Chapter Twenty — Part Ten: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 10/30/2022Foundation Scriptures:
1. Ravenous Wolves.
a. Acts 20:28a AMPC — Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock…
b. Acts 20:29 KJV — For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
c. Grievous (Greek barys) – weighty; heavy; burdensome; oppressive; severe, stern; violent, cruel, unsparing.
d. Paul warns them about grievous—fierce, savage, ferocious, ravening—wolves.
e. Wolves who would come from without—outside the Church—to attempt to do them harm.
f. Paul, and the apostles, bore the brunt of the persecution up till that time.
g. And now he warns the Ephesian Church that they, too, would not be spared from the persecution that is inevitably directed toward anyone who lives a godly life in Christ Jesus.
h. 2 Timothy 3:12-13 NKJV — Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2. Wicked Men and Imposters.
a. These wolves are wicked men and imposters—deceivers and deceived, themselves.
b. They are ruthless—harsh, judgmental, manipulative, controlling, and demanding—not sparing the flock.
c. Matthew 7:15 NKJV — Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
d. They use religion as a weapon and display no compassion, mercy, or leniency toward anyone.
e. Matthew 10:16-18 KJV — Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
a. Paul called the Judaizers—the Jewish legalists—dogs!
b. Philippians 3:2-3 AMPC — Look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances.
c. These dogs/wolves were false teachers from among the Jews.
d. They inevitably would show up wherever the Gospel was gaining ground—sent by the devil—to bring strife and confusion.
e. They are carnal, fleshly, bound by religion and tradition, and exceedingly wicked.
f. Their mission was to bring Jesus’ disciples back under bondage to the Law (religious tradition) and circumcision and to rob them of their liberty in Christ.
g. Galatians 2:4-5 NKJV — And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
h. As Paul demonstrated, do not give them the time of day!
i. He instructed us in Ephesians 4:27: “Neither give place to the devil.”
j. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him] (Eph. 4:27 AMPC).
4. Religious Bondage.
a. The aim of these religious wolves is to steal the truth of God’s Word and rob God’s people of the promises He has made to them.
b. Jesus referred to these kinds of false teachers and religious leaders when He said: “They tie up heavy loads, hard to bear, and place them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not lift a finger to help bear them.” (Matt. 23:4 AMPC)
c. They impose heavy religious burdens on others and do nothing to help them bear them.
d. But Jesus offers us a yoke that is easy, and a burden that is light (Matt. 11:30).
e. And He commands us, also, to humbly help to carry the burdens of others.
f. Galatians 6:2-3 NKJV — Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
5. Carnal Converts.
a. The fruit of their ministry is bad, twice-over.
b. Matthew 23:15 AMPC — Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes one [a proselyte], you make him doubly as much a child of hell (Gehenna) as you are.
6. Called to Freedom, Not Bondage.
a. Romans 8:14-15 NKJV — For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
b. Galatians 5:1 AMPC — In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].
c. How do you tell a genuine prophet from an imposter?
d. You look at the fruit of their life and ministry (Matt. 7:16-17).
e. If they produce bad fruit, get away from them and stay away from them.
f. Do not allow them to influence you in any way.
g. Look for good fruit and follow only those who produce good fruit.
h. Ephesians 5:9 KJV — (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;).