Discernment and Gods Timing
God has made a provision for you to be at the right time and the right place with the right information to have the advantage in life and experience God’s blessing in every endeavor. You are not limited to relying solely on your wits, common sense or natural wisdom and knowledge. Through training and spiritual experience you can access the unlimited mind of God and knowledge of God to know what you need to know in every situation you come up against.
In 1 Cor. 12:7-11 we find mention of what we call the 9 gifts of the Spirit.
[1Co 12:7-11 KJV] 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Three of these gifts are classified as “Revelatory Gifts” that include: Word of knowledge; Word of wisdom; and Discerning of Spirits”. These gifts along with the other 7 gifts of the Spirit are given (v. 7) to EVERY MAN to PROFIT WITHAL. In other words everyone – not just ministers or highly gifted individuals can and should have the gifts of the Spirit working in their lives. They should have these gifts present not just for religious purposes or altruistic purposes. They are given for your PROFIT. The word profit here is where we get our English word “symphony”. In other words through the gifts of the Spirit and your response to the information that comes forth by the spirit of the Lord becomes a symphony of being in the right place and the right time with the right information to take advantage of opportunities, avoid pitfalls and walk in a level of personal success not experienced by those who reject divine guidance through these means.
The term “manifestation of the Spirit” v. 7 is the Greek word phanos or lantern. The gifts of the Spirit, particularly the revelatory gifts when they are employed reveal information like turning a light on in a room. Without the light on you might bump into something or hurt yourself even if you are very familiar with the room you are in. Going through life without the gifts of the Spirit is like walking through a darkened room. We trip ourselves up and bump into things and wonder “how did that happen?” or “why did God allow that to happen?” The answer is simple. Turn on the light of God’s gifts.
What is “discerning of spirits”? Is it about seeing or sensing ghosts or demons? The definition of the word discerning here is diakrisis. It means judicial estimation, to make a decision based on a distinction; to decide judicially; to settle a dispute. Col. 3:15 gives a perfect example of what this means:
[Col 3:15 KJV] 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let’s read this in the Amplified Bible:
15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].
So you can see that Discerning of Spirits as a gift of the spirit is not about using psychic or clairvoyant insight into the people or situations around you. It is intrinsically connected to decision-making. It would not strain the translation to read it as making decisions by the Spirit. Inherent in the expression of this gift is some type of action taken as a result of a decision inspired by the Spirit of God. This is understandable when you consider Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom:
[Luk 17:20-21 KJV] 20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
The kingdom of God comes in your life not by what you passively believe but rather what you act upon or action that you take. The actions you take are to be led by the Spirit not by mere natural reasoning. This is a very nuanced process that requires as Jesus implies – by an inward listening and an inward focus for that is where Jesus teaches the kingdom is to be found.
Proper Discernment and Improper Discernment:
If you are going to walk in discernment you first must be able to discern yourself. Solomon said:
[Pro 27:19 KJV] 19 As in water face [answereth] to face, so the heart of man to man.
What this means is that if you don’t properly discern yourself you will project upon others what is actually in your own heart. Paul referred to this in Rom. 2:1:
[Rom 2:1 KJV] 1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
In other words if you are not able to look at yourself transparently you will project upon others the issues that exist in your own heart and life. To use discernment to peer into someone’s soul is an illegitimate use of this gift. Paul said that in his flesh there was not to be found ONE good thing:
[Rom 7:18 KJV] 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.
Therefore if you use the insight of the Holy Spirit to look at someone in the natural you can find ANY EVIL THING you are disposed to find. Discernment is not the gift of suspicion. Discerning of spirits in 1 Cor. 12:7 is not a license to hold yourself exempt from Matt. 7:1 “Judge not that you be not judged…” This is a very pernicious problem among Charismatic and Renewalist Christians and brings much heartache, unjustified accusation and strife. We must learn to use discernment for the purposes it is intended for: to put you over in life, to place you in the right time and in the right place to gain advantage over all the wile of the enemy trying to hold you back.
How Jesus Discerned:
In Isa. 11:1-4 we find the inventory of the seven spirits of God and a direct reference to how the coming Messiah would discern:
Isa. 11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord:
and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
Here also the idea of DECIDING is connected with the subject of DISCERNING. The word “Judge” here means to govern and decide. Jesus referred to this very thing in John 5:19,30:
19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 30 I can of mine own self do nothing:as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
What was the key to Jesus’ effectiveness and authority? He only did what He saw the Father do. We assume He was using some exclusive access to God’s power that we don’t have. However Rom. 1:4 tells us that Jesus was declared or distinguished as the son of God by the Holy Spirit and not by his sinless nature or miraculous birth. Until the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove he was unknown even to those closest to Him. He manifested Himself as Lord and Savior by the same Spirit that He in turn made available to us and said in so doing that we would do greater works than He would (John 14:12).
