We as children of the Lord have a responsibility and accountability as His ambassadors and representatives on earth to be the carrier of His truth and Glory and Presence as the light and the salt of the Kingdom. Our first accountability is towards God, not man. We are called to be worthy sacrifices as the temples of the Holy Spirit, seeking His will and His glory above anything else. We are dealing with a God who is searching for a Bride who is holy and pure in intent, motivation, and inspiration.
When it comes to the prophetic, accountability can become a tricky subject. After all, church history over the last five decades attests to spiritual abuse, manipulation, and deception because ‘accountability’ was enforced but in a skewed manner. From the days of the shepherding movement up to now, millions of church congregants are taught they are accountable first and foremost to the pastor, and they are called to obey with blind obedience, never questioning what is said or done. God has never appointed man to rule over another within the context of the Church, for Jesus is the Lord and the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18).
Sure, God has appointed pastors as shepherds, but for the reason to lead and to guide in the fear, wisdom, and humility of the Lord. A shepherd is but a mere under-shepherd to the true Shepherd Jesus. Ezekiel 34 speaks about how the shepherds had abused their powers and had shed their responsibility: 34 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”
The shepherds are described as being cruel, and not feeding the sheep. Jesus asked Peter that if he loves the Lord, he shall feed the flock of the Lord (John 21). This is the heart of a true shepherd – serving the flock, guiding, protecting, and leading them to dwell in the presence of the true Shepherd (John 10). No earthly shepherd ‘owns’ anybody in the congregation, or can have control over the flock. He merely guides and leads, under the leading of the ord. After all, a shepherd is supposed to be protecting the flock from the wolf, and not be a wolf in sheep’s-clothing. An under-shepherds word never supplants the truth of the Master.
Because of the church set-up, congregants are led by one-man armies, those who lord and rule over the flock. Sure, there may be elders and a church counsel, but many times it is but for show. The senior pastor holds all the power and demands obedience and loyalty. It has become so bad in churches that there are those who believe the word of the pastor above even what God is saying or the Scriptures! We are thus creating a system of believers that are no longer listening to God directly, but relying purely on what is being spoon-fed to them. This goes back to the dark ages of the faith.
It is because of such a church system of control that the prophetic many times fail to function properly and in the liberty of the Spirit. For as control is exerted to the point of manipulation, then there are even clear attempts to control the utterances of the prophet or even silence the prophetic completely. It is a well-known practice even within churches that no one in the congregation is allowed to speak a prophetic word unless it has been approved by the pastor/spiritual leader, or that no one in the congregation is allowed to receive a prophetic word from ‘outside’ the specific church. This is nothing more than exerting control and has nothing to do with the order of God.
Personally, years ago I heard a pastor say that no one is allowed to correct him, not even a prophet. This is nothing more than spiritual pride and arrogance in operation; it fuels an atmosphere of control. If the Lord leads a prophet to speak, he shall speak. If the Lord leads a prophet to act, he shall act. But the prophet must be willing to be accountable for the words spoken and the actions taken and must be willing to be corrected, rebuked, and reproofed if necessary.
It is a ridiculous notion that a prophet may not speak to anyone of a different congregation, after all, we are all part of ONE Body that belongs to our Lord Jesus. A prophet must therefore be cautious against such actions of being silenced or reprimanded for moving in the Spirit of the Lord. This is nothing more than the spirit of religion and tradition trying to control the Word of God being spoken. These are tactics of intimidation to silence the prophet, and the spirit of religion often is behind such intimation. The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to silence Jesus, not just for being the Son of God but also for being a prophet. After all, God’s true word shall always challenge the religious traditions of man.
A prophet thus only obeys the Master but at the same time must be willing and open to correction. Thus accountability is important for a prophet, because at times there is a fine line between speaking in the Spirit and speaking in the flesh, and there is a fine line between speaking as the Spirit leads and following one’s imagination. For there is thus a fine line between being a blessing, speaking the Truth of God, and being a curse, thus rebelling against God for being ignorant and speaking deception.
Thus it is wise for a prophet always to be accountable, and to allow himself to be reproofed in case he has gone astray. A prophet after all is not a long ranger but operates within the Body to the benefit of the Body and to the glory of the Lord.
A prophet who acts completely alone, who will never be open to correction or to be held accountable for what he says, is dangerous and acts as a loose cannon. More than ever such a prophet walks in pride and arrogance and thus presents an open door for the enemy to act and to influence negatively. The result is the prophet then begins to speak out of the flesh, out of a place of pride and arrogance, and even worse by a different spirit.
It says in 1 Corinthians 14: 29 Let two or three prophets speak [as inspired by the Holy Spirit], while the rest pay attention and weigh carefully what is said. 30 But if an inspired revelation is made to another who is seated, then the first one must be silent. 31 For [in this way] you can all prophesy one by one, so that everyone may be instructed and everyone may be encouraged; 32 for the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets [the prophecy is under the speaker’s control, and he can stop speaking]; 33 for God [who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order.
Clearly, there is order within the prophetic. Where prophets are called to tear down and to destroy, therefore discern what is real and not, it is, therefore, important for the true prophet to allow all prophecies to be tested, and to test other prophetic words.
This is true accountability. A prophet must be humble enough to allow his word to be tested, and this should apply to any word to be spoken. Part of the prophetic role is to sit and listen to prophecies and “weigh carefully” the words that are spoken. This is something that two or three should do together. If a prophecy does not get a consensus of support it should be discarded.
Problem is that the church is saturated with ‘prophets’, with so many false or misguided. For the misguided and the false, they can certainly not test any prophetic utterance, yet because of the lack of discernment, they have a say regarding the prophetic and utter prophetically, thus creating a spiritual atmosphere of confusion and chaos. Testing prophecies is a very important aspect of the prophetic ministry.
We are now hearing more and more prophetic words being spoken to the church, but the spiritual quality is still very mixed. Christians do not know which words they should take seriously. Many warnings of disasters have not been fulfilled. This unclear sound of the trumpet is producing confusion in the church. The solution is for prophets to get more involved in the testing of prophecies and sorting out the wheat from the chaff.
False prophets are unteachable and unwilling for their prophecies to be evaluated and tested, as Scripture commands. Virtually every time New Testament Scriptures speak of prophecy, they also speak of evaluating and testing the prophecy, which is the responsibility of every believer. I Thessalonians 5:19-21, for example, says, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Examine all things. Firmly hold onto what is good.” 1 Corinthians 14:29 says, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” And in this same vein of thought, 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Accountability is thus important within the prophetic, but accountability is not spiritual control and abuse. The reality is that only the true prophet can discern if a prophetic word or a prophetic voice is genuine or not because a prophet will be able to discern according to the mandate and the mantle.
Yet today prophets aren’t even allowed to correct and admonish other prophets, or shepherds (Ezekiel 34), while many prophets are not willing to be corrected or to be rebuked. It is after all the reality that many in the churches these days are speaking without being held accountable, and once corrected, they get offended and scream ‘Do not judge’.
For the prophet, accountability is important, in order to remain in God’s will, to make sure the path of truth is kept and that one does not stray from the Spirit.
A prophet who steps out of the Spirit can cause huge damage and will be held accountable to God. Our accountability is first before God and then men, so a prophet needs to remain humble in the presence of the Lord, listen, and be allowed to be corrected. And also be corrected by others in the Body of Christ and by approved prophets.