Well, this is an article that I have been anxious to write. I could not wait to write about the subject of psychics and prophets. Today there is a debate about the validity of psychics. Some say that they prophesy by demon influence. Others say that they are frauds. This assumption is based on the belief that psychics are good at interpreting information gained by asking the right questions. In other words, some believe that they are really good at guessing. I know that is a crazy thing to assume. Nonetheless, that is what people believe. Then there are those who think that they are individuals gifted at birth with spiritual sensitivity who just need to surrender their abilities to Christ. Regardless of what you and I believe, one thing is sure; they operate in a supernatural realm.
Some try to delegitimize their abilities by saying that what they say does not come to pass. Those of you who take this stance I want you to think about something. I want you to consider that their wealth and fame are not the result of being wrong. To believe that they are wrong most of the time is to insult the millions of people who have used their services over the centuries. I know that this confuses those of us who are Christians. I have also wondered how a practicing medium or psychic could be so accurate. Especially since Deuteronomy 18 tells us that “one” of the ways to know a real word of prophecy is that it comes to pass. If true prophets of the Lord speak things that come to pass, then what is the deal with these non-believing psychics? How can they speak an accurate word?
Before you say I am wrong about their accuracy, I would have you to know that I researched their level of skill. What I found is that most of the renowned psychics are right at least 50% of the time. A very few even have a 70% accuracy rate. While some of you may focus on the fact that they are wrong 50% of the time. I am focused on how they were able to be right 50% of the time. Who gave them the right answer? Say what you will, but 50% is pretty darn good! After all, we are not talking about guessing names. We are talking about predicting future events!
With all of this in mind, this article clarifies the difference between psychics and prophets. Some folks see them as the same, but they are not. The differences between the two are what I hope to present in this article.
Displays of Power in the Bible
For whatever reason, the Church often ignores the reality of Satan’s power. We do so despite the many examples presented in the scriptures. For instance, in Exodus 3-6, Moses does 10 miracles. The first three give us a lot of information about our enemy. The first miracle Moses does is fascinating to say the least. He turns a stick into a serpent. When you read this story, you think to yourself, “Now take that, Pharaoh!” However, as you keep reading Pharaoh calls for some magicians who actually do the same thing. Now keep this in perspective. These non-believers demonstrated a mastery of changing matter; They changed one thing into something completely different. Not only did they change matter, but they also converted a dead stick and into a living thing! This is an example of a bonafide miracle.
After the magicians show Moses what they can do, Moses comes back with another sign. This time he changes the water of the Nile River into blood. Again, you find yourself saying, “What ya got for that, Pharaoh?” That is until you read that they were able to produce the same results with their enchantments. Again they are operating in a counterfeit version of the working of miracles. They are changing matter.
Round three. Moses calls forth frogs onto the land. Now he is demonstrating power over nature. Surely, this is the knockout Moses needed to shut them up. Nope! Again, Pharaoh calls for the magicians, and they too call forth frogs onto the land. So these mere humans were demonstrating the power to control nature. As we read the story, we know that they are operating by the power of Satan, but somehow, we still choose to ignore this being’s power.
As I said in my introduction, people are generally not crazy. God gifted humans with enough intelligence to know that the majority is usually not wrong. Acts 16 tells us of a girl possessed with a spirit of divination who brought her masters “much fortune” by fortunetelling. The scriptures give us many examples of diviners and soothsayers in prominent positions. Again, Pharaoh called for the wise men in Exodus 3. Another Pharaoh called for wise men to interpret his dreams in Exodus 42. Lastly, there was King Nebuchadnezzar who called for the wise men and soothsayers to interpret his dreams. The obvious should be considered true−these great world leaders would not have put these persons in positions to influence their decisions unless they had demonstrated some level of success and skill.
