The discerning of spirits is a gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in First Corinthians chapter 12. As with all the spiritual gifts, it is a way in which the Holy Spirit manifests Himself to us. It is available to any believer. The way in which this gift operates in us will be determined by how well we’ve developed our spiritual senses and how well we’ve become acquainted with sensing the different ways in which God speaks.
Although this gift can be used to discern the presence and character of evil spirits, it can also be used to detect heavenly spirits. When this gift is in operation, we might be able to discern the specific nature of demons that we would not otherwise know. We might be given the names or areas of specialization of evil spirits. All spirits have certain areas of operation that they specialize in. Some demons specialize in creating feelings of despair or hopelessness, while others may tempt us with sexual sin. Some specialize in creating attitudes of religious superiority or self-importance. Heavenly spirits also specialize, but in positive ways. Some angels bring messages, some are responsible for healing and others bring spiritual revival. Sometimes the area of specialization of a spirit is revealed by its name.
Some people are able to smell the presence of evil spirits as an odor like rotten eggs or sulfur. Some detect the presence of angels by the presence of an odor of flowers or one of many different sweet or savory aromas. It might seem as if we smell these odors with our physical sense of smell, but it is our spiritual sense of smell that is at work.
Many people see demons and angels as they are revealed by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes these images are seen with the eyes open. Sometimes they’re seen with the eyes closed. They can appear either in our mind or as external to us. It doesn’t matter how we sense a spirit’s presence. The revelation of any spirit, regardless of how it is done, has the same purpose. Spirits are usually (though not always) revealed so that we might interact with them for a specific purpose. That purpose can be discovered by asking the Holy Spirit. There will be occasions when the revealing of a spirit is simply to make us aware that it is there without a need to interact with it. An example is a “watcher” angel. These angels do exactly that. They observe what is happening simply to be a witness to it.
Healing can be more effective as we become more aware of how angels are involved in the process. Many people I’ve interviewed have testified of seeing angels of healing at work—usually at meetings and conferences that are held for the specific purpose of healing and deliverance. If you have not seen healing personally, and wonder if it is a legitimate phenomenon, you might consider attending one of these meetings to see for yourself. In such meetings, angels are often discerned as they carry containers of oil, that when poured over the sick, bring healing. Angels of healing operate in many different ways.
I heard a testimony from a man who sees angels during healing conferences quite often. As he was praying for one man who had a brain tumor, he saw an angel holding what looked like a torch. The angel held the torch to the man’s head with the flame aimed at the part of his brain where the tumor was located. The man reported feeling a very strong sensation of heat inside his head. He was healed as a result of this encounter.
The practice of deliverance is almost completely dependent upon the gift of discerning of spirits. Unless evil spirits are revealed, it is difficult, if not impossible, to remove them. It’s not only necessary to know that an evil spirit is present, but we must, in some cases, know why it is present. Demons usually affect us because there is something in our life that gives them a point of access. In order for some demons to be removed, the point of access must be identified and removed.
It’s best to ask the Holy Spirit what specific spirits are present that need to be removed and how it should be done. It’s also wise to ask what, if any, angels are present who can assist in the removal of evil spirits and with healing. I often see spirits of pain attached to people when I pray for them to be healed.
In one healing meeting, a friend was found to have a demon. This woman is a Christian and has been for many years. She’s very proficient in the gift of prophecy. The demon that she had would not leave until someone discovered why it was there and what its area of specialization was. It turned out that the demon was a spirit of divination, which gained access to her through occultic activity she participated in when she was a teenager. Once the woman repented of the sin of divination, the spirit left.
This is an excerpt from my book Hearing God’s Voice Made Simple. To learn more, click on the link or on the image below.