Exposed: Robbers and Thieves in the Church

Daily Devotional: Day 124

And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5, NKJV).

In John chapter 10, Jesus describes the relationship between Him, the Good Shepherd, and His sheep. Today’s Scripture captures a portion of what Jesus taught. As you look carefully at the Bible text above, I want us to focus on one vital point Jesus raises in the passage. He speaks of two different voices: the voice of Jesus and the voice of strangers. First, Jesus says He goes before His own sheep as their Leader and Shepherd. Then, He says something important about the sheep. He says that His sheep follow Him. Why? Because they know His voice. In other words, if the sheep didn’t know Jesus’ voice, they couldn’t follow Him. This raises another important point. Recognizing Jesus’ voice is necessary, if you want to follow Him. But to recognize Jesus’ voice you must stay close to Him; because there are many voices out there claiming to be the voice of Jesus. You can’t tell Jesus’ voice if you don’t stay close to Him through diligent study and meditation of the Scriptures (cf. John 5:39).

Now let’s look at the second point of Jesus’ message. He talks about the voice of strangers. Who are these strangers? They are agents of satan who have infiltrated the house of God, appearing to be shepherds, prophets and apostles. But they are no shepherds at all. Jesus calls them thieves and robbers (cf. John 10:1, 8, 10). They seem to come in the name of Christ, but they cleverly capitalize on people’s ignorance, hurt, desperation and spiritual vacuum to keep them in their grip. Using various sophisticated techniques of smooth talk and religious hypnosis, they can keep the unsuspecting under their spell for as long as they wish – robbing them of money, light, truth and freedom. Like vampires, they are adept at squeezing the life out of their victims. This phenomenon is widespread and can be detected if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. Again, Jesus calls the perpetrators thieves and robbers. But watch this: Jesus says His sheep will not follow these robbers and thieves; instead, they will flee from them.

What is Jesus telling us? His point is, there is the voice of Jesus, and there is the voice of strangers. It’s our responsibility to recognize the difference. The strangers Jesus is referring to are not fictional characters. They are actual ‘church people’ with real faces, real names and real stories. They are inside the places we fellowship. They appear on ‘Christian’ television and radio. They publish ‘Christian’ books and other materials. They have religious titles ranging from Pope, Priest or Pastor to Apostle, Elder or Prophet. They may be popular or not. But, it doesn’t matter. Popular or not, a robber is a robber, and a thief is a thief. Jesus does not want us to ignore them or put up with them. No, He expects us to flee from them, precisely because they are thieves and robbers.

False teaching is one of the hallmarks of thieves and robbers in the Church. As a Christian, you should not follow a false teacher, for he is a stranger. Jesus wants you to flee from him. This also means you should not be part of a ‘church’ where you know for a fact that they are misleading people through false teachings and practices. It doesn’t matter if the ‘church’ calls itself Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Evangelical or Charismatic. If you follow the voice of strangers, this may be a sign that you are not part of Jesus’ sheep; for Jesus Himself has stated that His sheep know His voice and will not follow the voice of strangers. 

Furthermore, do not buy into the popular but naïve idea that says, “Chew the meat and spit out the bones.” This is the wisdom of men, not the wisdom of God. If the bone is bad, why risk chewing the meat around it? The Holy Spirit will never give us that advice. Jesus wants us to flee from strangers altogether. He doesn’t say, “It’s ok to follow false teachers, false prophets and false apostles. Just make sure you carefully  chew the meat and spit out the bones.” Let us follow Jesus’ voice of truth and He will lead us to green pastures and fresh waters. Amen.

Pray to our Father in heaven about the message you’ve heard today.

For further study: Ezekiel 34:1-31

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