In the closing statements of the beatitudes, Jesus gave several warnings of threats to those who seek His blessing and purpose. The body of the beatitudes have the thrust of what and how we can be blessed of the Lord and how we can accomplish His will in this world. Obviously the Gospel was designed to invade the world and snatch souls as it were from the burning. Just as obvious is the fact that the world will also be on the attack. Not only defending itself against the good news of the Gospel, but retaliating.
Matt 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
This verse lets us know of the most dangerous tactics that the world and the devil have in attacking the Church. No church is impervious to this form of attack. There can be no other explanation as to why churches and denominations become doctrinally unsound and eventual enemies of the truth.
The most common error is that a Church that has no conviction about the Word of God, will seek for a leader that will lead them down the path of pleasing the crowds and who is popular with the world. His motivation is to do anything to get and keep a crowd. He will temper his sermons to the tithers. He is a self seeking individual who will profit from the gullibility of his congregation. He will dissuade them from studying the Word of God or believing that the Bible is truly the preserved Word of God. He will say nothing about any sin that may be evident among his congregation. He will never confront anyone blatantly living in sin. Since he is a tool of Satan, he will immediately begin questioning God; "Yea hath God said?" He will not stand with scripture, but will rationalize. He will work his way into the trust of the congregation, through means of bribery, and will sympathize with sinners. Outwardly he will appear very spiritual and almost angelic, he will try to act godly but will not actually love his brothers and sisters, but instead will be very judgmental of any who do not follow his lead. He will not evidence the love of Christ toward sinners, but will excuse their sins as long as they do what he says. He will actually hate the people who truly love God and His Word.
A true Pastor will walk alongside of a repentant sinner and aid his or her recovery. A true Pastor will withdraw from and avoid an unrepentant sinner. He will do nothing to enable a sinner in his or her sin.
Now more about the wolf in sheep clothing. Some sheep had to die to provide the costume. The wolf has no attachment to the sheep except as part of his food chain. The wolf will not allow close scrutiny, coming into the flock at the last minute, he is not amenable to fellowship. He will seek out and case the weaker members. His rationalizing will convince those who unprepared. He will build a following who will enable him to control those who see through his disguise. He will look like a sheep. He may even make noise like a sheep, but his eyes will give him away. He cannot look the other sheep in the eye. He may talk like a sheep but the tone of his voice is not sincere. He may mingle for quite a while looking for the perfect opportunity to pounce.
I have spent the entire article on false prophets because that is what the text was talking about. But I must remind us that a church can also be destroyed by those who creep in and do not really yield to the doctrine, standards and philosophy of that church. Eventually they become bold enough to reveal their true agenda.