Thursday, February 23
The Holy Spirit and the Gift of Discernment
Read 1 Corinthians 12:10, 14:29 and 1 John 4:1-3. Why is the gift of discernment important?
While there are genuine spiritual gifts present in the church, the Bible also warns us not to believe every spirit but rather to test the spirits by their conformity to Scripture, their consistency, and whether they exalt Jesus as the Lord. It is necessary to “distinguish between spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10, ESV) because not everything that pretends to come from God is really from God. We are warned that there are demonic powers seeking to mislead the church, and that there are devilish reproductions of the genuine gifts of the Spirit, such as false teachings, false prophecy, lying visions, counterfeit tongue-speaking, occult healing powers, misleading signs and wonders, et cetera.
Some who accept the validity of the spiritual gifts even today, however, have placed a special emphasis on some spiritual gifts and have given unwarranted prominence to the presence of special signs and wonders. It is interesting that Paul lists the gift of discernment immediately after he mentioned the gift of “effecting of miracles” and the gift of “prophecy” and before he mentions the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 12:10, NASB).
In order to preserve the church in truth and unity and to safeguard the members from following false prophets and being deluded by false signs and miracles, God gives the church the gift of discernment. Biblical maturity, knowledge, and faithfulness to God’s Word in faith and practice are needed to make proper evaluations. The basis for all discernment, however, has to be the Word of God. Only through testing everything by the Word can we know for sure whether what we are hearing or seeing is truly from the Lord or, instead, from somewhere else.
“The man who makes the working of miracles the test of his faith will find that Satan can, through a species of deceptions, perform wonders that will appear to be genuine miracles. . . . Let not the days pass by and precious opportunities be lost of seeking the Lord with all the heart and mind and soul. If we accept not the truth in the love of it, we may be among the number who will see the miracles wrought by Satan in these last days, and believe them. Many strange things will appear as wonderful miracles, which should be regarded as deceptions manufactured by the father of lies. . . . Men under the influence of evil spirits will work miracles.” – Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 2, pp. 52, 53.