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Returning now to what I was saying about locutions, these may come from God, […] or they may equally well come from the devil or from one’s own imagination.

Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Part Six Chapter III, Page 97

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Part 50 Recap Post


Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I present another End Times post.

In some recent posts, Part 79 and Part 80, I wrote about the topic of prophecy vs. false prophecy. This is a topic that’s especially relevant now, in the End Times. Jesus warned us there would be many false prophets at the End. It’s no coincidence we’re seeing many false prophets and prophecies these days.

It’s always worth revisiting this topic, even though I wrote about it as recently as Part 79 . We can never be schooled enough on this subject.

And on that note, I was reminded of this while working through the latest book I’m reading. It’s another classic book, this one called Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila. She was a Catholic nun in Spain in the sixteenth century.

She wrote a few things on how God speaks to us and how He doesn’t. And how to recognize whether we actually heard from God, or the devil or our own imagination instead. What she wrote is interesting, and worth thinking about today.

God said that in the final days He will pour out His Spirit on people, and many will prophecy and dream dreams (Joel 2; Acts 2). So many people in the End Times are hearing genuine messages from God, from Heaven. But the devil is always lurking, trying to counterfeit anything God does. The devil is deceiving people right now with false visions, messages, and signs. He’s trying to mislead anyone he can through false Spiritual experiences.

As we know from the world today and the recent posts I made on this topic, many Christians are falling for the devil’s tricks and becoming false prophets. So we need all the discernment we can get in this area. To that end, let’s see what this nun had to say about messages from Heaven more than 400 years ago.

Test every Spirit

In Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila, she uses the word “locutions” to refer to messages straight from God. The word ‘locutions’ has more than one definition. It’s most basic definition is a word or phrase. In other words, speech.

But locution is also a mystical concept in some religions, including the Catholic church (and Teresa was a Catholic nun). In this sense, a locution is an internal Spiritual insight or revelation from an external Spiritual source. In other words, messages, signs, prophecies, and Wisdom given direct from … something. As Teresa points out, these insights, these locutions, may come from the devil rather than God. Or they could even come from a person’s own imagination.

Returning now to what I was saying about locutions, these may come from God, […] or they may equally well come from the devil or from one’s own imagination.

Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Part Six Chapter III, Page 97

As we saw in Part 79, plenty of people are getting their “locutions” (messages) from themselves or the devil!! This problem goes beyond any idea of denomination. Any Spiritual person following Christ faces the danger of believing that a message from something else is a message from God. Of course that danger of being deceived increases if our doctrine is wrong, such as if we pray to Mary or any saints (see 1 Timothy 2:5).

But again, Part 79 showed people from many denominations are making false prophecies. And the source of false prophecies are demons of deception, such as Ba’al. We can refer to all these entities collectively as “the devil,” since they all serve under the devil.

If a person’s prophecy comes from their own imagination and what they want to hear, it might be a less-diabolical deception. But it’s still deception anyway. They still didn’t hear from God, but think and claim that they did. So that false prophecy doesn’t help any believers.

False prophecies are harmful because they damage people’s Faith when they don’t happen. They can also puff up the false prophet with pride … until their prophecies start failing, that is. Which they always will, if they have a false prophecy (locution), because that word was not spoken by God. See Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

To avoid falling for this false prophecy trap, we must test every Spirit (1 John 4:1). We must always hold up any ‘locution’ we think is from God to the scrutiny of Scripture. No matter how excited we are about some message, we can’t act on it or proclaim it as God’s Word until we examine how Biblical it is.

(1) Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world. (2) This is how you know if a spirit comes from God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come as a human is from God, (3) and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is now already in the world.

1 John 4:1-3 (CEB)

This is a Spiritual world, and many supernatural Spiritual things happen. People can get all sorts of messages and signs. But we need to be very careful about interpreting these things as prophecy. We need to have a very balanced, cautious approach. We need to test every Spirit, holding the message we received up to the scrutiny of Scripture. The devil loves to deceive Christians through false prophecies, messages, and so on. Don’t fall for it!! Don’t get excited or anxious about any ‘locution’ before testing the Spirit.

