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[Ministry & Service]:
[The Manifestations of the Spirit]:
Discerning of Spirits
Written on February 14th, 2006 - 2:00AM
Last Updated: August 28th, 2007 - 4:59PM

and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; and to another the interpretation of languages. (1 Corinthians 12:10)

The Holy Spirit's manifestation of διακρισεις πνευματων ("the discerning of spirits") is vital to God's people, not only as they seek to expand the influence of Yahweh's Kingdom upon the earth, but as they relate to one another as disciples and to the unbelieving outside of the Assembly.

The two words combine to give us an insight into what the Holy Spirit deems important enough to manifest in us. διακρισεις ("discerning") is a compound Greek word coming from two very basic words meaning "through" and "to distinguish." Often when the prefix δια ("through") is attached to another Greek word, it gives the new compound a sense of thoroughness (i.e., "through-ness").

Thus, this word translated "discerning" is a "thorough distinguishing" or to "separate through." Again we see a similarity to the other manifestations of the Spirit, especially the words of wisdom and knowledge. They are used by the Spirit to give a person a sudden capsule of knowledge or wisdom, in order to do God's will in a given situation.

The second word is simply the plural form of "spirit." As mentioned in the glossary, the word has the sense of something invisible that has visible effects. The same word is used in Greek to define each of our modern concepts of: a disembodied entity (ghost, spirit, etc.), the wind, and breath. It was often used in the days of the Bible to represent the motive or hidden impetus of a person, as can be seen as far back as the days of Job (Job 26:4) or as recently as the days of Jesus (Luke 9:54-56).

This manifestation, then, is a thorough distinguishing of spirits, of the unseen forces at work in the world, whether they be disembodied (an angel, demon or other spiritual creation) or within a person. Knowing from God's revelation and our own experience that things are not always what they seem, one can see how important this manifestation is, and how greatly we are blessed to be given access to it by God's Spirit.

Examples in Scripture

Again, as these manifestations are not often specifically named when in use throughout scripture, we must look for the signs of their use. There are several instances that would qualify.

Christ knew that Nathanael was of an honest heart, one in whom there was no deceit. He was simply a worshiper of God who was looking for the Christ but confined that search to his knowledge of the scripture's prophecy of Him (John 1:45-47). He had no agenda in his search for God's Christ.

Lord Jesus, while preaching to those who seemingly had believed in Him, discerned their spirits to understand that they had no room for His word and were actually seeking to kill Him (John 8:30-37)! Imagine if He had proceeded preaching to them as though they were truly accepting His words, as it appeared on the outside.

Peter knew that Annanias and Saphira had testified wrongly about the amount of their land's sale in order to rob God, and not for any good purpose. He saw not only the truth of their lie, that the amount was not what they said it was—likely through the word of knowledge—but also discerned their spirit, that they meant the lie for evil (Acts 5:1-10).

Paul discerned that the words of a young girl who was following him came not from a heart after God, but from an evil spirit of Python (Acts 16:16-18). This again shows that the outward can disguise reality, and that it is only through the Holy Spirit that the truth beneath what is seen can be known. Today, many so-called men of God would gladly receive the praise that comes from a demon, not knowing or caring that it is Satan's deception to secretly do his work.

Peter discerned the spirit of a supposed new convert to the faith, Simon, who had previously been a sorcerer. Although having been baptized in water, he had yet to actually be freed from sin by trusting in Christ. He was, in reality, still in bondage to sin, desiring to buy the ability to give the Holy Spirit. Acknowledging his lack of relationship with Yahweh, he asked Peter to pray for him rather than seek God himself (Acts 8:17-24).

The Precursor

As can be seen above, this manifestation always has a purpose from the Holy Spirit—whether its result is discerning a spirit as good or evil—and it serves as a spiritual stepping stone to allow Yahweh's will to be done upon the earth. Our Counselor manifests Himself in us by giving us spiritual eyesight to once again see beyond the "seen" of the natural senses into the very core.

Whether we are confronting principalities and powers in the heavenlies as we war in the spirit, or we are confronting a person whose actions may belie or reveal their spirit, the Holy Spirit brings us to a new level of living.

With this manifestation, we are not given information supernaturally concerning an inanimate situation, but are given a thorough understanding of the core of a person, or of a spirit at work in the air. The discerning of spirits gives us the heart of the matter, as it were, not just of the actions or situation, but of the motive behind the one acting or producing that situation.

Through this amazing manifestation, we may operate as God's ambassadors, having the information required to act accordingly with the wisdom of Christ. We may be saved from relationships with others that would interfere with Christ's operation in our lives, or we may discern the heart of a supposed believer who in fact is a pretender planted by the Enemy (Matthew 13:24-28).

Dealing with God's People

More than knowing whether a person is of God or of the Devil, we may also learn what type of spirit a believer possesses. As we know from experience, everyone is different, and each has their own personality type that affects their behavior and perception of others.

