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 travelled. 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

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)

Like Jacob realized, we also live in a double camp where there is 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

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

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 of 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.


Unlocking the Gift of Discernment eBook

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 discernment 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.

To view “Unlocking The Gift Of Discernment” in our e-store, click here


Related Posts:


© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
Enliven Ministries—in the David McCracken Ministries family.

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

  1. Hi Helen,

    Thank you very much for this very informative blog. Sometimes, I asked God why after going thru Holy Spirit baptism, I still don’t speak in tongues. My mentor also told me that maybe i didn’t receive the Holy Spirit. But God spoke to me through His word in 1 Cor. 12, that it is not the speaking in tongue that He entrusted in me, but the gift of Discernment. During my years of service to God with my church now, I’ve seen people from the very start when they decided to serve, that soon, or in the future they will fail. Or I can sense other people’s struggles or their motives. I also have the ability to know what lies behind a person’s word or actions. Sometimes, i jokingly tell my wife that I got this ability from reading a book on how to tell whether a person is lying or telling the truth. People say that I’m good at counseling and judgement and that I can easily detect what other’s thoughts and feelings even before they open up with me. It occurs many times in our church that I see people serving God with wrong motives or not pure and sincere heart, then see them in future will fail or backslide. It always happen that what I see is true. I failed to inform my leaders that I have this gift because of fear of being judged or being told that my information is only based on my own intuition and not from God. My knowledge with the word of God is not that deep and i’m afraid that they will say i am not credible because I don’t really know the whole story of the bible.

    Despite that, I believed that I have the gift of discernment and I am praying that God will guide me and show me the right approach of practicing this gift. And also praying that God will use me as a vessel in sharing this gift with other people. I know that I can do this effectively by establishing my faith through the word of God.

  2. This is one gift I don’t think I have … I’m pretty dim about sensing things in the natural AND the spiritual! I will often come out of a meeting at work and others will talk about the bad vibe and I will have been completely clueless!

    I did relate though to a couple of your possible signs though. I have been known to feel the lonely thing especially at church. I want to talk about God and what He’s doing but sometimes it feels like all anybody else is interested in is what they bought last time they went to the shops!

    The other thing is that I sometimes dreamt (or maybe I was awake?) of demons at the foot of my bed, especially when I was a teenager. I would plead the blood of Jesus and although frightened, would eventually fall back to sleep.

    Earlier this year I dreamt a Christian friend of mine was the anti-Christ!!!! What the!!! I am wondering if perhaps it is a sign that she is not on the right track … she does have some different ideas … was God warning me perhaps?

    1. Hi Janet, it can certainly be easier sometimes for those who don’t have a discernment gift–as you say, others feel a bad vibe and you breeze through! As far as the loneliness thing, sounds as though you have a hunger for God that not everyone shares (the beauty of engaging with a prophetic/prayer community in a church is that prophetic people LOVE to talk about God and what He is doing…may be something to consider even if you don’t have a discernment gift, you may just love to pray!). I can identify with the demonic encounters as a teenager, if you haven’t been troubled since, that is a good thing. And the anti-Christ dream? Wow, haven’t heard that before 🙂 You may be right about the not being on the right track. Your dream life may be something to be alert about–perhaps more spiritual dreams may come!

  3. Thanks Helen. Yes sometimes it is lonely when you hunger for God – wish it wasn’t so rare!

    I have heard from God in dreams before – the most significant being when He gave me the name “Footprints” for the Aussie Christian women’s magazine I was thinking of starting. He even gave me 3 reasons along with the name – how could I refuse!!!

  4. Hi Helen,

    Its me Chontae again WOW!!!!! Everything you wrote I was like thats me, Helen is writing about me. Every single point you wrote I have and still do experience on a daily basis. I underestimated the gift of discernment really because of a lack of knowledge and understanding I was so focused on prophetic by learning and studying prophetic it would help me (which it will) I just thought the things I experience in discernment were the prophetic gifting but its not. Thank you for showing me the difference in the operation of these two gifts.

    I feel so relieved having read this blog. Right off to find your other blogs on discernment.

    Blessings
    Chontae xo
    From New Zealand

    1. Hi Chontae, that’s awesome!
      I’m putting all the blog info and more into an e-book on the gift of discernment soon, so keep an eye out for that too.
      Say hi to Kiwiland for me, I’m from Auckland and we lived in Tauranga before we moved to Melbourne. Where are you living?

  5. Hi Helen,

    Wow your from Auckland…Kiwiland says Hi back and asking when will you be back lol. I’m living in Palmerston North have been back here for 2 years we moved from Brisbane where we resided for 7 years. I was called back home by God (not having given my heart to the Lord yet) and now in the church he called me too. How Great is our God aye.

    Well I’ll be watching your Diary and seeing when your home next I feel a divine appointment will happen in this next coming year. Until then chat yah later 🙂

    1. Awesome 🙂 We used to travel that way regularly on our ministry trips through to the South Is!

  6. I just wanted to say great site…ive been looking everywhere i do now know i have the gift of discernment by all your 8 points…i can sense evil in people there are times i have to get off the bus becuase of this i get a sick feeling im afraid of them, i can go to friends house and feel evil there i leave right away..i have been seeing hearing things since i was young never told anyone until now ..dreams also that i had when i was young are coming true in my life and my family’s life which i dare not tell them ..i actually thought i was going crazy until i know a girl who goes to school with me told me she believes i have this gift because she to has it she told me what i have told her it sounds like i have the same thing but she told me mine seems stronger than her’s ..the only person who can help me is GOD ..i want to find answers to my questions..this gift seems to becoming out stronger now and im older …and i know GOD has reasons for what he is doing and i know GOD will show me eventually what he wants me to do with this GIFT …

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