How our human spirit can corrupt our prophetic gifts
God Almighty is Spirit. When He created mankind in His image, He formed a spirit in each one of us too, so that we can connect with and worship Him spiritually. When we humbly submit to God, He will fill our spirit with love, power, and self-control and give us His wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. The human spirit, however, also has a human will. We can choose to loyally follow God or not. Our human spirit can divert the spiritual gifts that God had intended for us to bless others with, and use them for our own purposes. This is particularly true of prophetic gifts.
(See Chinese versions: 简体中文 > 人的灵如何破坏预言的恩赐 | 繁體中文 > 人的靈如何破壞預言的恩賜)
John 4:24 ESV God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Zechariah 12:1 ESV … Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him:
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Isaiah 11:2 ESV And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Psalm 51:10-11 NLT Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
About prophetic gifts
Those with prophetic gifts find that we tend to have accurate instincts about people or the future without really knowing how we know what we do. People can call this by many names; instinct, intuition, imagination, gut feeling, sixth sense, or conscience.
This inner “knowing” or revelation arises from the human spirit, which has the ability to:
- Know a person’s thoughts and intentions | 1 Corinthians 2:11 ESV For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
- Examine and reflect on ourselves and our sins | Proverbs 20:27 ESV The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.
- Understand and discern things, independent of our experiences or age | Job 32:8-9 ESV But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.
Contrasting the use of prophetic gifts
We see numerous examples of people with this ability in the Bible.
Joseph was one. He had certain dreams about his family that came true some 20 years later. Simeon was another. He recognised Jesus immediately even though He was just a baby at the time.
Genesis 37:5-6 ESV Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.”
Genesis 42:6 ESV Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.
Luke 2:25-35 NLT At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
In both cases, Joseph’s dreams and Simeon’s instincts were accurate and bore good fruits because they worshipped and feared God, and obeyed His Spirit.
Matthew 7:15-20 ESV “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
Contrast this with the Old Testament prophet, Balaam, who misused his gifts. Balaam was invited twice by Balak, king of Moab, an enemy of Israel to curse God’ people. The first time that Balaam consulted God about Balak’s request, God made it very clear that he was forbidden from doing so. Yet Balaam pressed God a second time to ask again if he should go with Balak. The prophet tried to push his boundaries in favour of what king Balak wanted. Balaam’s spirit never submitted to God, even though he appeared to obey God. The man also had no qualms about using his prophetic gifts to curse God’s people. God was very angry with Balaam and let him go as a means to test his heart. Still, Balaam went ahead, infuriating God. It doesn’t take too much to know that God would never bless such a mission, yet Balaam’s spirit was blinded by the honour and riches that he was tempted by.
Numbers 22:15-22 Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these. And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.’” But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more. So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.” And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary…
In the end, God overturned all of Balaam’s curses into blessings over His people, frustrating both Balak and Balaam. Nonetheless, Balaam never learnt his lesson. If God obstructed him from fulfilling king Balak’s request, he could still help Balak by getting the people of Israel to sin against God through sexual immorality and eating food offered to idols. Balaam’s prophetic gifts could have been used to glorify God and bring Israel peace. Instead, his human spirit brought great destruction because of his pride and rebellion against God.
Numbers 23:11-12 ESV And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.” And he answered and said, “Must I not take care to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”
Numbers 31:16 ESV Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.
Revelation 2:14 ESV But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.
Let’s contrast this with the prophet Elisha.
Elisha was personally approached with much pomp, money, and grandeur when Naaman, a great warrior from an enemy country came to seek him for healing from leprosy. Yet Elisha did not even step out of his home or entertain him. Elisha simply obeyed God’s leading and gave Naaman directions to wash in the Jordan River. This time, it was Naaman who was furious, not God, whom Balaam had provoked by anger by his greed and anger.
2 Kings 5:1,5-6,9-12 ESV Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” … So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.
When Namaan was finally convinced to humbly follow the prophet’s instruction, his skin was “restored like the flesh of a little child.” Namaan returned to Elisha, praising God and vowing to turn away from his other gods to worship the only One True God. When Namaan pressed Elisha to accept a present in appreciation, the prophet refused to accept. In this case, we see that Elisha’s human spirit truly revered God. As a result, his enemy came to worship God. Elisha’s prophetic gift brought God glory and his enemy, salvation.
2 Kings 5:14-17 ESV So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord.
Contrasting Balaam’s spirit and Elisha’s spirit
Both Balaam and Elisha had great prophetic gifts and heard from God directly, but their human spirits could not be more different.
