Spiritual Gift of Discerning of Spirits

Discerning of Spirits (1 Cor. 12:10; Luke 8:29)


Discerning of Spirits is the spiritual gift and supernatural ability to perceive the motivations of people’s heart, and the presence of good and evil or demonic spirits.


Discernment aids in distinguishing between earthly, sensual, demonic, and godly wisdom (James 3:15). This gift is necessary to the body of Christ, because Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The Scripture also warns us on multiple occasions to beware of false prophets and miracle workers who would gain entry into the church for the purpose of causing division.

Examples from the Scripture:

Discernment of Spirits can be seen multiple times throughout the New Testament. Specifically we see this gift operating in the life of Jesus when he rebukes Peter (Matthew 16:23) when Peter discerns Ananias motivation (Acts 5:1-11)

and Paul when he rebukes the slave girl that was possessed by a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-18). Other texts in the New Testament also speak about the importance of testing spirits to discern if they are of the Lord (1 John 4:1) (1Thessalonians 5:21).

When this gift is present:

Many times Discernment of Spirits functions in a preventive way, meaning that people who have been graced with this ability often discern things before they come to pass. Make no mistake, this is not mere intuition or cold reading but the quickening power of the Holy Spirit to perceive and respond appropriately to the spiritual world. Another way that this gift operates is by discerning what the Holy Spirit desires to do in a particular situation. The book of Luke tells us that the “power of the Lord was with him (Jesus) to heal” (Luke 5:17). We know from the four Gospels that Jesus not only possessed the gift of healing but also the discernment of when he was dealing with a demonic spirit (Luke 13:11) as well as obey how to obey his Fathers specific commands (John 5:19).

When this gift is absent:

Scripture warns us that in the last days there will be an abundance of false prophets and teachers who attempt to deceive believers (Matthew 24:24). When the gift of discernment is absent in a local church, false prophets and teachers have free entry to prey on the vulnerable. It often goes unnoticed until the damage is already done.

In the Life of Jesus:

Jesus exemplified the gift of Discernment of Spirits many times throughout his ministry A few of examples can be found in: Matthew 16:23, Mark 5:1-13, and Luke 13:11.

Do you have the spiritual gift of Discernment of Spirits?

* Do you possess an extraordinary sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit?
* Do you perceive the presence of demonic spirits and see success is helping people find deliverance?
* Do you discern things about people’s character or intentions others do not see that later prove to be true?
* Take our free spiritual gift test

Practical ways to implement and develop the spiritual gift of Discernment of Spirits:
* Share with your pastor when you have a strong leading from the Holy Spirit.
* Spend time praying that God would sharpen this gifting.
* Check out our Bible Studies on spiritual gifts.
* Check out our videos and interviews.

Ministry opportunities:
* Prayer or Intercession team
* Deliverance ministry
* Inner healing ministry
* Prophetic ministry team

Where do I go from here?
* Sign up for our email list.

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