(If you have not read our teaching, “Discernment – Why You Might Not Have It,” we recommend that you do so. In that teaching, we recommend that if a believer lacks discernment he or she should pray and ask God for it. In the same way that God tells us to pray for wisdom (if we lack it), we also need to ask for discernment and understanding.
Besides prayer, there is another absolutely vital factor in how to gain discernment, and that is we must study, know, and meditate on the Word of God. How can we discern properly without knowing what the Bible says? So many believers seem to want quick fixes to their spiritual problems—a type of “drive-through” Christianity. However, God seems to be more into the “slow cooker” process—patiently and thoroughly working in our lives.
Knowing the Word of God and how to rightly divide it is crucial in these times, especially if we are going to be able to walk in a strong gifting of discernment. Believing even one of the devil’s lies can cause deception in our life and can block discernment, even if only in one area of our belief system. Everything can be on track except in that one area. Yet God wants us on track in all areas!
Some people have such a strong gift of discerning of spirits that they sometimes tell God they don’t want that gift, and God can and may remove that gift from someone who doesn’t want it. But if you are in the ministry of helping set people free from strongholds, it is an absolutely essential gifting.
When any of us discern something, we need to ask the Lord what to do with what He is showing us. It’s not usually something we need to go around telling everyone about—gossiping, slandering, or speaking of that individual with contempt. Sometimes it’s for the purpose of being able to minister and pray more effectively for that person.
There are also times when we are discerning that we are to warn others, to help them avoid the traps and snares of the devil. Always ask the Lord what you are to do with what you are discerning. And be constantly aware that there is a very fine line between discernment and judgmentalism.