Discerning of Spirits
by Rick Stephenson
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Sounds a little spooky doesnít it? I suppose with halloween around the corner, this might be an interesting topic. When we hear this phrase, we might conjure up ideas of good and evil and specifically lean towards identification of those that pertain to the latter. We can see images of devils, witches and black cats and think pretty quickly we have discerned those that are evil.
Is this really what this phrase is attempting to convey? According to 1-Corinthians 12:10 we are told that this is a gift (or ability) given to us by God. But, would God need to give us a gift that would be utilized this easily. Itís almost as though God would be saying ďpay attention, if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, and looks like a duck Ė it must be a duck.Ē
Knowing that God gives us His gifts (or abilities) because we donít already possess them in our human construction, this would seem very redundant since I believe He has already created in us an intellect to figure such simplistic things like this out for ourselves. Therefore, I believe He offers us this gift (or ability) of His for another reason and I believe itís because we must need it. So, the real question is why do we need it?
Letís answer this question by first determining what the word discernment means. Discernment is the ability to make good judgments about things such as art, music and books and to tell whether something is valuable or well made. And, to discern means to see or notice something unclear or not very obvious. In our human or natural state, the ability to make a good judgment about such things becomes relatively easy since we can evaluate the item under review with our natural senses. We can look at it, feel it, smell it, listen to it or even taste it and then compare it to other like things and determine if it is valuable or not.
In other words, to put it as simply as can be, a judgment is a decision made and to discern is the ability to make good decisions about things that seem unclear or not very obvious. When we understand the true meaning of the words, we can then piece the puzzle together to gain a better understanding of the whole meaning. To make a good decision about a spirit we also need to know the spirit itself. However, a spirit according to the dictionary is defined as the life force of a person, the will or sense of self, or even somebodyís personality or temperament (attitude). Now, if we are to make a good judgment on that, tell me exactly how do we see it, feel it, smell it, listen to it or possibly taste it?
The motives of a personís spirit are only revealed as they carry out their actions in an after effect of their spirit. In other words, the flesh or our natural state is always a reaction to what is happening in our spiritual realm. Some of the effects are within milliseconds of each other and some are only revealed after long periods of time. For example, as I type this topic my spirit has influenced my physical being to carry out the actual typing and the words appear shortly thereafter, however, in other cases, the impact may only be felt months later when a reader across the globe comes across this article, reviews it and then responds to it. (I hope you have realized the connection between our thoughts and our spirits Ė but thatís for another blog at another time).
So, if God is willing to give us a gift of His to be able to make good decisions regarding somebodyís personality, temperament or attitude is it to be used on a whatís happening now basis? I think not Ė Why Ė because again, the actions performed right now in front of me when I meet someone for the first time can be weighed by my human abilities. What cannot be evaluated by my human abilities at the moment is what this personís past actions may have been or better yet, what they may do in the future. Therefore, it becomes clear to understand that this gift to discern spirits is Godís way of protecting us, that is of warning us when something that is unclear or not very obvious is going to affect us negatively.
Yes, some call this intuition but I believe it goes further than that. Intuition is only defined as instinctive knowledge, the state of being aware of or knowing something without having to discover or perceive it. Discerning of spirits is more than that, it can judge the instinctive knowledge and how it will affect you. In other words, itís the ability to not only know the information but to know the motive behind the information.
Why is this important to us? Because, unlike the examples in my opening paragraph life does not give us black and white choices. Rather life presents us with many things and people for that matter who like to live and act in shades of grey. On the outside, something can appear good and inviting but on the inside, it can be disgustingly corrupt. How many of us after all would willingly eat the apple knowing that worms are feasting on the inside just past the bright red skin of the apple? I donít know too many (if any) who would.
We need God to give us a clue as to what lies on the inside of others since we are not capable of figuring that out for ourselves. Sure, there are some who would like to say that they are capable, that they can read people pretty well and that they have good instincts but let me ask them if they have ever been wrong even just 1% of the time. And if they are honest with themselves and with me, they probably would say yes a lot more than just 1%. However, what we get with God is a 100% correct guarantee. All we have to do is trust Him and not lean on our own understanding. So, I would encourage you today if you are not sure about a certain situation or even a certain somebody, pray that God would grant you the ability to discern the spirit of it and then trust Him to also tell you how to respond. When you do, youíll find itís not so spooky after all!
God Bless! Ė Rick
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