It was in the mid-90’s and I was on a spiritual high. I felt I had special insight into the Holy Spirit. I believed that I heard messages from God nearly every day in my spirit. I had fresh revelations and I was eager to share them.
Gary was a man in my church who was going through a tough battle. One day I flipped open my bible and at random landed on a page. It was Jeremiah 28. As I read the words a phrase stuck in my mind “Break the yoke”. Wow – sounds exciting doesn’t it. I was convinced that this message was from God and it was meant for my friend Gary.
Next time I saw Gary I excitedly described the scene. I was praying in the spirit and the Lord led me to this passage. God was going to “Break the yoke” of Satan in Gary’s life. We believed it. We proclaimed it. It had to be true. Later I found out that “Break the yoke” was a part of the prophecy of Hananiah son of Azzur.
“This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the articles of the LORD’s house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed from here and took to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the other exiles from Judah who went to Babylon,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.'” (Jeremiah 28:2-4 NIV)
This was a direct contradiction to what Jeremiah had prophesied in the previous chapter
Do not listen to the words of the prophets who say to you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they are prophesying lies to you. ‘I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD. ‘They are prophesying lies in my name. Therefore, I will banish you and you will perish, both you and the prophets who prophesy to you.'” Then I said to the priests and all these people, “This is what the LORD says: Do not listen to the prophets who say, ‘Very soon now the articles from the LORD’s house will be brought back from Babylon.’ They are prophesying lies to you. (Jeremiah 27:14-16 NIV)
I was mortified. I had quoted a false prophet. In fact, Hananiah’s prophecy did not come true. He was lying. God had not sent him and the yoke that he spoke of breaking was a yoke that God commanded Jeremiah to put on as a sign to the people.
This is what the LORD said to me: “Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck. (Jeremiah 27:2 NIV)
Don’t Put Words In God’s Mouth
You see I had fallen for the notion that any random thought that popped into my head could be, must be from God. I started telling friends and family things… casual things and I prefaced these things with the phrase “The Lord told me…”
Sounds great doesn’t it? Who wants to argue with God? If the Lord told you then it must be so. If the Lord said so then let’s do it your way. You must be very special to have a direct line to God.
Some people I know do the same thing but they use the term “Word of Knowledge” as in “I have a word of knowledge”.
According to the Christ-Centered Mall website
A word of knowledge is a definite conviction, impression, or knowing that comes to you in a similitude (a mental picture), a dream, through a vision, or by a Scripture that is quickened to you. It is supernatural insight or understanding of circumstances, situations, problems, or a body of facts by revelation; that is, without assistance by any human resource but solely by divine aid.
For example in Acts 5 when Peter confronts Ananias
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds from the field? Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God!” (Acts 5:3-4 HCSB)
Somehow Peter knew they were lying. We can assume that he knew because of a revelation of the Holy Spirit. But notice what he did not say.
- Ananias, the Lord told me that…
- Ananias, I have a Word of Knowledge for you…
No – he just said it. He didn’t need to add any qualifiers. Nothing to boost the credibility of what he said. He knew what he knew and he said so.
When it comes to the Spiritual Gifts of a Word of Wisdom or Word of Knowledge I now prefer this definition
The word of wisdom – The fact that this gift is described as the “word” of wisdom indicates that it is one of the speaking gifts. This gift describes someone who can understand and speak forth biblical truth in such a way as to skillfully apply it to life situations with all discernment.
The word of knowledge – Also a speaking gift that involves understanding truth with an insight that only comes by revelation from God. Those with the gift of knowledge understand the deep things of God and the mysteries of His Word.
Fancy Yourself a Prophet?
Who wouldn’t want to have the gift of prophecy. I mean wow – talk about cool.
But the prophet who dares to speak a message in My name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods–that prophet must die.’ You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a message the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the LORD’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 HCSB)
If you want to predict the future, your prophecies must be 100% accurate. If you want to run around the church saying “The Lord told me” you had better be sure. Do you dare to speak a message in God’s name that he has not commanded you? This is just another way to take the Lord’s name in vain. The same goes for the “Word of Knowledge”.
If you have something to say. Just say it. You don’t need to try to add credibility to your statement by prefacing it with “The Lord told me:” I seriously doubt that God told me any of the things I thought he told me back in those days. Looking back, I know for a fact that many of the things I thought he told me were dead wrong. I had fallen into the trap of believing that if I was praying and I got an impression or a thought popped into my head that it must be God. This simply isn’t true.
The fact is that I wanted people to see me as spiritual. I was boasting by saying “The Lord told me”.
But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:16 HCSB)
If you think you have a message for someone why not say something like.
- I was praying for you and this thought popped into my head…
- I think you should consider…
Or maybe you should keep it to yourself.
Secondly – if you want to use scripture, be sure to study it so that you don’t end up embarrassed later like I did.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.
(2 Timothy 2:15 HCSB)