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Spiritual Gifts Series Part 8- The Gift of the Discerning of spirits

Episode 64

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Hosted by
Carl Joseph

Carl is a biblical scholar, minister, husband, father and life coach. In his mid-twenties he had a powerful encounter with God and saw miraculous healings as a result. He passionately shares these stories and empowers others to fulfill their God-given potential.

The gift of the discerning of spirits is ‘supernatural insight into the spiritual world.’ This insight encompasses the workings of man’s spirit, angelic spirits and demonic spirits. Once again, this gift falls into the category of ‘revelation gifts,’ as it reveals something. We’re admonished in scripture to ‘test the spirits’ to see whether they are of God (1st John 4:1) and this gift enables us to do so. Insight and understanding of the spiritual realm can only be revealed by God’s Gifts in manifestation. Join Carl now as he shares this gift’s range of operation and biblical examples of it’s usage…

Here is a complete transcript of the podcast (below)…

Let’s continue our study of the nine spiritual gifts and today we will discuss the gift of the discerning of spirits. Let’s read our key passage once more.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor 12:7-11).

Friend, we are on the topic today of the revelation gifts. The other revelation gifts would be the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom. I’ve discussed these gifts in previous broadcasts. The most important of the revelation gifts is the word of wisdom as discussed because it reveals the future plans and purposes of God. Next would be the word of knowledge, because it reveals the present or past will of God and finally, today’s topic, the gift of the discerning of spirits. Now, let’s be clear from the outset, nowhere in the bible does it mention a gift of discernment. Discernment by definition is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend that which is obscure. This may be a skill that you’ve learned in this lifetime, but it’s not the biblical gift of the discerning of spirits. You might even be good at discerning or predicting the behavior of your friends, family or colleagues based on diligent observations you’ve made over the course of time but my friend, this is not the gift of the discerning of spirits. If you hear someone say they have the Biblical ‘gift of discernment’, know this is not a scriptural gift although they may well be discerning.

Now the gift of discerning of spirits by definition is supernatural insight into the spirit world. There are TV shows today, on the Sci-Fi channel and Discover Channel etc. that deliberately go Ghost hunting for the sake of entertainment. But little do they realize these apparitions are real, because they are nefarious spirit beings pretending to be the lost souls of people, trapped between heaven and hell. In reality these are demonic entities that seek to deceive men and it’s this gift of the discerning of spirits that equips us by the empowerment of the holy spirit to, realize the true source of these spiritual workings. Remember what the apostle John said in 1 Jn 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Friend, we as believers in Christ have been granted supernatural insight and understanding into the spirit realm that the world does not have. I also believe this gift of the discerning of spirits can highlight whether or not an evil spirit is involved in the sickness or disease of a person and some people have even seen these spirits over people. If the source of the malady is spiritual, this will be identified as part of the gift. Jesus operated in this gift when he encountered a deaf and dumb spirit in Luke 11:14, And in another example, talking of the disciples, it says in Mark 6:13, “they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Don’t forget the scope of this gift’s operation includes man’s spirit and the angelic realm, not just evil spirits. The common misconception is it helps in discerning the demonic realm only, but this is only one third of its potential focal range. The discerning of spirits enables us to avoid being deceived by an evil spirit in operation. The Holy Spirit can alert us to a working of the enemy within a person’s life, so we become aware of the ways in which we can pray to offset that strategy. In fact, some people think it’s their special gift to be able to discern the faults of other people and they go around sharing their so-called discernment. No friend, the world offers this level of discernment too and it’s not a gift but merely the manifestation of a judgmental spirit. “To discern” means to perceive by seeing or hearing. Therefore the discerning of spirits is the same as seeing or hearing in the spiritual realm. These revelation gifts cover everything that can be revealed to us spiritually. I like the way Brother Kenneth E. Hagin put it, he said, “Everything within the realm of knowledge, whether facts, events, purposes, motives, origins, or destinies human, divine or satanic, natural or supernatural, or past, present or future – comes from within the focal range of one or the other of these three revelation gifts. “

The discerning of spirits actually has a more limited range of operation than the other two revelation gifts, being the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. That’s because its revelation is limited to a single class of objects, i.e. spirits. In contrast the revelation offered by the words of wisdom and knowledge brings a broader range and applies to people, places and things. The gift of the discerning of spirits also reveals the kind of spirit or power that’s in operation behind a supernatural manifestation. Once again this revelation involves discernment of the spirit realm, whether the origin is divine, satanic or human. In a nutshell when anyone sees or hear into the spirit realm they are effectively operating in this gift and there are of course many examples within the Bible of men and women seeing into the spirit realm, whether it be by dream or vision. In Exodus 33:20-23 for example, Moses saw the similitude of God, and the Lord only allowed him to see His back because as the scripture attests, that if a man saw God face to face, He would surely die. In another instance Isaiah saw the similitude of God in Isaiah 6:1-3, let’s read this passage together:

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory.”

