8 Signs You May Have The Spiritual Gift of Discernment

In the early days of our ministry, the Hunk and I would often travel and stay in many places in Asia and throughout New Zealand. It seemed that no matter where we were, my intrepid husband could sail through any situation, but it was a different story for me.

  • Staying in a place in Asia where strange spirits were worshipped? I would encounter them in my dreams.
  • Ministering in a region or church where there were trials or strongholds? I felt them acutely.

We were often led to wage spiritual warfare or intercede through my sensitivity to the spiritual realm.

The gift of discernment of spirits is the one spiritual gift that has continually presented the most difficulties and challenges to me personally.

Because of my journey, I would like to share what I have learned with others. This article is the first of a series of articles in which I will cover:

1.      Signs you may have the gift of discernment,
2.      How to grow in the gift of discernment and
3.      How to exercise the gift of discernment in the context of church life
4.      How to deal with fear arising from discernment of evil and more


What is the Gift of Discernment?

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits…All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Cor 12:7-11)

Discernment of spirits is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to some Christian believers. It is a Spirit-given ability to distinguish whether Divine, human or demonic origins are the source of what is presented—whether it be in an atmosphere, encounter, event, or prophetic message.


What are Some Signs You May Have the Gift of Discernment?

Following are some signs that you may have the spiritual gift of discernment, from my personal study, observation and experience. You may not identify with all of them, but if you do have the gift, you will recognise some of these in your life:

1. Desire for the Gift

As with other spiritual gifts, desire is often the first sign of a gift of discernment of spirits (1 Cor 14:1).

  • You may have a longing to see people set free from demonic bondage.
  • You may want to be more effective in prayer and spiritual warfare
  • You may have a desire for holiness
  • You may simply be curious about the spiritual realm.

2. Love for God’s Presence

One of the benefits of having a gift of discernment of spirits is a heightened awareness of God’s Presence and anointing. A true discerner will have a passion for the un-grieved Presence of the Holy Spirit.

This is because—and I will continually reiterate this—the highest use of the gift of discernment is not to see what the enemy is doing, but to discern what the Spirit of God is doing.

3. Sensitivity to the Spiritual Atmosphere

You may be more sensitive to spiritual atmospheres than most other people. In the early stages of developing the gift, you may be affected adversely by the presence of any demonic activity in the environment around you.

The reality is that we live in a natural world and a spiritual world concurrently. In the Bible, when Jacob came across a group of angels, he named that place Mahanaim, meaning ‘double camp.’  (Gen 32:1-2)

Like Jacob realised, we also live in a double camp where there is constant spiritual activity, and discerners have spiritual senses that are attuned to this.

4. Feeling Different from Other People

Most people, even in church life, experience life through their natural senses. However, someone with an emerging gift of discernment of spirits can see and sense things that others do not see.

This ability can result in us feeling different, lonely or misunderstood at times, especially when starting out. It is vital that someone with a developing gift of discernment finds a safe place to journey with others who are similarly gifted and accountable in the life of their church.

5. Unusual Signs

It is not uncommon for someone who is gifted in discernment to experience unusual events or manifestations.

People who are incubating a discernment gift begin to see or feel things that others are not aware of. This may include unusual visions, dreams and sensations that alert them to what is happening in the spiritual realm.

6. Childhood or Pre-Salvation Signs

It is not uncommon to experience things relating to your gift even before becoming a Christian. Our creator-God prepares us for our calling and gifts from conception. Even when a talent or gift is misused, God can redeem it and anoint it for His use to serve Him and love and minister to others.

As a child I ‘saw’ things in the night and as a teenager was sensitive to the spiritual realm, sometimes encountering demonic spirits in my room or dreams. Later, as a fully committed Christian, God redeemed this spiritual sensitivity as a gift of discernment. I know Christians who have a gift of discernment who were drawn to New Age counterfeit gifts prior to becoming a Christian.

7. Ability to Know What Lies Behind a Person’s Words or Actions

Someone with a gift of discernment has the ability to see behind what a person is saying and presenting. You may know whether they are telling the truth or not. You may also recognise if someone is manifesting a demonic spirit and be able to identify what that spirit is.

If a prophetic or revelatory message is brought, a discerner can often tell whether it is anointed of the Spirit or from the speaker’s own heart.

This is not always the case, and as with other revelatory gifts such as prophecy, you will sometimes get it wrong or have incomplete discernment (1 Thess 5:19-21, 1 Cor 13:9-10)

8. Confirmation by Others and Leaders

You may have the gift confirmed through a prophecy given to you. My gift of discernment was identified through prophecy twice (perhaps this was because I was reluctant to accept it!)

However, the bottom line of the presence of any gift is that it is recognised and acknowledged by leaders in the church and that it is useful for its purpose—which is to help build up the church and bring people closer to Jesus.

