“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” 1Thessalonians 5:19-21
When we despise prophecy we quench the Holy Spirit. Prophecy is God speaking today directly into our lives and situations, so why would people who love God ever despise Him speaking to them?
Some people despise prophecy because they don’t think God speaks any more in that way. Today, they reason, God only speaks to us through the Bible so anybody who claims to hear God directly comes under suspicion. The problem with this is that the book of Acts is the New Testament church in action and God speaks directly all the time through visions, dreams, impressions, angels, and prophets. There are no Scriptures which indicate this type of prophetic activity would ever be withdrawn from the church except for a few verses that people quote horribly out of context. People that don’t believe God speaks today are arguing from their experience, or rather lack of experience, and not from the Bible.
Others despise prophecy because they have been burned by it. They’ve seen people use the phrase, “God told me,” to enforce their own agenda or to validate their own opinion in such a way that they are deeply suspicious of any prophetic experience. Some have been damaged by following a so-called “prophetic word” when it turned out to only be a person trying to be prophetic, and not God speaking at all. When you’ve been hurt in that way it is easy to harden your heart.
My opinion is that if you don’t feel free to judge the prophetic you will end up despising it. Paul says to “examine everything carefully…” In the Old Testament prophecy came externally to those God appointed and the penalty for being wrong was death. New Testament prophecy, on the other hand, comes from the inside of a believer (where the Holy Spirit lives) and through our yet imperfect souls. Because of this reality we have to be discerning, but should never allow ourselves to become cynical. After Paul tells us to examine everything carefully, he tells us to “hold fast to that which is good.”
God loves us and He wants to speak to us. I pray we embrace the potential of hearing God today, and the freedom to exercise discernment so we don’t get trapped by anything that is not from the Spirit.