Wolves in sheeps clothing is referred to in Scripture, so of course there are wolves within the flock. The question then becomes, are they recognizable to one another and are those who are not wolves have the discernment to see them amongst the truly innocent sheep.
Their speech is initially subtle. They can’t risk causing alarm to their target after all. A common and subtle tactic that is effective at this point is gossip spoken under the guise of a prayer request. As they earn the pseudo-confidence, trust and respect of the sheep, the attack will increase. The “prayer request” will begin to include details unnecessary for effective prayer. Once those seeds have been planted, it quickly spreads to other ignorant sheep.
On the other hand, wolves, numerous as they may be, don’t always overwhelm the congregation. It isn’t necessarily the responsibility of the leadership to remove them from the flock, as so many seem to believe. Since the wolves are hopefully not part of the leadership, if they are discerned by the congregation, they should be confronted using the protocol set forth by Paul in First Corinthians.
In the case of the prosperous church at Corinth, the congregation were not confident in their beliefs and therefore, didn’t stand up with a violation of those beliefs entered their flock. This was no fault of Paul; however. He had spent time building the congregation out of his intense love for God and his passion to see a church in that region flourish. This congregation knew what they believed and they knew why they believed it -essential elements in defence against a wolf-until it was challenged by a wolf who’s spots were well hidden.
Gossip was undoubtedly a part of the Corinthian believer’s demise. The initial attack came in the form of sexual immorality, however. It entered their congregation via one person and because it wasn’t dealt with immediately, it spread throughout the congregation as yeast through dough. It grew and flourished without hindrance until finally, the immature, irresponsible, timid congregation contacted Paul -who was on a missionary journey elsewhere – who was forced to deal with the situation himself.
It should also be noted that these wolves aren’t limited to one denomination. Their goal is to discredit or even destroy the Body as a whole. If/When they infiltrate the flock, it is for the sole purpose of destroying that flock from the inside out in hopes that it won’t recover.