“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit… to another discerning of spirits…”—1 Corinthians 12:7-10 (emphasis added)
As a Believer, you have access to the manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit. One such gift is the gift of the discerning of spirits. This access is granted as part of your inheritance through faith in Christ.
Let’s examine what the gift of the discerning of spirits is, its purpose, and what could be standing in the way of its operating in your life.
What is the Discerning of Spirits?
The discerning of spirits is a divine discernment that comes from the Holy Spirit. When manifested, the discerning of spirits enables a Believer to decipher the motivational spirit in others.
There is no calling within this gift to immediately reveal that discernment. Instead, this gift is used primarily for knowledge and protection.
An Example of Discerning of Spirits in the Bible
A biblical example of the gift of discerning of spirits manifestation is in the book of Acts. The apostle Peter discerned the intentions of Simon, the sorcerer.
Simon was a man who had practiced sorcery in Samaria, but once he saw the miracles that were performed by the apostles, he got baptized and claimed to be a follower of Christ. However, his true character was revealed when he found the source of the disciples’ power.
- “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.’”—Acts 8:18-23 (emphasis added)
Through the gift of discerning of spirits, Peter was able to recognize the misguided intentions of Simon. Simon did not want the Holy Spirit’s power in his life to bring glory to God and help build the Church. Instead, he wanted the Holy Spirit’s power for personal gain.
What is the Purpose of the Discerning of Spirits?
All spiritual gifts are designed and distributed for the purpose of building up and edifying Believers.
- “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.”—1 Corinthians 14:12 (emphasis added)
However, the primary purpose of the gift of discerning of spirits is for the Church’s protection. In other words, all spiritual gifts are given to further God’s divine plan here on Earth. This divine plan requires protection from rulers of darkness and spiritual forces that will try to oppose Yeshua’s heirs from fulfilling their purposes.
- “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”—Ephesians 6:11-12
We must wake up to the reality that there is a battle being fought in the spiritual realm. If you are one of God’s elect, chosen for the gifting of the discerning of spirits, then step boldly into that anointing. He is faithful to equip you with all the spiritual tools you will need to carry out your spiritual responsibility.
Does the Discerning of Spirits Operate with Other Gifts of the Spirit?
Yes, the gift the discerning of spirits operates in harmony with other gifts of the Spirit. For instance, in the story about Peter deciphering Simon’s intentions, Peter was also operating in the gift of prophecy. Therefore, Peter revealed to Simon that his intentions were impure and that he must repent and ask for forgiveness.
Remember, part of discernment isnot about disclosing the information you have discerned. Believers are called to reveal God’s truth through the gift of prophecy.
How to Activate the Discerning of Spirits
For the gift of the discerning of spirits to manifest in your life, you must be able to recognize roadblocks that may be holding you back from spiritual freedom. We are quick to point out other Believers’ struggles and curses, yet unable to recognize our own.
- “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”—Matthew 7:3
So, what planks in your life are boarding up the entrance to your spiritual gift manifestation?
Remember, instruction is a friend to those who desire a right standing with God. This question is intended to reveal any obstacles that are preventing the manifestation of your spiritual gifts. Then you can receive instruction from the Holy Spirit as to how to move forward and “ACT.”
- A- Apply: Apply the truths that are being revealed to you. Faithfully seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and discern His wisdom through time spent in His presence. Finally, repent for anything that feels unresolved.
- C- Change: Make the necessary changes in your life to allow your spiritual gift to manifest. Ask God to reveal if any schemes of the enemy are standing in the way of discerning of spirits.
- T- Transform: Petition the Holy Spirit to move you into transformative action by the manifestation of your spiritual gifts. Awaken to and strengthen those gifts through claiming your identity in Christ.
The discerning of spirits is a spiritual gift given to Believers through the Holy Spirit. The gift enables them to decipher the motivational spirit that is guiding another’s actions. For this gift to operate in your life, you must be willing to be self-aware of any supernatural forces that may be standing in the way of a spiritual gift manifestation.
The discerning of spirits is given for the primary purpose of knowledge and protection. This gift commonly works in tandem with other gifts of the Spirit to help the Believer know how to proceed with the information that has been revealed.
However, walking by the Spirit rather than the flesh not only makes us spiritually aware of the enemy’s schemes, but also equips us to ACT. The spiritual gift of discerning of spirits divinely protects our identity and purpose.
Do you want to experience the divine protection that God imparts to His children?
Apply the Word. What Word has God given you during this season? Write it down. Put in somewhere where you can see it daily.
Change your mindset. Put on the mind of Christ. Don’t allow circumstances around you to impact your mindset. Instead, meditate on the words you’ve written down and begin aligning your action to them.
Be transformed. As you begin aligning with the Spirit, He will transform you more into Christ’s image, empowering you with spiritual gifts to further His Kingdom purposes.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”—2 Corinthians 3:18