I’m always amazed by how many Christians claim to have the gift of spiritual discernment. It concerns me because in this day and age we really need the real thing. In the end times knowledge is at all time high so we can easily be persuaded if we are discerning from a natural perspective, rather than a spiritual one. I think it’s even more difficult to discern things spiritually when we are naturally gifted at decision making. It may seem strange, but perhaps those people who have found themselves praying a lot to make better decisions, could be the ones who have a gift of discernment.
When I ask people what their spiritual gifts are I will hear “discernment” more than any other gift. For myself I even hesitate to say I have this gift because I recognize the challenge we have. Often we have to go against what the natural eye sees and perceives. If you find yourself using common sense and thinking this is discernment it’s likely not the case. Common sense and discernment are not the same, not even close. We’ve got to lay aside ourselves and ask Jesus to help us discern without logic. That seems weird right? I’m not saying that there won’t end up being logic inside the discernment after all is said and done. I am saying that we are not to discern through it.
Learning to discern spiritually, is asking God to help us see like Him. Help us to hear like Him. To nudge our gut based on the Holy Spirit not on bias, logic or evidence. The evidence that you’ve discerned right can show up sometimes way later. There is no need to discern a spirit that is blatantly going against the Word of God or pointing people to unbiblical doctrines. The gift of discernment, like all spiritual gifts, requires us being so connected to God that you fear getting off His path, this is submission of the gift. We’ve got to pray to remain acutely spiritually aware and in tune with His knowledge, not our own. He sees the future, He knows the BIG PICTURE better than even the strongest prophets. Even they only saw in part and prophesied in part.
Wisdom About Discernment
I found this content below and I thought from my own experience regarding discernment that it was spot on. I hope this helps you understand this gift of discernment more. If you discover you don’t have the gift, don’t worry. Just focus on the spiritual gifts you do have. The Lord made the body with all it’s many parts and spiritual gifts and His plan is just perfect.
(The information below was found herehttp://www.acts17-11.com/dialogs_gift_discernment.html)
For it is not about having good antennae in the flesh, it is about staring at Jesus and waiting for His strength, power, wisdom, life, and leading. It is about dying and being resurrected into new life. When the real thing comes it is MILES from the natural in character and effect. When it doesn’t, it is a drag, since flesh by itself stinks. I have had some scandalous failures in the past, but this has humbled and humiliated me–which is good. This internet “sensory deprivation” thing–both where we have done well and failed–has been an excellent training ground. Now when I meet someone, I deliberately try to tune-out what I perceive in the flesh, and simply ask God for discernment in how to respond or not. They say the blind develop heightened senses in other areas. This is a good metaphor for becoming blind in our fleshly abilities such that our spiritual gifts might be awakened by faith and grow.
2Co 5:7 (KJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.Phil 3:7 (NIV) But whatever was to my profit [Paul's fine human capabilities, skills, accomplishments] I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish [KJV: dung] that I may gain Christ.
“I can discern things; but I have very low knowledge of Biblical teachings. Is it possible to have one without the other?
I believe it is, if it is the real spiritual stuff. If it is just a natural “hunch”, of course, you will not find confirmation later–either from yourself or others–through scripture and/or simply the way things play out.
Here I will offer some insights that might not be shared by many in the current “puffed up with knowledge” Christian environment that we live in. I am of the view that discernment is not knowledge based, but I suspect that many in the modern church would disagree. For example, Hank Hannegraf nearly always uses Scripture to discern and calls his a “discernment” ministry, but I think this incorrect. By using Scripture, his is a “knowledge” and/or an “understanding” or “teaching” ministry. Discernment is more elemental than human thought, more in the domain of the heart or spirit and not so much the mind–except as a conclusion afterwards. In scripture, it is “discernment of spirits” not “discernment of knowledge” or “discernment of facts”; and spirits must be spiritually discerned.
1Cor 12:7-10 (NKJ) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, …to another discerning of spirits…1John 4:1 (NAS) …test the spirits to see whether they are from God…
The major categories of spirits are 1) God, 2) the devil (or world, if you will: Js 3:15), and 3) the flesh. People with mature discernment can tell the difference between flesh and spirit in themselves and others, thus the difficulty and learning needed at the outset to grow in the gift. They can also perceive the demonic as acute pain, angst, or discord in their spirits. But many in the body do not want to “submit” to this gift, exalting knowledge (biblical, in particular) above all. This is very inefficient and misapplied… even silly at times. For example, you (I suspect) could tell a man from a woman (in most cases) without doing a hormone test, no? The hormone test is like “finding a scripture”–much more accurate for difficult cases; but it is inefficient and silly (even bullying?) to insist on this in every case. Most often you can just tell. So it is with discernment. If it were simply a matter of looking up scriptures, then why a separate gift from knowledge, wisdom, and understanding?
Given this, I have felt led in the last few years not to provide scriptural support if this was not the basis of my conclusion–and normally with real discernment it is not–even if I can come at it from this angle, which I most often can. While this has not gone over well with a few people, predictably, I feel it is time to burst the swollen knowledge bubble. It is like having spiritual smell–why pretend we saw something we really smelled just to make those without smell feel better? And smell can go around corners and into places that sight can’t. Now I just tell them: “that is demonic” pure and simple. Scripture only tells us to discern and is not case specific. My freedom in this boldness is that God (if He can be taken at His word <smiles>) always confirms by two or three.
Mat 18:16 (NIV) …”‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’”2Cor 13:1 (NIV) “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
Thus, we should never, ever, submit to one man’s prophecy, discernment, or whatever–cult like. If it is really God, then He will confirm it His way. Sometimes the second or third witness is simply the Holy Spirit in us going “YEAH!” (1Jn 5:7-9) but God never breaks His own rules. Thus, we are free to take risks and not worry about misleading anyone, for it is really God then He will get the glory by doing it His way: through at least two or three separate witnesses. This does not work so well in most modern churches, because the “witnesses” are afraid to death (in the pride of flesh) that they might be wrong and thus paralyzed into inactivity. Well, they will never know or learn until they try.
Discerners are given to the body like a nose: they are to sniff things out and give advance warning to that which is gross or moldy or toxic, as well as what might be glorious, gorgeous, or splendid. When we discern, we need no hype or “authority”, we can just simply state in humility and the freedom that Christ has provided in the new-wineskin structure (such as “by two or three”). What people do with this information is up to them and God, but we must speak if prompted by the Holy Spirit with strong discernment within.
In conclusion, my advice might run counter to popular opinion, but I am of the view that discernment has little to do with how much scripture you know, but is more like an ability to see or “smell” into the spirit world. You would do well to learn more of the Bible, and you are doing this… but I think you will find this more like outside confirmation than applying to the basic gift; it will be like getting the hormone test results back on the “queen” that you knew in an instant was not a woman.
Well, if I am right, you will have a tough row to hoe with all the “knowledge touters” beating you up, rejecting your gift, or asking for “hormone tests” from you… and the like; but be bold and know that if it is really Christ-in-you then He will confirm it later even if people reject it now. Remember, it is His glory we are after, not ours. And when it comes to any deficiency in knowledge that you might have, if you are submitting to Christ’s body in your life, then this might well come mainly from others–for this is how God wants it to be. Are all the nose or hand? Just be the nose and get real good at it, and if you are rejected then remember how this felt when you are tempted to reject the foot or some other part. Because sometimes we cut off our noses just to spite our face. For God wants us to be interdependent, that is why He gives gifts “as He chooses”.
We really need each other.