Bible Reading: Luke 13:11-17
Writing about the gift of discerning of spirits, Derek Prince made a profound comment. “While knowledge is the impartation of a fact, discernment is a form of direct perception. The result may be the same, but the means is different”
[The Gifts of the Spirit,” Derek Prince, page 85]
I would like to share two personal experiences today that help us to understand how the gift of discerning of spirits operates.
Not long after I became a Christian in 1963, my stepfather’s brother from New York came to visit us. I told him about my conversion and of giving my life to Jesus, and a little while later he invited me to attend a meeting with him in London. I did not understand why, but almost immediately a sense of apprehension came over me, and I sensed in my spirit that something was seriously wrong. I refused my step-uncle’s invitation and immediately felt a sense of relief. I later discovered that this man was involved in a religious cult, and came to recognise that God had been warning me of spiritual danger. I have come to believe that this was an early manifestation of the discerning of spirits in my life.
Many years later I was due to speak at a Sunday morning service at a church in North Wales. Knowing that it would be a four-hour drive from our home to the church on that morning, I rang the minister on the Saturday evening to ask if I could come to his home for a coffee and to freshen up before the meeting. I was surprised when he said that it would not be convenient. As I put the phone down the word “homosexual” came into my mind. It was not something I would normally think about, but I could not get the thought out of my mind.
I preached at the church on that Sunday morning, and then invited people to come forward if they would like someone to pray with them. Among those who came forward was a man who asked me personally to pray for him. Before I was able to do so the minister’s wife asked to speak with me privately. She told me that the man who had asked me pray with him was her husband’s “lover.” At that moment I realised that from the night before God had been preparing me by showing me a spirit that was at work in the church.
In both of these experiences the effect of the discerning of spirits was to make me aware of danger, and therefore protective. The gift of discerning of spirits can protect us from serious error and danger and reveal the character and motives of human hearts.
What lessons can you learn about the gift of discerning of spirits from these two stories?
In our Bible reading today Jesus set a woman free who had been bound for eighteen years. In what way do you see in this reading the discernment of spirits?