Exploring Prophecy #5 – Discerning of Spirits:
“Now it happened as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.” (Acts 16:16-19).
We have been looking at the three gifts of revelation Paul talks about in First Corinthians chapter twelve—the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, and discerning of spirits. These are three of the ways that God speaks to us by revelation. We learned that the Word of Knowledge is when God reveals to you a specific fact about a person, place or event that was not obtained through natural means. The Word of Wisdom is a divine revelation of the will, plan or purpose of God for a specific situation—it will give you the direction or wisdom you need to know what to do in a given situation. Today we are going to look at discerning of spirits.
What is discerning of spirits? This is the supernatural ability to distinguish between the sources of spiritual activity. It reveals to you whether the activity is divine (of God), human (of man) or demonic (of demons) in origin. “The Holy Spirit gives a person supernatural insight into the spirit realm, revealing the correct source and activities of spirits…This gift provides safety and protection for the people of God by exposing the actions or intentions of those knowingly or unknowingly determined to deceive believers.” (John & Sonya Decker, Foundations for Discovery).
In in Acts 16, we see an example of this gift in operation. As some of the disciples was going to prayer one day, a young girl started following them and saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” Now it’s important to note that what this girl was saying was true. However, even though she was speaking truth, she wasn’t operating in a gift of the Holy Spirit. The source of her knowledge was demonic in origin! The Bible tells us that she was possessed with a spirit of divination or fortune-telling. When Paul realized this—by the gift of discerning of spirits—he turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”
This encounter in the Bible reminds us about the power and authority that believers have over the forces of darkness. Jesus said to His disciples, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19). And to all of His followers, Jesus declares, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons.” (Mark 16:17). Lord, give to your people today the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You. May the eyes of our understanding being enlightened; that we may know the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear into the spirit realm, in Jesus’ mighty name, amen.
Pastor Chris Jordan