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SPIRITUAL GIFTS SERIES

The Spiritual Gift of Distinguishing

of Spirits

Class of Gift: Serving 

“and to another the distinguishing

of spirits

1 Corinthians 12:10, Page 1796

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Section One

Introduction

1.1 Every Born-Again Christian Has at Least One Spiritual Gift.  Every born-again believer in Jesus Christ has received a spiritual gift from the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, page 1796). Please recall also that one spiritual gift may have a variety of ministries (“διακονιῶν”), with a variety of spiritual effects (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, page 1796). Therefore, God uses believers with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits to produce a variety of ministries and a variety of effects.

1.2 Meaning of the Term “Judgment of Spirits.” The phrase used to describe The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits concerns a special spiritual ability to recognize spirits. The New American Standard Bible translates the term “judgment” (“διακρίσεις”) as “distinguishing.” Because of the term’s use elsewhere, I prefer the term “judgment.” A few examples will help in understanding its use in the New Testament.

 

Section Two

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Identifying Evil Spirits

2.1 The Spirit of Satan. After Jesus explained to His disciples that He must suffer, die and be raised up on the third day, Peter rebuked Jesus and declared those things would never happen (Matthew 16:21-22, Page 1530). Jesus then turned to Peter and said: “Get behind Me satan” (Matthew 16:23, page 1530). Jesus further explained that Peter had set his mind on man’s interests, not God’s. Jesus displayed His ability as God to distinguish the spirit of satan at work in Peter. A believer with The Spiritual Gift of The Judgment of Spirits may be able to identify the spirit of satan or other evil spirits at work in believers and other people, causing them to set their minds upon the interests of man, and not the interests of God.

Identification. If you have a ministry of identifying the spirit of the devil or other evil spirits at work in believers and other people, causing them to set their minds upon the interests of man, and not on the interests of God, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

2.2 The Spirit of Python. As Paul walked about Philippi, a slave-girl followed after him. She kept crying out: “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17, page 1732).  Even though the slave-girl said nice things, Paul identified the spirit within her as an evil spirit, “the spirit of divination.” Literally, the term was “spirit of python” (“πνεῦμα πύθωνα”). The Holy Spirit enabled Paul to discern that the spirit inside the slave-girl was evil. The believer with the Spiritual Gift of Judgments of Spirits may be able to identify the true spirit behind very nice words spoken about people.

Identification. If you have a ministry of identifying the true spirit of very nice words spoken about people, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

 

 

Section Three

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Removing Misgivings

3.1 Misgivings. In Acts 11:12, page 1721, Peter related his experience when the Holy Spirit fell upon him and removed all misgivings (“διακρίναντα”) about going with messengers from Caesarea. The term “misgivings” relates to other uses of the root term to indicate doubts. In this case, the Holy Spirit specifically removed doubts about going with the messengers. At times in our lives, we have serious misgivings about doing certain things. A person with The Spiritual Gift of The Judgment of Spirits may help us identify if our “misgivings” are from the Holy Spirit or not.

Identification. If you a ministry of determining whether “misgivings” are from the Holy Spirit or not, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Four

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Passing Judgment

4.1 The Gift of Prophecy. Paul directed the proper of use of The Spiritual Gift of The Prophets. He explained that during the public meeting of the church, only two or three prophets were to prophesy at one meeting, and others would pass judgment. If a revelation is made to another, then the first must remain seated.

4.2 The Passing of Judgment. Apparently, the other prophets were to pass judgment (“διακρινέτωσαν”) upon the person offering a revelation (1 Corinthians 14:29, page 1800). At all times the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. The prophets never were to lose control over themselves, so that they fell into uncontrolled, ecstatic utterance. Instead, at all times, they were to remain in control of their own speaking. The other prophets present may be the ones passing judgment, but a male believer here possessing The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits would know whether the prophecy came from God or elsewhere. Only a male with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits would be proper in this context because females should remain silent and are not permitted to speak at church meetings with males present (1 Corinthians 14:34, page 1800). Likewise, the female believers should refrain from exercising authority over male believers, because of the order of creation (males first) and the spiritual deception of Eve (1 Timothy 2:12-14, page 1856).

Identification. If you have a ministry of identifying the spirit behind a prophecy offered to other believers, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

 Section Five

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Resolving Doubts

5.1 Discern and Doubt. Doubts cause problems for all believers.  The root term for “doubt” and the term for “discern” both have the same root word. Although I understand the limits, I posit that The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits has an aspect to it covering “doubt.” Therefore, because the root words are the same, we should consider a few verses about doubting.

5.2 Doubt and Prayer. Jesus instructed His disciples about prayer. He focused upon doubts inhibiting prayer. Jesus told His disciples that whatever they believe will happen “without doubts” (“μὴ διακριθῇ”), it will be granted to him (Mark 11:23, page 1581; Matthew 21:21, page 1538).  The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may also be able to distinguish doubt from faith. Some people may speak from doubts that oppose faith, and the use of The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may help in separating doubt from faith.

