Avoiding Prophetic Manipulation

I recently had a humorous conversation with my three-year-old son that reminded me of the need to avoid prophetic manipulation. I had asked him to do something and he responded by saying, “Well, God said it is time to play with my toys.”

I have no doubt that God speaks to young children. But in this case, my son was simply trying to get his way. We have talked to him about how we have to obey God and His word, and he cleverly realized this could be used to overrule my request.

This was cute coming from a toddler; but it’s not cute when it comes from those who should know better. Unfortunately, there are some in the church who use the prophetic as a tool to manipulate. Prophetic manipulation is when you use the “voice of God” to control someone or impose your will into a circumstance. Have you ever experienced this?

I remember several years ago when a pastor used a prophetic word to try to keep me and my wife from moving on from the church he pastored. We were clearly being led to another place, but he did not want us to leave. He had a genuine prophetic gift, but in this case was trying to use “prophecy” to control us.

Thus Saith the Lord?

My overall experience with prophecy has been very positive. Over the past several years, I have been greatly blessed by the gift of prophecy working through others to bring encouragement and strengthening in my walk with the Lord. I have a high value for the prophetic; which is why I also have a low tolerance for the abuse of it. Immaturity is one thing, but abuse is another.

One of the ways that the gift of prophecy can be abused, is when it is used to manipulate other people or circumstances. All forms of manipulation are sinful, but using “thus saith the Lord” has to be up there with the worst. Using prophecy to impose your desire, control people, or manipulate situations is simply evil and an abuse of one of God’s gifts.

The Word of God—whether in Scripture or spoken prophetic word—should never be used to manipulate others. This in fact was a tool that the devil tried to use when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. When Jesus resisted the first temptation by quoting Scripture, the enemy threw a second temptation at Him, this time adding “for it is written” to it and quoting a passage from the Old Testament (see Matthew 4:1-6).

It is as if the devil realized that Jesus was submitted to the authority of Scripture, and since he was unable to trip him up by appealing to his natural hunger in his first temptation, he would use the Word of God in the second. The same can happen with prophecy.

Prophetic Safeguards

Those of us who embrace the gift of prophecy, and other gifts of the Holy Spirit, believe that God can speak to us through other people. But just as Scripture can be mishandled, taken out of context, or used for selfish means, so can prophetic gifts. This being the case, there are some safeguards in place to keep us from being manipulated or deceived in the prophetic.

The first thing to consider is that all prophecy is meant to be tested and judged. We are not to blindly receive every word that someone gives us or our church. 1 Corinthians 14:29 says, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” Anyone who prophesies should be willing to have his words weighed by others, and should not be offended if they are not received.

Consider another admonition from Paul: “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). We are not to reject prophecy as a whole, but we are to test and only hold on to the things that are “good.”

Another important consideration is that no one sees the whole picture. Paul said that “we know in part and prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9). In other words, no one “has the market” on the voice of God. And no one should speak prophetically in such a way as to make someone feel totally obligated to receive their word without question.

A final thing to remember is that there is more to prophecy than receiving a revelation from the Lord. There is also the aspect of interpretation and application. (For more on this, see my article called 3 Things to Consider when Receiving a Prophetic Word). Someone may have an accurate word for you, but if they then try to interpret or apply it in a way that is manipulative, they have crossed a boundary.

There is much more that could be said on this topic, and other ways to safeguard ourselves. But I want to encourage you to avoid every form of manipulation, especially with the Word of God. We are not to misuse His Word this way. And don’t allow yourselves to be manipulated by others who would use the voice of God as a way to get what they want. Embrace prophecy, but not its abuse!

Questions: Have you ever been tempted to use Scripture or prophecy to manipulate others? Have you ever been on the receiving end of this manipulation?  

 

8 Responses to “Avoiding Prophetic Manipulation”

  1. Yes this is definitely something to worry about. “God says” “The Lord put it on my heart” “I saw…”
    Maybe God is merciful with this stuff, but I think it would be wise to go out of my way to avoid it like you said.

