8 Spiritual Gift of Discernment Characteristics

Spiritual Gift of Discernment Characteristics

Spiritual Gift of Discernment Characteristics

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits…All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” – 1 Cor 12:7-11

The Bible tells us that discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit. While the Spirit gifts different powers to different followers, some are bestowed with the power of discernment. 

This means some have the power of discernment more than others. This article explores the topic of the spiritual gift of discernment. Here you will find information about its meaning, and ways to make the best of it. The signs of the gift of discernment personality are explained here with examples.

Spiritual gift: Discernment

In simple language, discernment means wisdom to distinguish between good and bad. In the Christian faith, the power of discernment is gifted by the Holy Spirit to a select few. Discerning spirits meaning indicates it as “judging various spiritual agents for their moral influence”. 

This gift gives you the ability to distinguish whether what is presented to you is of divine, human, or demonic origin. It can be a person, an event, an encounter, an atmosphere, or a prophetic message.

In the First Corinthians 12:10, Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit offers “discernment of spirits” to followers to help them recognize lying spirits and distinguish deceitful and false doctrines. Paul also warns that if this gift of discernment is not exercised in the church, distortion of the truth occurs.

In today’s world, the gift of discernment is a much-needed attribute. With lies, falsehoods, dishonesty, and deception prevalent in the world more than ever, we need this ability to filter everything that reaches us – be it politicians, celebrities, influencers, community leaders, and even religious leaders. 

How to use the spiritual gift of discernment?

The Bible tells us that if you are wise and follow the teachings of the Lord, your life is itself evidence of the spirit of discernment. 

“Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” – Hosea 14:9

Most of us encounter conflicts, abuses, disputes, and aggressive and hurtful behavior at some point of time in our lives. This will naturally lead to anger, resentment, fear, denial, and a whole range of negative emotions. It is common for us to blame someone or something for our state of affairs. 

When we accuse and condemn others for these misdemeanors, we are just dealing with it superficially. We need to dig deeper to get to the root of the problem. The Bible teaches us that our fight should not be aimed at the people harming us but against the spirits opposing God and his divine ways. 

This is the essence of how you can use the spirit of discernment.

The gift of discernment is essential to recognize the spiritual battleground among us. Without understanding the right battles to fight, we may be fighting it all wrong. Though our intentions are pure, when we witness a misdeed or injustice, we get thrown off the track and end up doing the wrong things.

When we learn to understand, recognize, and discern what is happening around us spiritually, we can love the person and hate the sin. This may not be an easy task to master even with the Spirit-endowed spiritual discernment. You need to seek help from God and with his help, you can use your spiritual discernment skills effectively and successfully. 

Gift of discernment examples

“To clearly distinguish truth from error by judging whether a certain behavior or teaching has a divine, satanic, or human origin.” 1 Corinthian 12:10

Those who have the gift of discernment are ready to help others know and understand their own spiritual gifts. People with the gift of discernment typically work as counselors, mentors, and life coaches.

People with the gift of discernment are quick to spot falsehoods and wrongdoings when others fail to see it at all or take time. This ability can become a handicap for them as they are often misunderstood and blamed for being suspicious and distrusting.

Here are some examples of how discernment skills can be used in the right way.

Example 1:

Peter is in the church committee in charge of drafting a doctrinal statement. Being a devout Christian, he wholeheartedly believes in church doctrine. During the drafting process, he was quick to spot issues in the wording that other committee members missed. He can be blamed for being fastidious and nitpicking. His attention to detail is what saved the day for the whole committee. 

Example 2:

Judith is a Church member who is closely involved in its activities. She has often seen many people approach the church for donations. She decided to investigate some of the cases as they did not feel right. And she was proved right when it turned out that some of those seeking help were in fact scammers. Maybe her action can be regarded as skepticism but it helped uncover bad elements trying to cheat the church.

Example 3:

Chris is a pastor and he is always willing to help members of the church to overcome their mental and emotional issues. As he is used to listening to the life stories of the church members, he can easily spot a lie even when the person believes it to be true. This helps him convince the person in question that their understanding of the situation is wrong. Telling someone outright that their belief is wrong may be considered too direct. But this approach of the pastor helped the person view the situation with clarity and take remedial action.

Characteristics of discernment

Some essential gift of discernment characteristics are:


Accepting and acknowledging defects, willing to learn, and seeking guidance from God


The ability to set aside desires and choose to do God’s work


An essential attribute to give up control of your life and place it in God’s hands


The willingness to let go of preconceived notions and accept the outcome of discernment.


Being aware of your own strengths, weaknesses, orientations, and afflictions. 


The ability to be honest with yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings. 


When you use your power of discernment, you should experience feelings of comfort and peace. If not, you need to wait.


The mind needs to be calm to listen to God. You need to keep the mind chatter and self-talk under control to make this possible.

Concluding thoughts

“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 5:14

At times, you may get the impression that the gift of discernment is similar to insight or intuition. You cannot be further from the truth. The difference is simple to understand. While insight has its origins within yourself, discernment is not. It is a gift from God and God alone can help us use it.

You may also want to check out our ultimate guide on Spiritual Meaning of Zodiac Signs, or our Spiritual Protection guide to protect yourself from negative energy.

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