Deuteronomy 18: Lessons for Being Part of Jesus’ Holy Priesthood

Any believer is part of Jesus’ royal priesthood1

Introduction. From the time Moses lived until after Jesus’ death, God’s priests were part of the tribe of Levi. Today, every believer is called to be a part of God’s holy priesthood: “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Each believer is called “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 15:16). For those wishing to fulfill God’s calling to be a priest or minister (whether in a lay or full time capacity), Moses gives seven principles to follow. First, live in the world but not of the world. Second, give God the best of your time, talent, and treasure. Third, provide for your brothers and sisters when they are in need. Fourth, be set apart and holy for God’s use. Fifth, avoid things that place you into communion with demonic forces, including the occult, drug abuse, and even rebellion. Sixth, where the Bible does not directly answer a question you face, search out God’s prophetic Word in your life. Finally, to protect yourself, always test any advice you receive (whether they be from angels, prophets, or friends) against God’s Word in the Bible.

1. Live in the World but Not of the Word. Dt. 18:1-2.

  • Store up your treasures in heaven and let Jesus be your inheritance. Any person seeking to be a priest or servant of God must be willing to make sacrifices. In the case of the Levites, they sacrificed the right to own or inherit large tracks of land. Their inheritance was with God in heaven. Their food was further limited to what the people gave them as part of their tithes: “1 The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the Lord’s offerings by fire and His portion. They shall have no inheritance among their countrymen; the Lord is their inheritance, as He promised them.” (Dt. 18:1-2). Moses left no ambiguity in this rule. This was at least the fourth time had had given it (Dt. 10:9; 12:12; Nu. 18:20). After the Jews invaded the Promised Land, Joshua repeated this rule two more times (Josh. 13:33; 18:7). Jesus is our High Priest (Heb. 4:14). To fulfill the Law, He lived without owning land while He lived as man on Earth (Matt. 8:20; Lk. 9:58). How does He ask that you fulfill this calling today as part of His holy priesthood? (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). He raised the bar. He calls upon every believer to store up all forms of wealth (not just land) in heaven: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matt. 6:19-20; Lk. 12:33). Yet, He did not prohibit people from owning land. Having wealth is not in and of itself sinful. If it were, God would not have rewarded Job or Solomon with riches (Job 42:10; 2 Chron. 1:11). Instead, Jesus asks you to give up wealth if it causes you to hoard, covet, or sin. He commanded a young man to give up his wealth because He knew that the man’s wealth had caused him to hoard wealth in his heart: “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt. 9:21; Lk. 18:22). You are to live in the world but not of the world. If your treasures in heaven consist of things that you have given up or given away on Earth, would you expect to have a large account balance in heaven? If Jesus were to call upon you to sell your property to help the poor, would your heart be filled with sadness?

  • Let Jesus be your inheritance. As part of God’s holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9), your sacrifice is not without a reward. You have the right to count Jesus as your inheritance: “And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel-- I am their possession.” (Ezek. 44:28). Yet, unlike the Levites, you do not need to wait to receive your inheritance. First, Jesus offers any believer the Holy Spirit as a downpayment on His inheritance: “who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” (2 Cor. 1:22). Second, when you act in one accord with your fellow believers for Christ, Jesus further gives part of His glory to you: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;” (Jo. 17:22). Third, you have an inheritance in heaven that is so great that it cannot be adequately described: “[B]ut just as it is written, ‘Things which the eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’” (1 Cor. 2:9). “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Ro. 8:18). Are you storing up treasures for yourself in heaven? Or, are you looking to find fulfillment through the lusts of the flesh on Earth?

What Jesus has for you is far better than any wealth you could inherit on Earth2

  • Like the Levites, you are privileged to sacrifice for God. The Levities learned that their privilege to serve was not without sacrifice. As your High Priest, Jesus also sacrificed for His church by paying the ultimate price for your sins (Mk. 3:28-29). Like the Levites and like Jesus, your privilege in serving as a priest means that you will also sometimes suffer for Him. Yet, you must always remember that this is a privilege and not a burden. Peter advised those who suffer for the cause of Christ to rejoice (1 Pet. 4:13). Your suffering, trials, and humiliation make you a better witness for Him (Ro. 5:3; Jam. 1:2-4). Through your trials, you can tell others that Jesus offers the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). Yet, if you have never had to cling to God in a rough storm, how much will someone in a storm trust your advice? How good can you be at fulfilling your duty in comforting others (2 Cor. 1:4) if you have never needed comfort yourself?

