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

In the early days of our ministry, my husband Malcolm 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.

It took me many years to realize that my encounters with the spiritual realm were one of the signs that 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 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.

8 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 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, 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 of the Discernment Gift 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 eBook

Available for purchase from the Enliven Ministries e-store.

Have you been struggling to understand your gift of discernment, or would like some guidance on how to operate in it?

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 recognize they have signs of 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:

3 Levels of Discernment (and Signs of Each) Find out the one most important thing you need to know, in order to use your gift of discernment effectively.

8 Ways To Grow Your Gift Of Discernment

© 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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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 🙂

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