Discerning spirits is an important spiritual gift for every believer to be proficient in. God wants us to have it, we are to desire it eagerly and it is vital for all aspects of walking into the blessed and abundant life He has for it. It is also important in the realm of spiritual warfare, including deliverance ministry, and I want to relate one ministry session when use of this gift was the difference-maker for freedom.
Before I get to that, I want to clarify what the term “discerning spirits” means. Paul refers to it in 1 Cor 12:10 as one of the spiritual gifts that God has for us. At the simplest level, it means to understand what God is doing and saying, and also what demonic spirits are involved in people or certain situations.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) so we must “see” in the spirit realm to warfare effectively against the enemies of our souls.
During deliverance ministry, we rely on many spiritual gifts, including words of knowledge and healing. The gift of discerning spirits is vital also because it helps us to be more accurate and precise as we try to help people get free from demonic torment.
Our approach to casting out demons differs from many in that we have the recipient do preparatory homework. We also call out the names of many spirits, including those that may or may not be there!
We want to be thorough and the onus is not on us (the minister) to correctly discern every spirit at work. Many spirits are able to hide and are unknown to the person receiving ministry and also to us. We have seen that they typically will not come out unless they are called out by name.
At Above & Beyond, we are not quick to lay hands on people and just “do” deliverance. We prepare each person by teaching them about the nature of demonic strongholds and open doors for them in an individual’s life. We do a second teaching on how to close the entry points and they leave to do that before we engage in the actual deliverance session the next time they come in.
Discerning a Religious Spirit
During one session, I was preparing a man for ministry who was raised in a very religious and orthodox home. He had been faithful in his religious practices over the years. He was having marriage problems and both he and his wife came in from out of town to get help.
He was battling depression and was very controlling in his relationship with his wife. Anger outbursts were also an issue. He desperately wanted his marriage healed and took ownership of his shortcomings that were contributing to the problems.
At the start of the deliverance session, prior to calling out spirits, we lead each person in a declaration for forgiveness of sin and acknowledging that is not only Jesus their Lord but also their Savior. James 2:19 says that even the demons believe and shudder.
Romans 10:9 reminds that those who wish to be saved must acknowledge that He is Lord also. We want the prayee (and us) to be sure of their salvation so that they can be prepared for when the spirits try to return to the house later (Matt 12:43-45).
I began to lead him, as I always do when initiating this step, in thanking the Lord for dying on the cross and paying the price for his sin. No problem. When I began the next sentence and asked “Jim” to repeat after me that Jesus was Lord of his life, he literally started to stammer and could not get the words out! His eyes opened wide and he looked at me in exasperation as he could not speak!
What was happening? One or more demonic spirits in his soul were tormenting him physically and preventing him from making this pronouncement. As quickly as I could ask the Lord to reveal what was happening, I discerned that a religious spirit that was hindering him. I did not hear God’s voice but this fleeting impression came into my mind and I knew what I was dealing with.
I looked in the man’s eyes; spoke to the demon by invoking the authority given to me in Matthew 16:19. I bound it up in the name of Jesus and commanded and loosed the Holy Spirit upon him so he could regain control of his voice. Relief was instantaneous.
I was able to lead him in the declaration and we commenced the session. During the course of the ministry, that religious spirit, and many others were called out and sent to dry and uninhabited places.
I believe, in retrospect, that the man was saved and that he had already received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. However, this religious spirit was hindering him from entering into the fullness of relationship with Christ and had him on a performance treadmill of religious activities that kept him tired and unfulfilled. It also was damaging his relationship with his wife and helped to feed the depression and anger when neither he nor his wife could “measure up” to the spirit’s performance yardstick.
This revelation was simply a spiritual gift in operation so our efforts could be more productive. The Lord, was actively involved in the process and, in His mercy, demonstrated that reality to us both. It is important to note that prior to deliverance sessions and even during them, we frequently ask God for the gifts to operate and reveal things to us and He obliged!
People can discern/see spirits in the natural also and many are terrified by seeing dark shapes or shadows in their homes. God wants us to be aware of the demonic realm’s schemes and the gift of discerning spirits can be extremely helpful in many of our endeavors in the Kingdom of God. It is useful during deliverance ministry but also precious in our daily lives, relationships and interactions with others.
Do you want to walk in greater measure in the discerning spirits gift? I encourage you to check out a recent blog on this topic: “How to Develop the Gift of Discerning Spirits“. Ask for it! Believe that you have received it and starting walking it out! See how the Lord responds.