Spiritual Gifts:- Discernment of Spirits

Background

Continuing our series on Spiritual Gifts.

In this post we will cover Discerning of Spirits.

 

General

( As a repose, Let us quickly cover what Spiritual Gifts are )

In general, gifts anchor God’s headship.  And, man’s responsibility towards God’s mission.

Spiritual Gifts

Scripture

  1. Root
    • The Root of Jesse – Isaiah 11:1-3 [ Link ]
      • Then a shoot will spring up from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what His eyes see, and He will not decide by what His ears hear,…
  2. Gifts of the Holy Spirits
    • 1st Corinthians 12:8-10 – Spiritual Gifts ( Link )
      • For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
    • Ephesians 4:11-13 – Unity in the Body ( Link )
      • …And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.
    • Hebrews 2:4 – Affirmed By God ( Link )
      • and was affirmed by God through signs, wonders, various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.

Outline

  1. Gifts
    • Word of Wisdom ( Links )
    • Discerning of Spirits

 

Discerning of Spirits

Scripture

  1. Soul Ties
    • Psalm 143:8 – I Stretch Out My Hands to You ( Link )
      • Let me hear Your loving devotion in the morning, for I have put my trust in You. Teach me the way I should walk, for to You I lift up my soul.
  2. Living In the Spirit
    • Galatians 5:21-23 – Living by the Spirit ( Link )
      • …and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.…
  3. Testing of Spirit
    • 1st John 4:1 – Testing of Spirit ( Link )
      • 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.
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 – Christian Living ( Link )
      • …Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test all things. Hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.…
  4. Living God
    • Hebrews 4:11-13 – God’s Word is Living and Active ( Link )
      • Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.…
  5. Spiritual Discernment
    • 1 Corinthians 2:13-15 – Spiritual Wisdom  ( Link)
      • The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
  6. Prayer
    • 1st Kings 3:8-9 – Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom ( Link )
      • Your servant is here among the people You have chosen, a people too numerous to count or number. Therefore give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to govern this great people of Yours?”
  7. Scripture Reading
    • Acts 17:11 – The Character of the Bereans ( Link )
      • As soon as night had fallen, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true. As a result, many of them believed, along with quite a few prominent Greek women and men.
  8. Glory of God
    • Proverbs 25:2 – More Proverbs of Solomon ( Link )
      • It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out.
  9. Way of God
    • Hosea 14:9 – A Promise of God’s Blessing ( Link )
      • Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
  10. Orderliness
    • 1 Corinthians 14:28-30 – Orderly Worship ( Link )
      • …But if there is no interpreter, he should remain silent in the church and speak only to himself and God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is seated, the first speaker should hold his peace.
  11. Service
    • Luke 12:48 – Be Ready for Service ( Link )
      • That servant who knows his master’s will but does not get ready or follow his instructions will be beaten with many blows.
      • But the one who unknowingly does things worthy of punishment will be beaten with few blows.
      • From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from him who has been entrusted with much, even more will be demanded.
  12. Justice
    • Numbers 15:28-30 – Offerings for Unintentional Sins ( Link )
      • …And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD on behalf of the person who erred by sinning unintentionally; and when atonement has been made for him, he will be forgiven.
      • You shall have the same law for the one who acts in error, whether he is an Israelite or a foreigner residing among you.
      • But the person who sins defiantly, whether a native or foreigner, blasphemes the LORD. That person shall be cut off from his people.…
  13. Worldly Spirits
    • Colossians 2:8 – Alive in Christ ( Link )
      • See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, which are based on human tradition and the spiritual forces of the world rather than on Christ.
  14. Prophetic – End Times
    • Matthew 24:23-26 – False Christs & First Prophets ( Link)
      • For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. See, I have told you in advance. So if they tell you, ‘There He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.…
    • 1st Timothy 4:1 – Warnings against False Teachers ( Link )
      • Now the Spirit expressly states that in later times some will abandon the faith to follow deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars, whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.…
    • Revelations 2:2 – To the Church in Ephesus ( Link )
      • I know your deeds, your labor, and your perseverance.
      • I know that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and you have tested and exposed as liars those who falsely claim to be apostles.
      • Without growing weary, you have persevered and endured many things for the sake of My name.…
  15. Understanding
    • Proverbs 28:11 – Boldness of the Righteous ( Link )
      • A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.
    • Proverbs 28:10-12 – Boldness of the Righteous ( Link )
      • He who leads the upright along the path of evil will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit what is good.
      • A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man with discernment sees through him.
      • When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.…
  16. Knowledge
    • Proverbs 1:5 – The Beginning of Knowledge ( Link )
      • …to impart prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and gain instruction, and the discerning acquire wise counsel
  17. Times of Sorrow
    • Psalm 92:11 – How Great Are Your Works ( Link )
      • My eyes see the downfall of my enemies; when evildoers attack me, my ears are open.

Tools

Outline

  1. Person’s Conscience
  2. Bible
  3. Prayer
  4. Meditate
  5. Counsel
  6. Humility

Person’s Conscience

  1. As a personal level, one should allow and permit his conscience to speak to him.
    • Does your conscience bother you ?
    • Are you at rest?
    • How would you feel if same were directed at you?
  2. Determine those that are being affected by one’s conduct

Bible

  1. Bible Reading
  2. Understand Admonitions
  3. See Good and Bad
  4. Understand the Why

 

Prayer

  1. Prayer for Self
  2. Prayer for Others
  3. Praying for Good
  4. Praying for Community
  5. Praying for God’s Kingdom

 

Meditate

  1. Meditation
  2. Letting go of Group Thinking for a while
  3. Removal from empty chatter

 

Counsel

  1. Seeking wise counsel
  2. Observing Good in Others

Humility

  1. Placing others ahead of oneself
  2. Having patience in God’s promise, providence, and justice

 

Words

Here are some of what others have to say.

Athanasius of Crete

  1. When discerning God’s will, the ones who have God in them do not look at the obstacles but look at God’s help in the matter.

 

Seraphim of Sarov

  1. When a man provides his soul with the word of God, then he is granted the understanding of what is good and what is evil
  2. There are some distinct properties of true and false spirituality: “the devil cannot bring about love either for God or for one’s neighbor, or gentleness, or humility, or joy, or peace, or equilibrium in one’s thoughts, or hatred of the world, or spiritual repose, or desire for celestial things; nor can he quell passions and sensual pleasure.
  3. These things are clearly the workings of grace. For the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, and so on (cf. Gal. 5:22), while the devil is most apt and powerful in promoting vanity and haughtiness

Occasions of Right and Wrong Discernment

History is full of instances of good and not so good discernment.

St. Nicetas of Novgorod

Link

  1. In the early life, he was deluded by an “angel” as if being sent to help him after he recklessly attempted the feat of seclusion.
  2. Due to lack of humility and discernment, Nicetas took this appearance for a true Angel and obeyed him. The “angel” started to pray instead of Nicetas and told him only to read books and give advice to people visiting him and not to pray. He started to prophesy for the visitors and became a known seer.
  3. Instead, the elders of the monastery had enough discernment and noticed that in conversations, the recluse cited only the Old Testament and never the New Testament. So they understand that Nicetas was in delusion. They cast the “angel” away and gradually Nicetas got healed, gained humility and later was made a bishop.

 

Summary

For ourselves

God has giving us life.

We have to be careful with it.

As a sign of gratefulness, we have to cover ourselves; our thoughts, actions, and practices.

Entrusted

And, those entrusted with people have to extend the same care to those they are entrusted with.

God

God is always doing something on the earth; in the world.

He created it after all.

We have to be attuned to his desires and his heart for people.

He chooses to use people and thus those he tasks have to respond willingly, graciously, and gratefully.

 

References

  1. St. Athanasius
    • The New Greece
      • TheNewCrete > Orthodoxy > Following St. Athanasius: From Crete to Moscow
        Link

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