Operation – Session #5 Discerning of Spirits.

Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV

Discerning of Spirits!

Do I have the gift of discernment?

Five things that the discerning of spirits is not…

  1. It is not discernment. (it is the discerning of spirits)
  2. It is not spiritual telepathy.
  3. It is not discerning of people
  4. It is not discerning just discernment of devil’s and demons.
  5. It is not discerning faults of others.

What most call discernment is a word of knowledge in operation.

The gift of the Holy Spirit came to destroy this “gift” of discerning faults in others, which is nothing more than criticism. Then the Holy Spirit will replace your gift of criticism and fault-finding with the sweet blessing of gentle forbearance and the ministry of reconciliation. The power and ability to fault find and criticize is a “gift” that non-believers and believers can possess.

Is it a spirit or is it flesh? Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5

How do we distinguish a good spirit from a bad one? This is difficult to explain, but I suppose it would be just as difficult to explain how the lamb knows the bleat of its mother. Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me! The gift carries with it the power to judge whether it be from God or another source. 

We need to be careful about these things. We need to be scriptural and believe the truth of God’s Word and practice it! We need to be careful to follow what the Word says if we are to receive lasting results. It is just like any other Bible doctrine. If you overemphasize any one Bible doctrine to the exclusion of others, you can go to the extreme and get out of balance.

Balance =stability

Imbalanced = instability (unstable) James 1:5-8; James 4:8;

Paul encouraged us to pursue Love; God is love, pursue God! Paul also instructed us to desire spiritual gifts, but the pursuit is love. If we pursue love (God), gifts will be given. In our seeking God, miracles, signs, and wonders follow those who believe. We aren’t pursuing the gifts. Nor are we chasing the miracles, signs, or wonders; the pursuit is God. Many pursue the signs, miracles, wonders, as an act of pursuing God, but it’s the pursuit of self-promotion!

How do I know that I am operating in the gift of discerning of spirits?

To discern means to perceive or recognize by seeing or hearing. The discerning of spirits is the same as seeing or hearing in the realm of spirits. The discerning of spirits gives us supernatural insight only into the spiritual realm. It reveals to us what kind of spirit is in operation behind a supernatural manifestation or sign! 

Three domains can be discerned. 

  1. Heavenly (Godly) 
  2. Satanic (ungodly)  
  3. Human (humanity) 

Word of Knowledge compared to discerning of spirits.

A fact can be revealed to you about a spirit and its actions regarding an individual by the gift of the word of knowledge, but you wouldn’t have a vision of the spirit; you would not discern the evil spirit.

If you discern a spirit, you would see the spirit because the discerning of spirits sees into the spirit realm. If the word of knowledge is in operation, you may know that a spirit is present or is involved in a particular situation, but you wouldn’t see the spirit. A word of knowledge is a revelation by the Holy Spirit of certain facts in the mind of God.

The Spirit of God may impart a word of knowledge to us to let us know if someone is operating by another spirit and not by the Spirit of God.

Howard Carter: “If one were informed about a spirit but had no vision of the spirit, he would not discern it. By discerning spirits, we see beyond the sphere for which we have been created since we are natural beings. It is only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit that we can perceive the beings that live in the spirit world.”

Remember, that discerning of spirits does not just see evil spirits! We can also and should desire to see godly spirits. 

Biblical Examples of the discerning of spirits:

Heavenly (Godly) 

Exodus 33:20-33 – Moses saw into the spiritual realm.

Isaiah 6:1 – Isaiah saw into the spiritual realm. (similitude) (No one has seen God (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12)

Ezekiel 1:1 – Ezekiel saw visions of God!

John the Revelator Revelation 1:9-20; Revelation 4:5 He had a vision of the Spirit of God)

Daniel 10:4-6 Daniel had a vision of pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.

Jacob (Genesis 28:10-16) dreamed of angels ascending and descending.

Satanic (Ungodly) 

Acts 16:17 – Paul spoke to the spirit of divination; he spoke directly to the spirit and not the person.

Micaiah (I Kings 22:19-22) saw an evil spirit come before the throne of God.

The ability to cast out demons and evil spirits is not listed as a spiritual gift or a ministerial duty. However, the whole bible is a message about deliverance. Jesus practiced and operated in the ministry of deliverance. 

The bible gives us the different levels of organization that our enemy, the devil, is running. There are seven categories of demons in Scripture: thrones, lordships, rulers, authorities, principalities and powers, rulers of the darkness, and evil and unclean spirits. Regardless of what level they are, they can be cast out in Jesus’ name. They have no choice but to leave when you cast them out in Jesus’s name. (Ephesians 6; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 13:3; 16:10; 2 Kings 1:2-3, 6, 16 Baal –“lord”)

Human (earthly) 

Jesus judged the heart of Judas and the other 11 Disciples (John 6:70-71)

Jesus judged the heart of Nathaniel (John 1:47-48)

Acts 6:3 – seek out men that are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, good reputation. 

Who better to know the heart of a man than the Holy Spirit!

We often associate the discerning of spirits with evil, but the reality is that it can bring comfort, revelation, and direction to your soul. 

Closing: 2 Kings 6:8-22 ‘open his eyes that he might see” 

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