One of the sad tendencies of the modern church is place prophets and leaders on pedestals. As we have seen regarding kings, having God’s anointing does NOT equal having God’s approval. That is no less true for prophets. No one is ever to be followed blindly.
1 John 4:1 NASB – 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
No one is above being put to the test. We are never ever to follow anyone blindly. There are several types of prophets that you will encounter in Christianity, and just because someone is from a specific movement is not a guarantee that they have God’s approval.
I want to discuss the one type of sin regarding prophets that I beleive is most plaguing the modern Charismatic Church:
Presumptuous prophets are prideful in believing that God has set them aside and therefore they are special in the eyes of God and therefore are feel called to speak on His behalf, even though many things they say do not come to pass.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NASB – 20 ‘But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ 22 “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Many in the Charismatic church want to water down the accuracy meter for testing someone as being lead by God. They only want to be partially right and still be considered a prophet. But their false sense of pride can not get them to admit that they were assuming they heard from God when they had not. Or the word they gave is so vague, there is no way to evaluate what was said. Being able to evaluate what was was said IS a command of God. The Holy Spirit is clear, if a word does not come to pass it is not a presumptive word that is the problem, but the problem is that the person themselves is a presumptive prophet. Presumptive words only come from presumptive people. If it does not come to pass, then one can not claim to speak on half of God.
A word of caution, a presumptuous prophet is NOT the same as a false prophet though their end often remains the same. According to Blue Letter Bible quoting Strong’s, the word for presumptuous in part means to be full of “pride, insolence, presumptuousness, arrogance.” Arrogance is tied back into not living morally before God. Remember, the call to live morally before God is the true nature of prophesy. Presumption is a clear sign that one is not.
Deuteronomy 17:11-13 NASB – 11 “According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left. 12 “The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 “Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again
Arrogance and evil is tied back into the idea that you can have a better way to live than what is morally asked of God. Not accurately speaking on behalf of God is to be considered immoral, and faced the same penalty as sexual immorality, death. Thank God that we can be forgiven for not speaking accurately just as we can be for sexual immorality. But none the less, the litmus test remains. Accuracy is the litmus test for true prophets sounding the call to live morally. We are not to be afraid of people who speak presumptively. Pride and arrogance are to be considered evil.
The Cure for Presumption is Humility
The Holy Spirit places humility as the response to but prideful assumption that God is speaking through us even though our prophetic words are not accurate.
Numbers 12:2-3 NASB – 1 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); 2 and they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the LORD heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)
Unlike a false prophet whose intent is to deliberately deceive others (a subject for another post) it is possible for a prideful arrogant person to change.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB – 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
The unspoken theology is that pride and presumption can be over looked in a person’s character and still be thought of as walking with God.
I think that the one quote that stands out to me regarding this unspoken theology comes from Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the civil war plaguing America: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
Proverbs 16:18-19 NASB – 18 Pride [goes] before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. 19 It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.