7 Ways True Shepherds Protect the Flock by JOSEPH MATTERA for Charisma News
Shepherds are called to oversee the flock that was purchased with the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28-30). Part of that role involves guarding and protecting the flock against adversaries, wolves in sheep’s clothing and other challenges.
This is why the shepherds have both a rod and a staff. The rod is to fight off wild animals who desire to devour the flock, and the staff is meant to gently tap the sheep to keep them on the correct course. The prototypical Old Testament shepherd is King David, who killed the bear, lion and Goliath while protecting both sheep and God’s people (1 Sam. 17). Hence, a shepherd’s calling also involves being a warrior who protects the flock, not just feeding and comforting them.
The following are seven ways true shepherds protect the flock:
1. Shepherds guard against false doctrines in the church. One of the primary responsibilities that shepherds have is knowing and ensuring that the church remains rooted and grounded in the faith. Jude 3 teaches us to diligently contend for “the faith” that was once for all delivered unto the saints. This means there will be attacks against the faith with deceptive teachings that either water down or pervert the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42). “The faith” refers to the apostle’s doctrine that contains the elementary principles of the faith that Christianity is built upon (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 4:4-6; Heb. 5:12-6:4).
2.Shepherds protect the flock against false brethren. Paul, the apostle, said that he was in danger from false brothers (2 Cor. 12:27). By implication, this means that he was a threat to them. This is likely because he preached the truth and called out those in the church but who were not really of the church. (False brethren are those who have infiltrated the church with false teachings or with an agenda or vision different from the purpose, vision and teachings of Scripture.) Consequently, the job of a true shepherd is to protect the flock against false brethren. (This includes female deceivers such as we see in Revelation 2:20.)
3.True shepherds protect the flock against false prophecies. Jeremiah 23 warns against false shepherds and calls upon true shepherds to rise and care for the flock. One of the concerns of this chapter is regarding prophets who only speak out of their spirit. They didn’t represent the mind and heart of God. Consequently, the context indicates that true shepherds should protect the flock from the misleading influence of both false shepherds and prophets. Hence, true shepherds are called to help the church discern between true and false prophetic utterances (1 Thess. 5:19-21; 1 John 4:1).