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Discern the true prophetic

The Holy Spirit will not inspire the prophetic artist with imagery that contradicts Scripture. We discern the true prohetic in relationship in like-hearted community.

As well as a website and blog, ‘The Prophetic Artist’ is also a private Facebook group with 8,000+ members and – understandably – we often experience an exchange of diverse viewpoints.

We had one such exchange on the topic of ‘angels’ in prophetic paintings. In particular, one depiction of the commonly-held view of golden-haired gendered beings with wings sparked a lively discussion of secular traditions Vs Biblically accurate images. The angels described in Scripture are far from the ‘winged victories’ images used in classical art. 

There are times when we come across ‘prophetic art’ that irritates our spirit, perhaps we’ve sensed a secular basis not found in the Bible. Sometimes we may gently question the artist and they become offended. Our heart aches when our fellow artists aren’t open to discussion because we are all learning and there’s always room for more insight and enlightenment on our art journey. Almost 20 years of experience and I’m still always learning, and aren’t we all trying to ‘get it right’? Many of us have been trained to dread mistakes, instead of celebrating the courage to keep trying.

There are also times when what we paint is not meant to uplift, comfort, or encourage others, but it is for our own personal growth.

And there is a demonic realm that we do not want to bring attention to but that we cannot ignore.

‘Spirit guides’ and ‘angel guides’ may be popular, they may feel ‘right’ and ‘sweet’, but they are not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not inspire the prophetic artist with imagery that contradicts Scripture. The prophetic artist’s focus is on the ONE true God and the ONE Holy Spirit.

There is a famous quote by John MacArthur in Reckless Faith that speaks about learning to spot counterfeit banknotes by studying the genuine currency, and it is true, when training Federal agents in identifying counterfeit currency they begin with studying genuine money over and over again.

It is the same when ‘the church’ is learning to discern spirits. When you are in the Word and walking with Jesus and something comes up in your spirit that feels ‘ick’ and ‘slimy’, you know it is not right. You. Just. Know.

But what if you don’t know? Well, that is what being part of a community is for and there are many ways to learn. We learn from each other and we learn by ‘testing’ and celebrating ‘giving it a go’. We learn by staying humble and being teachable. We learn by being in the Word for ourselves, and not hearing it secondhand.

Let me use another metaphor for discerning spirits and what comes through on our canvases. Have you ever cooked a lamb casserole? It smells and tastes amazing and everyone enjoys the meal. The next day you retrieve the leftovers from the fridge and you’re horrified at the amount of fat sitting on top of the food. What happened? Why didn’t you notice it before? It’s the same culinary masterpiece but the change in temperature has allowed the cook to see the fat that needs removing. The difference could not be more clear, and yet it was totally missed yesterday.

We learn by testing the temperature and waiting upon the Lord for the elements in a painting to be identified. There is nothing wrong with you if you paint something and you don’t know what it is. There is nothing wrong with you if you see something differently the next day.

Every seasoned prophetic speaker will tell you that you’re not meant to reveal every piece of information given to you. Perhaps a vomit-coloured image appears on your canvas and the Lord reveals there’s sickness in the room. What is your next step? Green (new life), white (purity), orange (intimacy with the Holy Spirit), blue (healing), or ??? Sometimes you see the problem before the solution is revealed. Perhaps you’ve painted deception, or a demonic presence or familiar spirit, or a new age portal. Don’t assume to know but ask the Spirit what the solution is, ask what is being exposed or demonstrated.

So what do you do when another artist’s image disturbs your spirit? You ask the artist, you ask gently, you ask for clarification, and you ask again. You do not assume you know. You give the Holy Spirit the space to work with someone’s spirit, to lead them and highlight whatever it is the Spirit wants them to see. And you speak in the most loving tone the way that God would speak … why? Because relationship is God’s priority far above knowledge.

You will know by the response what your next task is, whether the first response is offence, indignation or justification, or it is humble and graceful. A spirit-filled heart will be surrendered to the gentle lovingkindness of the Holy Spirit. Your task may not be to show someone what you know, perhaps it is to pray for deception to be lifted and enlightenment revealed. Perhaps it is enough that you asked the question and you are released to move on. One thing we do know is that your task is not to be provoked into being offended by the artist’s response.

So what can we do? It is good to realise that we have banded together in The Prophetic Artist (or The Prophetic Artist Community) to learn and grow in several ways – prophetically, intellectually, spiritually, and artistically. It is not either/or but both/and. We do not forsake part of our development in favour of another. It is WAY MORE than the art! But the art is where we begin, where we let go and allow the Spirit to show us what the Lord is doing – and He may be doing something that is not obvious until we ‘check in’ with Him.

Allow me use a few Scriptures as examples.

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Prov 26:4

Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. Prov 26:5

So which is it? Answer a fool or do not answer a fool?

They shall walk after the Lord. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west … Hosea 11:10

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

So when an artist paints a lion, which is it? The enemy prowling or the Lord proclaiming dominion? How do you know? On face value, you do not know.

These verses are not in contradiction but instead, they point to every situation being subject to the Lord. In everything, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We do not assume the present solution from our past knowledge.

Which brings us back to where we started. We are meant to thrive in relationship with others. In community we learn from what we have seen and discerned. We are open to different perspectives and interpretations of artwork. We allow ourselves to see with fresh eyes and enjoy the benefit of like-minded hearts. As we learn from the Lord we also learn from each other, that’s the way Jesus taught. When we grow in our relationships with each other, we grow in our relationship with Him. Community is a sign of mature faith. A community filled with the kindness and the goodness of the Lord. It is in this community that we can learn to discern the true prophetic in what we paint.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8

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