This post is all about the spiritual gift of discernment
You have probably heard the phrase, “pray for discernment,” so many times.
Well, in as much as discernment is something that people are aware of and a term that we, at times, overuse, it remains one of the most underrated gifts in the church. It is often confused with other gifts, such as wisdom or knowledge. However, discernment is different and should be treasured by all who have it.
So whether you are seeking to sharpen your discernment or learn about the gifts of discernment…this post is for you!!
Ready? Let’s go…
What is discernment?
Discernment is the ability to see and understand things that are not immediately apparent. It is a spiritual gift that allows us to perceive things in the spirit realm that we would not be able to see with our natural eyes.
The Hebrew word for discern is בין (biyn). It’s a verb that means “to understand, to perceive, to have knowledge of, to be wise.”
Other Latin translations and modern dictionaries point out that discern means mentally separating, dividing, or distinct.
I find this fascinating because when we review Hebrews 4:12, it states, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and Spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
What does this mean? I can deduce that discernment is not rooted in feelings or hearsay but rather- in the infallible word of God. The word of God is the only one that can divide and judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. If your discernment isn’t anchored in the word of God, then it isn’t discernment at all.
What is the purpose of discernment and discerning of spirits in the Christian life
Here are the reasons and purposes for discernment:
- Know God’s will.
- Uncover deception.
- Protect one’s faith from corruption.
- Distinguish truth from error.
- Minister more effectively to those who are being deceived.
- Stand firm in the truth.
- Proclaim the gospel accurately.
- Expose false teachers.
- Warn others about false doctrine.
- Help Christians grow in their faith.
Gift of discernment vs. discernment
A gift is something that is given to someone, while a function is something that someone has possession of already or can operate in.
In the context of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, a gift is something that is given to a Christian by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of ministry.
Salvation is a prerequisite for one to operate under certain functions. In other words, salvation is the minimum requirement needed so that you can operate in certain functions.
I know that sounds super philosophical🎓, so… to better understand the difference, let me use this analogy of healing. There is a difference between healing and the gift of healing.
Let’s look at this analogy using healing vs. the gift of healing…
The gift of healing is a supernatural ability that God bestows on some Christians to heal the sick. It is not something that can be learned or practiced; it is an innate ability that God gives to certain people for His purposes. These gifts help people carry out their predestined calling.
On the other hand, the function of healing is something that ALL Christians are called to do. Healing the sick is something that all Christians can do through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Mark 16:18, we are told that all believers are capable of healing, and it lists all the signs that will accompany those who believe.
The gift of healing is mentioned in several passages in the Bible, including 1 Corinthians 12:9, and 1 Corinthians 12: 28-30. In each of these verses, it is clear that the gift of healing is a supernatural ability, given by God to certain people. You will see the basic function of healing (that only requires salvation), isn’t explicitly mentioned in these verses. Rather, Mark 16:18 simply says that all Christians are capable of healing the sick through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now over to discernment vs. gift of discernment
The gift of discernment is the ability to know, by the power of the Holy Spirit, whether something is from God or not. It is a supernatural ability given by God to certain people for His purposes.
On the other hand, the function of discernment is something that all Christians are called to do. Discernment is not reserved for a select few, but rather it is something that ALL Christians can do through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of discernment is mentioned in several passages in the Bible, including 1 Corinthians 12:10, Ephesians 5:17, and 1 John 4:1-3. Just like the gift of healing, it is clear that the gift of discernment is a supernatural ability given by God to certain people.
Wisdom vs. discernment
I was pondering the difference between wisdom and discernment. I know that these two are often used interchangeably.
During my reflection, the following verse was brought to my remembrance- 1 Corinthians 13. Let me quote it:
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (MSG) If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
I know this verse is about love, but there is an underlying principle. We can have human eloquence, wisdom, and everything, but we are nothing if we don’t have love. The love we are talking about here is the love that comes from God. God is love. (See 1 John 4:16)
Let’s look at another fundamental truth about peace:
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
The fundamental principle here is that the world can give you peace, but there is another one that surpasses or transcends all understanding- the peace of God. (see Philippians 4:6).
