"'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.' You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?' 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." (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)In my previous post, we asked the question, "why don't we stone the false prophets any more?" We also looked at the first of two reasons, that being that prophesy under the New Covenant is more subjective that under the Old Covenant. In this post, I want to examine the second reason. In the Old Testament, prophets possessed the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God would come and rest upon them and they would prophesy. "When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them... Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied." (1 Sam 10:10, 19:20)
While the Spirit of God would rest upon the prophets, the people in general did not posses the same Spirit of God. For this reason, false prophets were a real danger. The people lacked the spiritual ability to discern and judge the prophets. The only way they knew if a prophet was a true prophet or a false prophet was whether or not their prophesies came true. This problem was further compounded because many prophesies spoke of days in the far distant future, making it hard to judge the prophesy and the prophet. Because of this danger and the ability of false prophets to seduce and lead the nation of Israel astray, God instituted severe punishments for false prophets. "that prophet shall die."
With the advent of the New Covenant, things changed. Now all of God's people have the Spirit of God and all of God's people are able to discern and judge the supernatural. "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him; and he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned; but the spiritual discerns all things, and he is discerned of no one." (1 Corinthians 2:14-15 Darby) The prophet is no longer elite among the people of God, alone possessing the Spirit of God. Rather, he is one among many members that make up the Body of Christ, each of them possessing the Spirit of God. Now, when prophesy is given, all of God's people can discern and judge what is being said. "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent." (1 Corinthians 14:29-30)
Because all of God's people have the Spirit of God and all have discernment, prophets no longer pose the same threat they previously did under the Old Covenant. This is why we can have mercy and grace for those growing in their prophetic gifts. If someone "prophesies" something that is not right, they can be corrected and instructed and continue growing in the prophetic. In this way, all can learn to move in the prophetic; all can learn to prophesy. Prophesy is no longer relegated to a select few, but a birth right of every believer. "For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted." (1 Corinthians 14:31)
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