In PART ONE, we looked at the apostle Paul’s admonition to the First Church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:1-16), regarding DISCERNMENT for ALL. In PART TWO, we will be looking at the special GIFT of DISCERNING SPIRITS within the body of Christ, the church.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 Amplified Bible:
 But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit.  To one is given in and through the [Holy] spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit;  To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit;  To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones] to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues.  All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.
“Discerning of Spirits” (verse 10):
Discerning of spirits is a vital gift to the body of Christ, the church. The enemy has gotten away with a lot of junk of demonic manifestations in our church services because of the gift of discerning spirits… is not functioning in the leadership.
This particular GIFT 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.
THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
The GIFTS of the Holy Spirit, are talked about in Christian circles with differing reactions. I believe ALL the GIFTS are for the body of Christ today and are given by the Spirit for the common good of the church. They didn’t pass away with the original apostles, and as God’s Word explains in verse 11, “ALL these gifts…Who (the Holy Spirit) apportions to [not “SOME”, but ] EACH PERSON individually as He chooses” (Mel’s paraphrase in brackets).
God is still moving, still healing, still performing miracles, and still bringing deliverance to 1000’s of people! We can deny the facts or accept His gifts. But our God is alive and well and He wants to use us in His kingdom.
Why are these GIFTS given to believers in JESUS?
1 Corinthians 12:7 begins in telling us why.
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] for good and profit”
GIFTS are not given to be personal blessing to us, to make us feel special or holier than the next guy. They are given for the common good of the church.
In my Word investigations over the years, I believe we must accept His gifts—so the BODY can prosper and function according to His purpose and plan…not our purposes and plans. (By the way, there is more than one list. *See 1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:11 for additional GIFTS.)
None of Us Have ALL the GIFTS:
JESUS is the only one who possessed every gift in its fullness. The GIFT OF DISCERNING SPIRITS is a good example of this. It may be pretty nifty to be able to see what is going on in the spirit realm, but what are you going to do with the information?
It may take someone with the GIFT OF WISDOM to know. Or, someone with the GIFT OF PROPHECY to be able to speak about God’s plan or purpose in the situation presented. Many gifts will blend together to bring God’s kingdom on the earth and to the body of Christ.
WHAT IS THE GIFT OF DISCERNING SPIRITS?
Discerning spirits is first…a God-given ability to detect the presence of–to see/perceive into the spirit realm; to know the roots of issues and true motives of people whether from good or an evil spirit.
To the person possessed of the gift, they have the ability to skip to the bottom line faster and not to be sidetracked by appearances.
[An 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 spirits.
LOOKING INTO THE SPIRIT REALM:
“This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness” were two of the first Christian fiction novels that I read all the way through [In record time for me]. It was the battle between good and evil that has been raging for centuries. Some of the characters in the books, obviously have the gift of discerning spirits. Frank Peretti brings alive the events in a small college town in the Northwest, where nothing much ever seems to happen, until Scripture comes alive on the book’s pages.
“For we are not contending against
flesh and blood, but against the
principalities, against the powers,
against the world rulers of this present
darkness, against the spiritual hosts of
wickedness in the heavenly places.”
ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE BIBLE: Isaiah and John’s Gifts–
“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” (Isaiah 6:1 KJV).
How was Isaiah able to see the Lord? He saw by the gift of discerning spirits; the ability to see into the spirit realm. And the apostle John…on the Isle of Patmos, he saw the Holy spirit as seven spirits before the heavenly throne.
“Yeah, but those examples were thousands of years ago, not for todays’ church!”
A Personal Story and Testimony–
My son and daughter-in-law had asked me to attend a two-day conference being held at their church. Although I wasn’t really excited about two days of guest speakers; inside of a poorly vented building, but said I would attend:
The first day was informative and with worship and praise accompanying the speakers, I was having a Holy Spirit good time. And then on the second morning, as I sat with head bowed and eyes closed in prayer of the last day, it happened. I began to see an army of mighty angels descending on the roof of the church. With no clue to what was happening or why, I looked straight up at the inside ceiling and could see cracks forming and expanding like spider webs. And while all of this was going on, hoping the evidence of chaos happening on the roof would become clear to my spirit. Why was this happening here and now? Was I dreaming…with my eyes open? And why me, was anyone else in the church building having the same experience?
And then as suddenly as it had appeared, it all stopped. Deadening silence until…I was given a clear understanding; a discernment, an understanding of what I had seen in the spirit realm.
Holy Spirit explained, “God was being manifested on the inside of the church from those in attendance of our ‘prayer and praise.’ Already, Satan’s demons had been sent to create chaos during the FAITH conference. And since our prayers had released God’s messengers, they in turn cleared the roof from any other hindrances–‘spiritual hosts of wickedness’.”
There had been a battle going on top of the roof, so much so, the cracks in the ceiling became visible to my spiritual eyes. Although the entire vision was over in minutes, which at the time seemed much longer, I immediately tapped my son on his shoulder and told him the course of events and what I had seen. And his quiet response in my ear was: “Dad, you just had your first experience into the spirit realm– of ‘discerning spirits’.” After the conference had ended, my son asked if I would relay the gift of discerning spirits to his pastor.
I have had other experiences in this gifting since then, but none as visual and dramatic as the one I just shared with you all.
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 and we must allow the gifts of His Holy Spirit to operate and function in us.
Being Careful At the Same Time–
We are not to confuse suspicion with perception and discernment.
Suspicion is from the mind, not from the Spirit of God. We cannot be led by our “suspicions” but led by the power of the Holy spirit.
SHOULD WE DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS?
King Solomon, David’s son is praying and asking God for direction: “I know not how to go out (begin) or come in (finish)” (1 Kings 3:7). He continues in his prayer saying, “Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen…” (verse 8). And now the petition, Solomons desire in his prayer:
“So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart
to judge Your people, that I may DISCERN between
GOOD and BAD…”
~1 Kings 3:9~
To answer the question “should we desire spiritual gifts”, we must look at the reasons they are given in the first place; TO PROMOTE THE COMMON GOOD OF THE ENTIRE BODY OF CHRIST! If we can think of it this way, it should deter us from corrosive pride, as each gift has a specific use and one gift is not any better or inferior to any other.
Dr. Basil Frasure, a counselor and minister with the Fellowship Church in Angelo, Texas has written a fascinating article, “Discerning of Spirits”. Dr. Frasure writes,
“One of the best ways to discern the nature of a spirit is to check the Word of God (your Bible). Does what the spirit says match up with the Word of God?”
In the Genesis Story, Eve certainly didn’t have this gift of discernment. God had told Adam and Eve one thing by His Word, and the serpent, Satan, a ‘spirit’ had told them something else. REMEMBER, the main principle of interpreting Scripture is that the Bible, God’s Word interprets itself. Only by repeatedly cycling through God’s Word in the manner of the Bereans (Acts 17:11)–-“Separating the Gold From the Junk”, can we properly exercise the gift of discerning of spirits.