DISCERNMENT is one of the many gifts that we received from the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:10 (NRSV) to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
In 1Corinthians 12:10, discernment is the divinely enabled ability to distinguish a good spirit from a bad spirit. It is a manifestation of the Spirit, which is to be utilized to edify the church. Spiritual discernment is not a function of the mind; it’s a function of the spirit. . . . The Spirit helps us know what cannot be objectively verified.
We need to discern the spiritual source of teachings coming through supposed evangelical Christians. If we simply used the objective tools given us in the Bible the deception in the church today would find no audience. The falsely “prophesying ones” talk on Christian airwaves, speak in Christian pulpits, and write Christian books. They are not discerned to be of another spirit by their outward appearance, their affiliations, their pedigree or the number of their followers. We have what we need: the Holy Spirit (the Bible) for discerning spirits. The Holy Spirit will tell us if the “prophesying ones” are from God.
Philippians 1:9 (NKJV) And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
How can you tell a false prophet, false teacher and even a false Christ? I don't think we could with our own human understanding. According to the word of God we are to test all teaching. But how do you know or how do you expose those that are faults?
1 John 4:1 - 6 (TMSG) 1My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world. 2Here’s how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person—comes from God and belongs to God. 3And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God. This is the spirit of antichrist that you heard was coming. Well, here it is, sooner than we thought! 4My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. 5These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. 6But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception. GOD IS LOVE
Prophecy has a spiritual source. When John tells us not to believe every “spirit” (1John 4:1), it is because many false “prophets” have gone out into the world. The spiritual source speaks through a human spokesperson. Thus if someone claims to speak for God and is giving spiritual teaching, we must determine whether or not the teaching is from the Holy Spirit or a deceiving spirit.
This is the essence of the discerning of spirits. Prophecy is to be carefully put to the test to see if it is from God. This type of testing is objective. The word dokimazo (to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy) we need to know if people claiming to speak for God are indeed doing so. Nothing could be more foreign to Paul’s teaching in 1Thessalonians than uncritically accepting religious teaching for subjective reasons. But this is exactly what many Christians do today. If a teaching makes them feel happy or uplifted, they think it must be from God. False doctrine makes many people happy. Conversely true doctrine makes many people upset.
As Christians we should measure what we are taught against the infallible word of God, which is able to make you wise for salvation through faith and Jesus Christ's. Failure to search the Scriptures for any error may make us vulnerable to false teaching. They are some Christians who have not carefully examined their beliefs and consequently except every new opinion and follow uncritically the guidance of every new teacher. As Christians we must carefully weigh and examine what people tell us.
What Is the Spiritual Gift of Discernment?
The spiritual gift of discernment is the ability to quickly perceive whether such things as people, events, or beliefs are from God or Satan. People with the gift of discernment know that Satan and his demons disguise themselves as holy. They also know that Satan empowers counterfeit miracles to deceive people, and that he empowers false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, and false doctrines.
Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to perceive the source of a spiritual manifestation and determine whether it is of God (Acts 10:30-35), of the devil (Acts 16:16-18), of man (Acts 8:18-23), or of the world. It is not mind reading, psychic phenomena, or the ability to criticize and find fault. Discerning of spirits must be done by the power of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit when something is or is not of God. The gift of discerning of spirits is the supernatural power to detect the realm of the spirits and their activities. It implies the power of spiritual insight - the supernatural revelation of plans and purposes of the enemy and his forces. It is a gift which protects and guards your Christian life.
Discernment in Scripture
Jesus was able to know the presence of Satan (Matt. 4:1-11), see when someone was influenced by Satan (Luke 22:31), and know when someone's words were influenced by Satan (Matt. 16:23). John (1 John 4:1), Paul (Acts 16:16-18), Peter (Acts 5:1-11), and the disciples (Matt. 10:1) all demonstrated the gift of discernment.
We live in an age in which almost any and every religion / religious opinion of philosophy is tolerated. Not everyone who talks about God come from God. There are a lot of cunning, lying, deceiving teachers loose in the world. God requires us to use our minds to learn to discern between truth and error and to identify deceivers and avoid them.
