“Anyone who has to drink milk is still a child, without any experience in the matter of right and wrong. Solid food, on the other hand, is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14).
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking” (1 Corinthians 12:7-10, NLT).
We are living in dark and dangerous times. The moral, ethical, and biblical foundation of this nation is no longer just under assault. Arguably the foundation is being systematically replaced through a concerted ideological effort of media, education, and government, and with the complacency and the wink of a silent, anemic, and powerless Church. This is prime deception time in the world and the body of Christ. The closer we get to the end the more demonic and deceptive activity we will see to the point of even “deceiving the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
One of the major weaknesses in the modern Church today is the lack of discernment and the limited manifestation of the “gift of discerning of spirits” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. It is important to understand the difference between general discernment and the gift of discerning of spirits but vital that we see both in operation in the body of Christ all over this nation. Think of these two forms of discernment as “deception protection” helping the believer to expose and eradicate the error and deception of the flesh and the evil one that tries to creep into our lives.
Discernment is a product of the deposit of the Word of God into the heart of the believer. Discernment is the ability to determine the rightness or wrongness of something or to put it another way, whether it is good or evil. Hebrews 5 teaches us that the more we train ourselves in “this teaching of righteousness” (justification by faith in Jesus and that through grace and the impartation of His righteousness), the better we will be equipped to discern between good and evil. The important concept here is that anyone can be very discerning if they will take the time to seek God and spend time in the Word. Faith comes by hearing the Word but discernment comes the same way. The more we give ourselves to the Word of God, the greater our discernment will be. We will not be bamboozled to believe error and as “the ear tests words like the tongue tastes food” (Job 12:11) and something just doesn’t taste right – we will spit it out immediately. We will also be prepared to receive the rich revelation and understanding the Father is pouring out on the people of God in this day.
Just as important to the right function of the Church is the gift of the Spirit known as “discerning of spirits.” While general discernment between good and evil is the byproduct of the Word of God, discerning of spirits is the bestowal of a grace or gift directly by the Holy Spirit on the believer for the benefit and edification of the body in a very specific and powerful way. What way is that? The gift of discerning of spirits supernaturally enables the believer to discern or determine by the Holy Spirit the origin or the “spirit” behind an utterance, manifestation, sign, wonder, or dream. There are many believers that live with the misguided mindset that if they hear it, see it, feel it, experience it, or dream it than it is for sure from God (in fact this is evidence of extreme spiritual immaturity and is the ruin of many, many believers). Their experiences have become more authoritative to them than the Word (and at this point you can’t convince them otherwise). There are three possible sources of these manifestations: (1) the Holy Spirit; (2) the human spirit; and (3) the demonic spirit and through the discerning of spirits we just know instantly that something is of God, of the flesh, or of the devil. If we can’t (or won’t) discern the origins of a manifestation we are destined for deception, defeat, and destruction.
The Bible makes it clear that we “are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). To be fair, the Church is under attack in this nation like never before so the voices (sources of utterances, manifestations, signs, wonders, and dreams) are more numerous, diabolical, and active than ever. Nonetheless, we have been given everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of God (2 Peter 1:3) which means we have the equipment to discern and apply the understanding when the manifestation is coming from God and we are just as equipped to discern and reject the influence of the manifestation when it is coming from the flesh or from the enemy.
If we want to operate effectively and wisely in these last days and we desire to expose and defeat the enemy when he comes in like a flood, we need to consistently do two things: First, don’t wait for the manifestation to decide that you could use more time in the Word. Start today reading, studying, thinking about, meditating on, memorizing, and confessing the Word like never before. I have been very impressed to see just how discerning God’s people are when they are sitting under Word actively listening and receiving and diving into the Word on their own time. I have learned as a spiritual leader to trust that the serious believers will know good from evil because of the consistent entrance of the Word into their hearts. Second, boldly ask the Lord to grant you the gift of discerning of spirits. The Scripture says, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1). The Bible also says that we have not because we ask not” (James 4:2). Ask and expect the Holy Spirit to give you the supernatural ability to know for certain the source of an utterance, manifestation, sign, wonder, or dream. As you develop your general discernment through the Word and begin to operate in the gift of discerning of spirits you will expose every attempt of the enemy to deceive you while positioning yourself to discern and receive great revelation and understanding from God that will change your life forever.
“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will go on deceiving others, and they themselves will be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do” (2 Timothy 3:12-17, NLT).