I first went to Africa in 1988, a life-changing trip to Tanzania. Eastern Africa teems with exotic wildlife and our missionary host told us many stories about encounters he’d had with the animals people travel the world to see. One interesting tidbit he shared with us stuck with me. He asked us what we thought might be considered the most dangerous animal in Africa. Lions are greatly feared, as are cape buffalo. It was either orangutans or baboons that were especially dangerous, but he told us that one of the most feared animals was a pack of wild dogs. If you encountered such a pack in the wild, you were in deep trouble. By themselves, they could be annoying, but in the herd, they would overwhelm prey and devour them.
I have been studying and preaching through Galatians this year and every week I find myself thinking that what this book teaches is what the modern American church needs to hear. That is, of course, a common phenomenon when one preaches through God’s word.
Sunday, I was preaching Galatians 5:13-15 and encountered this gem, Galatians 5:15.
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
One of the commentators I read said that he believed Paul may have been referencing packs of wild dogs such as those I had been told about by the missionary in Tanzania. Paul was dealing with the so-called Judaizers, the legalistic circumcision party which set Jewish law ahead of the freedom we have in Christ and added fleshly works over justification by faith. This group had sought to turn the people of Galatia against Paul and those who taught gospel truth, sowing discord through lies.
Paul used the picture of animals biting and devouring, of sinking their flesh into one another and tearing one another apart, to warn of groups that were active in the church. Paul was constantly telling us that we are to love one another and build up the Body of Christ, but there are those who seem to think that their spiritual gift is criticism and the fruit of the Spirit is to devour one another.
The wickedness going on in the Body of Christ right now by those who claim to defend the “sufficiency of Scripture,” conservative theology, and the holiness of the church is stunning. I watched a video last night while I walked, in which a pastor was confronting a group inside and outside the church who used racist lies to sow discord in the church warning the church about the spread of “wokeness, CRT, and liberalism” in the leadership of the church. This group had no conscience about lying to gain power.
We are all aware that our recently elected president failed to give proper credit to JD Greear for some borrowed sermon material. There are wild dogs seeking to bite and devour him and utterly destroy his ministry. They are using the secular political playbook known as the “politics of personal destruction” as they seek to ruin a man who admitted and repented of what he did.
These men (those who relentlessly spread lies and seek the destruction of others) have evil hearts and are seeking to do evil. They are African dogs swarming a good man (who like me, and you, and every one of those who accuse him has not been sinless) seeking to pick clean the bones of his ministry. They will not be satisfied until his ministry is a skeleton rotting in Alabama (and, strangely, a CBN loyalist who was elected first VP has taken his place).
Many of these men (and women) have demonstrated that they feel little loyalty to the truth, repeatedly making false accusations against men of God. Read Jared Wilson’s (@jaredcwilson) recent tweet storm about the lies that had been told about him by one of the snarling dogs on Twitter.
Paul was pretty clear about how we were to act toward one another, even those we believe had sinned. Nowhere is biting and devouring a mark of discernment or spiritual maturity. Galatians 6:1-2 provides a template, widely ignored by those in the SBC’s social media wild-dog pack.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
These bloodthirsty packs have no biblical leg to stand on, and they are more out-of-line with Scripture than one who borrowed a sermon without attribution. I am not excusing that, but edifying the Body of Christ (with permission but without attribution) cannot be compared to intentionally seeking the destruction of a man’s ministry. Biting and devouring is SATANIC – it is not of Christ.
People, we have to stop this.