As long as we are in this world, which belongs to Satan, there will always be false teachers. The question again is, how do we know who's telling the truth and who is lying to us? We must carefully submit to a new teaching searching the Scriptures for its accuracy in God's word. We must examine their message and their moral life and character. There are some that have the gift of charisma they can talk anybody into anything. They Can sell ice to the Eskimos. That’s why it’s so easy for us to be deceived and that's why we have to be on the lookout for false teaching.
I remember reading once that it took five years to train a soldier in the Roman army. As born again Christians we don't start out matured, we are like infants small and vulnerable. We have a growing process that we have to go through to reach our maturity in Christ. Just like the roman army we have to train to be able to battle the enemy.
If you want to grow spiritually you need to learn discernment. That way no one can lead you in the wrong path. Failure to discern between error and truths will leave us opened for false teaching, and At the risk of staying infants, being tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every word of doctrine and by the cunning and craftiness of man in a deceitful scheme.
Training is your most important part of an infant's life. Born again Christians must be taught the word of God and taught how to live their lives according to Christ's. It is the most important time of a Christian's life being that he starting out as a new creation in Christ. It's very important to be able to hear God small still voice when it comes to deciding the direction in his life. We must be where God wants us to be and not where we want to be in order to receive from God.
If you have a train ticket going to New York and the train leaves at 7:00 AM and you arrive at 8:00 Am, there is no way that you would get to New York on that train. The same way with God we must be where he wants us or we will miss out on our blessings.
That's why it's so important to be able to discern between gods spirit, the demonic spirit and the human spirit. Discernment enables a person to judge and discern whether one who prophesies or speaks in tongues or performs miracles and does so by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It’s possible for a Christian to come under the influence of a spirit whether from God or the devil; hence it is the function of “the gift of discernment of spirits” to judge whether a given act or repetitions of acts flows from the Holy Spirit, demonic spirit, or the human spirit.
Spirits can be summarized under three headings:
1. The Holy Spirit: which always inclines us to do good.
2. Demonic spirit: which always inclines us to do evil.
3. The human spirit: which may be inclined to do either good or evil, depending upon whether we follows right reason or selfish desires.
If you want to grow spiritually you need to learn discernment. In his letter to the Hebrews the apostle Paul laments the lack of maturity in his readers and advised maturity comes from learning to distinguish (discern) good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12 - 14 (RSV) 12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food; 13for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. 14But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.
As Christians the spirit of God will make, our hearts troubled, and we may feel agitated in our spirit when we hear false teaching.
we must be careful about falling into the trap of blaming every evil thought that comes into your mind on an evil spirit. We are really quite good at creating our own problems and the atmosphere that we live in today, through TV, radio, music, etc., is saturated with evil and Sinful concepts. Most of the time the enemies simply lets things follow their natural course.
We need to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit and we need to learn to obey the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not force you to do anything you don’t want to do. It is only the human spirit, and the spirits of the falling Angels that have a desire to dominate and control you. Satan is always out there waiting to ensnare you in your sins to take away your God given freedom. That's why so important to learn to hear God's spirit which is the part of learning to walk in the spirit.
The gift of discernment relates to message, motive, tone or attitude, character and Christian lifestyle. The gift of discernment allows a person to discern between: the one who has something to say and the one who has to say something.
God requires us to use our mind and reason and education in the matter of faith. We must be able to identify deceivers and avoid them. As Christians with the power of the Holy Spirit we should have some insight into the plans and purpose that God has for us. God will give you a vision as to your direction in your Christian walk.
1 Corinthians 2:15 - 16 (RSV) 15The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16“For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Christians must not be naïve about claims of spiritual authority, and gullibly except all such claims. Many Cults and Charismatic leaders have gained popular support often among disenchanted former church members. For There are many wolves in sheep's clothing who claim authority based on divine revelation or anointing or prophetic mantle to validate their teachings.
It's a tragedy to have a misguided tolerance towards false and teaching. The Scripture says
Ephesians 5:11 (RSV) 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
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