    Check out this:
    Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ ” – Jer 14:13 (NKJV)

    And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. – Jer 14:14 (NKJV)

    Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’— ‘By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! – Jer 14:15 (NKJV)

    And there are more serious examples of this. If a word didn’t come to pass, they were to be put to death.

    Personally, I don’t like the idea of how a prophet can receive a word from the Lord and then 2 seconds later give a bad interpretation of it. Why is God trusting them in the first place with a true word then?

    • Hey Reece,

      Thanks for the comment. I could be wrong, but it seems that you are suggesting we avoid the prophetic altogether. To be clear, I am not implying that we avoid prophecy, but that we abstain from misusing it. Scripture itself can be used to manipulate others, or be abused in various ways, but the answer is not to stop using the Bible altogether. Does that make sense?

      It would certainly be “safer” to throw out the idea of prophecy altogether, but then we would miss out on the benefits that this gift brings. You gave some great examples from Jeremiah that warn about misusing prophecy or false prophecy. But remember that these words themselves came from a TRUE prophet. So, we must learn to test all things, embrace what is true, and reject what is false.

      Blessings,

      Jake

  2. Thanks, Jake. I appreciate this reminder even for myself when ministering to others just to be so careful with the word of God. To add nothing, nor assume.

    Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine who ministers powerfully in the prophetic, and she gave me an update on a mutual acquaintance who had a tremendous prophetic gift but who abused it and now has convinced himself and others that polygamy is Biblical, and has committed adultery with someone in the church. The church split, the network of churches he had helped establish crumbled, etc. Just a terrible tragic mess. Anyway, she was telling me that this all started when he said that “spiritual fathers are more important than physical fathers and should be listened to and esteemed above them.” That was his first “prophecy” which ensured his voice a stronger place in the lives of his congregants than others, so that deception rolled in where there should have been outrage.

    As you said though, overall I have benefited enormously from those who minister in the prophetic. One of the most gifted brothers I know is also the most gentle and humble, and it’s a joy to be around those who are so tuned in to the Master.

    • Thanks for your comment, Emily. That sounds like a tragic situation for sure…It seems that the abuse/distortion of prophetic gifts often leads to sexual sin. In Revelation 2, Jesus warned the church of Pergamos about the doctrine of Balaam and warned the church at Thyatira about Jezebel. These are two types of false prophets, and it is interesting that both of these are said to lead the people of God into idolatry and sexual immorality.

  3. manipulated says:

    This is very intersting. I recently left a church because someone who was in “authority” did that to me. I was trying to be a good friend but I didn’t realize that I was being taken advantage of. They would say thus saith the Lord and it was always something negative. Or God showed me this and that. But they never saw there actions. They just saw what I was doing. It got to a point where I truly was afraid of God because I thought he would harm me. But I believed this person was talking directly from the Lord. My family and I broke free because it was really destroying me. Now I’m still battling the negativity and trying to see the Loving side of God. I’m at fault because I made this person and idol in my life and I didn’t even know. Smh. That is serious and I pray that nobody goes through what I went through because its painful in it and during. Bless you for putting this up though.

  4. Brother jake.. Prophecies hear and there and we only have to test the veracity of these myriads of prohets nowadays.. One of these prophets came to my sister and carted away with her money after prophesying false visions and disaster for her, after he ran away we knew he was a mendacious prophet. The recent prophet came an prohesied that my mum will be hit with blindness as the spiritual witches will attack her an the family.. Pls brother jake how do i submit these to God and try to know if these prophet is really true or not?

    • Udeme, any prophet that attaches money to his prophetic words is very suspect. The Bible says we are to test the spirits, and weigh out prophecies. I would not receive prophetic words like the one given to your mom. Sounds more like it is a scheme of the enemy to bring fear and torment. The primary purpose of New Testament prophecy is to bring encouragement, consolation, and edification.

      Do not feel obligated to receive every word that is given to you…pray over the words and reject anything that is not bearing witness with your spirit and with the Holy Spirit.

      I hope that helps!

      Jake

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