2. Give the Firstfruits of Your Labors to God and His Servants. Dt. 18:3-5.

  • God provides for His servants. Although God’s priests made sacrifices to serve Him, God made sure that their needs (not wants) were met: “Now this shall be the priests’ due from the people, from those who offer a sacrifice, either an ox or a sheep, of which they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. You shall give him the first fruits of your grain, your new wine, and your oil, and the first shearing of your sheep. For the Lord your God has chosen him and his sons from all your tribes, to stand and serve in the name of the Lord forever.” (Dt. 18:3-5). This was also the fourth time that Moses had given this commandment to the people (Dt. 14:27; Lev. 7:31-32, 34; Ex. 29:27). These gifts were a “perpetual allotment” to the priests. (Nu. 18:8, 23). Because they had no land of their own (Nu. 18:20), the Levities and their families were allowed to eat some of the offerings so that they could devote themselves to God (Nu. 18:10-11; Lev. 6:16-18; 7:6; Dt. 18:1). Today, lay believers do not typically receive tithes from others. Nevertheless, all believers still receive from God a “perpetual allotment.” As stated above, the Holy Spirit is “His offering” to us (Jo. 14:16-18, 26; 16:6-14). He reminds you of God’s Word to guide you in your path (Jo. 14:26). He also gives you the nine fruits of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit are “(1) love, (2) joy, (3) peace, (4) patience, (5) kindness, (6) goodness, (7) faithfulness, (8) gentleness, (9) self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:21-22). Are you memorizing God’s Word for the Spirit to guide you? Are any of the nine fruit of the Spirit missing in your life?

  • Give the first fruits of your life to God. God repeatedly told the people to bring the “first fruits” of their agricultural harvests and animals to the altar for the priests (Nu. 18:12-13; Ex. 23:16, 19; 34:26; Lev. 2:12, 14; 23:20; Dt. 18:4; 26:2-4, 10; 2 Chr. 31:5; Neh. 10:35-39; Prov. 3:9; Heb. 6:20; 7:1-8). The modern day equivalent of this is the best of your time, talent, and treasure. Christ “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15:20). He gave up the best that He had to offer, His life, for you. Out of gratitude, this should motivate you to make your life a “living sacrifice” to Him. (Rom. 12:1-2). God condemned the faithless priests of that time who offered blind, lame, and sick animals as sacrifices (Mal. 1:8, 13-14). Are you offering in gratitude the best of your time, talent, and treasure? Or, are you giving Him only your spare time, talent, and treasure?

  • God provides for your needs, not wants. The priest received the “first fruits” or the best food that the lay person had to offer (Dt. 18:4; Nu. 18:18). God also provided for the priest’s clothes through the “first shearing of [the people’s] sheep.” (Dt. 18:4; Lev. 7:8). They did not need to worry about their provision. As part of God’s holy priesthood, Jesus also promises to provide for your food and clothes (Matt. 6:25-34). Yet, you should not expect Him to fulfill all your material desires. If your desires would entangle you in debts, obligations, or addictions, is it any wonder why He does not to fulfill all your desires?

  • Be Spirit led. God promised that the priests would receive the best “oil,” with the “firstfruits” offerings (Dt. 18:4; Nu. 18:12-13). Oil was a part of any grain (life) offering (Nu. 18:12-13; 8:8; Lev. 8:30; 14:18, 29; Dt. 18:4). It symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13). As stated above, the Holy Spirit is the downpayment on your inheritance in heaven. Moses followed the Holy Spirit, manifested as a pillar of smoke and fire. He did not decide on his own where Israel was to go. When you serve God, who is leading you? (Rom. 8:14). Can your life offering please God if you are guided by the flesh? (Rom. 8:8).

  • Be Joyful. God also promised that the priests would receive “new wine” as part of the “first fruits” offerings (Dt. 18:4; Nu. 18:12-13). In this context, wine is a symbol of joy and happiness. Jesus is the true vine from which all grapes grow (Jo. 15:1, 5). After love, joy is the second most important gift of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:21). Only when you are walking with Jesus can you bear this fruit: “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” (Isa. 11:1). As a new creation, you are connected to the vine of Jesus (Jo. 15:5). Like a branch that needs to stay connected to a tree to survive, you must remain connected to Jesus to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Jo. 15:5-6; Ezek. 15:1-8). If you remain rooted in Jesus, you can also look forward to endless joy in heaven when you will drink the fruit of the vine with Jesus (Matt. 26:29). Is your life like “fresh wine,” i.e. joyful? Or, is your life to those around you more like a hangover?