That being said, there is something else to consider; the Bible is clear that there is a lesser light and a greater light. Genesis 1:16 says that God created a lesser light to rule the night and the greater light to rule the day. Now, I understand the passage is referring to the sun and moon. However, the principle is that God is the greater light and rules the kingdom of light. Satan, however, is the lesser light and rules in the kingdom of darkness. We clearly see this principle play out in Moses’ challenge to Pharaoh. While the magicians were able to match the power of Moses, they were limited to the first three miracles. Eventually, God proved that He was the greater light and that the lesser light could not compete with His greatness. Still, it should be noted that God gives “lil” Satan, a measure of supernatural power. That is going to be essential to our understanding as we look at the difference between psychics and prophets.
Let me say upfront that psychics and prophets are not the same things. They have the same type of gifting but are not the same. Psychics are counterfeit gifts of the enemy. It should be noted that there are spiritual counterfeit companions in the Bible. By that, I mean, wherever you see a God-given gift you will also see the satanic equivalent. Moses operated in the gift of working of miracles. The counterfeit version is magicians. Joseph and Daniel had the gift of the word of wisdom. They were among the fake version called wise men. And, of course, the prophets were always among the diviners, soothsayers, and mediums. See, the counterfeits often operated among the real. So while psychics look like prophets to the untrained eye, they are not.
The reason most people believe them to be the same is that they both are known as foretellers. Hence, when people see someone foretelling future events, they assume that the person is a prophet. But, the calling of the prophet is way more complicated than predicting future events. In fact, foretelling is merely an aspect of the ministry of a prophet.
Three Levels of Revelation
To really understand the difference between psychics and prophets I need to lay some groundwork. Understanding the concepts I share will make it easier to see the distinctions.
Most people do not realize that there are levels of revelation. God taught me that there are three. One level of revelation shows us the things that God wants to do. There is also a level that shows us what God is going to do. Finally, there is a level of revelation that shows us what is going to happen. For the sake of clarity let’s look at each separately.
The Thing God Wants to Do
Often we lump every revelation together. In doing so, we miss a lot of clear distinctions in the scriptures. For instance, we ignore the fact that Moses’ initial word to Pharaoh was void of any foretelling qualities. In fact, it was merely directional. So, if the word he shared was not foretelling by nature, what was it? What does this tell us about God? It tells us that there are different kinds of prophetic words. It further conveys to us that there are different levels of prophetic revelation. For instance, one type of revelation shows us what God wants to do. When we consider the word “want” we come to the conclusion that God has a will—that there are things that He has determined that He wants to happen.
We see examples of this in Ezekiel 22:30 which reads:
“So I sought a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but found no one.”
In this passage, God reveals to us that He is going to bring judgment. He also shows us that He does not “want” to do so. Jonah is another example of this idea. In the book of Johan God tells the prophet to prophesy against Nineveh and inform them that His judgment would come upon them in 40 days. After much drama, Johan delivers God’s message. Then the people of Nineveh repent, and God relents from destroying them. When God does not destroy the city, the prophet gets angry with God. What happens next is important. Through a series of events God shows us that though He had plans to destroy the city, He really did not want to do it. Therefore, God had a plan in His mind to destroy them, but it was not in His heart to do so.
So there is a level of revelation that shows us what God “wants” to do—what is on His mind. That leads us to the next level of revelation.
The Thing God Is Going to Do
There is a level of revelation that shows us what God wants to do, but there is also a level of revelation that shows us what God is “going” to do. We see examples of this in the passages we just read. In Ezekiel and Jonah, the prophets tap into a level of revelation that showed them that God was going to destroy the city. In other words, they saw what God was planning to do. Get this. What God “wanted” to do was different from what God was “going” to do. These are two very distinct levels of revelation. One level of revelation shows us God’s mind. The other level of revelation shows us God’s heart.
As a prophet, it is important to know the difference. Jonah’s biggest problem was that he only had the revelation of God’s mind. He did not have the revelation of God’s heart; He knew what God was going to do, but did not understand what He wanted to do. Though he did not understand what God wanted to do, he was admittedly suspicious of the fact that God’s kind nature might cause Him to relent from harming Nineveh (Jonah 4:1-2). That was his reason for disobeying God in the first place. So he knew that there was a more profound revelation to be unveiled. Yet, it is apparent that he did not search it out.
