3 Levels of Discernment (with signs of each)

There are three basic levels of discernment, and understanding these will help you grow in your spiritual gift and empower you to lead a supernatural life.

Following are the three levels of discernment, along with some signs to help you identify each one:

3 Levels of Discernment

1. Natural Perception: The Ability to Judge Well

The dictionary defines discernment as ‘the ability to judge well’. So at the most basic level of discernment:

  1. We can see the external of what is happening
  2. We also have wisdom and perception about what’s taking place behind the scenes

The writer to the Hebrews says it is a mark of Christian maturity, to grow in discernment.
‘But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.’ (Heb 5:14, NIV)

2. Having a Discernment Ability

The second level of discernment is a heightened ability to discern. I frequently hear from people who are experiencing this, and who are having a difficult time knowing what to do about what they are sensing.

Signs of this level of discernment include:

  1. Being tuned into people’s motives
  2. Perceiving the spiritual realm
  3. Being sensitive to atmospheres (both spiritual and natural)
  4. The ability to discern the demonic realm and spiritual realities

The Bible tells us there is a spiritual gift of discernment of spirits, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:10).

In 1 Corinthians 14:1, Paul says, ‘Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit…’ This brings us to the third level of discernment.

3. Seeing from God’s Viewpoint: As the Father Sees

discern_with_fathers_eyesAnyone can see what is happening in the natural realm. Some people may have the ability to see in the spiritual realm (and this is not always sourced in the Holy Spirit).

If you are a Christian and desire to develop a spiritual gift of discernment, a third level is vital to you.

  • And that is, to see as your Father is seeing.

This third level of discernment is only available to those who are walking in relationship with God.

When your ability to discern is submitted to the Holy Spirit and based on the Father’s love, it will truly be a gift.

  • The fruit of your insight will not be fear, suspicion, confusion, or accusation.

Some signs of this level of discernment operating include:

  1. Your insight is life-giving
  2. It brings freedom and transformation
  3. It builds the church (1 Cor 12)
  4. And, it draws people to Jesus

Jesus saw with the Father’s Eyes

We can be like Jesus, who looked beyond what could be seen with physical eyes, to what the Father was doing. He then spoke and acted accordingly.

‘Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”’ (John 5:19)

In Luke 8, Jesus took the disciples on a visit to a place called the Gerasenes, where a demoniac man was living among the tombs.

  • On the level of natural perception, people could see that the demoniac was crazy, out of his mind, and dangerous (level 1)
  • Someone with discernment could see that his life was being controlled by demons (level 2)

However, Jesus went not only with discernment. He went with the eyes, heart, and mind of the Father. He saw a man afflicted with demons—but He also saw beyond that, to a worshiper, a disciple, and an evangelist.

And what He saw, Father’s intention is what took place. He set that man free and sent him on his way with the good news about what God had done.

This is the third level of discernment

The Power of Seeing What Father Sees

When our eyes are focused on what our Father is doing, our gift of discernment can grow to a powerful level. We can then act and speak accordingly—as Jesus did.

  • Jesus was able to look at a tax collector sitting in his booth—a man seen by others as a cheat, a ‘shark’ and a tool of Rome—and see a disciple. He called Matthew into his destiny. (Matt 9:9)
  • Jesus was able to go into a workplace where there was weariness and frustration and see that His Father was bringing a miracle supply. He spoke a word of command and as the fishermen responded to that word, a school of fish was thrust into the nets. (Luke 5:1-11)
  • Jesus walked into a home where there was sickness and saw His Father bringing healing. He spoke the word and Peter’s mother-in-law rose up from her sick bed. (Matt 8:14-15)


‘Father, I want to know you more. Help me to be like Jesus; to see as You see, in every situation. Today, share Your desires, and Your intentions with me.

Holy Spirit, empower me to discern, and to speak words of life that bring healing, freedom and transformation. Help me to become so tuned to what is on Your heart, that when people encounter me, they encounter Jesus.’

