A wolf in sheep’s clothing is someone or something who appears to be friendly but is in reality harmful. Jude warns an undisclosed church that some ungodly people have snuck in and seek to do them harm. They aim to replace the truth of the gospel with their ungodly truth; beliefs based on their instincts, dreams, and passions. Jude calls the church to contend for God’s truth and expel these wolves by it.
Jude’s description of false teachers infiltrating a church parallels the reality our children face. Replace the context of church with home, school, tech, or relationships and we start to see how many “teachers” our kids may trust. Classic examples: TV, movies, music, friends, teachers, and coaches. New classic examples: phones, social media, youtube, dating sites, and apps.
How should a parent disciple their child past these wolves and to God’s truth? Observe: Observe your children’s intake. Notice what relationships, sites, pop stars, or accounts they gravitate to. Then observe what speech and action comes from the intake (not only in your child but in the source itself). Jude says that someone’s truth lived out either leads to godliness or ungodliness, so we can see evidence of the truth in our kid’s life. Then reveal: Take time to lead your child through a comparison of the child’s trusted teacher (both what they teach and how they live) and what the Bible teaches and calls godliness. Then, if necessary, remove: If the source produces ungodliness then you must help your child remove it. Helping them remove the false teacher is not just scalpeling it out of their life but helping them understand its eternal danger, helping them understand their own heart, leading them through repentance, and assisting them in setting up proper boundaries.
We may be aware of the classic wolves wolves around our kids but I encourage you to think through these stealthy ones:
Popular Christianity – The internet has brought the truth of the gospel to many people, for this I am grateful. But the internet has also produced many destructive messages claiming to be the gospel. Many of these false gospels are clothed in glamour, emotion, and pop culture in order to make them attractive. Regrettably they successfully grasp hearts because they scratch one’s religious itch while feeding one’s pride. As parents we must shepherd our children through popular Christian personalities, media, and fads by engaging them with God’s Word, particularly focusing on a personality’s whole body of work and what a fad’s is producing.
Contemporary Vocabulary – This may sound weird, but many words do not mean what they meant 5 years ago. Our culture has planted revolutionary nuance into many renowned words. Case in point, the word “truth” may no longer refer to objective reality, instead it can mean someone’s subjective beliefs (this is why we now need a phrase like “true truth” to truly describe objective reality). Words have meaning, meaning impacts us, thus our children are shaped by the words used around them. The explicit danger is parents may be saying the same words as their children but both have different understandings of what the words actually mean. If parents talk about God’s truth, believing it is the objective truth, their children may agree yet believe that it is their parent’s subjective truth while disregarding it as their own truth. Parents must be astute to what words popular media, public schools, and others use and mean.
You – Maybe the scariest source of false teaching we fail to shepherd our kids through is ourselves. You and I are not perfect parents, people, or Christians. This means that we will, whether by desire, word, or action, support a false gospel. We will give in to anger, laziness, depression, lust, and so on. In that moment we are teaching a false gospel to our children. Thankfully for the believing parent there is grace from God to repent and return to faithfulness. Moreover, we are able to understand what happened, reveal the false gospel we believed in, and remove it through repentance. All the while appropriately teaching our children what happened so they may know God’s truth is to be contended for in their lives by the evidence of our lives.