Some of you may have problems grasping this concept. Let’s look at Moses and Pharaoh’s encounter for clarity. God revealed to Moses what was in His heart and mind. He was clear to say that He wanted to make a show of His power against the gods of Egypt. He was also clear to reveal the plan. He was going to bring Israel out of bondage. Then Moses stood before Pharaoh and everything went wrong. It went so wrong that Moses got angry with God for not doing what He said. Moses knew what God wanted to do. He also knew what God was going to do. The problem was he did not have the last kind of revelation—the thing that is going to happen. Or, the revelation of events in time.
The Thing that’s Going to Happen
The last level or kind of revelation I want to discuss is “the thing that is going to happen.” This is the kind of revelation that most people are seeking. It is also the information Moses lacked in his encounter with Pharaoh. It is a revelation that unveils events in time. This is also what most people assume sets the tone for who is prophetic and who is not. However, it should be noted that this is the lowest level of revelation one can receive. I know that is a bold statement to make. Once we get deeper into the main focus of this article, I’ll show you why I made that assertion. Often we confuse knowing what events are going to happen with knowing what God is doing. The confusion is built on Amos 3:7, in which the God says to the prophet, “Surely, the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” From just reading this verse it appears that the ministry and mark of the prophet are that of a foreteller or fortuneteller. To be fair, that is in part true. A prophet is a foreteller, though that is not the whole truth. In fact, foretelling accounts for only a small part of the ministry of the prophet. In other words, foretelling is not his or her primary concern or responsibility. It should also be stated that just because a person has a revelation of something that is going to happen, does not mean that it is a revelation of something that God wants to happen or something that God is doing. Therefore, it should be kept in context. It is simply knowledge of an event in the future.
I dare say that most people take this type of revelation out of the context for which it was given to us. When you see this type of revelation in the scriptures, it falls into the category of signs and wonders.
Let’s look at Deuteronomy 13:1-2. It reads:
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’
Notice the bolded text. Notice the reference to the revelation of the future as a sign and a wonder. Also, notice that this type of sign is related to another kind of revelation. The sign, the revelation of a future event, is a sign/confirmation to a prophetic message. This is very important to grasp if we are going to distinguish prophetic ministry from psychic ministry.
Here is an example. In 1 Samuel 10:1-9, the prophet Samuel is about to anoint and announce to Saul that God has chosen him to be Israel’s king. In administering the word of the Lord to Saul, the prophet said the following to him in verses 2-8:
And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage. 2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”‘ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that, you shall come to Gibeath-Elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.
What kind of revelation did Samuel minister? Was it a revelation of something God was doing, going to do, or events in the future? He ministered them all to Saul. But, the signs that he gave Saul were revelations of things in time. These were not things that God was going to do, nor were they revelations of things God was doing. They were merely insights into future events. Again, understanding the difference is vital. Why? Notice that the revelation of the things that were going to happen was given as a sign to validate the things that God wanted to happen. God wanted Saul to be king. That was His primary message to Saul. To establish that message God showed the prophet the thing that was going to happen. When those things came to pass Saul knew that the message which revealed what God was doing was from Him.
See, most people want to lead with the sign. They want to tell you what is going happen without also searching out the context for the sign. Hopefully, you are starting to see where I am going with this. It should now be somewhat obvious what the significant difference is between the prophet and the psychic.
What is the Difference?
Just in case you don’t see it yet, let me explain how understanding the different levels of revelation creates the distinctions between psychics and prophets. Understanding this truth will also protect prophets from falling prey to the spirit of divination; which only focuses on one level of revelation—predicting things to come.
1.) Psychics See at the Lowest Level of Revelation
According to Deuteronomy 13:1-2 it is possible for someone to get access to supernatural information without going through God. The passage is clear on that issue. For that reason, God provides us with guidance for avoiding deception. He says that we can know whether or not the source of the information is from God based on who it inspires us to serve. Here is an example. If a Muslim has a dream that comes to pass and he uses that event to encourage us to follow Islam, we know the source was not God. The same truth applies to psychics. Just because they can access information about the future does not mean that God endorses them. In fact, God is very clear as to why He allows them moments of predictive accuracy. He says that He allows such to test our commitment to serving Him.
