The Gift of Discernment Reveals Truth from Lies

The gift of discernment is one of the nine gifts given to the Church for edification and ministry (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). We use discernment to know good from evil; light from darkness; and truth from lies. It’s purpose is to guard against deception. The fool rushes into trouble, but discernment shows us when something isn’t quite right, so we avoid disaster. When we see the potential for danger, we can use discernment to change outcomes. Additionally, when we question a person’s motives or even certain choices they are making, discernment uncovers the truth behind the behavior.

Having strong discernment gives us the advantage over the enemy. Using discernment, we can determine if what we perceive from an individual or observe from a situation is fact or fiction. Satan is famous for deception and like the ‘bluff’ in a game of poker, the enemy uses deception to twist the truth and steal our blessings. Christians may unintentionally sacrifice their victories by falling for the bluff, but we can avoid traps using the gift of discernment.

When we know what’s true, we can effectively address the spirit in operation. Truth gives us the upper hand against the devil. When we have the truth, the truth sets us free; moreover, when we know the truth we judge righteously, avoiding a misstep. Just like a skillfully played hand in the game of poker, discernment essentially shows us when to call a bluff or fold the hand.

Photo Credit: Half Angel Half Devil by Zapacitha

Judging Good and Evil with the Gift of Discernment

The secular world understands discernment as the “sixth sense”, but the Bible describes discernment as the ability to judge between good and evil. Discerning between good and evil is necessary for rendering a righteous judgment. In the Bible, King Solomon requests wisdom from God to accurately judge the people he is ordained to govern. In his prayer he asks the LORD for discernment:

“Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9, ESV).

Solomon was a king who made decisions for the people of Israel. Like a judge ruling over court cases, Solomon received petitions from the people and rendered judgments. Rightful judgments require accuracy and the gift of discernment allowed Solomon to judge righteously. Operating in discernment, he wisely ruled on a case involving two women regarding the death of a child. The gift of discernment exposed the trickery of one woman’s testimony allowing Solomon to make a wise ruling in the case. During testimony, Solomon called that woman’s bluff.

The Two Prostitutes

16 Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house.  21 When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.” 22 But the other woman said, “No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.” Thus they spoke before the king.

24 And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” A sword was brought before the king. 25 And the king said, “Divide the living child in two; give half to the one and half to the other.” 26 Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, “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.” 27 The king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” 28 And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice (1 Kings 3:16-17, 21-22, 24-28, ESV).

Solomon’s discernment laid the groundwork for wisdom and he rightly judged the case between the two women.

Operating in the Gift of Discernment

Not all that glitters is gold. We can be fooled by the enemy if we’re not operating in discernment. Well-meaning Christians can make terrible decisions when they lack discernment.

Millions of dollars are funneled into the coffers of counterfeit pastors, preachers, and teachers of the faith by unsuspecting believers. Recently, several evangelists have been exposed for leading double lives and several prophets have been caught living like the devil.

What we see from a person’s public persona doesn’t always align with what we know is biblical. The Bible warns there will be deceivers professing Christ when their hearts are far from Him (Matthew 15:8). The people of God should know the difference between the legitimate and the counterfeit. It’s not the will of God to fund wickedness; especially using the name of Jesus.

People Can Use Their Gifts for Evil

While the gifts of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29), people can use their gifts for evil. The world is filled with deceived people using their gifts to enjoy ungodly living and ungodly living glorifies the devil. Believers should have no part in supporting darkness or any form of witchcraft.

For example, clairvoyants’ may legitimately see into the spirit realm, but unless a person is led by Holy Spirit and living a godly life their visions are counterfeits. They may sense or hear what they believe is ‘truth’ in the spirit, but what they are actually perceiving is a familiar spirit—a counterfeit. The person they believe they are speaking to is dead. What the clairvoyant is actually seeing is an image of the dead person and what they’re hearing is the voice of a demon. The demon knows certain characteristics about the dead and that is the messaging coming through the clairvoyant.

This is dangerous territory, opening doors to severe demonic oppression; chiefly, for those Christians who think it harmless to gamble with the devil. The gifts of God are for the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of Satan. Sadly, there are well-meaning people who fall victim to Satan’s bluff and when they refuse to turn away from wicked practices, they may pay for it with their lives. God is not mocked. Believers caught up in witchcraft and tom-foolery need to repent or face grave repercussions for their disobedience. Deception is avoidable when we choose to honor the Lord. Choose to make right choices and stay out of the danger zone.

Praying for the Gift of Discernment

We all encounter choices that could alter the landscape of our lives; praying for discernment will position us to make right choices. Some decisions may have little impact on our day to day living while others can severely impact the course of our future. Knowing when a choice is from God or not involves discernment. “Is it God’s will I move across the country?” “Should I marry this person?” “This seems like a nice church, but do they follow God’s Word?” “I’d like to trust him, but when he says he’s honest, something seems off.” “People are saying this guy is a false prophet, but how can I know?”

Important questions like this deserve answers based on truth and discernment is an instrumental part of keeping the believer in the will of God. This gift is available to the church so we should ask for it. Holy Spirit will develop the gift within us as we use it. Consequently, while discernment gives us great clarity about a matter, it also keeps us from exercising false judgments against others.