But we know all this already, right?? Let’s see what else Teresa has to say.

Keep Calm and … Test every Spirit

Teresa continues to say that hearing from God does not make us any ‘better’ than others. It doesn’t make us better Christians or people. After all, Jesus spoke to the Pharisees a lot, she says. The fact that God talked to us does not make us any better, and we must remember that.

But of one thing I will warn you: do not think that, even if your locutions come from God, you will for that reason be any the better. After all, He talked a great deal with the Pharisees: any good you may gain will depend upon how you profit by what you hear. Unless it agrees strictly with the Scriptures, take no more notice of it than you would if it came from the devil himself. The words may, in fact, come only from your weak imagination, but they must be taken as a temptation against things pertaining to the Faith and must therefore invariably be resisted so that they may gradually cease; and cease they will, because they will have little power of their own.

Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Part Six Chapter III, Page 97

When we look at some of the most popular false prophets today, we can see how this guideline isn’t being followed. Many of these false prophets cultivate a rockstar-like celebrity aura around themselves. Sometimes this aura even becomes an idolatrous cult-like worship of the false prophet. This is prideful and wrong, but a bit more on that later.

She then reminds us of the importance of testing every Spirit, which I already spoke on above.

OK then. So how do we avoid running into sin when we receive some message from God?

Teresa explains that first, we need to stay calm and not run off to do something. What we should do is talk about it with someone more Spiritually mature than us, or at the very least other Christians we trust. Teresa says ‘confessor,’ a Catholic title. But pastors and so on are every bit as qualified—if not more so—to help us test the Spirit of our messages and signs.

Anyway, the most important thing is to wait and calm down before taking any action. And talk it over with other Christians (who aren’t as emotionally invested in our message as we are). Taking our message to a Christian who isn’t emotionally invested in it is a good way to get a ‘neutral’ opinion on it. They can judge it by Scripture without the bias of emotional excitement that we have about it.

Let’s see what Teresa of Avila says.

The devil’s locutions are more to be feared than those which come from the imagination; but, if the locutions are accompanied by the signs already described, one may be very confident that they are of God, although not to such an extent that, if what is said is of great importance and involves some action on the part of the hearer, or matters affecting a third person, one should do anything about it, or consider doing anything, without taking the advice of a learned confessor, a man of clear insight and a servant of God, […]
I consider it very dangerous for a person to do anything but what he has been told to do and to follow his own opinion in this matter, […]

Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Part Six Chapter III, Page 100

If we skip taking our message to other Christians, or if they tell us something we don’t want to hear and we reject that, we will run into trouble. If the message came from the devil, he wants us to take action because what we’re going to do will cause harm somehow. It could harm church unity, it could harm people’s Faith, it could harm our Christian Walk, and in some cases it could even physically harm people! The devil wants us to act without thinking or to ignore warnings the message isn’t Scriptural. So we must be extra cautious with urgent Spiritual messages—emergency messages. Think and test the Spirit first, and ask other Christians for their thoughts on it. Only then should we do anything.

It’s important to have this in mind, because in the End Times many people are getting genuine messages from God. This is what the LORD foretold in Joel 2, which is quoted in Acts 2. But since the devil always tries to copy and corrupt what God is doing, we can be sure the devil is giving people dreams, visions, and messages too. We need to discern between these.

(17) “In the last days, God says,”
“I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”
“Your sons and daughters will prophesy.”
“Your young will see visions.”
“Your elders will dream dreams.”
(18) “Even upon my servants, men and women,”
“I will pour out my Spirit in those days,”
“and they will prophesy.”

Acts 2:17-18 (CEB)

As always the devil’s aim in this is to deceive people, especially Christians if he can. Which is why it’s so important to stop, remain calm, and not rush to take any action before testing the Spirit. Which includes talking with other Christians.

It would seem that the people most vulnerable to this deception are those who are new to Christianity and not used to hearing genuine messages from Heaven. People who aren’t used to the ways Heaven communicates with us. It may seem that way at first, but actually, even experienced and mature believers can fall for these deceptions too. If any Christian is walking in the sin of pride, they’re in extreme danger.