What this all means is that psychics can definitely see. That is a documented fact: There is no question about the validity of their gift. But, what can they see? Can they see what God wants to do, is going to do, or what is going to happen? A lot of people make the mistake of judging whether or not something is of God by the fact that it comes to pass. However, we just read in Deuteronomy 13:1-2 that God gives some people access to information about the future, though they are not His servants. Hence, we cannot judge the validity of prophecy by that standard alone. Notice I said, “alone.” To understand why I emphasized the word “alone,” Let’s read Deuteronomy 13:1-2 and 18:22.
Let’s start at 18:22. It reads:
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 theLord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Now let’s read Deuteronomy 13:1-2.
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’
Did you notice the contradiction? The first tells us that we can discern prophetic authenticity by the fulfillment of a prophecy. The other passage tells us that only those things which come to pass and inspire faithful service to God are genuine words from God. This understanding teaches us that we cannot validate prophetic ministry solely based on the supernatural nature of the message. We must also validate the message’s content. The psychic can see, but where are they pointing us. In most cases, they are not pointing us to God. “Why not? ” you ask. Well, they cannot communicate a message from God without access to Him. There are biblical references, such as Balaam, who serve as an exception to this rule. Balaam shows us that in rare cases God will use such persons for His purposes. Nevertheless, generally, God will use His prophets to speak on His behalf. That being said, psychics can see what is going to happen. But they cannot see what God wants to do since that comes from His heart. Neither can they see what God is going (planning) to do since that comes from His mind. Only those in a relationship with Him can see these things. Prophets, however, because of their relationship with God, have access to the deeper revelations that flow from His heart and mind. In other words, prophets have context for what they see. They report what God feels and thinks about what they see happening in the future.
Look at what Amos 3:7 says about the prophet’s ministry. It reads:
Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
Please take notice of God’s purpose for revealing His secrets. According to this verse, it is so that we know what He is doing. In other words, God generally gives us context for what and why He is doing something. Rarely do we see God reveal some event in the future apart from why He is doing it? It’s taken me a long to time to see the difference between the diviner and the prophet. But, I finally see it. Diviners seek to know the future, but not the God’s purposes for the future. They want to tell you who to marry, how many kids you will have, where you will live, who you will love, which car to buy, whether or not you’re in a relationship with the right person, when you will die, etc. God, however, tells the prophets why things happen. Psychics can only see things that are going to happen, but prophets see the heart and mind of God for the earth. Psychics rarely have a message. They just have a sign. Also, the sign is what they lead with and follow. However, prophets preach a message of God’s heart and mind, then reveal the future as a sign to validate the message. Do you see the difference yet? Psychics want to follow signs. Prophets want signs to follow them.
We can see examples of this truth in the scriptures. Other than Agabus, most other prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Nahum, Zechariah, etc., revealed what was going to happen, why it was going to happen, and how God felt about what was going to happen. It was indeed rare to see them operating outside of those parameters. Again, Agabus was a rarity. I used to be thrown off by his ministry. He gave two prophecies, and each time he gave no context. In my opinion, he is an excellent example of the pure gift of prophecy operating without the necessary companion gifts of word of wisdom and knowledge.
2.) Psychics Operate by Demonic Power
The most obvious way that prophets differ from physics is defined by the source of their abilities. The prophet speaks by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, while the psychic speaks by demonic influence. These days, many people try to pervert this truth. Some are suggesting that a psychic is a person with a gift they are using for Satan. The problem with this idea is that it suggests that the demon is not the catalyst of the power at all. However, Acts 16 tells us of a slave girl possessed with a fortune-telling spirit that followed after Paul and Silas prophesying. It then tells us that Paul cast it out of her. Later it tells us that the deliverance of the girl from the spirit also stripped her of all power. In fact, it was such a problem that the girl’s owners stirred up the town against Paul and Silas.
Notice what it does not say. It does not say that the girl became a prophet after the demon left her. It does not even suggest that her gift was free from impure use or that she could use it apart from a spiritual source. The story attributes all of her extraordinary ability to the demon.