When you submit what you are seeing or sensing, your leaders confirm your accuracy and your gift begins to be recognised for its effectiveness.

Whenever a gift is used to criticise or tear down a church, person or leader, you know it is being misused, or is simply a person’s hurt, frustration or agenda masquerading as discernment. Because these kinds of abuses are common and have brought disrepute to the gift of discernment, I will take some time over the next couple of posts to share how the gift of discernment can bring value to church life.


UNLOCKING THE GIFT OF DISCERNMENT E-BOOK

DISCERNMENT Front Cover Small$5.95 AUD e-Book

Now in the David McCracken Ministries e-store.

Are you sensitive to what is taking place in the spiritual realm? Have you ever been adversely affected by a negative atmosphere?

You may have the spiritual gift of discernment.

The gift of discernment of spirits is a powerful weapon in times of spiritual warfare, and can be of great assistance when ministering freedom to individuals.

And yet many who have the gift of discernment have difficulty knowing what to do with what they are feeling or sensing.

‘Unlocking The Gift Of Discernment’ incorporates wisdom from Enliven Blog as well as additional valuable material on how to be protected as a discerner in times of spiritual warfare.

To view ‘Unlocking The Gift Of Discernment’ in our e-store, click here


Would you like to develop your spiritual gifts of discernment, prayer and prophecy?

Enter your email address in the following subscribe box to receive weekly blog posts containing prophetic teaching that will help you grow in your gifts of discernment, prophecy and prayer.

Subscribe to Enliven Blog:


Related Posts:

Discernment: 9 Ways to Banish Fear of Evil

8 Ways To Grow Your Gift Of Discernment

Does Seeing Demons Mean That I Have A Spiritual Gift of Discernment?

What Are Some Signs That You Have A Prophetic Gift?

6 Tips For Exercising The Gift of Discernment In Church Life


© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

85 thoughts on “8 Signs You May Have The Spiritual Gift of Discernment

  1. I think I may have the gift of discerment.
    I “just know” about people and circumstances often.
    I have seen, heard and scenced different spirts in different ways. Even in the flesh. Had an emblem appair on a wall that I cannot wash off and no one else was there to put it on the wall.
    House Banging REALLY LOUD followed by shaking over and over again for days in a row.
    Recorded some sort of very loud clear voice that sounds like a child but it seems like in another language because I can’t understand it. No one heard the voice during the time the recording was taking place.
    Lightning bolt looking flashes of bright (electic looking bolts) shooting in my bedroom after I praid for angels.
    Footsteps on third floor while on the first and second floor while no one is up on those floors.
    Other things. If I do have a gift I would just like to use to help people because at this point I’m just seeing things and not knowing what they mean or what to do….otherwise I’d rather not have anything happen.
    Thank you for reaching out.

  2. HI MY HUSBAND GOT THIS GIFT FIRST THEN ME SOMETIMES IVE WISHED I NEVER HAD THIS. I HAVE ALWAYS ASKED GOD TO HELP ME UNDERSTAND WHY HE GAVE US THIS GIFT.IT IS TO HELP OTHERS PRAY FOR THEM LOVE THEM FEEL COMPASSION FOR THEM. BECAUSE ITS THE DEVIL WORKING PTHROUGH THEM TO TEAR DOWN. WHAT I MEAN TO TEAR DOWN IS THE FOLLOWING. IT COULD BE THAT A MANAGER IN A BUISNESS IS BEING INFLUENCED BY DEMONIC ENTITIES AND THEREFORE DISTURBES THE PEACE IN THE BUISNESS. IT COULD BE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH BRINGING STRIFE AND CONFUSION TO OTHERS .AND MANY OTHER EXAMPLES I CAN MENTION.MY HUSBAND AND I BOTH PHYSICALLY FEEL EVIL AROUND A PERSON . WE DONT LOOK FOR IT EVIL OR DEMONS MAKE THERE SELF KNOWN TO US AS WE ARE IN A CONVERATION WITH SOMEONE OR IF WERE SHOPPING . AT THE PARK ANYWHERE.I FINALLY TOLD GOD IN DESPERATION HE HAD TO SHED SOME LIGHT AS TO WHAT HE WANTS TO USE US FOR BECAUSE THE FEELINGS ARE UNBEARABLE . MANY ENTITIES IN PEOPLE WE COME IN CONTACT WITH COME ACROSS IN DIFFERENT FORMS.LETS SAY THE LADY AT THE REGISTER UPSET CAUSE SHE OVER CHARGED ME HER ANGER AFFECTED ME AND THE ENTITIE MADE ME FEEL HEAT ALL OVER MY BODY AND OUT OF BREATH AND SHAKY

  3. There is one point I disagree with. You wrote:

    “However, the bottom line of the presence of any gift is that it is recognised and acknowledged by leaders in the church and that it is useful for its purpose—which is to help build up the church and bring people closer to Jesus.