So Jesus only did what He saw the Father do and only judged (krino – same root word in 1 Cor. 12:10). In other words where we in the natural operate on principle and precept Jesus acted on discernment and the prompting of the Spirit. We try to operate according to principles and run into failure. In John 5: 1-8 for example Jesus goes to the Pool of Bethesda and encounters a multitude of sick folk. He only heals only ONE MAN and departs. If he was acting on principle He would have been wrong – to have the ability to heal many more and not done so. However He didn’t act on principle He acted on the leading of the Spirit. Likewise you – in activating the gift of discerning of spirits should make your decisions by the prompting of the Holy Ghost and not on religious principle or the expectation of the circumstance. Remember that all discernment is connected with a decision. Discernment is not about imposing your suspicion upon others but imposing upon yourself a responsibility to act in any given situation in response to GOD’S SPIRIT and not other spirits or attitudes present. When you do – miracles, favor, advantage and blessing are the result. Discernment that puts pressure on others without a leading on your part to act is an illegitimate use of a legitimate gift.
Discernment via the Word of God:
Discerning by the gifts of the Spirit is not the only way to discern. The word of God is also a tool of discernment:
Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
We’ve already quoted Prov. 27:19 as an illustration of this. When you see someone in a light other than God’s perspective it is (according to the scripture) a reflection of something in your own heart. Either you are a perpetrator yourself of the wrong you “discern” in others OR you are a victim in your past of what you think you see in others and you need to forgive so that your discernment will not be skewed by a bitter root judgment of those people and circumstances that provoke memory or reference to the hurts and wounds from before.
One Other Common Example:
Prov. 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
When you see contention you know that pride is ruling. You can accurately discern this by Prov. 13:10 and accurately predict the outcome:
Prov. 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Discernment and a sense of God’s timing go hand in hand. God’s timing can be very frustrating. Jesus said in Rev. 3:11 “Behold I come quickly…” and it’s been 2000 years. 2 Peter 3:8 says that a day with the Lord is as a 1000 years and a 1000 years is as a day. Yet 2 Cor. 6:2 says NOW is God’s accepted time and NOW is our moment of salvation. It is interesting that in the same passage it tells us the word of God is a discerner there is also a statement about God’s timing:
[Heb 4:16 KJV] 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
God is never late. He never misses an appointment. If that is true then why do so many things happen where it seems like God was absent? In Luke 19:44 Jesus addresses this directly regarding the impending destruction of Jerusalem “because they knew not the hour of their visitation…”
Kairos Timing vs. Chronos Timing:
God has two indicators on His clock: 1.) Now and 2.) Not Yet.
[Jhn 7:6, 8 KJV] 6 Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. … 8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.
God’s NOW time is also known as kairos timing or the fulfillment of time and also God’s appointed time. Chronos time or not yet time is where we spend much of our lives. As Jesus said to His brothers and His mother – “your time is always ready (now)”. We want our outcomes NOW. We don’t want to wait.
Chronos Time is about PROCESS. Kairos Time is about OUTCOME. The two men on the road to Emmaeus are a good example of this (Luke 24:13-31). After the crucifixion of Jesus these two were leaving Jerusalem, unhappy, depressed, confused and Jesus, unknown to them came along side. He was with them in PROCESS but they didn’t realize it. Jesus walked with these men for three furlongs and instructed them although they didn’t know who He was. Then at the KAIROS moment He gave them their outcome. In one moment of blazing illumination everything they had seen and heard of Jesus for 3 ½ years became suddenly clear and brilliant and wonderful. We must COMMIT to PROCESS so we arrive at OUTCOME. These men could have told Jesus they didn’t want to hear any more. They could have told Him to go away. They could have decided to go on alone. If they had done so they would have robbed themselves of their victory and the understanding of all that had been happening around them for 3 ½ years.
Discernment and God’s timing go hand in hand. All true discernment is as much about compelling you to act in a given situation as it is placing some mystical judgment against someone for something that may in fact be operating in your own life. Discernment keeps you from making precipitous decisions that get you OUT of God’s timing for your life. Discernment will keep you on God’s timetable for what comes next. Discernment helps you maintain your position (in the right place, doing the right thing with the right people) until the right time when everything falls together and your miracle break through happens.
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