Identification. If you have a ministry of separating doubts from faith in what people do and say, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

5.3 Doubt and Food. Paul taught that believers should avoid eating things that cause other believers to stumble (Romans 14:21, page 1778). We must each eat with our own convictions before God (Romans 14:22, page 1778). If people doubt when eating certain things, then they are condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23, page 1778). The person with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may distinguish between faith and doubt in a believer, particularly when it comes to food and drink.

Identification. If you have a ministry of judgment between faith and doubt in matters of diet, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

5.4 Doubt and Wisdom. James commanded all believers to seek wisdom from God, but they must ask in faith without doubting (“διακρινόμενος”)(James 1:5-6, page 1887). The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may be able to discern faith from doubt in the spirits of those believers seeking wisdom.

Identification. If you have a ministry of discerning faith from doubt in the spirit of those people seeking wisdom, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

5.5 Mercy and Doubting. Jude linked doubting (“διακρινομένους”) with mercy (Jude 1:22, page 1913). Jude wrote to the called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ (Jude 1:1, page 1912). He commanded believers to have mercy on people who are doubting. Mercy refers to withholding punishment, and mercy produces a spiritual response in a person watching another person suffer. In this case, mercy refers to lovingly helping the person suffering affliction. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may be able to discern a person suffering affliction, and pour out mercy upon them as they doubt.

Identification. If you have a ministry of discerning that a person is suffering from affliction, and you pour out mercy upon them as they doubt, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Six

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Appraisal

6.1 Judging. The New Testament provides very specific information about judging people, including ourselves. One aspect of judging concerns the same root word “διακρίνειν” (to distinguish or discern) for judgment and judging.

6.2 Discerning Arrogance. Paul exposed the sin of one becoming arrogant against another (1 Corinthians 4:6, page 1786). Paul explained that if you think you are superior (“διακρίνει”), then you must remember that you are overlooking the fact that all that you have, you have received (1 Corinthians 4:7, page 1786).

Identification. If you have a ministry of understanding that all that you have, you received, then you may be able to help others avoid thinking they are superior, and you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Seven

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Discerning the Times

7.1 Discerning. Jesus answered the Pharisees and Sadducees seeking a sign from Him. He reminded them that they were able “to discern” (“διακρίνειν”) the appearance of the sky regarding the likelihood of storms, but they could not discern the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3, page 1529). The believer with the Spiritual Gift of Judgment Spirits may be able to discern the spirits of the people failing to understand the spiritual signs in front of them.

Identification. If you have a ministry of discerning the spirit of the people failing to understand the spiritual signs in front of them, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Eight

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Rebuke without Railing Judgment

8.1 Rebuke. Michael the Archangel did not possess The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of  Spirits, but he provided an excellent example of delivering a rebuke in the name of the Lord, without a railing judgment (“διακρινόμενος”) (Jude 1:9, page 1912). While disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, Michael did not dare pronounce against the devil a railing judgment. Michael recognized the power and authority of satan. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may be able to deliver a rebuke against a powerful being in the name of the Lord without falling into a railing judgment.

Identification. If you have a ministry delivering rebukes against powerful beings in the name of the Lord without falling into railing judgments, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Nine

The Ministry Judgment of Spirits:

The Gall of Bitterness

9.1 Gall of Bitterness. Paul encountered a man named Simon who thought he could become like the apostles so that when he laid his hands on a believer, they would receive the Holy Spirit. After Simon attempted to buy that gift, Paul told Simon to repent, because Simon was in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity (Acts 8:22-23, Pages 1714-1715). The Holy Spirit again helped Paul to discern the spirit at work in the life of Simon.

Identification. If you have a ministry of discerning that a person needs to repent, because that person is in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity, particularly because that person seeks to acquire spiritual power by buying it, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Ten

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits: Judgment

10.1 Judge the Body. In 1 Corinthians, Paul confronted the believers about their practices at the Lord’s Supper. When they gathered to remember the death, burial, resurrection and return of the Lord Jesus Christ, they disgraced themselves and their testimony by their actions of getting drunk and acting selfishly (1 Corinthians 11:17-22, page 1795). Furthermore, Paul commanded them to judge (“διακρίνων”) the body rightly (1 Corinthians 11:29, page 1796). He meant that each believer must focus upon the body of Christ, crucified for us, and discern in ourselves any sin causing turbulence in our relationship with Jesus. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may have the ability to discern disturbances caused by unconfessed sins in the lives of believers.

