Discerning of Spirits
By: Donna J. Kazenske

1 Cor. 12:7-10 "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 the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another the gift of faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues."

Discerning of spirits is such a vital gift to the body of Christ. The enemy has gotten away with a lot of demonic manifestations in our church services because the gift of discerning of spirits was not functioning in the leadership. This kind of spiritual ignorance has the potential to destroy a church if their eyes are not opened to the truth of God’s word. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the body of Christ today, and we must accept His gifts so that the church can prosper and function according to His purpose and plan.

What is the gift of discerning of spirits?
Discerning of spirits is the God-given ability to detect the presence of and the identity of spirits. It gives supernatural insight into the realm of “spirits.” It’s not just a discerning of devils or evil spirits, but a discerning of both good and evil spirits.

Many times when I'm ministering, the Lord will speak to me and give me the name or names of demonic spirits that are operating within an individual’s life. He doesn’t do this to embarrass the person, but He reveals specific things so that the individual can be set free from the control or power of those spirits. It’s not God’s will that His people live in spiritual bondage when He has made a way of escape.

Discern means to see or perceive.

Isaiah 6:1 - “…I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.”

How was Isaiah able to see the Lord? He saw the Lord by the gift of discerning of spirits, the ability to see into the spirit realm.

John, on the Isle of Patmos, saw the Holy Spirit as seven spirits before the throne.

As Christians, we must be able to see into the realm of the spirit and discern between good and evil. Our ability to discern by His Spirit will cause our spiritual perception to be quickened and sharpened.

We must be careful that we do not confuse suspicion with perception or discernment. Suspicion is from the mind, not from the Spirit of God. We cannot be led by our “suspicions.” We must be led by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of discerning of spirits reveals the "kind" of spirit behind a supernatural manifestation.

If somebody is crawling around on the floor during a church service, barking like a dog, the pastor better have the ability to discern what spirit is operating in that individual, because his congregation is waiting to see what he is going to do.

As leaders, we must cry out to God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to operate in our lives. People in the world are looking for answers. Thousands are involved in the occult, New Age, Hinduism, witchcraft and many other demonic forms of deception. We must be able to introduce Jesus to them with the God-given ability to perform signs and wonders, bringing deliverance to those held captive by these evil forces of darkness. God has given us power over all the power of the enemy. It’s time for us to tap into that power and allow it to be released in the world.

Important note: The discerning of spirits is not the "gift of discernment."

Have you ever heard someone say, “I have the gift of discernment”? Biblically, this person is incorrect, because the word of God makes no mention of the gift of discernment; however, it does mention the gift of discerning of spirits.

Discerning of spirits is not the gift of discerning the faults in other people. This gift discerns spirits, not people.

Have you ever been around those people who seem to have a calling for exposing people’s faults? We need to pray for these people, because fault finding is not from God. These people need to confess their own sins and get right with the One who has extended His hand of mercy to them. Whenever we point a finger at someone, there are always three fingers pointing back to us.

Acts 16:16-19 - Now it happened as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.

The Lord revealed to Paul and his companions, by the discerning of spirits, that the slave girl in their midst was possessed with a spirit of divination.

I want you to notice that Paul did not speak to the woman, but he spoke directly to the spirit that had possessed her. He commanded the spirit of divination to come out of her, and that evil spirit obeyed his command. Why? Because Paul was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. He wasn’t just a hearer of the word; he was a doer of the word.

It’s time for the Church to dig their heels into God! We must put away the complacency, the backbiting, the deception, the evil speaking, the gossiping, and the slandering and get on with what God is calling us to do. God is not pleased with those who do such things. This type of behavior grieves the Holy Spirit and must be rooted out of us. The Church must repent and refocus. Our focus must be on the Lord, not the faults in one another.

What is a "spirit?"
A spirit is a living personality, whether it is the Spirit of God, the human spirit (which is the spirit of man), or an evil spirit.

There are many voices speaking today. We must be able to discern which voice is the voice of the Holy Spirit. The enemy is very subtle in his tactics and wiles against Christians. He doesn’t come knocking on the door of our homes waiting to introduce himself when we open the door. “Hey, how ya doing? I’m the devil and I’ve come to destroy your life!” He doesn’t operate like that. He often comes as an angel of light. He uses people to fulfill his evil purposes. This is why we must spend quality time in the presence of the Lord, hearing His voice, knowing His voice and responding to His voice. We must allow the gifts of His Spirit to operate and function in us.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today! They didn’t pass away with the original apostles. God is still moving, still healing, still performing miracles and still bringing deliverance to thousands of people! Our God is alive and well. He wants to use us in His Kingdom. Let’s get back to the word of God and believe what is written within its awesome pages.

If this teaching has been a blessing to you, we'd love to hear from you.