Jesus called false teachers wolves in sheep’s clothing. Jude wants to warn you that if you consider false teachers to be harmless you might let your guard down. Jude warns that it is a deadly mistake for a Christian to be one who dances with wolves.
When the Academy Awards for best picture was announced in 1991 I remember thinking “What a strange name for a movie, I wonder what it means.” Dances With Wolves is a historical epic set in 1863 against the backdrop of the American Civil war. A young lieutenant, John Dunbar, attempts to commit suicide by riding a horse down the middle of a battlefield while the two sides are shooting at each other. By an amazing fluke, even though thousands of bullets are flying around him, he survives the experience, and his superiors mistake his actions for bravery, offering him a promotion and his choice of duty.
He selects a remote and isolated posting on the Western Frontier to live in solitude. One day, he sees a wolf on the prairie and tries to chase it away by lurching at it and flailing his arms. The wolf in turn jumps and skips around him. All the while there are some Sioux secretly watching this strange man who…dances with wolves.
It’s all very charming, but if you watch the credits after the movie you will see there was a specialized unit responsible for taming and controlling the wolf. It is, after all, a movie. In real life, if you encountered a wolf in the wild and thought, “I’m going to dance with this wolf,” what would most likely happen is more of what happened to the grandmother of Little Red Riding Hood. Wolves don’t dance with people. They eat them.
In the spiritual world, Jesus called false teachers wolves in sheep’s clothing. Jude wants to warn you that if you consider false teachers to be harmless you might let your guard down. Jude warns that it is a deadly mistake for a Christian to be one who dances with wolves.
Last week Jude warned us against the wonky worship of false teachers, today we see
3 More Ways to Identify Wolves Dressed as Shepherds
1. Pictures of Failed Promises
Jude 12-13 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
This is the quintessence of false teachers: they make confident assertions about what they say God revealed to them, but those promises are completely hit-and-miss because God didn’t reveal it to them. In these two verses Jude walks us through a gallery of six pictures of failed promises.
1. Hidden reefs at your love feast: A love feast is a meal believers share with other believers, like communion. A hidden reef is dangerous because it is invisible. You expect clear sailing until suddenly you hit the reef, spring a leak and are in peril of sinking. These false teachers give you a false sense of security, that leads to spiritual shipwreck.
2. Shepherds feeding themselves: The sheep feel safe because they think they have a shepherd to feed them. But these shepherds aren’t feeding the flock, they are fleecing the flock. Jude has made the point before that they are in ministry for what they can get out of it.