God’s Word shows us that our spirit can become:
- Rebellious and faithless to God | Malachi 2:16 ESV … So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
- Blind to our true motives | Proverbs 16:2 ESV All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
- Proud (and destined for disaster) | Proverbs 16:18-19 ESV Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
- Crushed under the weight of our broken hearts | Psalm 34:18 ESV The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Balaam’s spirit was rebellious and unfaithful to God. He was proud and blind to his own true motives. Balaam did not use his prophetic gifts for God’s glory, but his own.
Discerning the correct use of prophetic gifts
The ultimate purpose of prophecies is to shine truth into our hearts and expose sin in us individually or within God’s church so that we can repent and be reconciled with Him.
1 Corinthians 14:24-25 ESV But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
John 16:7-8 ESV Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
We are to desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. But before we ask God to move our spirits prophetically, we must ask Him to first fill us with His love for others. Otherwise, these gifts are meaningless and can even lead to great problems. Not only can prophetic gifts distract us from following God, but we may also end up causing other people to sin against God, as we witnessed from Balaam’s example. Balaam was filled with love for himself, not for people.
1 Corinthians 13:2 NLT If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
Mark 9:42 ESV “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
We are told that as we use our prophetic gifts, we must pay great attention to:
- Love others | 1 Corinthians 13:2 ESV And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
- Seek to only build up, encourage, and comfort others | 1 Corinthians 14:3-4 ESV … the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation… but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
- Be in solemn reverence of God as He imparts wisdom and understanding to us | Isaiah 11:2 ESV And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
- Test the spirits to ensure we are truly listening to the Holy Spirit and not merely following our human instincts | 1 John 4:1 ESV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world
Also, see Understanding the gift of prophecy.
Our spirits can corrupt our prophetic gifts
When our human spirits do not fully submit to God, we can misuse our prophetic gifts.
1. Divination – Seeking to know the future
We can use our prophetic gifts for ourselves.
When we use our prophetic gifts to try to see into or determine our own futures, we are in essence, practicing divination. Divination is the ungodly practice of looking into hidden meanings or the future using one’s instinctual or spiritual abilities. Reading tea leaves, tarot cards, and horoscopes fall into this description. Allowing our human spirit, rather than the Holy Spirit, to lead our search for our future and our hope is also a form of divination.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 ESV For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
1 Samuel 15:23 ESV For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry…
We see an example of this when Balaam went to help king Balak with his request to curse God’s people.
Joshua 13:22 ESV Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain.
Balaam prophesied over Israel a total of three times. The first two times, he partnered with Balak to make burnt offerings to God and asked to receive His instructions, which he did. God’s Spirit, however, did not come upon Balaam. The Bible says that the third time, however, Balaam did not resort to divination. He simply gave up his own agenda, did not make any more burnt offerings, and waited on God. This time, the Spirit of God personally came on him, unlike the first two times. There was also a difference in the tone between the first two prophecies (factually in the third person) and the third prophecy (lovingly in the first person).
Numbers 23:1-5 ESV And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. And Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height, and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, “I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” And the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.”
Numbers 24:1-3 NIV Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him and he spoke his message.
The first two times, Balaam’s spirit was in charge. He told Balak where to go and what to do. He was the one who decided where and when to seek God. He made a great show of seeking God, but it was purely on his agenda and schedule. He tried to use God and God’s gifts on his terms. The Bible calls this divination or in other words, a form of fortune-telling.
We too can make a show of seeking God’s will, like Balaam did, when in reality, our human spirits only seek to fulfil our own agenda for our own purposes. God may not necessarily stop us, as was in the case of Balaam, but He certainly will not bless or protect us. Balaam was eventually killed.
Jude 1:10-11 ESV But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.
A quick test to see if we have corrupted our prophetic gifts:
2. Fixations and obsessions – Building an inner world of hidden knowledge
Those with the gift of empathy or mercy tend to have a heightened sensitivity to their feelings and their surroundings, as well as to other people’s emotions and motivations. This can be a great complementary gift to the gift of prophecy. We can speak God’s truth to someone with love and compassion for how they may be feeling.
If we have been emotionally wounded in the past and not forgiven those who hurt us, for example, our crushed spirits may be tempted to turn our prophetic gift inwards. We can amplify our personal feelings at the expense of listening to God and imagine how people may hurt us and how to protect ourselves.
Because we have come to see information as a form of protection, we become highly analytical, suspicious, or critical. We imagine all sorts of things about others.
- We see people as objects of danger that we need to scrutinise and evaluate, instead of seeing them as people who God has placed in our paths to love and build up.
