Discernment is the ability to stop, listen and yield to the promptings, warnings and directions of the Holy Spirit before we act in any way. 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world”. The key to functioning in the gift of discernment, is based upon our submission and yieldedness to the Spirit of God at work in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasures. Proverbs 3:5–6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths”.
Every Believer in Christ who possess the Holy Spirit, can work in discernment. However, just like the Gift of Faith, Discernment is also one of the Gifts that we can prayerfully ask God for, and it is bestowed upon us freely by the Holy Spirit. We nurture and grow in the gift of discernment through our obedience, alertness, governance and alignment with the word of God, the will of God and the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil”.
Jesus, is an excellent example of one who operated in the gift of discernment. In Mark 12:13-17, we see clearly how Jesus discerned the craftiness of the Pharisees and Herodians against him. “Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”And they were amazed at him”.
Another good example of Discernment, is seen in the story of Paul and the slave girl with a demonic spirit in Acts 16:16-24. Here, we see how Paul after many days discerned that the slave girl was operating by a familiar spirit and divination. Therefore, Paul immediately cast out the evil spirit from the slave girl. Although for many days Paul and Silas did not discern that the slave girl’s utterance where demonic, but by the activation of the gift of Discernment in Paul through the Holy Spirit, Paul was alerted in the spirit that the slave girl was possessed by a devil. Hence the reason he cast out the evil spirit from the slave girl. Discernment is a gift from the Holy Spirit, given to the Children of God for alertness, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, protection and guidance. The gift of Discernment aids the Believer in Jesus Christ, to live a careful and triumphant Christian life.
Seven Purposes of Discernment
1. To guide us rightly.
2. To protect us.
3. To demonstrate the presence of the Holy Spirit in us.
4. To enable us walk in wisdom.
5. To warn us to become alert and cautious.
6. To help us judge rightly.
7. To help us discern light from darkness, and good from evil.
Seven Discernment Test
1. The Bible Scripture Test
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.
2. The Love (Agape) Test.
1 John 4:7
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God”
3. The Fruit Test.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits
4. The Inner Witness/ Conviction Test.
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you”.
1 John 2:20
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth”.
5. The Character/Attitude Test
1 John 4:17
“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world”.
6. The Reverential Fear of God Test.
“14 “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them”.
7. The Revelation/ Vision/ Dream Test.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”.