B. Childress
May 11, 2007

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant...Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same
Spirit.  An there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord, and there are diversities of operations, but it is
the same God which worketh all in all
. 1 Corinthians 12:1, 3-6

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal..........To another the working of miracles; to
another prophecy; to another
discerning of spirits; to another divers kind of tongues; to another the interpretation of
 1Corinthians 12:7,10

The gifts of the Holy Spirit (or manifestations as identified by Paul) are manifested through individual believers as the
Spirit of God wills.  Spiritual gifts are not given to the individual for personal benefit, but to 'profit' a whole assembly or
body of believers. When the gifts of the Spirit are in manifestation, they will always exalt the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  
TRY THE SPIRITS: "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh is of God:
and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is
that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that should come...
" 1John 4:2,3

First Corinthians 12:3 states,
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth
Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost
(when the Spirit is in

The Gift of the Discerning of Spirits:

  • The discerning of spirits gives supernatural insight into the spirit world.  "To discern" means to perceive by
    seeing or hearing.  Therefore, the discerning of spirits is the same as seeing or hearing in the realm of the
  • The discerning of spirits gives members of the Body of Christ insight into the spirit world, a realm which their five
    senses, feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting cannot enter.  It takes this gift to penetrate the dividing of soul
    and spirit within a person. (LS p. 76, 77).
  • The Gift of Discerning of Spirits is more limited in range than the other revelation gifts (word of knowledge or
    word of wisdom) because it is limited to a single class of objects - spirits.
  • The discerning of spirits has to do with an entire class of spirits: good spirits (discerning the similitude of God,
    the risen Christ, the Holy Spirit, or angelic beings/angelic activity), bad spirits (devils, demons, Satan himself), or
    human spirits (good and evil tendencies).  
  • "Familiar spirits" are included in this class of spirits.  God talks about these spirits in the Old Testament where
    he forbids the people of God to have anything to do with them.  Familiar spirits are familiar with people and they
    pass on information about one person to another.  Familiar spirits, I believe, are used by psychics and
  • Discerning of spirits in operation can reveal the source of a supernatural manifestation or operation, which can
    come from different sources: many things that seem miraculous or supernatural to us actually do not come from
    God - we must remember that Satan is also a supernatural being.
  • The revelation of the spirit(s) behind an operation or manifestation can come by a manifestation of a word of
    knowledge, that you may "KNOW" that a spirit is present or involved in a situation.  A manifestation of discerning
    of spirits on the other hand would provide you with a VISION of the spirit(s). NOTE:  No one should expect a
    "manifestation" of either type every time they are ministering to someone because these manifestations are
    given as the Spirit wills.

The Gift of the Discerning of Spirits is not:

  • Just the discerning of devils or evil spirits.
  • A gift to be used to help us discern when something is "out of order." We ought to know God's Word well enough
    for ourselves to know when something does not line up with the Word of God.
  • The "gift of discernment." Sometimes people will know things by the Spirit of God and call it the gift of
    discernment, which is unscriptual.  It is actually a word of knowledge in operation.
  • Not a kind of spiritual mind reading, mental penetration, or enhanced psychological insight.
  • The ability to discern faults or failures in others.  Believers and unbelievers can do that and it is considered
    being judgemental or critical.  It is forbidden in the scriptures, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."      Matthew 7:
  • To be misunderstood or abused.  In casting out demons and teachings of such we must rightly divide the Word
    of God and maintain balance.  Many things that people say are of the devil are really works of the flesh (relates
    to claims of people being possessed of the devil or that the things they did or said were of the devil).  We are to
    stay in line with the Word and understand the works of the flesh: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which
    are these: Adultery, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings,
    murders, drunkeness, revellings, and such like..."Galatians 5:19-21
  • A gift you can operate without the unction of the Spirit of God.  

Example of the Gift of the Discerning of Spirits from the

God allowed Moses to see into the realm of spirits.

And he (the Lord) said, thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.  And the Lord said,
Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by,
that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand,
and thou shall see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.  Exodus 33:20-23

Examples of the Gift of the Discerning of Spirits from the

John on the Isle of Patmos.

