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In my first teaching, I covered the following matters:
- The Need To Test Prophecy (1Thes 5:19-22)
- The Attitude Of The Tester (Acts 17:11)
- The Importance Of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17)
WAYS TO TEST PROPHECY
- Does It Contradict Scripture? (2 Tim 3:16-17)
- Did The Prophecy (Or The Initial Sign) Come True? (Deut 18:21-22)
Now I want to cover some more ways to test prophecy...
Does The Prophecy Uplift Jesus Or Somebody Else?
If a prophecy exalts anybody else other than Jesus (especially if it flatters the prophet's reputation) be on your guard. This is one of the most difficult tests to apply if the prophecy is exalting you (the recipient) or your church! But be especially careful in such cases, as the temptation to pride is real.
The Character Of The Prophet
Look for the fruits of the Spirit in the prophet's life:
Look for good fruits in the prophet's ministry (previous prophecies come true, people turned to Jesus, etc.).
By the way, one of the first tests of a prophet's character is to tell him (or her) that you are going to test the prophecy - if the prophet reacts badly then that's a pretty strong negative indicator!
An Inner Witness Of The Holy Spirit
Be careful with this one. Because the voice of the Holy Spirit is discerned in the inner being, His voice can be confused by soulish things. For example, if manifestations offend you, it is highly probable that an inner dislike of these manifestations could come across as a "check" in the Spirit that what is happening (or being said) is not of God, while in actual fact it is of God! The same thing can happen if the mannerisms of the prophet offend you.
It is important to grow in discernment and walking with the Lord to make it easier to hear His voice on these things. Practice makes perfect - or, at least, better!
The above is obviously incomplete but I trust they will be helpful to us all as we learn together how best to handle this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is a fundamental scriptural principal which was obviously greatly respected in the early church (Matt 18:16, 2 Cor 13:1, 1 Tim 5:19). It is a very important test of any prophecy. It is so important a test that, quite frankly, I was annoyed with myself that I left it out of my first list, even though that list was incomplete. I suspect the LORD wants to teach me some humility. Anyway...
If a word of prophecy is given, especially if it is a major life-changing one, it would seem reasonable to me to "put it on ice" until independent confirmation has been received. Such confirmation could be another prophecy, a bible reading or something similar which clearly reflects the guiding hand of God.
One thing to watch out for here is that the other witnesses must be truly independent. This is why a prophecy given by somebody who in the natural does not know anything about a given situation is so powerful.
Of course, the absence of independent witnesses does not necessarily mean that a prophecy is false. But I do feel that there are scriptural grounds for seeking independent confirmation from the LORD on such matters.
One strange thing about false prophecy is that often the devil will generally arrange for some form of seemingly independent witness to it (1 Kings 22, especially verse 22). You see, he knows that these witnesses strengthen his case. However, something about the prophecy will not "ring true" (verse 16) or a small part of the fruit will be bad - it might cause fear, for example (2 Tim 1:7). Which leads onto the next point:
The Word Sets Us Free
Remember, the LORD's will for us His disciples who hold on to His teachings is:
As we seek to obey the LORD and to hold onto His teachings then I believe that we are entitled to live in the good of that promise! At the very least, we have helped create a favourable environment in which to hear accurately from the LORD.
The Prophet Testifies That Jesus Is God In The Flesh
This is the litmus test for every religion or religious group in the world: what do they say about Jesus? Do they acknowledge that He is really God incarnate, fully man and fully God? If there is any wavering on this central point of how we view the LORD, be very careful - something false has got in.
What Does Your Church Leadership Say?
It is a pretty sure principle that those whom the LORD has raised into leadership in the church will have a good insight into your life and can judge a personal prophecy spoken over you. That's NOT to say they are always right (leaders are imperfect too) but a confirmation from a leader can be a pretty strong indicator that a word spoken over you is accurate.
The ideal situation here is for your church leader(s) to also minister in the prophetic, since this will further equip them to judge the prophecy.
Even if a church leader is not a prophet, I do believe that his or her input is valuable in weighting up a prophecy since they are moving in an anointed position (if they are God appointed that is!) and that anointing from the Spirit can show them the truth in matters pertaining to their area of authority (such as their oversight for you):
I have often found spirit-filled leaders who are not in themselves prophets to have real words of wisdom when evaluating prophecies.
What Is The Prophet's Attitude Towards Other Brothers/Sisters?
This point is really a particular aspect of the earlier point B4, but it has a more detailed emphasis on the prophet's attitude towards others in the church.
It seems to me that somebody who walks around in darkness is not exactly a good person to be relied upon to give me clear guidance from the LORD!
Please understand that the above represents the state of my knowledge on this topic as it stands at the moment. I have much more to learn on testing prophecy and my subsequent lessons may well modify what I have written here, but this is the best that I know at the moment and I trust that it will be helpful.