So this is what I can say- wisdom can be acquired from an earthly place. Anyone can acquire it. You can find ungodly people and people who are stubborn to sin that are very wise. However, true discernment comes from God. God is truth (see Hebrews 6:18 & Romans 3:4). Remember what I said earlier? Discernment is anchored in the word of God. If you find anyone who claims to have discernment from another source aside from God, it is counterfeit.
If you seek discernment, know that the one you should seek is the one true God- the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I will probably need to explain this further in a video. Stay tuned.
8 Characteristics of the Gift of discernment (Super Insights)
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. It’s not a checklist but just food for thought.
I believe that you can pray to receive the revelation as to whether you have this gift or not. Once you are mature and responsible in your giftings you will likely see the following signs:
1. You have passion and desire for the gift
If you feel called to use your discernment for God’s purposes, then chances are you have a natural passion and desire for it. This is because the Holy Spirit gives us gifts that we are naturally inclined towards and passionate about. When we use our gifts for God’s glory, it brings us joy and fulfillment.
2. You have a desire to please God
Another key characteristic of those with the gift of discernment is that they have a strong desire to please God. This means that they’re not just focused on their own interests, but they’re also looking to serve God and others.
3. You’re teachable and humble!
Those with the gift of discernment are usually very teachable and aren’t prideful. This means they’re open to learning new things and growing their understanding. (Proverbs 9:9)
When they’re not sure what to do, they seek the advice of mature Christians who have a good understanding of scripture and the ways of God.
Pride is the enemy of discernment. Thus I believe you have to walk in humility. The more humble you are, the more receptive you’ll be to truth, and the less likely you’ll be to be deceived.
4. Your gift is balanced and can discern both good and bad
A common misconception about discernment is that it’s only used to rebuke, point out the bad things in people or situations. However, this isn’t true! Discernment can also be used to see the good in people and situations.
In the bible verses I listed at the end of the post, they clearly mention discernment in good and evil. So we are not only discerning evil alone. We are discerning that which is good too! (See Hebrews 5:14 & 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 highlighted at the end of this post).
5. Your discernment is anchored in the word
If you want your discernment to be accurate, then it needs to be anchored in the word of God. This means studying the Bible and praying for guidance. Without this foundation, your discernment will likely be off-base.
6. You’re not afraid to speak the truth
Those with the gift of discernment are often not afraid to speak the truth, even when it’s unpopular. This doesn’t mean that initially, you are always fearless.
With the Holy Spirit empowering you…you understand the importance of standing up for what’s right, even if it means going against the majority.
7. People point out that you have the gift
One way to know if you have the gift of discernment is if other people mention it to you. Again, please always ask the Lord to confirm this for you. This isn’t a gift that everyone has and if you do have it, please steward it effectively!
8. You’re sensitive to the Holy Spirit
If you want to be able to discern accurately, then you need to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This means being attuned to His voice and listening for His guidance. Discernment is a gift that is given by the Holy Spirit. It’s not something we can earn or learn on our own. The Spirit gives us discernment as we yield to Him and ask for it.
Discernment in the life of Solomon
One of the most well-known examples of someone with the gift of discernment is Solomon.
1 Kings 3:9 says, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.” This is Solomon’s prayer for discernment. And God granted him his request.
This wasn’t just an intellectual understanding but also a spiritual understanding. He was able to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. This ability to discern led him to be one of the most successful rulers in history.
However, even with this great gift of discernment, Solomon still made some mistakes in his life. For example, he had too many wives and concubines (1 Kings 11:3), which led him astray and turned his heart after other gods (1 Kings 11:4). He also made other mistakes, such as being unnecessarily harsh with his subjects (1 Kings 12:4) and not following God’s instructions fully (1 Kings 11:31-33).
So even though discernment is a great gift, it’s not enough on its own. We also need to be careful to follow God’s instructions and not let other things get in the way. Otherwise, we might make the same mistakes as Solomon, even with all our discernment.
Solomon’s life shows us that even with this gift, we can still make mistakes if we’re not careful. We can also deduce that discernment is not enough. We need to follow God’s instructions and not let other things get in the way. Otherwise, we might make the same mistakes as Solomon did, even with all our discernment and gifts bestowed upon us.
Discernment stories in the Bible
As I’ve harped throughout this post…discernment is an essential tool for the Christian believer. It allows us to identify and resist evil while aligning ourselves with God’s will. We see this played out in many different ways in Scripture.
In 1 John 4:1-6, we are told that we must test the spirits to see whether they are from God. This is because many false prophets in the world seek to lead people astray. Discernment allows us to identify these false prophets and resist their teachings. Discernment is truly an important aspect of the Christian walk.
In 1 Corinthians 12:10, Paul speaks about the gift of discernment. This gift is different from simply discerning what is right and wrong. The gift of discernment allows one to discern the spirits at work in a situation. This is important because many spirits are at work in the world, and not all are good.
In Exodus 7:10-12, we see Moses dealing with the Pharaoh’s magicians. The magicians were able to imitate some of the miracles that Moses performed, but they were working under a different spirit. This shows the importance of discernment in distinguishing between good and evil spirits.
In Acts 16:16-18, we see Paul confronted by a woman who was accurately prophesying under the influence of a demon. Paul was able to cast out the demon and free her from its influence. This shows the importance of discernment in identifying which spirits are at work in a situation and being able to deal with them accordingly.
In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus warns us about false prophets who will come in sheep’s clothing but are really wolves in disguise. He tells us to beware of them and to be careful not to be deceived by their appearances. This is another example of how discernment can help us identify false prophets and resist their teachings.
I recently wrote a blog post on showmanship.
In a nutshell, the post talks about the social media landscape and the fact that it is at times full of showmanship. Some people lack prophetic purity or integrity.
In terms of discernment, we cannot use showmanship to control our gifts. We have to be spirit-led and not fleshly. Discernment is very important when one has a public platform. When we are spirit-led, our discernment will protect us from error, deception, and falsehoods. It will also help us to hear God’s voice and distinguish it from the voice of the enemy.
P.S This doesn’t mean that pursuing discernment equates to being free from error or mistakes. No! I believe it means we are diligent and contentious in our steps. If we make a mistake, we are quick to repent, change and recalibrate to the authentic God-given calling in our lives.
Bible verses on discernment
Many Bible verses speak about discernment. Here are a few of my favorites:
Philippians 1:9-10 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV) – Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
1 John 4:1 (ESV) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world
Proverbs 14:12 (NJKV) – There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Isaiah 11:3 (NIV) – And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear.
Acts 16:14 (NKJV) – Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
Hebrews 5:14 (NKJV) But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
2 Peter 2:1 (NKJV) But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NKJV) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Acts 20:29-30 (NKJV) For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Prayer for discernment
Father God, I love You and thank You for Your Word.
I ask that You would give me discernment as I read and study your word. I pray that I would not be deceived but would know the truth.
Scripture tells me in 1 John 4:1 that I should test the spirits to see whether they are from God, I pray that You would give me this wisdom. Proverbs 14:12 says that there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death. Lord, I don’t want to follow a path that leads away from You.
Please help me to have the discernment to know Your will for my life. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says that the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine but, instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. I pray that I will not be led astray by false teaching but will continue to grow in our knowledge of the truth.
Lastly, I thank you for the Holy Spirit. Per John 14:26, we are told that you would send a helper who will teach me things and remind me of all that you have said to me. I thank you for the Holy Spirit actively working in my life to sharpen my discernment.
I ask all of these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.
And that’s it, folks, the Spiritual Gift of Discernment
In conclusion, at a minimum, all Christians are called to grow in discernment. We are called to develop our ability to see and understand people, situations, and messages from a spiritual perspective. We are called to test everything against scripture and reject what doesn’t align with God’s Word. I believe discernment should be in everyone’s spiritual warfare arsenal!
The more we grow in discernment, the more effectively we will be able to resist the enemy’s schemes. The more we grow in discernment, the more we will be able to align ourselves with God’s will.
Here is the YouTube video that goes live 11/21/2022.
2 thoughts on “8 Super Insights on the Spiritual Gift of Discernment”
Thank you so much Rod! I appreciate you!