1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
The gift of discerning of spirits gives a supernatural insight into the secret realm of the spiritual world. Through this gift, one receives information that could not be known apart from the gift. By discernment, we may know the true source and nature of any supernatural manifestation. One is able to know whether it is divine, satanic or just human. It should be noted, this is not discernment, but “discerning of spirits.” One might naturally discern a situation, but this gift is for the purpose of the discerning of in the spirit world.
There are three kinds of spirits to be considered in our devotional. First is the Divine, God’s Holy Spirit promised to every believer by the Father. The divine also includes angels. Angels are known for manifesting and bringing messages from God to humans. Second is that the demonic, associated with the kingdom of darkness. Last is the human spirit. Both joy and pain can flow out of the human spirit. The gift of discernment is given to distinguish the source of activity. Is it coming from the divine, from the satanic or the human spirit? The use of the gift today is the same as seen in the Scriptures. Consider with me some applications of discernment found in God’s Word.
The gift is used in delivering the afflicted, oppressed, and tormented from the enemy’s clutches. Many infirmities, cruelties, and suicides are attributable to evil spirits. The natural world has difficulty conceiving of the spiritual world. Lives can still be driven and wrecked by cruel, tormenting spirits (Mark 5:1-15; Luke 9:38-43; Acts 5:16; Matthew 12:22; and Luke 13:11-16). Obviously, not all impediments are the work of evil spirits, but as Matthew 4:24 reveals, many that Jesus healed were tormented by evil spirits. Another application was to discover a servant of the devil. Paul, by the gift of discernment, discovered the true heart of the magician (Acts 13:6-10). This was not a case of deliverance, but judgment. Another time was to aid in discovering the plans of the adversary. After many days, Paul discerned the evil spirit and cast it out of the young woman. Thus, a wicked master was deprived of his gains and a woman was delivered (Acts 16:16). This gift is used to expose error (1Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1).
The gift of discernment can help in knowing if an angel is interacting with you (Luke 1:12 & 22). “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2).
Let us earnestly seek this gift that we may recognize when we come against a spirit of the enemy, the spirit of error, or even a wrongly motivated human spirit. Let us also be discerning of true ministers of God, whether human or angelic. Pray that the Holy Spirit will activate this vital gift in you and use you mightily for His kingdom’s sake.