In a vision, John saw the Holy Spirit as seven spirits before the throne of God; And out of the throne proceeded
lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the
seven Spirits of God. Revelation 4:5

Elymas, the Sorcerer.

Paul discerned the evil tendencies of Elymas, the sorcerer; "And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos,
they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was the deputy of the
country...who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.  But Elymas the sorcerer (his name
by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.  Then Paul, filled with the Holy
Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all
righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon
thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season..
."Acts 13:6-11

Paul in the city of Thyatira.

Paul and a company of disciples were in the city of Thyatira, a city that worshipped God.  A woman named Lydia,
whose heart was open to God, heard Paul speak and "attended" unto the things spoken of Paul.  She and her
household were baptized and she asked them to come to her home.  As they went to prayer,
" ..a certain damsel
possessed with a spirit of divination met us which brought her master much gain by soothsaying: The same followed
Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of
Act 16:16 She did this for several days.  So Paul, being "grieved" turned and said to the spirit,..I command
thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.  And he (the evil spirit) came out the same hour. Acts 16:18

Evil Spirit Revealed by the Word of Knowledge to Kenneth E. Hagin.

Kenneth E. Hagin was conducting a meeting at a church.  A man, who was known to Brother Hagin as one who "was
not living right" was invited to the platform to speak.  When the man got up to speak, Brother Hagin heard the Voice of
the Holy Spirit say, "He has a familiar spirit." Many folks thought this preacher operated in the word of knowledge
because he could tell people many things about themselves.  He could give them their names and addresses; he could
tell them how much money they had in their purses or billfolds, he could even sometimes tell them what they had in
their pocket. p. 99

NOTE: Without even having the discerning of spirits in manifestation, if we know the Word of God and if we are walking
in the Spirit, we will have an inward witness if someone is operating by a wrong spirit.  The Holy Spirit on the inside of
us, in our spirits, will warn us if we are at all sensitive to Him. p. 98

Evil Spirit Revealed by a Vision to Kenneth E. Hagin.

A pastor told Brother Hagin about his niece who had cancer of the left lung.  While she was being persuaded to have
surgery (which she resisted), the cancer spread to the right lung. She was bedridden and had wasted away to nothing
even though she was being fed six times a day.  Brother Hagin was conducting healing meetings every Tuesday and
Thursday night at the time.  They brought the woman to the Tuesday night meeting - she was the first one in the
prayer line.  According to Brother Hagin, " I laid hands on her and suddenly everyone and everything else in the room
seemed to disappear.  I was enveloped in a cloud and all I could see was myself and this young woman standing in a
circle of light.  I was seeing into the realm of the spirit.  I saw a demon or evil spirit hanging on to her body over her left
lung.....I commanded the demon to leave her in the Name of Jesus. When I commanded the demon to leave, he fell off
of that woman's body and fell down on the floor.  Then he just lay there and whimpered and whined like a whipped
pup.  He said, 'I don't want to leave, but I know I have to if you tell me to.' I said, 'Not only must you leave her body, but
you must also leave these premises.' He ran down the aisle and out the door of the church, and the woman was
healed." p. 99

An Evil Spirit Discerned by Lester Sumrall in Java:

Brother Sumrall was walking down the aisle of a church when a woman caught him by the sleeve.  When he turned to
see what she wanted she said, "You have a black angel in you, and I have a white angel in me." As he turned around,
God spoke through his (Sumrall's) lips and said, "I have a white angel in me, not black; but you do have a black angel
in  you; and I command you now to come out of her!" She was set free at that moment.  Her eyes, which had been
glassy, were instantly made clear and her face changed its appearance. She had been under the power of that
demonic spirit for fifteen years.

"This discerning of spirits can bring tremendous inspiration to a church body.  It can
produce a real spirit of security against false doctrines, lies, and all kinds of things
that are unreal.  It can enable a church to choose the proper men and women to fulfill
their ministries within the church... .  But are we willing for this gift of the Spirit to
function?  That is the place we must reach, where we are ready and willing for the
gifts of the Spirit to function in their fullness among us
. p.76,77,82


The Holy  Spirit and His Gifts, Kenneth E. Hagin, Copyright 1991, RHEMA Bible Church

The Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit, Lester Sumrall, Copyright 1982, Lester Sumrall Evangelical Association