Wolves pretending to be sheep
In Matthew 7:15 Jesus warns his disciples about false prophets: these religious prophets seem to be admirable “sheep,” so righteous and holy; but they are actually hungry, greedy “wolves.” Their admirable public acts–giving alms, praying, and fasting–are done to impress other people (see Mt. 6:1-18). Impressed people can then be manipulated into serving them and their greedy interests–personal status, family wealth, and national power.
These “alpha dogs” should not be honored or revered, despite their elevated positions and power in churches that adore them. Disciples should judge them rightly, according to their fruits (Mt. 7:16-20). These dogs might speak of Jesus as “Lord,” but are they doing the will of Jesus’ Father in heaven? (Mt. 7:21). False prophets will even try to fool the final Lord, claiming they were good disciples (Mt. 7:22). Bowing before the final judge, they will boast: we prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and did many miracles in your name. But the Lord will respond: I never knew you; for they were evildoers; they did not obey his commands (Mt. 7:23).
So it is possible for religious leaders to speak beautifully in Jesus’ name, and to do impressive acts in Jesus’ name. But it’s all a show, a dramatic performance that will lead their admirers to follow them as revered ruling fathers or lords, supporting them generously and loyally. True disciples of Jesus, who revere the one Father, the one in heaven, must be more discerning; for Jesus came not to be served but to humbly serve, associating with and helping those who had little to offer him in return. Jesus’ lowly disciples will not join or support wolf packs.