Summary: Part 6 of our spiritual gift series examines the gifts of discernment, knowledge and wisdom.

Spiritual Gifts Series

Part 6 – Discernment, Wisdom and Knowledge

Rev. Bruce A. Shields

First Baptist Church of Tawas City Michigan


We’re continuing our series on the Spiritual Gifts this week.

This week I would like to talk about a few more gifts that are kind of related, Discernment, Wisdom and Knowledge.



This is the ability to separate truth from error and perceive variance from God’s word, sometimes called discerning of spirits.

We see en example of this in;

1 Timothy 4:1

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

Demons are teaching in churches today.

The devil is hard at work.

1 John 4:1-6

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

This is discernment.

If you have discernment, you will know whether someone is of the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Whoever is of God will listen to us and God’s council and whoever is of the world will not listen.

I had a person who I was counseling, and they had come to me many times for guidance.

From the first time I met them my discernment told me of what spirit they belonged, and I later received confirmation of this from someone else whose discernment I trust.

But I gave them the word of God even knowing what my discernment told me.

Of course they didn’t listen. It was all a show. It was always a show with this person, never any true commitment to Christ.

They would come for direction, but not follow it. Then they would come again for direction but not follow it.

Years have gone by now, and this person is still the same unchanged person they were. Living their will and never truly committing to Christ.

Exactly what my discernment had warned me of.

Does this mean they can never change? I don’t believe so.

Discernment is not prophecy, although you may receive a prophetic word for a person.

Discernment tells you where the person IS, present tense.

A couple years ago when Kelly and JJ first met, she brought him over to meet Terri and I.

He looked older than he was; he was in trouble at school, getting poor grades, in trouble with the law at the time, on probation, etc… by the way he was also an atheist.

In fact, Terri was warned by some teachers to keep JJ away from Kelly because he was bad news.

Although all of that was going on, that was what we can see.

No one but God can see the heart of man.

We are not supposed to go by sight.

When I first met him, although I didn’t care for his behavior and the trouble he was in, my discernment told me something else about JJ.

Through the Holy Spirit, God revealed to me in the form of a spiritual gift called discernment, that JJ was a good kid.

So although everything else pointed to trouble, I listened to God instead.

Now look, a couple years later and no more trouble with the law, good grades (well, most of them anyways), and not only has he accepted Christ, and been baptized, but he is always talking about God with his friends.

This is the JJ God saw a couple years ago, because God sees our hearts, not our flesh.

This is why we are not to judge one another.

What if I would have listened to what common sense was saying?

Looking at the trouble he was in.

But instead, discernment was my guide.

By the way, Spiritual Gifts are not parlor tricks. We cannot conjure up the Spirit of God at our will. This would be man controlling God’s Spirit.

God gives us gifts when He wants, and fills us when He wants.

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