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-- © GodSpeak International 2007 --
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Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net http://www.godspeak.net

When Should I Accept A Word and When Should I Reject It?

By Teresa Seputis

Lesson 1
Processing Words That Are Difficult To Judge

We all know that when we get a word (e.g., a personal prophecy), we are supposed to judge it. But at times that is easier said than done. In fact, at times judging personal prophecy can get tricky, it can be tricky to decide whether we should accept or reject certain words.

There are times when it is easy to judge a word. If the Holy Spirit is all over that word, bearing witness to your spirit as you hear it, then it is easy to accept that word as a God-word. Likewise, it is easy to reject a word when it contradicts Scripture or has obvious errors in it, such as getting some facts wrong. For instance, if a word says, "You have been struggling with fear these past three weeks..." and you have not had any fear issues during that time, you know to reject the word. It is incorrect and therefore it is not from God.

But the "in-between words" tend to be more difficult to judge. What do you do with a word that has some true parts and has some false parts? Do you reject the whole word or do you glean the parts of value from it? (If you reject the whole thing, you might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. E.g., you might be rejecting things that are from God.) But if you chose to "glean" the "good parts" from a word, then you run the danger of being overly selective about what you will or will not receive, limiting what you allow God to talk to you about.

I wish that all words were clean-cut and easy to judge, but the simple fact is that many of them are not. Sometimes God is giving us a puzzle to solve, other times it is a mixed word (congaing some God-stuff and some stuff the prophet added on his/her own) and at times it is simply a bad word that contains some elements of truth. Some words are tricky to judge, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to judge them.

There are criteria commonly used in judging prophecy. Here are some of the most common ones:

I am not going to cover those criteria in any type of depth in this teaching series, because I want to focus on how to process the words that are a bit more difficult to judge, the ones that this set of criteria doesn't seem to handle. If you would like to know more about the basics of judging prophecy, please refer to our "Judging Prophecy" course at: http://www.godspeak.net/ps_lessons/ps14_index.html

This course will look at the following questions about processing prophecy:

Let's start with the first question now and we will handle the others in subsequent lessons.

Consider The Source (But Make Room For God)

People often ask me the question, "What if I know that someone is not a prophet, but they give me a word that sounds 'right' to me. Do I receive the word based on the content of the word, or do I reject it because of the source?"

My first reply to them is God can speak through unlikely sources. For instance, God choose to speak to Balaam through his donkey in Numbers 22:28. Another time, God used the high priest, the very one who was trying to murder Jesus, to prophesy about His sacrificial death. Caiaphas, the high priest, thought he was talking about natural things when He spoke this word. He believed that he was explaining how to keep the Roman government officials from thinking they were starting a rebellion. But God used him to speak forth a prophecy about the very Messiah he was trying to crucify. We find that in John 11:49-52:

49 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.' 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. (NKJV)

It is possible for God to speak directly to us through someone who does not move in the prophetic or even at times through a false prophet. But that is not how He usually does it.

The general rule comes out of Jesus' mouth in Luke 6:43-44: "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush."

What does that mean to us in terms of judging prophecy? It means that most of the time, God will use godly prophets to speak to us. Yes, He can make an exception to that guideline any time He wants, just like He did with Balaam's donkey and Caiaphas. But most of the time God doesn't break the guidelines He set up. For the most part we want to consider the source, and be leery words that do not come from someone with a godly character and holy lifestyle. But we also have to understand that God can make an exception to this any time He pleases.

If you get something that you thing might be God, but it comes from a questionable source, then you need to put time and effort into double- checking the word with God (more so than if it came from a godly source). You need to bring the word back to God and you need to ask Him to please confirm it to you. He is always willing for His words to be judged (as per 1 Corinthians 14:29), and He is always willing to confirm a word that He gives to us. One of His favorite ways of confirming it is to give that same word to us from some other source. But He may choose to speak directly to us in His "still small voice," or He may choose some other way. I recommend that we never tell God how to confirm it to us, just ask Him to do it in some way we will recognize as Him.

There are false prophets who are like the "wolves in sheep's clothing." Those ones are hard to spot. But many false prophets are pretty easy to spot. They tend to have pride issues, or they tend to be stuck on a theme that reflects a character flaw in their own life, or they tend to contradict Scripture, or they have strange theology.

Many false prophets cannot stand for their words to be prayerfully judged and evaluated, because they know the Lord won't validate their word. So they use threats to try and get you to accept their word. They say things like, "God will punish you if you don't receive this word.' A few get even more blatant and use threats of death or damnation: "If you reject this word, you are not rejecting Me, you are rejecting God, and He will send you to Hell" or "If you reject this word, then God will strike you dead like He did with Ananias and Sapphira." Any word that comes with those type of threats should be automatically suspect.

Money experts tell us that the best way to spot a counterfeit dollar bill is to get really familiar with the "real thing." That is true in the prophetic as well. The best way to spot a false prophet is to get to know the real thing very well. Then you can recognize when something doesn't line up with the 'real thing.' With that in mind, let's take a quick look at the genuine article and discuss what a godly prophet looks like.

A godly prophet is God's spokesperson and they should walk in close intimacy with God and be able to recognize and hear His voice. How can they speak for Him if they can't hear Him speak to them? In addition, their words and deeds should line up with Bible standards of godly behavior. Their theology should line up with the Bible, though they may have different opinions than you do on some minor and trivial points of theology. They probably won't be prefected yet, most of us aren't. But they will have already received substantial inner healing on their major issues, and their issues will not run their lives or dictate their behavior. They will exhort Jesus instead of exhorting themselves. They should minister in love and compassion like Jesus did, and they should have a good track record of accuracy in the words they give. In general they should carry a the Lord's presence and the Holy Spirit should frequently be at work to bear witness to the recipient's spirit as they speak forth His word. They won't defend their prophecies and they will not try to coerce people into receiving them--they leave that job to the Holy Spirit. In addition, most of their words will tend to build up, breathe life, equip, encourage and enable people rather that condemning or tearing down.

I heard Bill Johnson speak at a pastor's conference a few weeks ago, and he said something that I really liked. He gave a definition of what he considered to be a true prophet. He said, "Anyone can find garbage or dirt in a person's life, you don't even need a prophetic gifting for that. But the true prophet is the one who can find the treasure in the midst of the garbage and bring it to the surface."

-- © GodSpeak International 2007 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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