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Spiritual Defence


16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves
17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.
18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.
19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,
20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21”Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Matthew 10:16-23 (NIV)

When you look at this passage in context, it is clear Jesus is speaking about how we will be treated by the world and the powers that rule this world; as well as setting out how we should behave in the face of this treatment.

I want us to focus on the first verse


16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
 
Matthew 10:16 (NIV)

It is clear from this verse that Jesus is preparing his followers, us, for the inevitable. He says He is sending us like sheep; docile and vulnerable, but also a flock that follows a shepherd.

We are being sent among wolves, in fact Jesus says “we will be like sheep among wolves” 

What is a sheep like among wolves? The short answer is dead, torn to pieces by the pack, defenceless.

Then we have this defence, our protection: “be shrewd as snakes and as innocent doves”

It doesn’t mean be aggressive as a snake, it says be shrewd and intelligent like the snake. To get out the way of danger, move on or move away.

 

Innocent as doves is also for our protection. Give no one any reason to throw an accusation at you, protect your reputation. 

In a more applicable way this verse is saying the world is against you because you choose to follow Jesus. It will try to tear you down and make you compromise to follow the ways of this world. 

Lets be realistic; the attacks and temptations will keep coming, so stay away from the danger. Be smart, seek the Lord in His word and prayer, by clothing yourself in Jesus you will gain wisdom and discernment so you can see it coming. 

Be practical, do not put yourself into situations where you are at risk.

Jesus is talking about the non believing world, the world outside of our faith. God gave me this verse to talk to you about when the wolves come into our faith, when the wolf becomes a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 


15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
  
Matthew 7 v 15

All we hear about these days is safeguarding, maybe there is too much but the rules are there for a good reason.

If I am a wolf that wants to feed on my prey where should I go? Where are all the docile sheep?

As Christians we have been slow to catch up on the fact that the church is not only the place for vulnerable, broken people to rebuild. It is also a lure for the wolves who would prey on us. 

I am just using this one verse to help explain why we must have rules of fellowship, how biblically we are called to look to our personal and group safety at all times. 

There are many more verses on the matter:


11 Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.
  
Leviticus 19:11

This verse speaks about having honesty and integrity with each other.


10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:10

This is speaking on showing the correct love to each other, not lust filled but brotherly love, as well as putting the needs of others over yours.


2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.
  
Galatians 6:2

Here this verse is speaking about supporting one another, encourage each other always.


20 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Acts 20:28

This talks about our responsibility to follow the teaching and to watch out for our brothers and sisters.

There are so many more, the safety of our own hearts and minds lies in scripture. The Bible gives us everything we need to follow Jesus and navigate through this world safely. It also gives us all we need to be safe in our fellowships. 

The trust and hospitality in the church has been abused time and time again. For some reason we as Christians believe to love is not call out bad or inappropriate behaviour, or that forgiveness means we must accept dangerous or malicious behaviour.

This verse shows us clearly this is not what was meant.


16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
  
Matthew 10:16

Protect yourselves; we at Cornerstone have been given a gift of foreknowledge most churches do not have.

Yet we still sometimes forget to protect ourselves, or we get upset at safeguarding rules. maybe we feel there should be no rules..

We do not live in that world, in fact it has never existed since the fall. The wolves are not always outside the door. 

What do we know for sure about each other at cornerstone?

I will tell you some things we can take as a given: we nearly all have or have had addiction issues. 

We nearly all have or have had mental health issues; some of us are victims of violence or abuse. Some of us are perpetrators of violence or abuse. Most of us have been both at one time or another. 

Nearly all of us have broken the law. We nearly all have lied, deceived or manipulated people. 

Does this list sell us as a group that should be trusted to just play nice without rules and safety procedures? 

Not one of you can say 100% you can trust me, I cant say 100% I can trust me! 

Have I said anything that’s untrue? We need to hear this. We should be strong enough in our identity in Christ to understand the needs for protection. 

The enemy is waiting to tear us down, trip us up, lead us into sin or lead others to sin against us. 

We may be sheep but there are certainly wolves outside and inside our church families all over the world. As Matthew 10 v 16 says we can be shrewd like snakes and make sure we are innocent like doves. Cornerstone is no different, we must protect ourselves. 

I will never give over anyone's secrets but please let me or one of the leaders know if someone, especially a member of the opposite sex is contacting you outside of our meetings. I can advise you on how to proceed. 

Shrewd like snakes.. 

Don’t meet up on your own with anyone you don’t know well, tell others if you are meeting up. 

Innocent like doves.. 

Our self protection does not mean we cannot love one another or be hospitable to each other. Be strong in your faith, respect each others boundaries. 

Do not be offended if others want to put safety's in front of meeting you or someone tells you they want to speak to a leader before giving out their number. 

Lets encourage and remind each other that we need the checks and measures in place. 

The enemy wants to burn down what we are building. Lets not give him the fuel..

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