil.

It should therefor come as no surprise to us that false “men of God” use the same strategies their father the devil uses. And like Simon did before the Samaritans, mind tricks and sorcery are used very effectively, to seduce the unlearned, to lure them unto the broad path toward destruction.

Hearing a moving sermon, with an upbeat man-centered theme, telling the hearers that love and prosperity are Gods immediate desires for us, while producing seeming miracles and signs are in NO WAY a certain pointer to the validity of the message or of the preacher.

“But test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1Thes. 5:21)

We must always test what we hear and discern carefully what is True and Holy and Good.

We test what is preached and taught, by studying the Bible, to check if what is said, is actually supported by Scripture. In the Book of Acts, Luke names the Bereans as being more noble than some in Thessalonica, because the Bereans investigated the preaching and teaching of Paul, to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11) And many believed because Scripture supported the preaching and teachings of Paul.

We test the preacher and teacher, by examining his lifestyle, his public and private dealings, his profession of faith and his sacrifice. His suffering and by examining where his treasures are.

We shall know them by their fruit.

Jesus Christ taught us that bad fruit does not grow on a good tree. In the same way, the actions of a preacher will always show a truer story than his words do. Lying is easy, living a lie, that’s hard.

The fruits of an evil life are named in the Bible. They are (in no particular order) : sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. (Galatians 5:19-21a) By “things like these” the writer (Paul) shows us that the list is not exhausted in Galatians. It shows that all such things are evil, even the most modern iterations of them. And since these bad fruits cannot grow on a good tree, we can see where we should look when checking the validity of the preacher.

My brothers and sisters, we are sent as sheep among wolves and the carnivorous spirits of man centered pretenders, have entered our churches, to eat up and destroy that which is not secured in knowledge of Truth. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6)

My advice to you is this: Buy wisdom, exchange that which you cannot keep for that which you cannot loose.

Test every teaching and every preached word, by holding it up to the Light of Scripture. Are you following  a “man of God” ? Be very careful to examine him; the message that he brings and the fruit which he bears.

For you shall be personally accountable to the full extent of Gods holy judgement, if you work with those who destroy and eat up, the body of Christ.