Weighing a Matter with the Gift of Discernment

Using the gift of discernment, those with a keen sense of perception know to weigh a matter before passing judgment. It’s wise to be careful when dealing with people. The Bible reminds us that we will be judged by the same measure we judge others (Matthew 7:2). It’s good practice to extend grace to people who are having difficulty overcoming certain behaviors. When behavior is questionable, we determine if someone is demon-possessed, influenced by a familiar spirit or if a spirit of oppression has affixed itself to the individual.

Taking the spirit of rejection as an example; it’s not uncommon for people repeatedly rejected to reject others. It’s like rejection is in their DNA. On the surface, we observe a person rejecting others as mean or cold: “Harry seems to hate everybody.” Harry doesn’t hate anyone, he’s victimized by a spirit of rejection and it’s destroying his relationships. If a spirit of rejection is behind Harry’s behavior, discernment will show us the difference.

More seriously, perhaps you’ve met someone and perceived perversion in that person. The untrained may immediately assume the person they are speaking to is a child molester; when in fact, that person was the victim of abuse. This is an excellent example of discerning truth and potentially saving a person from slander. Again, it’s important to withhold judgments until Holy Spirit has revealed the truth using discernment. The mature in Christ hold their tongues until Holy Spirit reveals the truth and they address sensitive issues in private.

13for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:13-14, ESV).

Discerning Regions

The same concept applies to neighborhoods or regions. Sometimes what we perceive as a depressing environment for example may be a principality ruling over the area. Principalities and powers can rule over atmospheres and regions. The Bible backs this up in Ephesians 6:12. It’s imperative to know the difference when we perceive something in the spirit; otherwise, we may invariably cast dispersion on a region in need of prayer. It’s our job to take everything to prayer. This includes neighborhoods and regions.

“…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, ESV).

Those who have trained their senses can recognize when a region is under the influence of a principality. In contrast, trained believers can also discern when they’ve entered into an atmosphere with God’s blessing upon it.

This author remembers the presence of God invading me as I traveled through a town in central Indiana. I was in praise and worship when suddenly, the power of God came over me and I felt a euphoria that gripped me like an intense warm fuzzy. It was powerful as God revealed His grace over the area. There was a stark difference between what I had passed compared to what I had just entered. It felt like I was in a different realm. The presence of God tarried for several miles before it lifted. It was a wonderful experience and I rejoiced for that town as I drove through it making decrees.

Using the Gift of Discernment to Heal and Deliver

We use the gift of discernment to heal people and deliver them from bondage. The Apostle Paul silenced a demon operating in a woman as she followed after him and Silas for many days:

16 “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour (Acts 16:16-18, ESV).

After many days, Paul finally recognized the proclamations coming from girl were counterfeit; they were the cries of a demon. This is also a great example of how Satan twists truth in order to seduce people into believing his lies. The demon possessing her was speaking the truth about Paul and Silas, proclaiming both men as servants of God, but the repetitive crying out for many days wasn’t holy. The girl was a fortune teller with a spirit of divination and the spirit controlled her speech when it encountered the anointing.

Knowing When to Walk Away

Paul and Silas perceived the girl had a demon and they also discerned they could cast it out. She was delivered and there was peace; however, some situations require we walk away or even run!

In ministry, we may encounter certain people or certain places that cannot be delivered. Not everyone with a demon wants deliverance and the people of some regions give principalities permission to occupy a territory. Some people like their devils and they won’t give them up.

In our own ministry, we have encountered people that flatly refused to accept deliverance because they enjoyed their sin and they weren’t willing to part with it. In these cases, we discerned by Holy Spirit the person was speaking from their own free will and not the influence of a demonic stronghold, so we walked away and left them to their choice.

Jesus encountered a similar situation when he delivered the man who had a Legion possessing him. Once the man was delivered from the demon, the people inside the providence demanded Jesus leave the region (Luke 8:36-37). There was no disputing the man’s healing, but when Jesus was asked to leave the region, He obliged.

We cannot coerce or force anyone to embrace Jesus. Those receiving Jesus in any capacity must do so by choice and free will.


In conclusion, the gift of discernment is available to every believer. This gift positions us to know truth from lies and righteous judgments from inaccurate ones. We can make the best decisions when we have the most accurate information; discernment does this, making it an important gift to develop. Working with Holy Spirit and the gift of discernment, we can rightly divide lies from truth. We can also determine if what we perceive in the spirit realm is accurate and factual.

©2021, What You Will

 What to read next: Appointed to Produce Results











Cynthia Holloway
Follow us
Latest posts by Cynthia Holloway (see all)

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • JJ says:

    The tools of discernment are the spiritual ammunition I really wish I would have had when I was younger.
    Thank You Miss Cynthia for giving us these gifts, and explaining it in a way we can all use and understand. God bless you!

    • HI JJ! I bet most of us feel as you do. I made some pretty dumb choices growing up; but surprisingly, God has managed to make something shine from most of those mess-ups. We’re all still growing up spiritually– ‘line upon line and precept upon precept’. I’m glad this article blessed you. Thank you for your comments.

Leave a Reply