The gift of discernment of spirits is the spiritual gift that has continually given me the most difficulties and challenges.
In the early days of our ministry, my husband Malcolm and I often traveled. We stayed 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!
- If we were staying in a place in Asia where strange spirits were worshipped, I encountered them in my dreams.
- And those times we were ministering in a region where there were strongholds, I felt them acutely.
We were often led to wage spiritual warfare or intercede, through my sensitivity to the spiritual realm.
It took me many years to realize that my encounters with the spiritual realm were a sign.
I had a gift of discerning of spirits!
Now, because of my journey, I like to share what I have learned with others.
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. And some Christian believers are stronger in this ability than others.
- This gift is a Spirit-given ability to distinguish whether the source of what is presented is of Divine, human or demonic origins.
It may be in an atmosphere, encounter, event, or prophetic message.
8 Signs You May Have the Gift of Discernment
Following are some signs that you may have the spiritual gift of discernment. These are from my personal study, observation, and experience.
You may not identify with all of them, but if you do have the gift, you will recognize some of these in your life:
1. Desire for the Gift of Discernment
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.
- Or, you may want to be more effective in prayer and spiritual warfare
- You may have a desire for holiness
- Perhaps you are simply curious about the spiritual realm.
2. Love for God’s Presence
One of the benefits and signs 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.
It is 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.
Especially when it is 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)
As Jacob realized, we also live in a double camp where there is a constant spiritual activity. Those with a gift of discernment 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 a 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. So, 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 of Discernment
It is not uncommon for someone who is gifted in discernment to experience unusual events or manifestations.
People who are incubating a spiritual gift of discernment 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 of the Discernment Gift
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. He can anoint that ability for His use so that you can serve Him and minister to others.
As a child, I “saw” things in the night and as a teenager was sensitive to the spiritual realm. Sometimes, I encountered 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 notice if someone is manifesting a demonic spirit and be able to identify what that spirit is.
When a prophetic message is brought, someone with a gift of discernment may tell whether or not it is anointed by the Spirit. They may discern if it is from the speaker’s own heart.
This is not always the case, and as with other revelatory gifts such as prophecy, you will sometimes be mistaken. Or, you may have incomplete discernment (1 Thess 5:19-21, 1 Cor 13:9-10)
8. Confirmation of the Discernment Gift by Others and Leaders
You may have the gift confirmed through a prophecy given to you. For example, 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 identified and acknowledged by leaders in the church and that it is useful for its purpose.
And that 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 recognized for its effectiveness.
Whenever a gift is used to criticize or tear down a church, person, or leader, you know it is being misused. Or, you may realize it is simply a person’s hurt or frustration masquerading as discernment.
These kinds of abuses are common and have brought disrepute to the gift of discernment. So, I will take some time over the next couple of posts to share how the gift of discernment can bring value to church life.
Available for purchase from the Enliven Ministries e-store.
Have you identified some signs you have the gift of discernment?
The gift of discernment of spirits is a powerful weapon in times of spiritual warfare. It can be of great assistance when ministering freedom to individuals. And yet, many who recognize they have signs of the gift, have difficulty with it. They do not know what to do with what they are feeling or sensing.
“Unlocking The Gift Of Discernment” incorporates wisdom from Enliven Blog. Plus, it has additional valuable material on how to be protected as a discerner in times of spiritual warfare.
- 3 Levels of Discernment (and Signs of Each) Find out the one most important thing you need to know so that you can use your gift of discernment effectively.
- Discerners: God is Healing Your Perspective
- 8 Ways To Grow Your Gift Of Discernment
© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
Enliven Ministries—Prophetic ministry for a revival generation.