Unlocking the Gift of Discernment eBook—3rd Edition

DISCERNMENT Front Cover SmallThe 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

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Related Posts:
6 Keys to Unlocking the Gift of Discernment
8 Signs You May Have the Spiritual Gift of Discernment

© 2016-2018 Helen Calder – Enliven Ministries

Prophetic Ministry for a Revival Generation

15 thoughts on “3 Levels of Discernment (with signs of each)”

  1. Hey Helen,
    I have a question I have been receiving the holy spirit more often than usual. I use to see dark shadows, but l don’t see them like I use too. I pray more everyday and read my bible everyday what is happening to me? Sometimes I feel like there is something there but there is no one there. Now it’s like I’m smelling things mostly good and then there is always the smell of cigarettes. I have these dreams about things and a few days later or a week later it comes true. What should l do?

    1. Hello Elizabeth, thank you for the question.
      Those are interesting experiences.
      The best thing you can do, is to keep yourself in an environment where you are growing in your relationship with God, and have people around you who can help with those specific questions about your discernment and experiences with the Holy Spirit.
      Here is a checklist to help you get started: https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2010/09/13/8-ways-to-grow-the-gift-of-discernment/
      You can also keep a note of what you are experiencing…journaling could be helpful to process what you are perceiving and what is happening as a result.

  2. Hello Helen..
    Recently i discerned that my brothers sickness will get lighter and better..My brother is suffering from seizures. It was almost like seeing a vision but not clear.. but i felt it..strongly.. is this discernment? Not sure what to do ? Pray?

    1. Hello Eraivy, if it was me, I would take that as a prophetic encouragement from the Holy Spirit – when He shows us an improvement is up ahead, it empowers our faith so that we can press through in prayer and praise – so that what we have seen in the Spirit will manifest in the natural.
      So yes – pray, praise, thank Him for what He is doing and will do.
      And I agree with you in prayer right now – Father we thank you that you are at work bringing the healing, in Jesus’ Name.

  3. Hi ive tried to mesge before but no joy, im trying again. I see spirit realm, it look differennt depending what is in it at different times. I see the things that are in it. Im Christian and knw the Truth and Holy Spirit is definitely in me. I knw God is getting me ready for what i have no clue, im trying to be patient and wait tho ive only had Holy Spirt in me one year a month after i said sinners prayer. God opens my eyes to new things on monthly basis. Things in natural dont just distort they bend i see direct doorways and other things tho is spirit realm but look different like liquid glass. Im asking for advice as im new with the Lord and im trying not to grieve Holy Spirit. I could tell u so much more in depth but this would be a long letter. My name is karen my email address is [email protected] anything u want to knw abt everything Lord is showing me i be happy to tell u, or any advice u could giv to help me understand plz thanks for reading

    1. Hi Karen,
      Thank you for the question, Karen – I’m sorry your message hasn’t got through before now.
      My main advice is that as you are a new Christian it’s very important for you to focus on discipleship, getting involved in the life of a good church, and learning as much as you can about the Bible.
      Also to have a leader that you can share and check things with that you see in the spiritual realm. That kind of mentoring can only be done close up, not from a distance. Hope that helps!

  4. I realy want to thank Evelyn for the good messages she has been publishing, am a pastor but from the time i started reading this blogs, i can now teach with and prophesy with authority. Pliz may God add you more and be blessed.

  5. Hi Helen,
    Most of the time I delete emails I receive for a lack of time to read them. The Holy Spirit asked me not to delete this one and a couple days later let me know it was time to read it. During those couple days before reading God was preparing my heart to hear your message, I also read your eBook that was included in the email and it was as if it were written by Him just for me. He took me back through my entire life to show me without a doubt that this was my gift and He gave it to me at conception. Now I understand who I am and that I am not just weird. Even since then I have been gaining more and more understanding and revelation. I want to thank you Helen for your writings…I have been greatly blessed by your wisdom, understanding, time, and effort!

    1. Wow, Dawn, that is so awesome! Isn’t it wonderful when God leads us into a deeper understanding of our spiritual identity like that. I’m privileged to have this small part in your journey – yes, the writing is hard work, but it’s the stories I receive back, like yours, that keep me going 🙂

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