Discerning of spirits is one of the least understood spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ. We strongly believe that everyone can (and needs to!) operate powerfully and effectively in that gift to wage spiritual warfare effectively.
It is less understood then most of the others because, as with deliverance and the demonic realm in general, there is limited teaching on it.
Simply put, discerning of spirits means to spiritually see and understand what the Holy Spirit and demonic spirits are doing as they impact our earthly realm. It is one of the spiritual gifts Paul talked about in 1 Cor. 12:10.
You cannot fight what you cannot see!
It is important to understand that discerning is not judging. Discerning, or having the mind of Christ for a person or situation, involves firstly operating in love. We are to perceive what the Holy Spirit is saying/doing but that can only be done well if we have the heart of Christ.
Christ’s goal was to save and not judge so we must like-wise be careful not the logs in our own eye distort our heavenly vision. In order to see clearly in the Spirit we must have a heart that does not seek to condemn or judge. We will not need to worry about being deceived if we abound in love because false or fleshly discernment typically happens when we operate out of fear or suspicion.
Discern the Holy Spirit and Demonic Spirits
1. Discerning the Holy Spirit
Like “hearing” the voice of God, discerning the Holy Spirit is typically about quieting our flesh and listening to that still, small voice inside that bears witness to what we are picking up on. It’s not mystical or a complicated gift but is something each believer can have and mature in as in all the other gifts of the Spirit.
During our deliverance ministry sessions, apart from insights we have gained naturally from the clients or seminar attendees, we are continually trying to discern and hear what God is saying about the person we are ministering to. We expect prophetic gifts and wisdom to be manifest also but during the course of the process we are trying to discern what God is doing in that person.
It is also important for each person, as they walk out their deliverance, to accurately discern what God is truly saying and doing in the situations and path they walk in. The gift is valuable, open to all believers and should be eagerly desired!
In addition to discerning what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing, we must also discern the demonic realm. This spiritual gift allows us to do that.
2. Discerning Demonic Spirits
People ascribe names to spirits that operate in the second heaven –the realms of powers and principalities (Abaddon, Leviathan, and “Prince of Persian Kingdom” as described in Daniel). Just as God’s angels (Michael and Gabriel, for example) mentioned in Scripture have assignments, it is not always obvious from their names!
However, in the first heaven where we reside (and where deliverance ministry is used) we believe that the name of a spirit typically corresponds to its nature or to the behavior that it produces. For instance, a spirit of depression brings depression; a spirit of anger brings anger and so on.
We believe all spirits, by definition, are evil and unclean but it is important to assess the nature (or name) of the spirit because they respond to that in the course of deliverance. We call out spirits by names simply because they have names and they typically do not leave unless they are identified and called out.
We wish it was simple and simply declaring something along the lines of “Every demonic spirit tormenting Mary must come out now, in Jesus’ name.” Deliverance would be so much simpler and quicker! The reality we see is that unless the spirits are identified and called out by name (sometimes even a general name) they do not go!
We discern a spirit’s name or nature by the fruit! If you spiritually discern/”see” unreasonable, persistent anger in a person’s life, it is likely they have a spirit of anger at work. Discerning is not judging and we must use spiritual eyes that operate because of the gift that the Lord has made available to us.
As we can discern this spirit when it is operating in a person’s life, or when it is trying to come back to our “house” and regain entry (Matt 12:43-45), we must discern it so we can resist. We cannot fight what we cannot see but we must (and can!) see that spirit by discerning the emotion it stirs up!
How do you get the gift? Ask for it and believe you have received it! Start to walk in it by purposing to walk in love, calm your emotions and see in the Spirit what is going on! Get help from a seasoned brother/sister in the Lord if you are unsure and know that God wants you to walk in discernment and has given you all that you need!
How do you know when you are operating in this gifting? We would love to hear from you!
Learn more about Spiritual Warfare.