What is the gift of a spirit of discernment?
In First Corinthians 12:10, Paul refers to “distinguishing between spirits” (or “discerning of spirits” in the NKJV) – as a spiritual gift that God gives to believers in order to recognize lying spirits and to identify deceptive and erroneous doctrines.
Paul warned when this gift of discernment is not being exercised in the church, distortion of the truth occurs.
But this gift of discernment is not something that is only exercised in a corporate church setting.
In 1 John 4:1, believers were exhorted to “not believe every sprit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
As believers today, you and I are to heed that instruction to test worldly philosophies, foreign doctrines, and even new perspectives and ideas that come out of the mouths of politicians, celebrities, community leaders, and even pastors and religious leaders. We are to test everything that comes through our television sets, over our radio waves, and across our laptops and phone screens.
To have the spirit of discernment is to possess the ability to judge well. We get our English word "aesthetic" from the Greek word for discernment, meaning moral perception, insight, and the practical application of knowledge.
First Timothy 4:1 tells us: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Thus, we are urged to “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 1:8).
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