In my experience, there are three major ways people abuse the prophetic that are pretty common. If we want to honestly and accurately represent the Lord's heart in a prophetic way, avoid these three abuses:
1. People who are the devil's ex-lovers and make huge claims about what will curse you
Of course we want to hear testimony and stories that celebrate people who come out of the occult, witchcraft or satanism, but sometimes the people who were immersed in these dark arts bring claims of all the ways we can be cursed by accident just because of ignorance. Curses that are sent against Christians that are undeserving just don't land.
Proverbs 26:2 says, "As the bird by flitting, as the swallow by flying, so the curse without cause will not alight."
People who have been involved with witchcraft or New Age are willfully and sometimes ceremonially participating and making agreements to said witchcraft.
Christians who are not involved in witchcraft in any way will not be cursed just because they watched a Disney movie with magic or celebrate a holiday in a nonreligious way. For the witchcraft to actually cause effect, it has to be participated with willingly.
Being a part of culture in most countries, you will be exposed to images on billboards, commercials and social media that shouldn't affect you, because as Scripture says, to the pure all things are pure. In other words, when you have a purity of walking with God in your heart, you can be exposed to something and be immune to it or not even see it.
There are two ways to become cursed. The first is if you come into agreement with something that is not God's agenda for your life by willfully subjecting yourself to it. The second is if you let something you have seen or fear stay with you, because you allow yourself to partner to that fear. Repentance removes curses immediately. You don't need to do a ceremony; you just need to ask God to forgive you, and it will be broken by the power of the cross and resurrection
2. Prophets who have bad theology and declare judgment because of sin over cities, industries, and individuals
We have all seen it in any sci-fi movie or horror movie. The Christians who prophesy are always the bad guys. Why do they get that rep? Unfortunately, if you search "Prophecy Hollywood" or "Prophecy Las Vegas," you will encounter pages and pages of judgment words, like "God is going to judge LA with an earthquake" or "Sin City is going to be destroyed by a plague."
The reality is there is enough sin going on in almost every place that humans dwell. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus paid the price of judgment and curses on the cross. He took our judgement for us, and when we want a person who is unrighteous to be judged by the fire of God like the disciples did in Luke 9:52, Jesus will rebuke us as well.
People will reap what they sow unless they surrender to God. Even our planet is reaping from some of the terrible stewardship that humanity has sown. Many people discern what is about to be reaped because of bad sowing, and because they discern this, they prophesy with bad theology that this is God's will and that everyone deserves it. But you know what God does? When we surrender our lives to Him, He redeems our lives as though we had never sown into sin in the first place.
The gospel of Jesus is a gospel of love and He took the judgment we deserved. There isn't a precedence for judgment prophetic words except end-times Revelation in the final book in the Bible. Although God does and will judge, He doesn't share this responsibility with us in the context of prophecy. He does in the context of relationship and leadership.
3. Prophets that have a gift of constantly exaggerating, even with individual words
Instead of interpreting what they hear from God and saying, "You are going to have a financial breakthrough," the prophet might prophesy "You are going to be a millionaire!" out of their own excitement and lack of spiritual awareness. In reality, the person might be getting an incremental raise at work from 12 to 14 dollars an hour.
We have to start taking risks that are heavenly minded but down-to-earth in our language. We are consistently teaching through our ministry to start with encouragement language where the stakes are not the highest possible. If you see that someone has a healing gift, don't tell them that they are going to be the next John G. Lake. Instead, tell them simply that they have the gift of healing. If you sense God wants to give someone the gift of acting, don't tell them they'll be the next Meryl Streep; just encourage them that God has put acting in their hearts. Using famous figures causes the person receiving the word to put their identity in a huge ministry or profession instead of loving the next person in their lives.
Comparison and exaggeration actually can take the faith for next steps out of their hands because they will be so overwhelmed by the potential of what might happen in their big picture that it feels like there is no trackable pursuit towards what God is telling them to do. We need to lower the stakes in our language and in setting expectations.
The spiritual revelations of gifts of prophecy, words of knowledge and words of wisdom, along with discernment, are such connecting gifts! God gave them to us to create life, enhance our love for Him and the world, and to help point out what God is doing. The primary reason we hear God is to know what is in His heart.
He is not as concerned by what man is doing wrong or what the plans of the enemy are as He is with His own beautiful agenda over humanity. When you begin to embrace the prophetic ministry, it should be a vehicle of hope that builds your faith. If you have been affected negatively by someone's wrong interpretation of these gifts, simply surrender those experiences (or people) to Jesus and ask Him to reset your expectations.
Fill yourself with good biblical stories and testimonies. That is one of the reasons why I am still hosting Exploring the Prophetic, because it gives us the opportunity to see that not only is the gospel a gospel of Good News. Prophecy reinforces the Bible and its primary purpose of revealing that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son!
Shawn Bolz is host of Exploring the Prophetic Podcast on Charisma Podcast Network. Check out his new YouTube series and process your prophetic journey with us! It is called Your Prophetic Journey and is out now under our @BolzMinistries Youtube channel!
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