Discerning of spirits is one of the “knowledge” spiritual gifts. It can be used to determine the source of what appears to be manifestations of the power and speech gifts versus false signs. It is also used in identifying situations that need intercession.
So how do you develop the gift of discerning of spirits?
First of all, every single experience should be tested against the Word of God. 11 John 4:1. King James Version. Biblegateway.com. If you think that you have this gift or if you want to develop this gift (we are told to desire the gifts,) it is very important to make reading, studying, and memorizing the Word of God part of your daily lifestyle. You have to have a solid foundation to work from.
It is also important to be with a group of like-minded believers. First, to test what you are experiencing to see whether it is from God or not and to judge your assessment. Second, to learn from.
Another important consideration when you are developing your gift is looking at who you are under authority to. The one obvious authority is your church, but this could also be other organizations you are involved with.
When it comes to spiritual authority, be very careful who you put yourself under. 2 Hebrews 13:7, 17. New Living Translation. Biblegateway.com If you are under someone who is completely whacky and goes offroading from the Word of God and doing their own thing . . . obviously you are going to have issues developing proper discernment as to what is from God and what isn’t. They won’t be able to give you proper feedback either.
But the opposite situation can also hinder the development of your gift. If you are in a church or under the authority of an organization that denies one or all of the gifts, you probably won’t develop that gift at all, or if you do, it will be severely stunted. And again, you won’t have anyone to help train you.
Awhile ago I was considering volunteering for an organization. I was so certain I was going to get involved in it that I bought the books, started looking at options for childcare, set aside the days for the volunteer training, and sat down to fill out the volunteer training application.
I filled out the whole application, all 12 pages, initialed the agreements on the Statement of Faith, but when I got to the last paragraph before I signed it there was a final agreement that I had to acknowledge.
It basically said that different denominations believed different things but that it didn’t prevent the church from working together. Which I completely agree with. .
But then in the next sentence it said that you agreed not to discuss or participate in, and then listed a whole laundry list of things like deliverance, healing . . . basically any of the power gifts were a no.
In comparison, I understand that things like speaking in tongues makes people uncomfortable. It’s not my gift, but I know a lot of people that have it.
But there is a difference between refraining from using a gift out of consideration for someone else and flat out denying them. And I felt like that was what I would be doing if I signed it. The wording was just so odd. I did send an email to the contact person asking for clarification. The response I got was:
“Thanks, we’ll update the application.”
So, I took that as a No from God. This was not a group I was to get involved with.
I don’t know if there is a connection between this or not, but since then the frequency and intensity of what I have been experiencing has increased.
So to recap, to begin developing discerning of spirits:
- Read, meditate, and memorize the Word of God
- Develop your prayer life. Pray to God and also pay attention to what He is telling you.
- Be under a spiritual authority that supports discerning of spirits.
- Have a group of believers, an accountability team of sorts, to test what you are experiencing, to correct if needed, and to help you grow in the gift.