Summary: Christians are listening to prophecies on the Internet and must be taught how to test those messages. This teaching instructs Christians on how to operate in the prophetic and how to evaluate prophetic ministry so that we receive the benefits and avoid the pitfalls associated with it.
Our subject today is prophetic utterances. How do we benefit from prophecies given in the Body of Christ, and how do we avoid the pitfalls that people often fall into in the exercise and application of this gift? The gift of prophecy is a powerful tool in the church today. But powerful tools must be handled skillfully. A chain saw can be used to trim a tree much faster than a hand saw. The hand saw is safer, but you can wear yourself out trying to trim a tree with a hand saw. The chain saw can cut through those branches in a fraction of the time it takes with a hand saw. However, that same chain saw can cut your hand off it you don’t use it correctly. We should use it because it is an efficient way to get the job done. But we must know how to use it. We must read the instructions carefully. It helps to take the advice of others who have used it and know some of the dangers. We can learn from them, rather than learning the hard way.
PROJECTED INCREASE IN PROPHETIC MINISTRY
We are moving into a time when all the supernatural gifts of the Spirit will be accentuated. The closer we get to the end of the age, the more intense the conflict between good and evil will become. Satan’s campaign of deception will increase. It has already increased, but it will continue to do so. In Matthew 24 Jesus talked about the deception that would characterize the current age. That has been going on for many years. But just as birth pains get more intense as the labor increases, deception will get worse and worse as we come toward the end (Matt. 24:8 NIV).
In Matthew 24:9-12 Jesus warned, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”i
Paul also spoke about this increase in deception. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 he wrote, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first. . . .”In 2 Timothy 3:1-7 we read, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
There have always been deceived people leading others into deception. That’s not the prediction here. The prediction is that deception will so fill the culture that “perilous times will come.” These conditions will be the norm, rather than the exception. People will be filled with the ungodliness described here but will continue to have “a form of godliness.” That form will not produce godliness, but it will provide a false sense of security to people. Wicked people love a little religion that allows them to continue in their evil ways. And those people will persecute godly people. Paul talks about that; then he punctuates his warning in verse 13: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
When the devil is deceiving, he does not put on a red suit with a pointed tail and carry a pitchfork. He comes as an angel of light. He presents himself as a minister of righteousness offering that which would entice people to follow him (2 Cor. 11:13-15). He did that in the Garden with Eve. He was doing it in the days of the apostles. And he will be doing it in these last days as well. And make sure you understand this: Paul is warning Christians to not be deceived. The world is already deceived. The world is already under the sway of the evil one.ii These warnings are to Christians.
On the other hand, God is raising up supernatural ministry that can discern the times and lead people in paths of righteousness. His grace is always sufficient for the occasion. The principle is stated this way in Deuteronomy 33:25: “As your days, so shall your strength be.”iii God will supply the anointing that is more than a match for anything Satan has.