10th July 2023

Bethany Verrett explains


Understanding the
Spiritual Gift of Discernment

When looking at the world, people take in information from
everywhere, process it, and then choose what to do with it.

Some people seem to do nothing with what they see and learn.
Others seem to take in their surroundings and be one step ahead
of it; they make smart decisions, have an almost supernatural ability
to determine who is trustworthy, or seem to always have the perfect
advice for a situation.

In the Christian faith, it comes from the Holy Spirit,
and is a way of having insight in determining the true nature of a
situation, person, or thing.

In the simplest terms, discernment is wisdom.

Many Christian denominations believe it can allow someone to know
whether a demonic of heavenly influence is over a person, place, or event.
It is a gift that can be requested, used, or ignored.

One of the harder elements of defining discernment,
and finding information about it in the Bible, is that discernment
is not always the word used in any given English translation.

Often the version will use another word.
Synonyms include wisdom, understanding, discretion, prudence, testing,
and sense. Any time a reader sees these words, that is a signal the
subject is discernment.

One of the most famous stories in the Bible is about discernment.
After King David died, his son Solomon was anointed and ascended
to the throne.

Overwhelmed with the responsibility, when God offered him anything
in the world, his request was simple,

"Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern
  your people, that I may discern between good and evil"

.....1 Kings 3:9a

God granted him this wisdom, and much more.
He became famous for his wisdom, and solving problems and addressing
disputes became a part of his job.
When two women came to him claiming to be the mother of one baby,
it seemed to be a difficult dilemma.

Both had sons, but one child died.
Without modern genetic testing, how would he determine who was the child's
rightful mother?
At first, it seemed like he suggested something unthinkable,
to cut the child in half.

In that instance, the women revealed their inner character:

"Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king,
  because her heart yearned for her son,
 'Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.'
  But the other said,
  'He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him'"

.....1 Kings 3:26

God gave Solomon the understanding of human nature to discern
which woman had love in her heart, which had malice, and how to
extract the truth. The baby was given back to his mother.
The full account is in 1 Kings 3:16-28.

True discernment starts with prayer.
Just like Solomon requested wisdom, the believer should ask the Spirit
for guidance and discernment.

"The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
  to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God"

.....(Psalm 14:2).

It is also a willingness to learn from those who are
older and wiser.
The book of Proverbs is structured as a father teaching his son what
true wisdom looks like.

Consulting God in prayer, asking wise believers for their input,
and reading the Scripture helps cultivate a spirit of discernment.
Applying this wisdom is where the life of a believer makes the difference.

Despite all the knowledge available to mankind, Solomon did not apply it
when making marriages, and eventually he allowed each bride to worship
any god they wished, leading to the spiritual decay of
the entire nation of Israel.

If a Christian applies spiritual wisdom, and is listening to the Holy Spirit,
that person will exhibit the characteristics of someone wise and Christ-like.

Since Jesus is the model for living life, He showed discernment.
He also taught on the subject.
He emphasised not seeking the wisdom of the world,
which clouds true discernment.

The wise Pharisees and Sadducees - the religious leaders of the day -
were unable to identify Jesus as the Messiah because they were too
wrapped up in their own knowledge.

However those the culture would have viewed as uneducated, simple, or
foolish saw the truth. Jesus even said,

"I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
  that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and
  revealed them to little children."

.....Matthew 11:25b

The more wisdom and discernment a Christian exercises,
the stronger his or her faith, and the better that person will be able
determine what is right, good, and God's will,
manifesting in love for God, and others, just like Jesus had.

Bible references avaiable, on request

A Prayer for Discernment

Holy Father,
Thank you for wisdom from Your Word and guidance from Your Spirit.
Thank you for leading us and making Your wisdom available to us.
Lord, I know that without You, I will make foolish, selfish, sinful
choices that do not bring You glory or expand Your kingdom.
Please grant me discernment.
Help me to understand Your will and Your way in all circumstances.
Give me conviction to do what is right, peace to know it is Your leading,
and the insight to see when I am trying to discern in my own power
rather than Yours.
Please grant me wisdom to walk through life safely and in a manner
that glorifies You.
Show me the times of trial and when I am being tempted,
so I can lean on You.
I want to live a life that is Spirit-led and Spirit-filled.
Father, teach Your people to follow the path set before us,
to run the race with endurance, and to finish well.
Make us discerning like Jesus.
In Your Son's name I pray,
Amen. is the largest free online
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Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer who uses her passion for God,
reading, and writing to glorify God. She and her husband have lived
all over the country serving their Lord and Savior in ministry.
She has a blog on