Often in the word of God men and women saw the similitude of God in a vision, because if they saw Him face to face, they wouldn’t survive. Now if we see Jesus today as several people have attested in this nation, overseas and especially Muslims in the Middle East, this would be through the gift of discerning spirits i.e., by seeing and hearing into the spirit realm. If you recall, the Apostle John saw the Holy Spirit as seven spirits before the throne of God in Rev 4:5. That simply meant that in the spirit realm, John saw these seven aspects of the Spirit of God. Within this gift, people have seen cherubim, seraphim, and a whole host of Angels including Satan and his demonic forces. This gift also reveals the power or ruling authority behind the supernatural manifestations displayed in the natural realm. We must remember that all supernatural manifestations in this earth are not from God, in fact a strong argument could be made that the majority of them are not because as we have discussed, Satan is the prince, ruler and God of this world (little g). This is his realm and we need this gift in operation to rightly discern the origin of supernatural manifestations today. One example of this is the Apostle Paul, in Acts 16:16-18:

“And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

Did you notice that Paul never dealt with this woman directly; the gift of the discerning of spirits revealed to Paul this woman had an evil spirit operating through her. He spoke to the spirit and commanded it to come out in Jesus name because all evil spirits must submit to the authority of the name of Jesus Christ. After that, the maiden could no longer tell fortunes and her masters were not very happy because they lost their source of income. Right after that, Paul and Silas were beaten severely, whipped and thrown in prison. Understand this my friend, ask the Lord when you are to openly cast out spirits if need be, don’t just do it without asking the Lord because it may not be the time to do so. Amazingly, that person may not want to be delivered either, so we need to use wisdom in spiritual matters. Friend, I want to to clarify something right here, when I am talking about this gift, I am not talking about being led by the Holy Spirit. We know from scripture that if we’re a child of God, then we are led by God’s spirit in our day to day lives. Romans 8:14 says:

14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

The Holy Spirit is our inner guide, He is our umpire, He is our strengthener, advocate, standby and comforter. We have a right to be led by God and the right to hear God’s still small voice without this special gift of the discerning of spirits in operation. Another aspect that needs to be made clear is that the word of knowledge can also be in operation in the form of deliverance. For example, if someone who confesses to you they are an alcoholic, the word of knowledge may let you know they have a spirit of addiction, but this is not the gift of the discerning of spirits because by definition; you would have to ether see or hear that spirit, instead of merely coming to the knowledge of its presence. I’m not saying that everyone who’s addicted to alcohol has a spirit of addiction, no friend, but they could in some cases. Once again we wonder how so few addicts are ever delivered or escape the clutches of their addiction, perhaps it’s because we haven’t acknowledged the spiritual condition of those Satan has held in bondage.

Now to expound further, for every true gift from God, Satan has his counterfeits. You have never seen a three dollar bill because no one would dare counterfeit something that hasn’t been produced. In the same way we have counterfeits of the true spiritual gifts, i.e. false tongues, false words of wisdom, false words of knowledge etc. Each authentic spiritual gift unfortunately and assuredly has a satanic counterpart and God’s Holy Spirit will reveal these to you, if you’re paying attention. In the case of the word of knowledge for example, a familiar spirit, would be the false counterfeit. It’s well known in the circles of witchcraft that something may become known by a witch about a person’s life, not by the Spirit of God but by a familiar spirit that’s intimately familiar with that person and his life. In other words, this familiar spirit may have spent decades monitoring this person under his watchful eye and is able to relay that information to the witch. The information revealed by these witches is very impressive and is sometimes accurate, albeit obtained by nefarious means. In fact there are many people on TV today who operate through the channeling of familiar spirits. These are even on daytime TV!

One of the biggest deceptions or hooks they offer is talking to the relatives of dead people. Once again this is a familiar spirit relaying info to the witch, having observed the life of the person, and is not the true word of knowledge by God’s spirit. Their purpose is to beguile and seduce men to part with their money and will send them into perdition. Beware my friend; turn this nonsense off as soon as you see it on TV or anywhere else for that matter. Remember what Jesus said, either you are for me or against me. There is no neutral ground in the realm of the spirit my friend, if these people are not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and operate in abominable acts of witchcraft, wizardry, sorcery, necromancy and heaven knows what else, it’s explicitly forbidden in scripture and there will be consequences. Friend these dark arts are making a comeback in these last days. Even on TV I saw a chat line offering to tell your fortune. This is once again the work of familiar spirits and a counterfeit to the word of wisdom, amongst others.

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Episode 64