Thursday, March 12, 2009
Shepherd and Sheep Series-Sheep Must Be Protected While They Eat
In this Shepherd and the Sheep Series, we are studying the subject of meditation. God says if we meditate on the Word we will be wiser than all our enemies. "O how love I your law! It is my meditation all the day. You through your commandments have made me wiser than my enemies: for they are ever with me" (Psalm 119:97-98). Sheep are defenseless. They have no way of protecting themselves. They cannot kick, bite, or hide. In fact, they cannot even run away from the enemies that prey upon them. The normal body temperature of sheep is 103 degrees F. If they run very long, their thick coats of wool will cause their body temperature to rise dangerously, and then they will die. Since sheep have no built-in defense system, they have many who prey upon them. Chief among these are lions, bears, and wolves. These predators stalk the sheep day and night, placing the sheep in need of continuous protection. One of the chief functions of a shepherd is to guard the sheep. God compares Satan to a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (See 1 Peter 5:8). False teachers are pictured a ravenous wolves who creep into flocks and carry away captive the young and the weak. Sometimes they enter under the guise of being sheep themselves. Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). We need to learn how to spot vicious enemies. Cults are counterfeits of the Christian faith. They often use the Bible in their teachings, but they distort and misapply verses in an attempt to support false conclusions. The Christian who meditates upon God’s Word should be able to detect false cults quickly. However, it is also the responsibility of the shepherd to expose false teachers and to protect the flock from them. Learning how to avoid poisonous foods. Lions, bears, and wolves are not the only danger from which the sheep need to be guarded. They also need protection from poisonous plants which grow among the grass they eat. Sheep will eat any green plants they find, even if they are poisonous. Once eaten, these plants will cause severe damage or death. For this reason, the shepherd must go into a field and prepare it for the sheep by searching out, pulling up, and destroying any poisonous plants. The same precautions are necessary to protect sheep from polluted water. On the way to pure streams, sheep may stop and drink from germ-infested puddles. Here they can pick up various parasites and diseases. This preparation is also the responsibility of the “under-shepherds” of Christ. They must identify worldly philosophies and humanistic presuppositions that so easily creep into teaching materials. Collisions 2:8 warns that we are to let no one deceive us “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” We are also commanded in II Corinthians 10:5 to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. We must learn to discern what doctrinal heresy is. Just as sheep can eat too much of one thing, such as clover, and become bloated, so a Christian can overemphasize one truth and become heretical and schismatic. Every Biblical truth has a balancing truth: law is balanced with grace; justice is balanced with mercy; work is balanced with rest; love is balanced with truth. Truth out of balance leads to heresy. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.