I had just booked my flight online and was waiting for my email confirmation. I received it immediately and then checked my card for the charges. Strangely, there were no charges even after a few days. I went back online and searched the airplane company. Their website and logo appeared with a phone number at the top of the screen. I remembered this airline used an overseas call center and was not surprised by the accent of the customer service representative.
“Hi. I have a flight reservation, but the charges never made it to my card.” I said.
“Let me check that for you…(typing sounds)…Hmm, I see, hmmm. I see that flight, but there are no more seats. Can I put you on another?”
“Sure, go for it,” I agreed.
“It will cost more and leave from a different airport,” the representative said.
“Ok, ok. I need the flight either way,” I remarked.
The email confirmation came immediately. It wasn’t the best flight and it cost more, but at least I was going. I then checked the charges on my card and everything looked in order. I also noticed some charges from a company I didn’t recognize. It was almost the cost of my flight, but I thought the charges belonged to my husband.
The next day, I was bothered by the transaction. Something didn’t seem right. I called the same number to be put on hold for 30 minutes, which was unusual. I found a different number on the original email reservation and called that instead. It rang through and someone with the same foreign accent answered, “Hello, may I help you?”
I asked them if they could honor the original flight. The representative checked my record asking what travel agent I had used. I explained I had never used a travel agent. She insisted that I did, and then it dawned on me.
Apparently I had made my reservation through a website that looked like the airline, but wasn’t the airline. It was actually a high priced travel agency and you couldn’t tell at all. This explained the mystery charges on my card. I disputed it with my credit card company and had the charges dropped, but I was frustrated for being deceived.
We’ve all met a deceptive person. They acted one way, or they said one thing, but it turned out they weren’t what they said they were. Or they had an agenda, but didn’t tell you that upfront. Every one of us has experienced a person or a group of people just like that.
Typically, we are left scratching our head wondering why we didn’t see it until it was too late. What’s more frustrating is when we realize we ignored a trail of clues that should have been red flags to us.
There is a gift, a supernatural ability, from the Holy Spirit that will unmask these situations. It’s called the gift of discerning of spirits and it reveals the spirit of the matter: human, demonic, or divine. It’s mentioned in I Cor. 12:10 alongside other gifts of the Holy Spirit.
This is not the same as having an evil eye towards others or being suspicious, which are heart issues. It’s a divine ability from God to see past the surface and know the spirit and heart motive behind people and situations.
You Will Discern Spirits
Keep in mind this is a spiritual ability that exposes you to…spirits. This can be absolutely disturbing, as it can seem like demonic spirits are at work nearly everywhere.
One Sunday several years ago, I felt impressed to teach our congregation about the gift of discerning of spirits. I was very perplexed about its operation, however. I saw and discerned a lot of demonic activity and so did most of the people I associated with. The burning question on my heart was, “Why do we discern so many demons and hardly any angels?” It just seemed out of balance.
I couldn’t answer this question and it was almost time for the church service. I was sitting in our pastor’s lounge when a strange thing happened. I looked up just in time to “see” a friend of mine, who is a prophet, walk through the wall and into the lounge. I was actually having a vision, but it was as real as anything I could see naturally.
He greeted me and asked, “What are you teaching?”
I responded by saying, “I’m teaching on the gift of discerning of spirits.”
He replied very matter of fact saying, “Be sure to tell them this:
1. The gifts of the Spirit are an operation of faith;
2. You will see what you believe God to see;
3. You will see according to who you are.”
I did what he said to do in the vision. I taught these exact points during the service. By the end of the teaching and ministry time, I was receiving reports that people were seeing and discerning angels for the first time. Now we were balanced because we had lifted our faith to discern more completely. It also gave us more credibility in times that we truly did discern deceptive people and demonic spirits at work.
Leading Well Requires that You Discern Well
King Solomon connected discernment to good leadership. He could lead and judge difficult situations and get to the truth because he had discernment from God.
He prayed like this, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (I Kings 3:9).
My greatest mistakes as a leader happened when I ignored what I discerned. I didn’t want to see what I was discerning, or I didn’t understand it, or I couldn’t believe that someone had a wrong heart. My husband, on the other hand, would miss points of discernment when it wasn’t rational enough.
The gift of discerning of spirits is highly misunderstood in its operation. You won’t discern things with your mind. It’s not an ability to rationalize something through your intellect. You actually discern through your senses (sight, taste, touch, etc.) and you experience spiritual information before you have any rational evidence for it (Heb. 5:14). If you are not aware, you will miss these clues. For example, I will taste metal in my mouth when I’m near a person who has a spirit of violence on them. I can also “smell” lust, “sense” fear on my skin, or “feel” a religious spirit through a headache. I didn’t know these were connected until I asked the Lord to explain my random feelings. My husband discerns differently, however. He discerns things as a general feeling inside of him and in his words, he just “knows what he knows.”
What Do I Do With Negative Information?
The gift of discerning of spirits is a truth telling gift and a gate-keeping gift. You will supernaturally discern both good and evil. We usually know what to do with the good, but what do we do when we discern evil in people?
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment…” Phiippiansl 1:9
This verse instructs us that love needs to be balanced with discernment and discernment needs to be balanced with love. This is where we experience true tension. When a deceptive or possessed person comes into your life or into your church, what then does love look like?
Pray: Most of the time, you will pray about it and just leave it there. Prayer is powerful enough to handle it.
Address it with the whole picture in mind: Love has to consider the individual and the impact of the individual on others. If you are a leader of an organization or church, you will work that out depending on the strength and maturity of those you lead. If you are not the leader, but you have relationship with the leader, you can bring it to their attention. If they don’t agree with you, then let it drop to be proved out one way or the other.
Discern the difference between a broken person and a devil: The bible says that angels can appear in the likeness of men, which means devils can too (Heb. 13:2). Most people, like 99 percent, who are possessed or deceptive do so because they are broken. There is that small percent, however, that are actually devils. This gift will reveal it. I speak from experience to say that we don’t try to love devils into change. We cast them out.
Learn from your mistakes:“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14 NASB). There is a connection between maturity and discerning well. We learn to discern through practice, which implies learning by trial and error and a heavy dose of humility.
We need to love well and to discern well. Somewhere in the tension of these two areas, we learn to handle the truth and discover great leadership as a result.
Jennifer Eivaz, Executive Pastor Harvest Christian Center, Turlock, CA
Jennifer Eivaz is a vibrant minister and international conference speaker who carries the wisdom and fire of the Holy Spirit. She presently serves as an Executive Pastor with Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California, and is focused on raising up a passionate and effective prayer community that is tempered with love and hears the voice of God accurately. Jennifer loves the Presence of God and is a prophetic voice to her Church and to others. Her teaching style is authentic and aimed at the heart, having been built on her personal testimony of God’s incredible goodness and miraculous display in her life and in the life of her Church. Jennifer is a graduate of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is married to HCC’s Senior Pastor Ron Eivaz, and they have two wonderful children. She has written a book called The Intercessor’s Handbook.