    When you submit what you are seeing or sensing, your leaders confirm your accuracy and your gift begins to be recognised for its effectiveness.

    Whenever a gift is used to criticise or tear down a church, person or leader, you know it is being misused, or is simply a person’s hurt, frustration or agenda masquerading as discernment.”

    I think those with the gift of discernment are likely to be marginalized, labeled as divisive, even cast out churches more than any other type. I don’t think it’s necessarily the confirmation of accuracy by church leaders that confirms the gift. More often than not, those with the gift of discernment are discerning things that leaders don’t want to hear. So instead, the discerner is labeled as critical and judgmental, and their voice is invalidated and silenced. Particularly by church leaders.

  4. I also believe that I’ve always had this wonderful gift from God, but only as I’ve gotten older and rededicated my life to Christ did I embrace it. There was one time I clearly remember franctically looking for a love one and the Holy Spirit lead me directly to the apartment where they were and I sat there and askedd the Lord now what because I didn’t know which apt. they were in and seconds later they walked out! I can get a good sense of people’s character or if they are a good person or not. And I can always tell when someone is telling the truth or not. I’ve had bad dreams, but I’ve also had good ones. Just recently I saw Jesus at the foot of my bed. He had on a long white hooded rode, but I could not see His face, and His arms were outstretched. I sat up in bed and felt a sense of peace and laid back down and went to sleep. I just started clinicals in a hospital, and I’ve encountered all kinds of spirits. One in particular gave me the shivers to my core even when I still think about now. A man was laying in the chair beside his wife’s bed and both of them had dark, evil looking, cold eyes when I looked into them. The husband’s eyes were more evil than the wife’s.They were both friendly, but my spirit couldn’t shake how evil they’re eyes were. I prayed to God and I asked Him if I’m wrong in what I was feeling to forgive me and my spirit said don’t look at him directly in the eye. So the next day we went in, and the husband had his back turned to us and was sleep, and the wife didn’t really open her eyes because it was so early in the morning, and I truly believe that was the Holy Spirit protecting me. What do you think? I know that God doesn’t give us the spirit of fear and I have to rebuke that in the name of Jesus sometimes because I’m still learning alot about my gifts and other gifts I may have so I know He will protect us because evil can sense that and take advantage of that weakness. Thank you a response and God bless you and this website. I’ve learned alot in a few hours of reading. :)

  5. Hi thanx alot for teaching n reaveling the gifts of Spirit,ive been around many sites as a young pastor who just started a ministry,but i found everything in here,i always believe that i had prophetic gifts or descernment cos eveyrthing tht has to happen i saw a vision or hear voice telling me abt that,and i somtyms get irritated when is abt just meeting person n dont even say a word to them,like il dream passing some boys @ de corner it just hapen like that but no words exchanged.thank u n may God richly bless u to reach millions,with this site.

  6. I have experinced some of those things you have talked about, I have always felt like I was a little more sensitive to the spiritual realm. But im still not sure. I do love to feel the presence of the Lord and I desire that my relationship be stronger with the Lord and I am often misunderstood in the church I go to but I am not being fed spiritially either. As I have said before im still not sure. But I do have a question if you can answer it for me I often encounter people in the church if I do something say sing they will always try to do it better or if I do say something that I sense somebody will say I already knew that. I am in a confused state.

  7. I have all you mentioned and so much more but I’ve been ashamed to admit having it but now God is showing me that I have to accept it and use it for His glory. I sense the presence of the Holy Spirit, angels, demons, ghosts or just residual emotions in places or things. Also some things and places are imbued with either holiness or the opposite and I ‘see’ that too. I also ‘see’ in what state a person’s soul is even by just looking at a photo. Lack of truth in a teaching or false intentions are very clear to me and they affect me badly whilst holiness in certain ordinary persons make me joyous, humbled and in awe. I’ve been like this since early childhood and the closer I get to God the more the gift intensifies. I’ve always felt like a freak and used to believe that nobody could ever accept me because of my gift. It was hard to accept it as a gift in the first place. Some people verbally attack me without any provocation and I discern that on an unconscious level they are reacting to this gift. Others are magnetically attracted to me and go through conversions after they hear me speak. Some tell me that they’ve changed because of something they heard me say and they start crying when they say this. I am going through a breakthrough crisis and am praying hard for guidance and deliverance from all the shame and fear I feel in relation to this gift. I am Catholic so I do not have much support in this area since the Catholic Church is still very cautious regarding all spiritual gifts. Thanks for giving me a place to vent a bit :)

  8. I have been born again for about 5 years, but I have experienced many visions and dreams. Many of the dreams come to pass while others don`t. My visions are very tough to understand but I really enjoy them so much because they are full of raptures and bliss. Some one in the ministry of prophecy told that the Lord is preparing me for a prophetic ministry. Do you think it true?