Paul tells the Thessalonian assembly:

We exhort you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient toward all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Notice he singles out three groups of believers in the assembly: the fainthearted, the weak and the disorderly. And in so doing, he also reveals three ways of dealing with them. As my pastor has pointed out, we must be careful not to admonish the fainthearted and support the unruly! But, as we are patient with all, so we must procede with wisdom, and more particularly, with the discerning of spirits. Having sought this manifestation of the Spirit, we may see through to the hearts of God's people and so understand how to confront them.

First are those who are unruly or disorderly, a word coming from a verb meaning to keep military order. Those who break out of the order of God's Assembly must be "admonished"—that Greek word coming from two words meaning "mind" and "to set or place." Thus admonish is to put into one's mind, or to set one's mind. This clearly goes along with those who break rank, that they should be disciplined—that is, be reminded in a way that will reorient their mind and put it into the proper place (1 Thessalonians 5:12)(2 Thessalonians 3:14-15).

If a person has been through many recent trials, lost loved ones or property, especially for the sake of the Lord, we must treat them appropriately. In so doing, we will draw them nearer to their answer, Who is Christ Himself (Jonah 2:7), rather than push them away with a stern hand that has no place in their situation. Just as a father with a child who has been hurt does not spank that child but rather console him, so we must do with those in the Lord who are fainthearted (Psalms 69:20). They are ready to faint, and we comfort them with soothing words and acts of kindness that keep them spiritually awake (Hebrews 12:5).

We are to support those who are weak. If they are self-condemning in their faults, not rather living in the truth that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus who walk by the Spirit (Romans 8:1), and they easily fall into sin, we must support them rather than admonish (Galatians 6:1-2). Just as Paul elsewhere exhorts us not to cause those weak in faith to stumble, so we should support them in their weakness that they might stand by God's power (Romans 14:1-4).

So we see how important this discerning of spirits is, that with it we might see the spirits of those with whom we come into contact every day, and therefore know how to treat them.

Spiritual Warfare

This use of the Holy Spirit also allows us to effectively battle the evil spirits of this age, whether they are demons possessing people, or principalities and powers, the world's rulers of the darkness of this age.

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Often these wicked spirits are operating behind the seen to thwart the movement of God's Kingdom, and the Holy Spirit can allow us to discern them that we might effectively use the sword of the Spirit against them.

Through this sudden discerning, we can focus our prayer in the Spirit to dethrone and defeat these resisters of Yahweh's Son as Lord of heaven and earth.

I have personally experienced this manifestation on one occasion for this very purpose, while in Greece (see sidebar for related prophecies).

Let us seek spiritual things (1 Corinthians 14:1), including the discerning of spirits, that we might build up the Assembly and destroy the gates of hell.

Last Accessed: August 12th, 2022 - 4:12PM
Times Read: 2967
Other Articles in The Manifestations of the Spirit
The Good Message

As you read this site, you will hopefully come to know Yahweh more fully.

But all of this continuing knowledge is useless unless and until you come into union with Him. I use the word union because it is truly a marriage. It is that deep connection we all seek, for which we most often look in other people. However, the truth is that our hearts will only be fulfilled when we enter that union in fullness with the One Who made us.

This is the grace of God, that He has not stayed distant for us only to worship as Creator. But He has come unto us, even become one of us—in His Son, Christ Jesus—in order to share an intimate union with us. He desires such closeness that it truly will envelope our entire life, transforming us into something new and wonderful.

You may have already entered this union with Him and only seek to know Him better through reading here. But if you have not, as you do read, let this Gospel sink into your heart as you read it now.

God loves you, and has cast your sins into the sea. He has sent His only Son as the Savior of the world—that includes you.

That Son, Jesus Christ, was born as a man through a virgin who had given her life to Yahweh; He lived without sin, reflected the glory of His Father, God, in all His words and deeds, and was persecuted even unto death because of it.

His death upon a cross was the powerful explosion that separated you from your life of death. It remains for you, now, to enter into that death with Him. As you die to the one you are now, a person separated from God from your many sins, you will be born anew, with a nature predisposed to live rightly. This gift is free to you, with nothing you can do to earn it. It is the mercy of God to offer it to you, as He loves you so much! All you must do is receive it by trusting Him to have delivered you. Simply place your life in His hands and embrace the freedom that came through that death on the cross.

The Gospel is that Jesus did not remain dead, but rose again on the third day after His crucifixion! Death could not hold Him, as He was without sin. And so death will not be able to hold you, as you identify with Him fully through your trust in Him. Let go of yourself and confess Him as Lord of your life. The power of His death and resurrection will work in you all that your Creator has destined for you. You will truly enter a new life and experience that intimate union you have been seeking all of your life.

So ponder these words as you read here of this great God—Yahweh—and all that He has revealed to His creation. Let His Spirit testify to your heart that these words are true, that God is Love, and that He sent His Son so that you might receive the life that is unbound by time and space. As you feel that witness in your heart, simply believe and receive what He is offering to you, even now, and begin your new life as a child of God.

Please write to me and let me know when you take this step, as I will be your brother in Christ—we will be one in Him!

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