Something curiously chilling was creeping across the urban parks of New York City. “Tracks were etched in the crusted snow, doglike but more oblong, the claws less prominent and, over all, more compact,” the New York Times reported in 2015. Out of concern for the public’s safety, park officials deployed sensor cameras around the parks to identify the beast responsible for the unusual tracks. They were shocked to discover an animal scarcely seen scurrying about the Big Apple—one that had infiltrated the city in substantial numbers: coyotes. New Yorkers never expected the grizzled-gray critters to journey from plains and forests to the big city, but as Lisa Foderaro, a reporter for the New York Times, observed, “A predator, though rarely seen, is in New York City to stay.”
The Bible warns of an animal far deadlier than coyotes, one that scurries and sneaks in to wreak havoc—and it just so happens to be the coyote’s kinfolk: wolves. No—not literal wolves, but spiritual wolves who exploit the feeble and devour the naive. Jesus admonished, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Their teaching is cushy and cuddly like the wool of a sheep. They seem harmless as sheep because they always preach what you want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). But the Scripture is clear: they are “deceitful workmen,” disguising themselves like the devil who commissioned them (2 Corinthians 11:13).
Their deadly tracks are found in the scores of false religions that assert that there are many paths to heaven and many gods to worship. Unfortunately, their footprints can be just as easily identified in many so-called churches today, too. Many such wolves ravage souls and shred biblical doctrine by teaching anti-gospel heresies: salvation is by good works, giving money to God ensures miracles, and you can have anything in life if you “name it and claim it.”
True believers must utilize the “sensor camera” of discernment to identify and expose such teaching and teachers: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1; cf. Ephesians 5:11).
There were no defenses in place to prevent coyotes from migrating to New York City, and the creatures deemed the city to be a sanctuary. And when no precautions are taken against spiritual wolves, they will migrate to our churches and find a home in our sanctuaries. Christian, watch out for wolves:
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive” (Romans 16:17-18).
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).