The Pride Test

As I said above, we can see that the false prophets of today have cultivated a celebrity status in their Christian communities. People hang on their every word, and honestly believe the ‘prophet’ speaks the Word of God. In some cases it becomes idolatrous worship of a person rather than God, with many more borderline cases on top of that. In these situations the prophet gets glory for themselves instead of God, so this is sin.

Teresa of Avila warned against this kind of “Prophet Pride” more than 400 years ago, in 1577. She warned against thinking more of ourselves because we received a message (locution) from God. Judging whether a message makes us feel more self-important is one way to test if it actually came from God.

If a message makes us less humble, and makes us think higher of ourselves, then the message wasn’t from God.

If gifts and favors come to it from the Lord, the soul should consider it carefully and see if they make it think any the better of itself; and if, as the words grow more and more precious, it does not suffer increasing confusion, it can be sure that the spirit is not of God; for it is quite certain that, when it is so, the greater the favor the soul receives, the less by far it esteems itself, the more keenly it remembers its sins, the more forgetful it is of its own interest, the more fervent are the efforts of its will and memory in seeking nothing but the honor of God rather than being mindful of its own profit, and greater is its fear of departing in the least from the will of God […]

Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Part Six Chapter III, Page 102

When the supernatural Spiritual experiences we have make us more Humble and loving toward others, we can be confident they came from God. When they make us more charitable, thinking less of our own interest and more about others. When they give us a Spirit of service, and a desire to Glorify and honor God rather than ourselves. When they make us want to do God’s Will rather than our own. When the locutions—messages and insights and etc.—we receive make us feel this way, then we know they’re from God.
In other words, when we test the Spirit of a locution (message), we also need to test what effects the message has on us. How does it make us feel??

Teresa ends on that note herself.

When these are the results of all the experiences and favors that come to the soul in prayer, it need not be afraid, but may rest confidently in the mercy of the Lord, Who is faithful, and will not allow the devil to deceive it, though it always does well to retain its misgivings.

Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Part Six Chapter III, Page 102

Her final words there remind us one more time to test every Spirit (1 John 4:1). This world we live in is full of demonic deceptions. It always has been, but the End Times is even worse for this than any other time in human history. Deception is everywhere, and all believers need to be careful no matter how experienced they are.

But if we test every Spirit like Scripture tells us to, and if we stay Humble and walk in the Spirit, we can have Faith in our locutions (messages) from Heaven after scrutinizing them and the effects they have on us. Receiving a locution is no reason for panic—we should rejoice and thank God if it’s genuine. But it’s also no reason for taking action before stopping to think and go through the steps in Scripture.

Ready or not, here Come Locutions

(17) “In the last days, God says,”
“I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”
“Your sons and daughters will prophesy.”
“Your young will see visions.”
“Your elders will dream dreams.”
(18) “Even upon my servants, men and women,”
“I will pour out my Spirit in those days,”
“and they will prophesy.”

Acts 2:17-18 (CEB)

God really does speak to His people. In dreams, through prayer, through signs and all sorts of other ways. These are collectively known as ‘locutions.’ And in these End Times we live in, we can expect more locutions than ever before. Not only that, but people who aren’t used to God engaging with them in this way can expect to receive messages too. Even inexperienced Christians who are new to Christianity are getting messages now. There’s a lot going on these days, and God is saying many things to His people.

So we never need to panic when we receive a locution. Instead we should praise God, remain calm, get into Scripture to test the Spirit of the message, and bring the matter to other Christians (hopefully ones further along in their Walk than us) to get their take on it. We should follow the steps our Faith lays out. Most important, we should never act before thinking the message over and asking another Christian!!

If we don’t handle our locutions correctly, we’ll get deceived and become a false prophet, spewing false prophecy. Then we’ll be deceiving not only ourselves, but many others too. We can’t let the devil pervert our Faith and turn us to his service, whether we mean to or not!! When we receive some message we feel is from God, we need to test the Spirit of it first before we get all excited about it. Not testing the Spirit harms many believers besides ourselves.


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Until next time, be strong and do good!

Your new best friend in Christ,

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2 comments on “Do Not Fear the End Times Part 92: How to Avoid Being a False Prophet

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