I recently heard a podcast that accused a well-known prophetess of being false because of a word she gave to another minister. I took opportunity to listen to the word, and to all of my spiritual senses it seemed good, the kind of thing I wouldn’t mind hearing over my own life. The reason that the individuals on the podcast accused the prophetess of being false is that not long after giving the word this well known minister fell from grace. The group speaking even cited Old Testament passages about what should be done with “false prophets”.
With this view in some church cultures it doesn’t surprise me that many people avoid moving in prophetic things at all costs. If my friends talked like this 20 years ago I may not be pursuing prophetic things today. One thing we must remember about this judgmental group however is that they are entirely wrong. This woman is not a false prophet, and in fact I think the chances of her word eventually coming to pass are greater than not, but our view of what constitutes a New Testament false prophet has got to change.
Matthew 7:15 says “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
Take note of the fact that Jesus does not say once that you will know a false prophet by their words. No He makes it very clear when a false prophet is identified it will be their actions, or their fruit that catches them. There is room for growth in the modern day prophetic ministry. Don’t let a fear of mistakes cause you to stop from speaking what God places on your heart. The real question to ask when reviewing if someone is a true or false prophet is what fruit are they bearing? Are people built up and made more Christ-like because of their ministry, or do these prophets just pressure people for money and cause confusion and division in the church?
These are the types of questions church leadership needs to begin to ask when discerning the false from the true. 1 Corinthians 14:29 says “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” Let’s look at this verse. There is no indication that the two or three prophets are false. In fact I think there may be an implication that they are legitimate because they are freely allowed to prophesy in the church. The others in the listening vicinity are to judge what’s being spoken, not whether the prophet is false or authentic. So why would the others have to judge or weigh what is being said if there is no potential for error?
Let’s put it this way. We are all human vessels. We are men and women. God speaks and what He says is perfect, however our interpretation of what is being said is never as perfect. I can’t even fully interpret what my wife really means half the time, I don’t expect interpreting a word from God to be much easier. We all have our filters, and we must learn to quiet them to hear what God is really saying. Let’s say there is an unseasoned prophetic minister who gets a picture of a lion. It’s a powerful picture of a protective, majestic lion, but he can’t see it that way because at a young age he was frightened by a lion at the zoo. Until inner healing has taken place, when this person sees the lion it is going to signify a warning to them. In his mind Lion=Fear.
What if, however, the message that God is really trying to get across through this vision is that “God will protect you and your territory, like a Lion protects his pride.” It may take a while until the individual can see it another way. If after seeing this picture he blabbers out “A big mean lion is coming, run for cover…” This does not make him a false prophet, it makes him a wounded one. He just needs to be able to see another facet of the presence of God. The same God that comforts us under his wing strikes fear in the enemies of our souls as a lion. Let’s not stone this prophet, he heard and saw perfectly, he just interpreted poorly.
Lord we all want to hear your voice more clearly. Refine us, purify us, heal the pain of our past so we can discern the good in your voice and not hear through our own filters. Let us grow each day in relationship with you. ~Amen
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