Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16; 5:1-2
Yesterday we looked at two important ways of testing whether a prophetic word is from God or not. Firstly, we must be sure that the word is in agreement with and not contradictory to God’s Word. Secondly, in giving a prophetic word there is safety in submitting it to be tested by other prophetic people. There is no place for a “loner” who does not submit to other believers.
The motive people have for giving prophetic words is important. Sometimes people do give words in order to manipulate or control a situation. That was certainly the case with Jezebel when she spoke to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-2. I have often wondered why a man of the calibre of Elijah was almost destroyed by Jezebel’s “prophecy.” It is so clear that Jezebel’s words were not from the heart of God, and manipulative words are often much more subtle. We must be careful to watch that insecure people do not use the giving of prophetic words as a form of attention seeking. I know of a situation where a man sadly gives prophetic words because it gives him a sense of spiritual superiority. Perhaps more sad is the fact that no one has sought to correct him, although it is highly likely that he would not accept correction.
There are other important questions to ask when weighing a prophecy. Does it build up or condemn? Does it glorify Jesus? The Holy Spirit always points to and glorifies Jesus. Does the prophecy promote obedience to God? Does it bring freedom and peace? Bondage, confusion and fear are not the work of the Holy Spirit. Is the word couched in religious language or is it in language that people can easily understand? Does the prophetic word make the hearers feel uncomfortable and wary? We have an anointing that teaches us the truth and warns us of that which is false [see 1 John 2:27].
I remember years ago reading a book entitled “To Corinth with Love,” by Michael Green in which he tackled issues of prophecy. One of his comments concerned the length of a prophecy. He suggested that even if it began in the Spirit, the longer the prophecy is, the more possibility there is that it continues in the flesh.
“The human factors involved in interpretation and application of personal prophecies can be sifted and tested through agreement. If several responsible people are receiving the same or similar words, the accuracy is more probable” [Peter Wagner, Blazing the Way, page 205].
It is vital that we test prophetic words but do not let that make you nervous or afraid to give words that you believe the Lord is giving to you. A healthy local church will give people room to develop their gifts in an atmosphere of love. Even where correction is necessary it will be given in such a way that does not discourage but strengthens, encourages and helps that person to grow. As our Bible reading says to day, we should maintain the unity of the Spirit [Ephesians 4:3], honour Christ’s body, and grow together in love.
Tomorrow we will begin to look at the gift of different kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues.