Avoiding Familiar Spirits: Guidelines for Maturing in Prophetic Ministry
Familiar spirits attack prophetic ministry. Prophetic ministry training includes discerning demonic powers and evil spirits. In prophetic ministry, prophets carry a great blessing for the body of Christ. They also have a significant responsibility guarding their ministries against demonic encroachment while avoiding familiar spirits.
As prophets mature in their ministries, they quickly learn to “wait for the unction” of the Holy Spirit before moving out in their gifting. This is how they keep defilement and spiritual corruption out of their lives and ministries. The Apostle Peter made it clear that men of God wait on the Holy Ghost, “Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Prophecy of the Holy Spirit was never spoken by “the will of man,” that is to say, by man's will. This is significant and fundamental in prophetic ministry. This teaches if one prophesies by faith only, without any Holy Ghost unction, then they wrongly prophesy according to their will and not Gods. This is the indicator of a presumptuous and self-willed prophet who can easily tap into deceiving spirits of divination.
AVOIDING FAMILIAR SPIRITS
To avoid familiar spirits, the mature prophet will wait on the unction from the Lord. Prophecy is a serious ministry and should not be taken lightly. To meddle in prophetic ministry outside the unction is dangerous and damaging to the lives of precious people.
Prophesying is not something done solely by faith. Prophecy is not by the prophet’s faith and will exclusively. Faith alone does not force the Holy Spirit to speak. You have a measure of faith involved, but the prophet is not making prophetic utterance come by faith. The seasoned prophet understands this and can protect himself and others from prophetic error. Again, prophecy is not about faith, will or emotion; it’s about waiting for the Holy Ghost to move.
SPIRIT OF DIVINATION
The prophet is only a spokesman. If the Holy Spirit decides to speak, He will, but the prophet must wait for the unction offered according to the direct will of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11). Let’s look at the pattern for a safe prophetic release, “Holy men spake as they were moved (compelled and prompted) by the Holy Ghost.” True, prophetic utterance is always with Holy Ghost unction. Unction is God’s permission to speak on His behalf. If there is no unction, then the prophet is acting by assumptive faith decoupled from the Holy Spirit’s prompting. This is unsafe.
Unction, Greek charisma, means anointing. Those that prophesy by presumptuous faith are in danger of tapping into a demonic spirit of divination. This is the realm where high-level occult spirits gain access into the lives of Christians, churches, and ministries. Again this reveals the seriousness of the prophet’s ministry and responsibility of every believer to judge prophecy according to the written word of God.
Divination through familiar spirits is foretelling (prophesying) the future by occult means. As already said, prophecy should come only after you receive Holy Ghost unction to speak. This is the Biblical pattern taught us in the Word and demonstrated by the prophets of old that were first “moved by the Holy Ghost.” Remember, unction for the prophet is the permission of the Holy Spirit to speak. After you receive permission, then use your faith and surrender to the will of the Spirit and prophesy.
Steps for avoiding familiar spirits are:
- Knowing when the Holy Spirit wants to speak.
- Receiving the Holy Spirit's permission. Rightfully called the unction.
- Using faith to surrender to the Holy Spirit’s unction.
- Speaking only what the Holy Spirit has to say. Judging the prophetic word according to Scripture.
PROPHETS AND PROPHETIC MANTELS
Five-fold ascension gift prophets carry a prophetic mantle. In the New Testament, we refer to the office of the prophet as one of the five-fold ascension gifts given by Christ to “perfect the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11). When Elijah was ushered into heaven, he dropped his prophetic mantle to Elisha. Elisha was already called into the prophetic ministry before this event. The mantle terminology is an Old Testament term referring to the prophet’s ministry. New Testament prophets are better described as gifted, but we can still use the illustration of the mantle to explore prophetic operations.
I have seen the effects of this prophetic mantle on the prayer lives of people that come into contact with it. One day some people were praying together. As I listened, many in the group were prophesying. What was striking to me was these people had never prophesied before. So what was it that was different in this particular group?
There was a man with a prophetic mantle on his life among them. He was a five-fold ascension gift prophet. The reason these others were able to prophesy was they were picking up on his prophetic gift. This expresses the need for five-fold ascension gift prophets in local churches because their gift activates the prophetic among the general assembly. This is healthy within the Biblical context because true prophetic utterance exalts and magnifies Christ and is “the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 19:10).
This also points out the necessity of prophetic maturity among the ministry’s leadership. Avoiding familiar spirits is the responsibility of all but especially those in senior leadership within the local church. Scripture gives examples of prophetic activation when King Saul sent messengers to capture David. Watch the prophetic anointing come on these people after they came into contact with Samuel and the company of prophets.
“Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the spirit of God was on the messengers of Saul and they also prophesied. And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. Then went he also to Ramah and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, ‘Where are Samuel and David?’ And one said, ‘Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah.’ And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on and prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he stripped off his clothes also and prophesied before Samuel in like manner and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’” (1 Samuel 19:20-24.)
Did you notice who was in those meetings? It was Samuel. He was “standing as appointed over them.” The word “appointed” natsab means set. Samuel was the “set prophet” among this group. There is something to be said about prophetic activation when five-fold ascension gift prophets are present. When the messengers of Saul came into contact with Samuel “they also prophesied.” It is doubtful they were trying to muster much faith to do it. I believe a strong unction from the Holy Ghost came on them followed by a measure of faith.
Let’s look at Ezekiel’s release to prophesy for a better understanding of avoiding familiar spirits and receiving prophetic permission. Ezekiel was a seasoned man that knew the Holy Spirit well. He models another safety feature in avoiding familiar spirits. He would not prophesy until told. Scripture says, “So I prophesied as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 37:7). In this verse, Ezekiel, a mature prophet of God, understood that he was not to prophesy until the Lord released him to do so. We, too, can learn from his example.
It is all right to sense the prophetic anointing, but don’t speak “thus saith the Lord” unless God releases you through prompting by the Holy Spirit. If you prophesy by faith without unction, outside God’s permission, you are in danger of tapping into a spirit of divination. This is a sobering truth, but if you tap into a spirit of divination, you release witchcraft over the people. This wrong prophetic operation is taking place today and needs to be stopped. God has not called His prophetic people to be fortune-tellers but those that offer edification, exhortation, and comfort. Wrong prophetic operations open the door for all kinds of high-level occult spirits of divination. Avoid them at all cost.
During a powerfully anointed service, I asked God if he wanted me to prophesy to the people. I don’t do this anymore because I have learned to look for the unction. I could tell they were pulling on me for a prophetic word. Most seasoned prophets can relate to that feeling. The Spirit of God said, “No.” Could I have prophesied anyway? The answer is “yes,” but I would have been in error. As said repeatedly, if you prophesy without God’s permission you can tap into a familiar spirit.
A man told me he received a prophetic revelation from the Lord. I asked him to share it with me, and he said, “It is way too deep, and nobody was ready for it.” I said, “Brother, you need to be careful with that. If you have a revelation from God you need to let the prophet’s judge” (1 Corinthians 14:29). All prophecies need to be judged, examined and weighed against the logos of God. Scripture says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Don’t get distracted by the term false prophets. False prophets don’t start their ministries as false prophets. They start them just like you did with sincerity of heart and a love for Christ. It’s what happens along the way that decides their destiny. If they learn how to avoid familiar spirits, they can make it. If they don’t, they fail. It’s that simple.
Prophets make mistakes, and some prophetic words are wrong. Scripture says that we “see through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). If prophets and prophecies were always accurate, then people would be tempted to follow prophets instead of Jesus. All prophecy needs to be tested for accuracy. Period. This helps close the door to familiar spirits.
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark
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