  • Commit your strength and your love to serving Christ. As part of their required offering, the people gave to the priests from their best animal sacrifice. These include the: “shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach.” (Dt. 18:3). In the book of Numbers, Moses tells us that the priest took this holy sacrifice and made a “waive offering” before eating the food in God’s presence (Nu. 18:17). This showed that the priest was bound and connected to God (Ex. 29:24, 28; Lev. 7:30, 34; 8:27; 9:21; 10:14, 15; 23:10, 15, 20; 23:10; Nu. 6:20; 8:11, 13; 18:11, 18, 26-29). Depending upon the translation, the waive offering included the “shoulder” or “thigh”, the strongest muscles in the body (Dt. 18:4; Nu. 18:18; Lev. 7:31-34; 8:26; 9:21; 10:12-15). The cheek and stomach muscles most likely symbolized that the priest was giving over to God control of what entered the priest’s mind and body. In the books of Leviticus and Numbers, Moses also revealed that the person gave the fat of the animal breasts to the Lord (Nu. 18:18; Lev. 9:20; 10:12-15). The breast is also a symbol of love, i.e. love for a baby. By eating these portions of the animal in fellowship with God, the priest acknowledging that his life, love, and strength had come from God. The priest also gave control over what went into him to God. Are you giving your life, love, and strength to God? Are you letting Him control what goes into your head?

  • Show gratitude by giving thanks. In the book of Leviticus, Moses also revealed that the priest was able to eat some of the living sacrifice because it was holy (Lev. 6:16-18; 7:6). The priests, however, were required to eat the sacrifice at the court of the tent of meeting to remember who gave them their holy provision (Lev. 6:16). You are likewise commanded to eat communion to remember the bread of life that has been given to you through Christ (Matt. 26:26; 1 Cor. 11:24). When you eat the bread, let your heart be filled with praise for what He has done: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15). Are you giving thanks to Jesus for all He has done for you?

3 Provide for Your Brothers and Sisters in Need. Dt. 18:6-8.

  • The duty to provide for priests desiring to serve in God’s Temple. God’s priests were scattered throughout the land to be salt and light. Each local area was to provide for its local priests (Nu. 35:2-3). God, however, mandated that any priest had the right to come to God’s Temple and serve without fear of losing their tithes. The Temple priests were to give a tithe from their tithe to make sure that all of their brothers in the Lord were taken care of: “Now if a Levite comes from any of your towns throughout Israel where he resides, and comes whenever he desires to the place which the Lord chooses, then he shall serve in the name of the Lord his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand there before the Lord. They shall eat equal portions, except what they receive from the sale of their fathers’ estates.” (Dt. 18:6-8). We are all commanded to tithe out of love and not obligation (Dt. 14:22; Lev. 27:30; Gen. 28:22). This also applies to God’s priests. He required that they give a “tithe of a tithe” to help their brothers or sisters who were without (Nu. 18:24-29). If you withhold your tithes from God, you have “robbed” from Him. Yet, if you give to Him and trust Him, He promises to give back to you (Mal 3:8-10). Are you helping brothers and sisters in the Lord who have left their homes to serve God on the mission field?

  • Give joyfully. God never wants you to give out of obligation or ritual (Prov. 5:8; Isa. 1:13; Jer. 7:21-24; Amos 5:21-24). Nor does He want you to boast about your giving (Matt. 6:3). You are instead commanded to be a cheerful giver: “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:6-7). When the Jews donated to build the Tabernacle, Moses had to request that they stop giving because there was an outpouring of generosity (Ex. 36:2-7; see also, 2 Cor. 9:6, 8-14). Are you giving cheerfully for those who are in need?

Share God’s blessings in your life with those who are in need3

4. Stay Separate from the Unclean Things of the World for God’s Use. Dt. 18:9.

  • Be sanctified for God’s use. In order to be a priest, God also expects you to stay holy by avoiding the many unclean or sinful things in the world around you: “9 When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.” (Dt. 18:9). “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.” (Lev. 18:3). “Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.” (Lev. 18:24; 2 Ki. 17:8; Jer. 10:2; Ezek. 20:7-8). You are to be holy for God is holy: “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”’ (Lev. 19:2; Ex. 22:31; 1 Pet. 1:16; Ep. 1:4; Matt. 5:48). Would a non-believer friend look at your life and say that you separated from unholy influences and unholy talk in the world around you? Have the sinful and evil things of the world around you corrupted your walk with God? If so, repent and let Christ wash you clean so that He can use you for service (1 Jo. 1:9).

