Reading John chapter 10, I was vividly reminded why we need to stay close to the Master Shepherd. As sheep, we must be told what to do and where to go, other wise we’ll wander off and get lost. Jesus said the two characteristics of sheep are they will hear His voice and follow it.
In lieu of the deception running rampant among Christian circles, I found the following rather interesting and very accurate.
What are the Characteristics of Sheep?
1. timid, fearful, easily panicked
2. dumb stupid, gullible
3. very vulnerable to fear, frustration, pests, hunger
4. easily influenced by a leader, by the shepherd
5. stampede easily, vulnerable to mob psychology
6. little or no means of self-defense; can only run
7. easily killed by enemies
8. the shepherd is most effective, calming influence
9. jealous, competitive for dominance
10. constantly need fresh water, fresh pasture
11. have very little discernment in choosing food or water
12. best water source is early morning dew
13. perverse, stubborn – will insist on their own way , even eating poisonous plants or drinking dirty water
14. easily “cast” – flipped over on their back, unable to right themselves will die of starvation if not turned over by shepherd; helpless
15. frequently look for easy places to rest
16. don’t like to be sheared, cleaned
17. too much wool can cause sheep to be easily “cast”
18. creatures of habit; get into “ruts”
19. need the most care of all livestock
20. need to be “on the move”; need a pre-determined plan, pattern of grazing
21. totally dependent of shepherd for every need
22. need “rod and staff” guidance
Let’s take a look at John 10:7-14 and see why we need to be very careful as sheep.
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (John 10:7-14)
Who is the thief that Jesus was referring to? For 26 years I have been taught that the thief Jesus is referring to here, is the devil. Guess what folks? That’s not who Jesus was talking about. Look at it in context. He is talking about false teachers. Deceivers. Hirelings. These false teachers don’t come in by the right door, but they come to steal away the sheep from Christ and come to kill and destroy men’s souls with false doctrines.
Matthew Henry said it this way:
The mischievous design of the thief: John_10:10: The thief cometh not with any good intent, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. First, Those whom they steal, whose hearts and affections they steal from Christ and his pastures, they kill and destroy spiritually; for the heresies they privily bring in are damnable. Deceivers of souls are murderers of souls. Those that steal away the scripture by keeping it in an unknown tongue, that steal away the sacraments by maiming them and altering the property of them, that steal away Christ’s ordinances to put their own inventions in the room of them, they kill and destroy; ignorance and idolatry are destructive things. Secondly, Those whom they cannot steal, whom they can neither lead, drive, nor carry away, from the flock of Christ, they aim by persecutions and massacres to kill and destroy corporally. He that will not suffer himself to be robbed is in danger of being slain.
Albert Barnes had this to say of the thief in John 10:10:
The thief has no other design in coming but to plunder. So false teachers have no other end in view but to enrich or aggrandize themselves.
Dear ones, we must be very careful not to pull scripture out of context and whip it around like it is an amulet. Can John 10:10 be used to describe the devil? Well, yes and no. In John 8:44, Jesus said:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof. (John 8:44)
Jesus said that Satan is a murderer and a liar. So, in actuality, his works produce stealing, killing and destroying. So, why is it wrong to use John 10:10 about the devil? Because we totally miss the point that Jesus is making here, and that is, we must be aware of false teachers. If we are not, we can be deceived by them and fall.
We have majored so much on the love walk that we have totally left off discernment. The love walk that is practiced today is not the love of God. It is a tolerant, self-seeking, anything goes type of walk that lacks godly discernment. How can I say that? It is tolerant in that it embraces other religions for peace. It is self-seeking in that it doesn’t want to confront deception because opposition makes it uncomfortable. And anything goes because well, we all just want to have fun.
Last night, I turned on the TV and came across a very popular church service. The preacher was super positive and very soothing to hear. For some reason, I kept being prompted to watch the congregation. What was I looking for? Then I saw it. As the camera spanned across the crowd, one very important thing was missing. No one had Bibles! So, here they are, being soothed and consoled by this man and no one is checking what he is saying against the scriptures!
Oh Saints of God, I have been utterly grieved and moved to tears for many, many days at the deception that people have swallowed. We must check everything that is being spoken against the Word of God. Popular phrases, Christian clichés, pet Verses…everything must be looked at in context and weighed in the light of Scripture.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Timothy 2:15)