Spotting Wolves, Dogs, Pigs, & Hogs
“2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.
Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.
13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed —an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.” 2 Peter 2: NLT
We have already established that Peter is a shepherd of the early church. When he was younger and inexperienced, he made many mistakes, but as he had grown older, he also grew wiser. Peter had dedicated his life to strengthening his brothers as Jesus commanded him in Luke 22:32.
“32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32 NIV
As a shepherd, Peter needed to care for the flock. Shepherds must not only feed the flocks, but they also need to warn them of danger. Peter is committed not only to feed the flock that God has given him, but is also committed to warning them about the danger of false teachers creeping into the fellowship and the great damage to the church that they can cause.
Warning the church about the danger of false teachers is a very difficult task for pastors and preachers today. If a pastor or preacher speaks out against another teacher or “false Gospel,” there is a strong tendency for people blame him for being too judgmental and to quote Jesus in Matthew 7, where He says, “do not judge, lest you also be judged.” If we continue to read in Matthew 7, however, we will find that in verse 15, Jesus Himself also warns His hearers to “beware of false prophets.”
Jesus says that we can identify the fruit that a teacher or preacher is producing. We don’t judge for condemnation of the speaker, but we are obligated to inspect for identification of the fruit (to identify what is true). False teachers tended to creep into the church secretly and prey on unsuspecting believers. It can be argued in light of this that we are not to judge people condemningly, but we are to inspect their fruit carefully.
How can we know about and discern the teachings that are before us?
When inspecting fruit, we ought to be like the believers from Berea in Acts 17:11, who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Spotting false teachers in the church can be like one of three animals referred to in the scripture. That’s why I called this devotion, “Spotting wolves, dogs, pigs, and hogs.” So let’s go over some information about the wolves, dogs, pigs, and hogs.
In Matthew 7, Jesus Himself warns of false teachers that rise up in the church and try to prey on the flock by drawing men to themselves when He says:
“15Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15 NIV
Good shepherds don’t only feed the sheep. They also warn the sheep. Paul also warned his followers about false teachers. He said there would be false teachers who come like wolves in sheep’s clothing. How do you know if someone is a wolf dressed up as a sheep? You can spot a wolf easily by watching what they eat. If he is feeding on the grass of the scripture, that is wonderful. If they eat other sheep, they are not a sheep! If they bite into the shepherd, they are not a sheep. They are a wolf dressed as a sheep. You can spot a wolf by watching over a period of time, what he is eating. A wolf comes not to be fed by your church, but to attack and rip you off. A Wolf is not there to feed, but to take a few verses to get something from you.
It makes me think of a guy I seen preaching on television that boldly stated that the Lord spoke to him that God desired to pour out His blessings on the first twelve people who would give a gift of $10,000 to his ministry. They would be blessed similar to how God blessed the 12 disciples and the 12 tribes of Israel.
What was he doing? He’s a wolf preying on the sheep! He is trying to get only what he wants from the church of God.
“22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” 2 Peter 2:22
In 2 Peter 2:22, Peter refers to a dog returning to his vomit. In Philippians 3:2, Paul says, “beware of dogs and evil workers.” The “dogs” that Paul wrote about were the evil workers, because these were folks who went around to Christians and told them that it was not enough to simply believe in Jesus Christ, but they needed to be circumcised. They preached that people needed to prove their spirituality through circumcision. These false teachers were legalistic and tried to put additional requirements to prove spirituality. Paul writes an entire book dealing with these “dogs” in Galatians. Beware of the dogs that bark and growl at you. They make Christianity painful and miserable because according to their teaching, you need to prove how spiritual you are by punishing yourself.
Peter refers in his letter to a dog returning to his vomit. Why do people become too legalistic? They want to bark at you and growl at you because they are miserable and want you to become miserable too. When you watch a legalistic parent, pastor, or person, you will see that they bark a lot at others, but then eventually they themselves go back to what they said not to do. Like a dog returns to vomit, they tend to go back into the same sin that once held them.
Pigs & Hogs:
“A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.” 2 Peter 2:22
Peter refers to the sow or pig that was washed, but likes to go back to its wallowing in the mud and mire. The wolf speaks of the danger of those who are living for materialism. The dogs live and speak to the issue of legalism. The pig goes back into the mire and speaks of hedonism. They teach that you are to live for pleasure. Pigs live and wallow in the mud. Pigs say, “Hey, let’s dive into sin together! We are saved by grace, so it doesn’t matter what you say or do, so do whatever you want!”
The pig (or hog) relishes in the idea of a cheap grace of God.
While it is important for shepherds to give warnings about wolves, dogs, pigs, and hogs, Peter reminds us also to look at ourselves. Are you a wolf? Are you in the church just to get something from others? Are you cheating others to satisfy your own lusts? Are you a dog? Are you a legalistic person barking, biting, and attacking the people around you? Are you being critical and judgmental to those around you? Are you a pig? Are you just living for the pleasure in your life? Are you blowing your life on trying to satisfy an empty place in your heart? There is a difference between a pig and a prodigal. A pig wants to stay in the pigpen because he loves the mud. The prodigal was in the pigpen too, but he longed for more. He longed to come to the Father. He longed for something different. Don’t be sucked into these false teachings.
If you are in one of these categories, it is time to repent and not be a wolf, dog, pig or hog. It is time to be a sheep in the flock of God.
Holy Spirit, it is the very difficult task of a shepherd and leader not only to teach Your flocks, but the warn them of the dangers that could distract or lead them astray. May I have the courage of Peter and Paul to confront false teachers in and out of the church not as one to condemn, but as a fruit inspector to call people to You. Amen.