  • Control what you watch. How are you to separate yourself from the world? Jesus says that you must watch what you watch: “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23; Lk. 11:34). Modern technology offers unparalleled opportunities to fill your mind with darkness. Are you controlling what you or your kids watch?

5. Avoid Things that Put You Into Communion with Demons. Dt. 18:10-14.

  • God prohibits all forms of divination, mediums with the dead, sorcery, and witchcraft. After giving general instructions to stay pure, Moses lists specific forms of prohibited spiritual practices. They all involved idolatry that brought the believer into communion with demons: “10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.” (Dt. 18:10-14). These rules are found throughout the Torah: “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.” (Ex. 22:18). “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:31). “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (Lev. 20:6). Years later, Saul tested God by turning to a medium: “Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ And his servants said to him, ‘Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.’ Then Saul disguised himself by putting on other clothes, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night; and he said, ‘Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me whom I shall name to you.’” (1 Sam. 28:7-8). God responded by making an example out of Saul and killing him: “So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it,” (1 Chron. 10:13). Believers are not to turn to horoscopes, mediums, astrologers, tarot card readers, hand readers, or Ouija boards. All these things place a believer in communion with demons. Are you allowing your kids to read books or watch movies or shows about witches, warlocks, vampires, and werewolves? Are you following your horoscope or talking about it with others?

  • Drug abuse places a believer into communion with demons. Idols have no real power by themselves. Yet, the unbridled desire for these things puts a person in communion with demonic forces: “What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.” (1 Cor. 10:19-20). Drug abuse is one type of idolatry that will place you into both communion with and bondage to demons. In fact, Paul directly links drug abuse to sorcery. In listing the works of the flesh, he used the Greek word “pharmakeia” for sorcery (Gal. 5:20). From part of this word, we have the modern word “pharmacy” where drugs were sold. Paul was not suggesting that medicines are bad. Rather, the misuse of drugs places you into communion with demonic forces. God will never leave or forsake a believer (Heb. 13:5; Dt. 31:6). Yet, He cannot stop you if you choose to listen to the demons over the Holy Spirit. He may eventually hand a believer over to his or her addictions if the person chooses bondage over freedom (Ro. 1:24; Ps. 81:12; Eph. 4:19). Are doing things that might one day enslave you to demons?

  • Rebellion is also like witchcraft, placing the believer into communion with demons. The prophet Samuel also explicitly linked rebellion to witchcraft and idolatry when he told Saul why he could not be king: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:23). While most believers have no trouble seeing a connection between the occult and demons, many find it harder to see acts of rebellion as idolatry or witchcraft. Yet, when you rebel, you turn your face from God. You share company with Satan and his demons who rebelled against Him. Are you rebelling against His Law? Are you rebelling against any Spirit-led authority in your life that you disagree with? Are you allowing your kids to rebel against your authority without disciplining them or teaching them the consequences of their rebellion?

  • Abortion also places a believer into communion with demons. Moses also warned against those who sacrificed their own children: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire,” (Dt. 18:10). God makes each child within the womb (Ps. 139:13). Thus, child sacrifices to the gods of that time (i.e., Molech) were expressly prohibited (Lev. 18:21). The god of our world is ourselves (Is. 47:8-10). You can be your own idol when you exult your own needs over God. Would God find sacrificing a child to meet our own selfish desires be any less of an abomination in His eyes? He repeatedly judged Israel when it failed to follow His Law. Should we think that our nation should be immune from punishment when it rebels?

