In the last post, we discussed how people manipulate circumstances, leadership, and individuals with their prophetic words in order to validate their own prophetic ministry. Today, we will talk further about ways prophecy is often misused or abused.
Gathering a personal following through our words – It is a natural tendency for people to look up to someone who moves in spiritual gifts. However, it becomes unhealthy when a prophetic person gathers a following of “groupies” who hang on his or her every word. Often, loyalties are siphoned away from the rightful leadership of the local church by a “prophet” with the supposed word of the Lord.
An obvious sign of an unhealthy personal following is when the followers feel the need to frequently run to the prophet for personal direction, instead of inquiring of the Lord for themselves. There is certainly nothing wrong with seeking out godly counsel, but there comes a point when seeking a prophetic word from another becomes akin to going to a fortune teller. A prophet of integrity will encourage his followers to find out from the Lord for themselves, rather than using his influence to bind people to himself.
What did John the Baptist do, when there were those who continued to stay with him, once Jesus appeared on the scene? He pointed them to Jesus. And looking upon Jesus … he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” And the two disciples heard him speak and followed Jesus (John 1:36, 37). John also said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). We must always point people to Jesus, rather than forging inappropriate ties to ourselves.
Exalting our word – When we cannot accept our leadership’s discernment that our word is not accurate, we’ve got a problem. It is humbling to have to submit to a spiritual covering, but we need to. Our pastor is there to help us grow. Sometimes that growing process means we will be told that a prophetic word is not right. Even if the word is right, and our pastor has just missed it on this occasion, we need to humbly submit to his discernment and correction. If it truly was a God-word, it will bear out over time. Don’t sweat it. (This is extremely hard for all of us who move in prophecy.)
It is far too easy to worship our own “words from the Lord” and our ability to hear God speak. Ultimately, this is worship of ourselves. It is pride.
“Touch not mine anointed.” – Have you ever heard this one? I have. Someone comes up with a prophecy which is discerned by trustworthy leaders, other prophets, etc. to not be a word from the Lord. Instead of receiving correction, the “prophet” or his followers get defensive and start quoting this Scripture from 1 Chronicles 16:22. (The verse refers to a story about Abraham, in Genesis 20:3-7, and how God protected him and Sarah from an unbelieving Philistine king.)
Of course we should take care not to label a prophetic word as false before it has gone through the appropriate discerning process (assuming that it does not obviously contradict Scripture in the first place). We should also be very careful not to denounce or be scornful of those delivering prophetic words – but then, having scorn toward anybody is wrong, prophet or not! Any one of us can be in error. Those who are wise have enough humility and fear of the Lord to realize their own frailty – and to extend grace to those who err.
At the same time, however, prophetic people cannot hide behind “touch not mine anointed” to avoid the discerning process. The implication is a threat: “Don’t you dare judge my prophetic word, or God will judge you!” Such intimidation is evidence of pride and fear, pure and simple.
Enjoying the fulfillment of negative words – At times God may speak to us of calamity that is coming to a person or a group of people, or of an impending physical disaster. As we have said earlier, the godly response is to intercede for mercy and a staving off of judgment. Sometimes, however, even as we appropriately pray for the averting of the disaster, we have revelatory understanding that the judgment will still take place. This should produce a great fear [reverence; awe] of the Lord in us.
When negative prophetic words come to pass we must never rejoice in the fulfillment. Proverbs 17:5 admonishes us, “… he who is glad at calamities shall not go unpunished.” When the fulfillment of such a word comes, our response should be a sincere sorrow for those who are suffering. God is not pleased when we are more concerned about being right in our prophetic hearing than we are about the pain of the people affected.
In summary, prophecy was never meant to give us personal advantage. At all times we must remember that our prophetic word does not validate us. God never needs man to bring validation to a word He speaks, either. He is well able to defend Himself without our help.
Next time we’ll talk about maintaining a pure word through a pure life.
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual