BOOK: The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit
Chapter 4.4: Discerning of Spirits

4.4    Discerning of Spirits


        The gift of discerning of spirits gives insight into the spirit world.

A.    This gift allows you to "see" into the spiritual realm.  You may see good or evil spirits and their operation, or you may see the good or evil nature of a man's spirit.

B.    This gift may manifest as an "insight" or "perception" in your spirit as to the true nature of a spirit which is operating (good or evil in operation).  This is much like an inner witness manifestation; however, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit includes broader applications, such as inner "peace" witnessing to  you that you are in right relationship and fellowship with God.

C.    If you were ministering to a person who had an evil spirit, the gift of discerning of spirits would either give you an inner witness, like your spirit man drawing up inside you, or it might show you the evil spirit.  The spirit might look like a black blob or cloud.  Note that discerning of spirits would not tell you that a person had an evil spirit or what kind it was, that would be a word of knowledge.

D.    This is not a gift of "spirit of discernment", that is a "spirit of criticism" and is evil.  nor is it a gift of "discernment", that is wisdom.  Note we all, saved and unsaved, have some capacity of spiritual discernment, that is to say our spirits can sense when other spirits are around and as to what operation they are of.  This is not the gift of "discerning of spirits", because it is functioning by our human spirit and not by the Holy Spirit.

A.    Mainly manifested in dreams and visions.  Dreams are when you are asleep.  Visions are when you are awake.  There are three types of visions: 
1.    closed vision - when you see in a vision in your spirit.  You may see spirits operating where you are at or other location, but you see it in your spirit and not in conjunction with your natural eyes.  Whatever you are doing physically at the time is not affected or hindered.  For example, you might be ministering to someone, and in your spirit you see the person and a demon clinging to their back, but with the natural eyes you saw nothing.

2.    trance - when you see a vision in your spirit, but your physical facilities are suspended.  you are literally "frozen" in place; you could be frozen standing or you could fall under the power and remain frozen there.

3.    open vision - when you see both in the spiritual realm and in the physical realm at the same time.  Your physical facilities are operating as normal and are part of the manifestation.  For example, you might be ministering to someone, and your spiritual eyes are opened so that you see a demon clinging to the person's back.  It appears that you are seeing it with your natural eyes, because your natural eyes are working in conjunction with your spiritual eyes.
B.    May be manifested as an "insight" or "inner witness perception".

C.    May operate with other revelation gifts.


        A.    Isaiah 6:1-5               Isaiah sees God's glory and angels

        B.    Acts 7:55                  Stephen sees Jesus at throne

        C.    Acts 8:18-23             Simon's heart not right

        D.    Jacob's ladder - seeing angels ascending\descending
        E.    Exodus 33:18-34:7     Moses sees the back side of god
        F.    Daniel's dreams and visions
        G.    Ezekiel's visions of God's glory and angels
        H.    Matt 1:18-20             angel appears to Joseph
        I.     Luke 1:11-12             angel appears to Zacharias
        J.     Luke 1:26-29             angel appears to Mary
        K.    Luke 2:8-15              angels appear to shepherds
        L.    Acts 16:16-18           Paul's spirit grieved (perceived)