There is a Remnant of Prophets Among the Psychic Community
Now, we need to bring some clarity to what is happening in the world today regarding this subject. While we know that demons are the source of most psychics powers, we also know that they are the source of some Christians abilities as well. What do I mean? There is no doubt that there are legitimate prophets in the earth. I, in fact, consider myself to be one of them. However, we are in a time of spiritual irresponsibility. We have become anti-prophetic on the one hand. And, on the other hand, we have become accepting but undiscerning regarding the prophetic. Those who are anti-prophetic sometimes unknowingly push authentic prophetic voices to hide among the psychics. It is not a secret that many people with these gifts have been rejected by their churches. I think it is horrible the way we treat people who have nothing to do with their gifting. Paul says to the Corinthians, what do you have that you did not receive? He was talking to them about the vanity in boasting about our spiritual abilities. Not one Christian can take pride in his or her ability. Not one! No one gives themselves a spiritual gift. The Bible is clear that God gives us the abilities that He wants us to have according to His purpose for us in the Body (1 Cor. 12:12-30). Some have evangelistic gifts. Others have teaching gifts. And, some even have prophetic gifts. Likewise, Ephesians 4 tells us that Jesus Himself gave us those abilities. So then, why are people being harassed about something they had no control over? Here is a better question, where are people God gave prophetic ability supposed to go to use their gifts? As one might expect, they sometimes go where they are accepted. They go hide among the psychics where their gifts can serve a purpose. Unfortunately, they sometimes operate by the rules of the kingdom of darkness, thereby, polluting their gifts. Even worse, without knowing the purpose of the gift, they limit their vision to seeing only what is going to happen.
In this case, I dare say that these psychics are yielding their gifts to the wrong source. Is that even possible? You may ask. Sure it is. Look at 1 Samuel 18:10. In this chapter we see King Saul prophesy in the house. The scriptures are clear that this manifestation is due to the evil spirit’s influence in Saul’s life. Then in Chapter 19:23-24 the King enters into a company of prophets, and again he prophesies. This time he does so by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Paul also addresses this issue in the Corinthian church. He teaches them that no one speaking by the Spirit of God can call Jesus accursed. It is clear that Paul was talking about prophetic manifestations in the Church. He was giving them guidelines for discerning the source of their utterances. This means that it is definitely possible to have a genuine God-given ability used by an ungodly source. For that reason, I advocate for two things: One, the inclusion of the prophetic into the church. And two, the training of those who prophesy and those who received prophecies regarding the matter of discernment. Without such, trouble looms large in the future.
I think it is important that we recapture those hiding among the psychics. I further believe that they need to be trained to focus on hearing God’s heart and God’s plan, not just the future.
The big difference between prophets and psychics is the source and the outcome of their prophecies. The prophet’s primary responsibility is not foretelling the events of the future. His primary responsibility is communicating the message of God. That message always includes a revelation of God’s heart and mind; or what He wants to do and what He is going to do. Just imagine the prophet Samuel revealing to Saul all of the events that he was about to experience without giving him any context for that revelation. This is how we like to prophesy. Likewise, this is what psychics do. They provide you with revelation without context. The prophecy is the sign and the wonder! Why, do they give revelation without context? Well, you cannot get what is in the heart and mind of God without knowing God yourself. Sure it is impressive to know beforehand of that attacks on America on September 11. Sure, it is great to be able to declare that Trump was going to be president and that the economy would improve under his leadership. But, why did September 11 occur? Why did God make Trump President the US? What are His purposes for these events? Just knowing that they are going to happen without understanding why to give us no way of knowing how God wants us to respond to these events. Context is everything in prophesying. I used to be impressed with what I saw. Now, I am impressed by what I understand about what I see. I am in awe of how understanding God’s purposes for the future allows me to make better decisions about the future. While I agree that there are some impressive psychics in the world, not one of them can tell you what is in God’s heart about you. Not one can tell you why you were born. Not one can tell you why specific events happened in your life. Not one can make sense of your past. Not one! That information only comes from the Great Designer Himself. Likewise, He chooses to share that information with His people and His prophets. Psychic can see what will happen, but they can’t tell you why. Only prophets can do that.