6. Listen for God’s Guidance through His Prophetic Words. Dt. 18:15-19.

  • God’s promise to raise up a prophet like Moses from within the Jews. Many lesser prophets followed Moses. Yet, God also promised to raise one future prophet who would, like Moses, know Him “face-to-face”:  15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.” (Dt. 18:15-19). Joshua later revealed that Moses was unique because he knew God “face to face” “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face . . .” (Dt. 34:10). To be this predicted prophet, the person would need: (1) to come from amongst the Jewish people, (2) He had to be like Moses, having known God “face to face”, (3) He would also have God’s Word in His mouth, and (4) God would require that we obey His Word. Who is this leader? Many Jews now claim that it was the Old Testament prophets who followed Moses. Yet, this was a prophesy for a single leader. Furthermore, most Jews acknowledge that none of the other Old Testament prophets were comparable to Moses in the sense that they never knew God “face-to-face”. There is strong evidence that the Jews were still looking for “the Prophet” when John the Baptist arrived. The Levities from Jerusalem asked him, ‘“What then? Are you Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’” John again answered “no.” (Jo. 1:21). The Levities would not have asked this question if John was just another in a long line of prophets. Many Jews also came to see Jesus as “the Prophet” while He was alive: “Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” (Jo. 6:14). “And the crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.’” (Matt. 21:11; see also Jo. 4:19; Lk. 7:16; 24:19; 7:16). After Jesus’ death, Peter directly connected Moses’ prophesy to Jesus (Acts. 3:22; 7:37). Jesus, however, was much more than just a mere prophet. He is the prophet of the Highest (Lk. 1:76). He is the Son of Man (Matt. 8:20). He is also “Kurios” or “Lord.” (Jo. 13:13; 20:28; Acts 2:36; Rom. 10:9; Phil. 2:11). He is the “Lord of All.” (Acts. 10:36). He is the King of Glory (1 Tim. 1:17). He is also the King Eternal (1 Tim. 1:17). He is the Creator (1 Pet. 4:19). He is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3). He is the only begotten son (Jo. 1:18). He is the “highest.” (Lk. 1:76). He is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3). He is also the gift of God (Jo. 4:10). He is also the prophetic “Word” of God who became flesh (Jo. 1:1, 14; Rev. 19:13). Muslims, however, also cite to this prophesy to claim that it was in reference to Muhammad. They claim that Jesus was merely a prophet who preceded Muhammad. Could you defend Jesus’ divinity to a skeptic?

7. Test all Who Claim to Speak on Behalf of God. Dt. 18:20-22.

  • Test every spirit and every prophetic claim. Although the prophetic Word incarnate has already come, God will continue to speak through the Holy Spirit. Yet, you are to carefully test any alleged prophetic utterance or alleged prophet:  “20 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.’ 21 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 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.” (Dt. 18:20-22). God allows false prophets to exist to test your heart (Dt. 13:3). His warnings to test all things repeated in the New Testament. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jo. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:16). It was the Word that allowed the Bereans to verify Paul’s claims that Jesus was in fact the Messiah (Acts 17:11). Obedience in testing every spirit, however, does mean that you should reject every Spirit. If you do this, you close the door for the Holy Spirit to speak to you “do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” (1 Thess. 5:20-21; Eph. 3:4-5). If the Bereans had rejected all prophetic utterances, would they have never learned that Jesus is the Messiah? Likewise, if David had rejected all prophetic utterances, he would not have been convicted of sins when the prophet Nathan confronted him after he slept with Bathsheba and killed her husband (2 Sam. 12:1-7). Are you regularly reading the Word to keep the path for your feet lighted? (Ps. 119:105). For times when the Word does not directly address your issue, are you looking for the prophetic Word from the Spirit and then testing it against Scripture?

  • Prophecy to edify the Church. Moses’ warning also should not deter you if you are called to prophecy. Speaking the Word of God over another to bless, correct, restore, or uplift them is one of the highest callings. It is what a real prophet does (1 Thess. 5:11; Eph. 4:29; Jude 1:20). Any member of the Church can be called to do it: “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor. 14:4). “I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophesy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.” (1 Cor. 14:5). If the prophecy involves a matter of guidance, it is typically confirmed by two or more witnesses (2 Cor. 13:1). Are you speaking the Word to bless, correct, restore, and uplift others?

  • Signs of a false prophet. There are several signs of a false prophet. First, a false prophet encourages you to pursue things unrelated to God (Dt. 13:2). Second, a false prophet teaches things based upon human traditions that are contrary to what appears in the Bible (Mk. 7:6-8; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 4:3; Jer. 23:16). Many of these false prophesies ignore sin: “Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity, . . .” (Lam. 2:14). “They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.” (Jer. 8:11; 14:13-14; 20:6; 28:15; 29:8; 23:17; Is. 30:10; 1 Thess. 5:3). Third, a false prophet causes dissention that is unrelated to correcting or restoring a wayward person or a church (Rom. 16.17). Fourth, even if a person shows outward acts of piety or righteousness, the person is a false prophet if he or she is inwardly motivated by self-interest (Matt. 7:15; 2 Pet. 2:1-3, 13-15, 19; Jer. 23:26). Fifth, a false prophet denies that Jesus is the son of God (1 Jo. 4:2-6). Fifth a false prophet offers alternatives to salvation besides Jesus’ death on the cross (Matt. 24:5). Finally, as outlined above, a false prophet makes predictions that do not come true (Dt. 18:22).