Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22
Prophecy is needed in the church
1 Corinthians 14:1
Earnestly pursue love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
First, scripture tells us to eagerly desire to prophesy. Prophecy is very important and vital in the church today. Not just for the leaders of the church but also for every follower of Jesus Christ. We should know what true prophecy is and even desire to have this happening in our own lives. Prophecy is for today. Do not despise prophecy, but test all things. why does it say it like this. Because it can easily be false.
We need prophets today. They are part of the 5 fold ministry and we, as the body of Christ, are lacking without them. We need people to rise up in their calling and fulfill what God has planned for them and for those that God wants to reach through them. Prophets are important and prophecy helps to build and encourage the church.
However, this does not give us freedom to just speak whatever we want. Prophecy comes from God and God alone. It is not of our own. And it is not merely a word of encouragement, though it should encourage. Prophecy is a word from God about something specific that will happen in the future. It can be tested and found to be true. It should not be used as a means to influence others for selfish gains in their own ministry. It should not be used just to make others "feel" good.
Prophesy in faith, not hope
If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith.
It takes faith to prophesy. The problem comes when people step out in hope, thinking that it's faith. But when you have faith, it's not just a hope that what you are going to say is from God, you know that it's from God without any doubt. The same way when you prophesy, don't prophesy in hope but prophesy according to your faith, knowing beyond a shadow of any doubt that it is from God. Faith is knowing in the spirit when there's no way to know in the natural (Hebrews 11:1). So stepping out in faith is not just hoping that it will work out or hoping that your prophecy is from God, it's knowing. That is why a "failed" prophecy is a big issue and not just a mistake to be taken lightly. Are we prophesying in the flesh or are we truly prophesying according to our faith, knowing that it's from God without a chance of it being in the flesh and without a chance of it failing? If you are at all unsure whether it's from God or not, keep it to yourself. this is where the fear of God should come in and keep us from moving in the flesh. There is no excuse for prophecies not coming to pass.
2 Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: hear the word of the LORD! 3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! 4 Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. 5 You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the LORD. 6 They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, declares the LORD, when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. 7 Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, declares the LORD, although I have not spoken? 8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
False prophets say they are hearing from the Lord but it really is their own spirit. Certainly we are hearing this today. But how do we know who is true and who is false? According to the Bible the answer is simple, if it comes true and glorifies God then it's from God, if it doesn't come true then it's a lie and not from God, for God does not lie.
20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall 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 happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Some will say that the definition of a prophecy has changed in the New Testament. However, this is simply not true. It is never mentioned that there is a change in the definition of prophecy and the standard by which we judge prophets has not changed. We need to be very careful to not add to what the word of God says.
Satan would never glorify God. And we know that God keeps his word and will bring it to pass if in fact it came from Him. The fulfillment of prophecy is never the responsibility of the one who is to receive it. What Satan would do is cause confusion, such as a prophecy that seems to glorify God but doesn't come true. Many of God's people have been confused by this very thing. This is not a game. The devil is crafty and very deceptive. We are talking about speaking words as if God Himself was speaking. There are "prophets" (false prophets) are in sense playing God. There are even some that charge a fee for a prophecy. There shouldn't be any charging for ministry, including prophecy. God takes false prophecy very seriously and so should we.
Prophecy is always to be judged.
1 Corinthians 14:29
29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that is sitting by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
A true prophecy from the Lord simply comes to pass because it is from the Lord. That is how we know. If it fails, then the prophecy needs to be judged and those prophesying are judged as not of God.
Prophecies are to be judged by the rest of the body of Christ freely and as a whole. Do we not have discernment within the church? We need to test the spirits (1 John 4:1) and not believe everything that is spoken just because it sounds good or positive. In fact, almost all false prophecies sound good and tickle the ear (2 Timothy 4:3). The best way to be able to judge immediately what is of God is to get the word of God inside of us. The more word you have, the better you will be able to judge. And not only judge but we need the word of God within us for it to flow through us. The more of God's word we have, the easier it will be to hear from God, step out in faith and prophecy into the lives around us. So read the word of God, get it inside you and you will be established. Let's not be misled by the many false prophets of today but rather eagerly desire this gift in our own lives and stand firm on the solid rock, the word of God.