Using Wisdom with Deliverance and Prophecy

We are a church that not only embraces all the gifts of the Spirit and the power of God in ministry but we pursue it (1 Cor 14:1). This does not mean that we disregard all the warnings and teachings from scripture about watching out for danger. (Matt 24:24, Matt 7:15-20, Matt 16:11-12, 2 Tim 3:3-4, Acts 20:28-30, 2 Peter 3:14-18,Titus 1:6-16 and many more).

The purpose of this document is not to validate the need of deliverance or prophecy. Both of these gifts are from God for the church to help believers walk in the fullness of the freedom provided by the work of the cross. The purpose of this document is how to best navigate the application of these gifts especially when receiving ministry from those outside of church leadership.

Every day there seems like some new ministry has popped up and everyone is rushing to it. Ministries that operate outside of the local church that we are particularly skeptical about are those of deliverance and prophecy. There is so much hocus-pocus done in God’s name and we need to know what is from God, and what is a manifestation of man. We need to look at the fruit of someone’s life.

But what are the signs of a mature believer? "Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth." Eph 4:14

This is opposite to our current Christian culture where people run all over to “receive something”. Whether it is a deliverance ministry, worship night, a healing event, or a prophet handing out words, we need to stop and consider whether this model aligns with God’s design for ministry. When Paul wrote letters to the churches, the only people who were ministering to the people were those that were in the leadership of that local church. If not, then Paul was sending someone else, and he sent them with a personal recommendation (Eg. Onesimus in Phlm. 1:1-25; Timothy in 1 Cor. 4:17) and that person remained with them for a period of time. True ministry comes out of true relationship. Jesus modelled this with His disciples and Paul reiterated this through his life and writings.

We won’t even sip off the same drink as someone else because we are nervous of germs in our body, but what about the danger to the mind and soul and opening ourselves to ministry from someone who has not been tested and approved by God’s process? This is not saying that every event offered or person outside of the local church is dangerous or invalid, but this is a guide to keep yourself from unnecessary deception. On a beach, swimmers are advised to swim between the cones because that is where the lifeguards are watching. The local church are the cones for the believer and it is where God has placed the elders to watch and protect. God has placed your church around you to “build up one another” (1 Thess. 5:11), and leaders in your church around you to “watch over your soul, and they are accountable to God” (Heb 13:17).

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

From scripture, both prophecy and deliverance were in the context of the local church. Not separate ministries, or a side ministry within the church. The Bible dedicates a whole chapter on the proper use of prophecy because it can be so easily manipulated. Paul instructs in 1 Cor 14:32 “the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.” Without the local church, there are no checks and balances, there is no safety of testing the validity, and there is no healthy followup. Many times standalone ministries end up leaving a person in a worse condition (Matt 12:43-45). Unfortunately most local churches have abandoned these things, so therefore the ministries have popped up outside of the local church. But two wrong things don’t make a right.

Why would God’s plan be for elders to look after and protect the church (Acts 20:28, Heb 13:17) if we were to run all over the place to “gain” and “receive”? Scripture does not support this. As mentioned above, the most developed, most mature and most powerful believer comes from being trained up in the context of the local church (Eph 4). However, even within the local church, you have to be careful because not everyone is for the body. As elders we do our best to watch out but we want you to be aware of how to spot them too.

Matthew 7:16 (NLT) “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” – Jesus

So what are some things to look out for? The first thing to look for is the phrase “my ministry”. Whenever someone constantly uses this phrase within the local church, be careful. Anyone or group who is not accountable to leadership and deeply rooted in a local church is a “hired hand” and not a true shepherd (John 10:12). A true shepherd is invested with the body (the local church), and will smell like the sheep because they are with the sheep. A true shepherd will do anything for the sheep. Usually, when people are pushing their agenda, it leads to a very bad place in the body.

“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” James 3:16

The second thing to look for is rebellion within the church. Many times those looking primarily outside the local church for prophecy and deliverance have “found the answer” but are at odds or frustrated with their church leadership. They often feel like they have surpassed leadership and that leadership needs to take direction from them. They have pride and arrogance about them that is subtle, but you can see it just under the surface.

“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.” 1 Sam 15:23

God is doing wonderful things in His church and we can learn and grow from each other. It is important that ministry and discipleship develop within the context of the local church. Once again, this is not invalidating other ministries.

If you have questions about this, please, we encourage you to contact the elders: elders@sandboxchurch.com