Identification. If you have a ministry of discerning sin that causes people to incur problems because they did not judge the body rightly before partaking of the Lord’s Supper, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Eleven

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Acceptance

11.1 Weak in Faith. In Romans, Paul explained how more mature believers must accept the weak in faith. The strong must accept the weak, without passing judgment (“διακρίσεις”) on the opinions of the weak. Doctrine always makes a difference, but opinions may be personal. The term “opinion” (“διαλογισμῶν”) means in this context the personal decision to eat vegetables or not or to observe one day above another (Romans 14:1-9, page 1777). That personal decision should not lead others to view you with contempt (Romans 14:3, page 1777). We are not free to have our own doctrine, but we may have our own opinions. The strong must be careful to distinguish the doctrine from the opinion. In all cases, we should not sit in judgment upon other believers for their opinions, and always avoid regarding them with contempt. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may have the ability: (a) to distinguish opinion from doctrine; and (b) to accept the weak without passing judgment upon their opinions; and (c) avoid regarding others with contempt for their opinions.

Identification. If you have a ministry characterized by the ability: (a) to distinguish opinion from doctrine; and (b) to accept the weak without passing judgment upon their opinions; and (c) to avoid regarding others with contempt for their opinions, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Twelve

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Christian Court

12.1 Christian Court. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul explained to the Corinthians that believers should not take believers to secular court. Instead, they should resolve their differences in the church. Specifically, the two opposing parties should find a wise man who will be able to decide (“διακρῖναι”) between them (1 Corinthians 6:5, pages 1787-1788). In this case, the wise man can use his spiritual ability to make a judgment between the two opposing parties. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may be able to decide between the competing people and competing spirits opposing each other in the Christian court.

Identification. If you have a ministry to discern between competing people and competing spirits, so that you may render a wise decision between opposing parties, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Section Thirteen

The Ministry of Judgment of Spirits:

Discerning Good and Evil

13.1 Good and Evil. As a normal part of growing up in Christ to a mature believer, God must train our senses to discern good and evil. Some people were born again years ago, but never matured in Christ, because they have become dull of hearing, and require teaching of the elementary principles of the oracles of God (Hebrews 5:12, page 1874). Those immature believers should have become teachers of the truth, and not remained ignorant and immature. Immature believers often cannot tell the difference between sound doctrine and the doctrine of demons. Immature believers often cannot discern that certain teachers of the Bible are not teaching the Bible, but rather teaching the doctrine of demons. Immature believers need milk and not solid food (Hebrews 5:12, page 1874).  Only mature believers accustomed to solid food have by repeated practice had their senses trained to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14, page 1874). Only the regular diet of solid food (doctrine from the word of God beyond the elementary principles of the oracles of God) can help the believer truly discern good and evil. The believer with the Spiritual Gift of Judgment Spirits may be able to distinguish good and evil, and the spirits behind the teaching.

Identification. If you have a ministry of discerning between good and evil, and you can distinguish the spirits behind the teaching, and you enjoy a spiritual diet of solid food, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

Hallmarks of The Spiritual Gift of

Judgment of Spirits

Judgment of Spirits: Understanding the Spiritual Gifts. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits has the ability to discern the spirits at work in people. As above, the ministry of the believer with The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits may take many forms, and produce a variety of effects. I have listed a few of those hallmarks below.

Please review this entire chapter to understand The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits and then see if you have that spiritual gift.

Check out the list to see if you have some of the spiritual qualities listed below and then see if other believers confirm your understanding. You may have The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to identify the activity of satan causing a believer to focus upon the interests of man and not the interests of God.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to discern the true spirit behind very nice words spoken about people.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to determine whether “misgivings” are from the Holy Spirt or not.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers  may be able to identify the spirit behind a prophecy offered to other believers.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to separate doubts from faith in what people do and say.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to distinguish between faith and doubt in matters of diet.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to distinguish faith from doubt in the spirit of those people seeking wisdom.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to discern that a person is suffering from affliction, and pour out mercy upon them as they doubt.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to understand that all that you have, you received, and you help others avoid thinking they are superior.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to discern the spirit of the people failing to understand the spiritual signs in front of them.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to deliver a rebuke against a powerful being in the name of the Lord without falling into a railing judgment.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to discern that a person needs to repent, because that person is in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity, particularly because the person seeks to acquire spiritual power by buying it.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able: (a) to distinguish opinion from doctrine; and (b) to accept the weak without passing judgment upon their opinions; and (c) to avoid regarding others with contempt for their opinions.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may be able to discern between competing people and competing spirits, so that you may render a wise decision between opposing parties.

♦  Judgment-of-spirits gifted believers may enjoy a diet of solid spiritual food, so that they are able to discern between good and evil, and they can distinguish the spirits behind the teaching.

Conclusion

The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits includes a variety of spiritual abilities all dealing with the ability to discern the spirits behind or at work in the actions of people and the teachings they promote. It also includes the ability to identify the spirits at work in people, and to make wise decisions between competing parties in a dispute. At times, it helps others avoid drowning in bitterness. The Spiritual Gift of Judgment of Spirits also includes the ability to discern the spirits behind actions and teachings, and to distinguish good from evil.