- We constantly second-guess people, and even ourselves. We go around in circles in our heads, anxiously asking ourselves, “What is true? Is this what I really feel? Why do I feel that so strongly? What’s real? What’s not?”
- We become fixated on finding out the truth for ourselves.
- To cope, we conjure up different scenarios and answers for ourselves – thereby falling into divination.
Ezekiel 13:2-3 NIV … Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
In short, we compulsively overthink many things and assume we are able to arrive at “truth” if we analyse people long enough or think enough. The Bible shows us that this is not true. Any wisdom outside of God’s leading tends to lead to spiritual death.
Proverbs 14:12 ESV There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
1 Corinthians 3:18-20 ESV Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
Some of us can be even misled by our human spirit to “see” revelations all around us. We begin to assume we know people’s real motivations or decisions without ever confirming with them. Our imaginations are drawn to darkness, superstition, and presumptions about people. This can happen when we don’t train our minds to obey Philippians 4:8, which commands us to think about whatever is honourable, just, pure, and lovely. Neither do our minds really rest. In some extreme cases, we think about our feelings and thoughts so much that we become paranoid, crippled emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Philippians 4:8 ESV Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
When we allow God’s Spirit to lead us, there is a deep sense of rest and peace.
Also, see Godly and ungodly uses of imagination.
A quick test to see if we have corrupted our prophetic gifts:
Jeremiah 14:14 ESV And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Also see Renewing the spirit of our minds.
3. Pride – Building our self-image
One other danger is that we glorify our prophetic gifts and label ourselves as “special,” “anointed,” “chosen,” “gifted.” Slowly, pride seeps in and corrupts our hearts. We begin to think of ourselves as superior to others because our intuitions are often more accurate than others’. But as we can see from Balaam’s example, once we make ourselves the focus of our gifts, we fall deeper and deeper into sin and lead ourselves into destruction.
Romans 12:3 ESV For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
For example, we can be tempted to tell others what to do because we think we understand their problems and solutions better than they do, due to our spiritual insights. In our pride, we “self-appoint” ourselves as their “advisors” or “mediators” between God and them, and unwittingly take over Jesus’s place in their hearts.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Because our pride blinds us, we don’t realise when we come across as condemning, manipulative, or controlling. Our words can end up tearing people down, rather than build them up. Humility, which includes the ability to see others as more significant than ourselves, is a crucial aspect of loving others well. We ought to listen more than we speak, and encourage others to seek God. Ultimately, being loving is much more important than having to be right. And like Elisha’s example, our prophetic gifts should always draw people closer to God.
Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Philippians 2:3 ESV Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
James 1:19 NLT Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
Also see Learning to speak the truth in love.
Pride can also lead us to become presumptuous. God’s Word warns us that all our knowledge is only partial and always incomplete, and that all prophecies only reveal part of the whole picture. When we try to “fill in the gaps” on behalf of God and complete His revelations based on our own understanding, we will end up misleading others with false prophecies. Every prophetic word, vision or dream from God needs to be delivered exactly as they are given, not one word more or one word less. A prophecy does not even have to make any sense to us, it will only make sense for the intended recipient. Let us not make any presumptions on behalf of God. The Bible describes this as idolatry. It is when we place our own thoughts above God’s.
1 Corinthians 13:9 NLT Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!
1 Samuel 15:23 ESV For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry…
Sometimes, prophetic messages can be hard to deliver. Because they comprise revelations or warnings from God that point people to the sin that keeps them captive, we may be worried about how people might react. Will they become upset and reject us? Will we be less popular? Can we simply keep quiet and hope they find out God’s word for them from someone else? When we are more concerned about preserving our self-image than following God’s will, we can resist using our prophetic gifts as God intends and only tell people what they like to hear. When we do that, we sin both against them and God. When the Holy Spirit gives us a revelation, He already knows that it is the right time to deliver that specific message. We do not need to second guess God’s message or timing.
Lamentations 2:14 NIV The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.
In some cases, a lust for material blessings will also tempt people to use their prophetic gifts for profit. They will go around as self-proclaimed prophets who will share God’s Word for a reward.
2 Peter 2:14-15 NIV With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.
A quick test to see if we have corrupted our prophetic gifts:
Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead our prophetic gifts
It is a great privilege and blessing to be able to prophecise for other people, because it can bring them closer to God. The Bible teaches us to earnestly desire this gift as we make love our highest goal at the same time.
