How intriguing. Almost as soon as I put up an article which ended by correcting an error by the irate pirates, chookwatcher posts an article by J D Hall that completely misrepresents discerning of spirits.
Here’s what I wrote at the end of my article critiquing Discerning Discerners at Irate Christian Radio.
‘Finally, for this piece, Chris declared that discernment is a gift of the Spirit to nods of approval from the crew, one of whom later said the gift is not internal but of discerning in the Word, which gained the same amount of nods.
In fact, the manifestation of the Spirit outlined in 1 Corinthians 12 is the gift of discerning of spirits.
It is the divine ability by the leading of the Holy Spirit to determine whether a person is being influenced by demonic spirits, or if there are angelic spirits present. It comes as the Spirit leads, which may or may not mean it is an internal leading, or a perception.
For instance, in the Book of Acts, Paul perceived that a girl had a spirit of divination, and was led to cast the demon out of her.
Acts 16:18 Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
Grieved – diaphonio – inwardly troubled, intensely pained. Paul, being led by the Spirit, discerns that she has a spirit of divination and acts accordingly.
Discerning the Word is a completely different operation. It is also in conjunction with the Spirit, but it is not the same as the manifestation of the Spirit, which is discernment of spirits. We cannot just conjure the manifestation up at will. It is as He wills. But we can discern good and evil.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
‘By reason of use’, so by absorbing and engaging in the Word of God, so we can and should discern whether scripture, theology or doctrine is accurate. This comes because we spend time in the Word, under good teaching and training, and check everything we hear and read against the Word of God before accepting it for ourselves.
This is more than mere word-play. This is doctrine. If the pirates seek to discern truth, they need, at least, to understand the difference between the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit and the ability to discern through sound doctrine and practice.’
But J D Hall comes up with an article that completely misrepresents the gifts of discerning of spirits, as all cessationists do.
‘Within the Charismatic Movement, discernment is often viewed as this supernatural ability to see if the spirit which influenced something is a good spirit or a demon. That is not what true discernment is in the modern context.’
Do you see what he is doing here? He says ‘in the modern context’, by which he attempts to screen his cessationist tendencies. He is saying that under the context of 1 Corinthians 12 when Paul wrote it there was one meaning to ‘discerning of spirits’, but now, in the modern context, there is another meaning.
That is simply not good enough. The fact is that Paul meant what he said until Christ comes for the Church. The passage in question has not ended, and has not been modernised to suit the teaching of cessationists like Hall.
Let’s read the passage again for the true context.
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
See. It is the gift of discerning of spirits. It is not the gift of discerning doctrine or teaching. That is a different kind of discernment as I pointed out in the previous article.
These are the manifestations of the Spirit. They do not belong to us individually. He works them through us as He wills. He distributes them individually as He wills.
We cannot order them up at will. We have to be available to Him to be used when He wants to operate through us.
J D Hall’s problem is that he rejects the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit as a continuing operation of the Spirit exactly as it was when the first disciples received the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.
Therefore he has to modernise the gift to become the gift of discernment, which is exactly what Chris Rosebrough and Steve Kozar did in their Discerning Discerners discussion.
Yes, there is discernment of right and wrong, of truth and error, as I outlined in my previous article, but to attempt to negate the gift of discerning of spirits by giving it a modern context is poor exegesis.