Jesus expects and commands us to distinguish between wolves and sheep (Matt.7:15-16)
A wolf is known by his appetites. A wolf wants to use the sheep to fill his own lusts, and does not care about whether this hurts the sheep or not.
A man who rapes children is a wolf, not a misguided sheep.
A man who molests children is a wolf, not a misguided sheep.
A man who beats his wife, cheats on his wife, demands complete and absolute obedience from his wife, and believes that he is the voice of God in his home, is using his wife to fill his own lusts for self-importance, power, and self-worship to the hurt of his wife. He is a wolf, not a sheep.
A man who has his children in absolute terror, who holds or gives his favor to his family based upon his whims and his lusts for power and control is using his God-given authority to destroy and devour the sheep. He is a wolf, not a sheep.
And here is a biggie. Matthew 18:15-18 are the instructions of our Lord concerning brothers who have sinned against each other. They are not intended as instructions on how to deal with wolves. Wolves must be cast out and left in the hands of God. Wolves have no problem pretending to be sheep – even to the point of tears and all of the right words. But Jesus said that you will know them by the fruits, not by their tears and empty words.
Before you apply Matthew 18, you must ask yourself if you are dealing with a wolf or with a sheep. Jesus commanded us to tell the difference. You will know them by their fruits (see above).
It is true that everyone struggles with sin. Brothers and sisters in the faith hurt one another, for they still fight against the Old Man. But there is a difference between struggling with anger and raping a child.
There is a difference between struggling with gossip and molesting a child.
There is a difference between angry words spoken in haste and deliberate and careful abuse of a wife.
There is a difference between struggles against lust and planning and executing the plan to carry on an adulterous affair against your wife. A wolf uses his mistress, his wife and his children to satisfy his own lusts, and he does not care who he hurts in the process. He is a wolf, not a sheep.
I do not say this to minimize anger, gossip or even lust. I say this to clarify the behavior of a wolf and the behavior of a sheep who is going astray.
Sheep going astray may fall into grievous sin. A wolf is something else entirely.
This should be obvious, but it apparently is not. So here is a guide. Sheep sometimes go astray. That’s what sheep do. Apply Matthew 18, Gal. 6:1, and other passages that teach how to deal with brothers who are entangled in sin.
A wolf, on the other hand, views people only as objects to be used and discarded to fill the lusts of the wolf. Wolves devour and destroy.
Jesus commanded us to tell the difference, if we have the courage.
(Can a wolf be born again and given a new nature – of course. God can do as he pleases. But we will never bring that about by pretending that the wolf is a sheep. God will not be mocked.)
Hope this helps. If you refuse to tell the difference between a wolf and a sheep, please never hold church office, for you are putting the sheep in danger, and God will hold you accountable.