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Prophetic words and taking God’s name in vain

October 16th, 2016 | 7 Comments | Posted in Mike Bickle, Prophecy/ Prophesying, Testing Prophecies

10-commandmentsWhen most people think of “taking the Lord’s name in vain,” they usually think this refers to saying God’s name in profanity. That’s a start, but there’s actually another way people are in danger of taking God’s name in vain (which basically means to treat his name lightly). They do this by claiming God told them to say something he didn’t actually say.

In ancient Israel, God severely judged those who spoke in his name “lying words” that he did not command them (Jeremiah 29:23).

But in certain quarters of the church today, including New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) churches, many individuals frequently claim God has “given them a special word” for other individuals or even for an entire church. They often preface their words with statements like “The Lord told me to tell you something” or “God showed me such and such about you” or even with a more authoritative sounding pronouncement: “Thus saith the Lord.”

What’s further, many of these same people minimize the seriousness of getting a prophetic word wrong by reciting popular NAR platitudes such as “everyone makes mistakes” and “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.” In other words, just ignore erroneous prophetic words. This lenient attitude toward false prophetic words is promoted by many of the NAR movement’s most influential leaders, including Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. In his bestselling book Growing in the Prophetic, he claims that giving erroneous prophetic words is an “inevitable” part of the process of learning how to prophesy.

As Christians launch out and learn to prophesy according to the measure of their faith, they are bound to get their “signals crossed” more than once by “going beyond their measure” and speaking out of their own mind or spirit. This is due to the inevitable immaturity through which we must all learn. (page 55).

The idea held by many NAR leaders is that if individuals giving a prophetic word mean well then they should not be condemned–even if they give a false prophetic word.

But God does not give a pass to people who give false prophetic words merely because they mean well and because their words are heartfelt. Consider the words he spoke to Ezekiel about people who were giving false prophetic words that did not come from him, but rather came from their hearts.

“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the Lord,’ although I have not spoken?”

Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations.” (Ezekiel 13:1-9)

In short, it’s a serious thing to claim to speak on behalf of God. If you’re going to do so, be sure he’s actually spoken–lest you find yourself guilty of breaking the Third Commandment.

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Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

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7 Responses to “Prophetic words and taking God’s name in vain”

  1. Jeff Says:

    This is an excellent point. Thanks

  2. John Says:

    I think it’s very important to differentiate between prophecy in the OT context and prophecy in the NT context.

    In the OT the penalty for getting it wrong was death. It was pretty clear, and the stakes were about as high as they could be. In the OT there weren’t very many prophets.

    In the NT we see a totally different perspective. Paul says “let two or three speak and let the others judge” (1Co 14:29) – there would be no need to judge if it were as simple as “Thus saith the Lord” and therefore you’d best get busy obeying. There’s clearly the possibility for a prophet, i.e. one with a prophetic gift, to get things wrong. That leads onto the presentation of a word believed to be from God.

    Saying “Thus saith the Lord” claims a level of authority that just isn’t there, unless one claims to be a prophet in the OT sense. If the speaker wants to claim the authority of an OT prophet they need to be willing to face the consequences of getting it wrong. You can’t have one without the other. On the flipside, someone who presents a word in humility, maybe along the lines of “I think God might be saying…” is open to the fact that maybe God is speaking but maybe they just ate too much cheese the night before, inviting testing of their word, and not demanding any specific authority.

    This latter approach works well in so many ways. It invites and positively encourages testing (which sits well with Acts 17:11 and 1Th 5:21), speaks from a place of humility, leaves the person receiving the word to make the final decision (which is also good, even if only considering the general message of passages like Eze 3:17-19), and avoids claiming to be speaking on God’s behalf if you aren’t actually speaking the words God gave you.

    Personally I think the insistence on 100% accuracy can potentially be harmful to someone with a prophetic gift, simply because if they did speak something they thought God was saying but presented it in humility and turned out to be wrong it would be sad to see them reluctant to use their gift for fear of being ostracized for being a false prophet. On the other hand one can only be forgiving of mistakes for so long before concluding the person actually has no prophetic gift at all. When words are presented as if there’s no question they are from God (as per sites like the Elijah List where people claim all sorts of weird things, like a scribe angel that dictated a word-for-word message) then it’s entirely reasonable that such a bold claim needs to be tested with comparable boldness.

  3. kadri liisa Says:

    Thx for posting this. I attended recently New Wine Anglican course held by Mark Altbridge on topic how to hear voice of God ( link here http://www.allianss.ee/?page_id=1763 from under third lecture) and they sai there that better is to use words “i believe that i hear God saying to you” or something like this instead of using “thus saith Lord”. John Bevere has exposing book on it titled “Thus saith the Lord”.
    For me personally as prophetic dreamer and artist and writer when i feel God saying to me something for someone etc i will check it several times before i pass it on.

  4. Woody Livingston Says:

    Amen Holly!! Great article!
    I know many people who does this and when you’re trying to show them that they are taking the Lord’s name in vain, they always say, “you’re mocking the HS”…..

  5. Graham Boulden Says:

    It is not only breaking the third commandment  but fails the test of Deuteronomy 18:20-22:-

    “But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death .”  You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.”

    It is the sin of presumption! There is a much higher level of accountability required than the rather lax approach that seems to be adopted by the NAR and others.

  6. Graham Boulden Says:

    John,

    An excellent analysis. The difference in approach between humility, wanting to genuinely exercise a gift and arrogance.

  7. curt bond Says:

    I’ve never ran into a super-apostle, but everywhere I go is Super-Pastors! Yes Really!
    They think they are the rulers, only problem is, those rulers don’t fit into my desk.

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