1 Corinthians 14:1 ESV Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
It is also a gift to be used wisely. We need to actively resist the temptation to jump to conclusions or imagine different scenarios to draw conclusions for ourselves. We do not have the ability to arrive at the absolute “truth”, because we do not have the full picture. Neither are we able to test people’s true motives. Even the major prophet Samuel, who had learnt to listen to God since he was a boy, had initially mistaken Eliab as the man that God had chosen to be king. Fortunately, he was willing to listen to God’s correction, and eventually picked David as Israel’s rightful king. Later, we do see that Eliab’s heart was indeed not fully for God in a confrontation he had with David in 1 Samuel 17:26-28.
1 Samuel 16:6-7 ESV When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Here are some other ways we need to be trained in using our prophetic gifts.
1. Study God’s Word
All prophecies need to be checked against God’s truths in the Bible. As we study the Bible, we will start to recognise the things that God would and would not say over time. This will provide an automatic filter against false prophecies.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
2. Revoke ungodly inner vows
Sometimes, the vows and beliefs we make for ourselves will mislead our human spirit. For example, when we decide that we must protect ourselves from being hurt (rather than trust God to protect us), we will invariably misuse our prophetic gifts as a protective mechanism, rather than a gift submitted to God for His use only.
Here are some other typical inner vows that will tempt us to misuse our prophetic gifts, which need to be renounced in Jesus’ name.
- “I need to know the answers.”
- “I want to know their motives, so I can feel safer.”
- “I need to prove how smart I really am.”
- “I will find a way that gives me an advantage over people.”
Also, see Inner vows must be revoked.
3. Check the condition of our hearts before we speak
The Bible describes passions and desires that can lead us astray. This includes our emotions. The Holy Spirit brings emotions such as love, joy, peace and hope. Feelings such as fear, doubt, cynicism, and pride are not from God. Such things will harden our hearts and stop us from listening to God. This can be very detrimental to the way we use our prophetic gifts.
Galatians 5:24 ESV And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 NLT This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Jeremiah 16:12 ESV And because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me.
It is therefore helpful to check the condition of our hearts, and ask ourselves:
- “Am I acting in love for the other person?”
- “Will this build him or her up and grow in spiritual maturity?”
- “Does it point them back to God (and not to me)?”
1 Corinthians 14:20,26 ESV Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature… When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
As we walk with God, we can regularly pray and ask the Holy Spirit to check our hearts and show us if there are areas in our lives that need either healing or repentance. Many of us can fall without meaning to, but God is quick to forgive and eager to heal, encourage, and guide us.
Here are just a few examples:
- Forgiveness: Are there people who have hurt us in the past, whom we have yet to forgive? This will block our ability to love others freely.
- Prejudice: Is there someone or a group of people we despise that we don’t want to bless with God’s prophetic word? We will need to repent of our judgments.
- Unworthiness: Do we feel unworthy of speaking God’s prophetic words? We can celebrate that God choose those whom the world will dismiss to humble the proud and shame the strong.
- Pride: Have we elevated our own reasoning and logic, to a point that we can’t walk in faith and do the things that seem foreign and unproven to us? We are told that God’s wisdom is not one that human beings can understand. When He calls us to speak, it is not based on our understanding, but His knowledge of what they need to hear.
- Fear of persecution or rejection: Have we been mocked for speaking up for what’s right, and therefore fear the consequences of doing so again? It is likely we need to forgive those who persecuted us. We are called blessed for standing up the truth.
1 Corinthians 1:26-27 ESV For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
1 Corinthians 1:25 ESV For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Matthew 5:10 ESV “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4. Always wait on God
The expression, “seize the day,” makes us anxious and fear that opportunities don’t come by again. We are tempted to take action now, rather than wait. When we fall for such lies, we invariably rebel against God and speak when He has not inspired us to. We need to test the spirits behind any prophetic word; is it led by the Holy Spirit or our human spirits?
Here is how we can pray as we wait on God, “Father God, I seem to sense this word/image. Is it from You? I feel pressured to do something but I choose to wait on Your answer before I do or say anything.”
If the answer is a clear “no” or if there is any confusion or uncertainty, we should not proceed.
1 Corinthians 14:32-33 ESV and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
If we sense that God’s answer is yes, then we can ask, “What do You want me to do, Lord? Who do You want me to love, build up, encourage or comfort? I will wait for Your instructions.”
5. Ask people to test our prophecies
When we do share a prophetic word with someone, we ought to make it a point to suggest they test it by asking their Heavenly Father about it. We are told to test everything.
1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 ESV Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.
6. Above all, learn to love
Every one who isolates themselves is not going to be able to use their prophetic gifts as God intended. Therefore, we ought to remain in a community that practices loving one another.
Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Also, see Understanding what love is and what it isn’t.
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