In my book entitled “Essential Keys to Spiritual Warfare & Deliverance,” I did a section on “Growing in Discernment,” where I shared my own experiences of learning to operate in the gift of discerning of spirits, and what the Bible has to say about it. Hebrews 5:14 says that those who are spiritually mature have had their senses trained to discern between good and evil. That is one type of discernment that all believers who are spiritually mature should possess. 1st Corinthians 12:10 lists “discerning of spirits,” or being able to “distinguish between different types of spirits” as a gift of the Holy Spirit. This may operate differently with different people.
In my own experience, I often began to have dreams (while asleep), or mental pictures while awake, of certain creatures, things, or people doing things that would let me know what type of demonic spirit or stronghold I was dealing with so I could pray specifically against it. For instance, I might see a spider, which represents a spirit of control and manipulation, or a witch’s hat, which represents a spirit of witchcraft, etc. Naming the type of spirit I was praying against seemed to bring a new level of breakthrough that I did not experience prior to this. So, I think this is a very important gift.
However, I think we have to be careful about labeling people and be patient when helping people renew their minds and work through issues where they may have open doors for the enemy that stems from their past and haven’t quite learned to discern what is demonic and what is not. Ephesians 6:12 says that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood (people), but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places. Someone may have a stronghold, but they are not the enemy. They may be used by the enemy, sometimes unknowingly, but they are not the enemy.
Another thing I have learned and had to deal with is that when people have wounds from the past, especially if they have been molested or abused or have a root of rejection, they are sometimes triggered by others who remind them of a person or situation in the past where they were hurt or abused. They may judge others or suspect them of evil because they remind them of someone else, simply because they are a man, or because they read rejection into a situation, even when the person was not in any way trying to reject them.
Often Christians, who have a root of rejection from authority figures in their lives, will subconsciously look to the Pastors or leaders to give them the sense of approval they are lacking. And if they don’t give them the attention they desire, or have to say no for some reason, they will take it as rejection. I struggled with this as a young Christian myself. Thankfully, I have received mental and emotional healing, but I think we all need to examine our own hearts at times, and ask ourselves, why do I really have a bad feeling towards this person? Is it discernment or is it because I have a faulty filter due to past wounds? There are a lot of wounded people, in and out of the body of Christ, and we all need to remember that walking in love and being patient is the most effective way to reach people and help them receive the mental and emotional healing that they need. God bless you all.
In Christ ~ Kelly Rowe