  9. Tears filled my eyes when I read this article. I have been blessed with this spirtual gift for over three years now and have had some trying times with it. I felt impressed to pray one day in my car in the WalMart parkinglot of all places, I had an awesome encounter with God then the Lord spoke to me and told me he was giving me the gift of spirtual discernment. I was so happy I thought this was so real and the Lord is giving me a gift this is wonderful. Not to long later I had my first dicernment encounter afterwords I told the Lord you have got the wrong person please take this from me ( the Lord was with me through this event every step of the way and he did not let me fall) it was just the overwhelming experince. Then I started feeling like I was different I just wanted one person to understand what I was feeling and going through and to talk with. I found that I just had to keep praying and talking to God it helped alot. When I was six I saw an angel in my bedroom. I always wondered the reason that I got to have that awesome experience, ofcourse I was terrified at the time. I know that I still have alot of maturing to do,I have grown to except that this is the Lord’s will for my life and I feel that alot of times I fall short. My dream lastnight was that I was enganging in warfare and the Lord was with me but I couldn’t see the end result, my interpitation of what I feel that it means is that I need to be more holy and drawing closer to the Lord for the gift to operate like God intended. I always feel a constant need to pray for certain things and be more holy. I pray for the Lord to help me everyday. I’m so glad that I came across this article, it has been a blessing.

  10. Good Afternoon Everyone,
    I know that throughout my life, I could always sense evil or good in a person, but I never really paid attention, until recently. I recently rededicated my life to Jesus Christ and have been water batized and Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues; however, within this couple of months I have encountered heavy manifestations of evil, I can literally see them on people and in places at first I thought that they were figments of my imagination. but just today (04-30-13), I had a supernatural encounter, I was awaken around 3 to 4 in the morning by a bright light in my room, and as I opened my to see what it was I saw an angel on my bed in Roman Soldier armor swinging a huge sword against a demon that was standing by my bed. When he swung and hit the demon I lay my head back on my pillow and fell asleep. when I awoke in the morning I didn’t know if it was real or a dream, but I know that I was awake because I remember placing my head back on the pillow and falling asleep. I wasn’t startled by what I saw, until this morning that I was trying to figure out if it was real or a dream. I know that it is a new gift that God has awaken within me now that I know how to fight spiritually, it is just annoying to have to deal with evil spirits all day. I need some direction on how to bring my gift into maturity.

  11. Dear Helen,
    Good day to you.
    I’ve been searching to discover what happened to me since my Dad and Mom passed away 13 years back. I am Catholic then when my dad passed away. An hour before he passed away…I was encountering great agony deep in me…crying by myself. I didnt know the reason Why?. 6 years after my Mom passed away and the hour she about to go…I felt the same grief and agony which lead me to cry constantly. She was know as prayer warior in a born again church. I stick to my dads way as Catholic. Her intention is to make be be Reborn in spirit. On the 3rd day of her departure I was re baptized with water and at that moment I felt the similar agony and tears. The church claim as the descending of Holy Spirit on me.
    To me ..It was the pain of their departure. After her departure I was encountering massive impact in life where i was lost and every friend cousins and siblings rejected me… even I was jobless for years. I still had 3 meals a day for 2.5 years. Then I got a job.. When in the job I was encountering uneasiness like itchy at back of shoulder or arm or legs. I realize this guys are using some kind of magic… I was confused. I attended to most of the churches but unable to get answer. The spirit do follow me all the way home. I go to shops and feel itchiness and when going away like 5 or 8 meters away will stop the itch..Tested few times and confirmed that there are ppl like whisperers and chanters use the Gin / Dead spirit to protect their business as well as them. After learning constantly in Bible and Joining Kabbalah teaching…to find the answer. I did found the answer. Still I feel the same stuff but I reject it the way it suppose to be rejected. I need to enhance this gift.. Pls advice.. Thks/brgds
    Nelson

  12. I must say I am looking forward to studying your teachings so far I have found it to be totally awesome, very powerful easy to understand well put together outlines.
    Your website is an answer to my prayers I am looking forward to more of your teachings that I may teach and help others.

    Bishop Michael Smith

  13. Hi everyone, thank you so much for all the comments that have been left on this post.
    Due to time constraints, I am no longer able to answer the many questions relating to the discernment articles. If you do have a question about something to do with discernment in your life, I encourage you to read through all the earlier comments and my responses, as you may find the help you are looking for :-)

Comments are closed.