With the wolves you cannot be too severe. With the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle.


At the Desiring God 2008 National Conference, Mark Driscoll spoke on “How Sharp the Edge? Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words”. Here are some of his comments.  (These are notes taken during the session, not a manuscript.)

Shoot the wolves.

These are false teachers. Martin Luther says, “With the wolves you cannot be too severe. With the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle.” People only see me on the stage losing my mind but not praying with rape victims afterwards.

My point is that many of us have become worldly, thinking that you only say certain words. Wordliness is not having courage or speaking truthfully. We worship a guy who got murdered. The cross is an offense, and if we don’t speak of it in an offensive way at times, we may be false teachers.

Each of us to varying degrees is a hypocrite. We worship what we do or do not do instead of what Jesus did for us. The Pharisees were the devoted Biblicists. You love it when Jesus rebukes the Pharisees, but you don’t think you are on their team. When you read this, put yourself, your church, your denomination in this passage.

Matthew 23:13 – “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”

You are so worried talking about what you should be against that you don’t win people to Jesus.

Matthew 23:16-21 – “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it.”

These are people that have memorized the entire Pentateuch. Didn’t Jesus tell us not to call people fools? He did. We should call fools fools. That takes discernment.

“You can’t call me blind. I went to seminary!”

Matthew 23:23-24 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

You tithe out of your spice rack. You’re that legalistic.

Matthew 23:25-26 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”

You look nice, you put your makeup on, ladies, you comb your hair, gentleman. You look wonderful to everyone but God who sees the heart.

Matthew 23:27-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

“He’s amazing! He’s memorized verses! He’s read books and paid attention to the footnotes!”

Matthew 23:29-33 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”

There is a propensity for those who are Pharisees to read the Bible and think things would have been different if you were there. You would have done worse, and so would I.

These are church-going folks, they teach Sunday school, they have memorized books of the Bible, they have given their lives to teaching Scriptures, they have masters degrees in theology, and he says “How can you possibly escape being sent to hell?”

Matthew 23:34-35 – “Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.”

Jesus shoots the wolves. Some of you get very frustrated because you want to be treated like sheep, but the problem is you are acting like wolves. We are supposed to love the sheep and shoot the wolves because we love the sheep.

If you would like to read  more or to listen or watch the video of Mark Driscoll’s message, click here: