Discernment truly is a gift, in my own personal experience I’ve realised that discernment is having established a Biblical basis on the spiritual gift and importantly on how to exercise it.
You can find that Paul’s instruction on spiritual gifts to the Corinthian church, teaches about the gift of discernment.
However, the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each individual for the profit of all:
“For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit… to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits.”
(1 Corinthians chapter 12, verses 7 and 10)
The spiritual gift of discernment, or another way to put it “discerning of spirits”, is actually the ability, wholly given and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to distinguish the spiritual origin of something.
That being said, it can include, and is not limited to: an atmosphere, a person’s action, something seen or perceived, a circumstance and lastly something spoken.
A Christian believer using the spiritual gift of discernment can perceive whether the original source of something is God, or even whether it is of human or demonic origin.
There can be a misconception when it comes to discernment and how it has to do primarily with perceiving what the enemy is doing. False, I’d argue that the most apical and best use of the gift of discernment is to perceive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Put shortly, to see what God has at hand.
The true origin source of the spiritual gift of discernment is the Holy Spirit, God Himself. The Holy Spirit is both the giver and enabler of this spiritual gift.
It is not based in our minds or personal intuition nor a suspicion or opinion not even a personal ability or history of being able to sense what is happening in the spiritual realm.
The spiritual gift of discernment is a revelatory gift.
Really, the Holy Spirit is making known something that can’t be perceived in the natural realm.
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part.”
(1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 9)
In the broader text of Paul’s teaching about spiritual gifts, discernment, much like prophecy, is subject to being weighed up.
The spiritual gift of discernment’s purpose is truly empowered by the Holy Spirit, and is to benefit the church.
When we understand the meaning of this, “benefiting the church” becomes our norm for the action of the gift.
Something may imply to be discernment, yet does not profit the church. Here is little example: Let us say that if it results in confusion, or fear, or division, either of two things may be out of order —
- One, the discernment may not be from the Holy Spirit.
- Or two, yes it may be a true discernment, but one that is not being used in a Biblical manner, nor a way of grace that honours God, the church and it’s leadership.
If we want to benefit in the spiritual gift of discernment, we must first put into action other gifts alongside it, such as leadership and wisdom. Discernment should be developed and used in the context of the church community.
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.”
(1 Corinthians chapter 14, verse 1)
The spiritual gift of discernment is a helpful and strategic gift. It is given for a purpose, to benefit the church. We often need to be reminded of this, because of the challenges that discernment can bring forth.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
(James chapter 1, verse 17)
The spiritual gift of discernment is, and has the ability to bless the church, set individuals free, protect the integrity of what God is doing, and assist in times of spiritual warfare.
May we embrace the spiritual gift of discernment with gratefulness and use it in the way God intended.
Elizabeth Josic is a Press Services International columnist from the Sunshine Coast.