Beware the Friend Who Leads Back to the Old Life
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:15-16
Returning to the old life – with the old friends who are still using – is a disastrous problem for the addict getting out of treatment or jail. He may have found some sobriety in his time away but returning to the same situation and people often means the end of that sobriety.
Those old friends who lead back to relapse don’t think of themselves as evil. They don’t believe themselves to be the bad guy, but nevertheless, if given the chance, they’ll lead the addict back to the misery that they themselves have been unable to escape. The newly sober addict wants a different life, but leaving the old one is painful, particularly when the old friends come calling. We’re still friends, aren’t we? Are you too good for us now? Come on, have a drink. It will be just like old times . . .
In today’s passage, Jesus warned against those who claim to be sheep, but underneath are ravenous wolves, seeking our destruction. In the passage, he addressed false religious leaders, who pretended to be on the path to life, but in reality, led their followers down a path of pain and death.
According to the verses directly following today’s, it seems likely that these wolves don’t even know they’re wolves. These predators have convinced themselves they are on the right path and they want us to come with them. The problem is, they don’t wear signs that say, I want you to fail. So, how do we know who the wolves are?
Jesus said we can know our enemies by their fruit. Where would this person lead me? Are they my true friend, or are they just pretending, while leading me down a path of destruction? An even more painful question is, Who am I? Do I encourage my friends to stay on the narrow path of life, or do I just pretend, while leading the charge down the road of misery and disaster?
Jesus said we will know his followers by their fruit. Those who lead others to destruction, are the enemy. Those who lead others to life, are true friends and followers of Christ.