In our Seek the Gifts series on the gifts of the Spirit, we’ve been looking at the spiritual gifts Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. There are subcategories to these gifts, and we are talking about the revelation gifts.
As we go through these gifts, providing definitions and examples of how people use these gifts in the body of Christ, see if you have one of these gifts. It’s a blessing to serve in Christ’s body with the gifts the Holy Spirit has handpicked for you. Let’s dive deeper and bring out the blessings of His gifts.
Why These Gifts?
We must understand why the Holy Spirit gives these gifts. The Spirit uses these gifts to guide individuals and churches into His will. There are natural methods for discovering knowledge and finding wisdom. And the Bible reveals much knowledge about the spiritual realm and heavenly wisdom for the Christian.
These gifts do not concern those natural abilities. These are supernatural ways that God reveals previously unknown knowledge and wisdom. The gift of discernment of spirits is not about “reading the room.” It reveals the spirits in spiritual warfare and other situations.
The Holy Spirit uses these powerful gifts to make us aware of His presence among us and desire to direct us into an understanding of the spiritual realm, His divine best for us, and to educate us in spiritual matters.
The Spirit encourages, exhorts, and reveals to the body the things we need to know, the wisdom we need to please God in knowing the right way to go, and knowledge of the spiritual realm.
The Gift of the Word of Wisdom
Paul lists this gift first in the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8). It is sometimes indiscernible from being used along with the word of knowledge. A word of wisdom is a divinely revealed understanding of what God wants to do in the present or the future.
It’s the ability to receive a practical answer from God to a problem you would not otherwise have discovered on your own. God’s wisdom is practical, useful in your situation. He shows you what move to make that will glorify and honor Him.
God gives you His understanding to make a decisive decision in your situation, or to make the most God-pleasing decision and action between two godly choices. But a word of wisdom is not based on wisdom gained by years of experience or biblically revealed wisdom.
This gift discloses the mind, purpose, and will of God dealing with people, places, and nations. Daniel received words of wisdom that told him the empires that would rise to power and how God was working in their midst. Haggai argued with the Lord about using one evil nation to depose another.
The gift of the word of wisdom often gives the ability to predict future events. We can see this in the prophetic ministry, but prophets don’t always have this gift. We will discuss the prophetic gift in another post.
God’s wisdom on a matter doesn’t always make sense to us. But we must apply the wisdom God gives by His divine revelation. This gift also operates in evangelism. God gives words of wisdom to combat the arguments of unbelievers.
The Gift of the Word of Knowledge
A word of knowledge is a revelation of God’s knowledge to you. You don’t receive all of God’s knowledge, making you omniscient. You receive a part of His knowledge at that moment for that situation.
The word of knowledge contains facts about a person or situation you could not have known on your own. It is not the same as the gifts of teaching or teachers. This is not knowledge you gain through study. The Spirit supernaturally gives it for a specific situation, person, or event.
God reveals a word of knowledge to you in several ways. He may reveal Himself to you with deeper clarity so you can give His knowledge to others (Matthew 16:15-17; Romans 11:33. He can reveal facts that minister to a person’s need.
The Spirit can also reveal the motives or condition of a person’s heart (Acts 5:3). He can reveal a deeper understanding of God’s acts and ways (1 Corinthians 14:6-7). He also reveals a word of knowledge through dreams and visions, as with Joseph concerning whether to take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:18-25).
The Bible gives numerous examples of this gift. Elijah ran from Queen Jezebel, discouraged and depressed about the threat to his life, God revealed that there was a remnant of over 7000 prophets who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18).
The king of Syria believed he had a double agent in his camp because the Israelites were ahead of every move he made. His men told him Elisha knew the words he spoke in his bedroom (2 Kings 6:12).
The king sent troops against Elisha and his servant. When the servant woke up, he saw the forces of Syria and wondered what to do. Elisha prayed for God to open his eyes so he could see God’s forces against Syria protecting them (2 Kings 6:15-19).
In the New Testament, Jesus knew people’s thoughts (Matthew 9:1-8; 12:22-37; Luke 6:6-11; 9:46-48; John 1:43-51; 4). Peter showed this gift often. He knew the thoughts and heart of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). He also knew Simon the sorcerer’s true heart (Acts 8:20-24).
God revealed to Peter through a dream that he should not reject Gentiles as unclean so he could preach the gospel to Cornelius (Acts 10:9-33). The Spirit gave Cornelius a word of knowledge about where to find Peter (Acts 10:3-8).
Wisdom and Knowledge Together
Sometimes it is difficult to tell which of these gifts, the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge, is operating. They work together with one another so often that they can operate as sister gifts.
You can have knowledge without wisdom, but you cannot have wisdom without knowledge. The Spirit reveals knowledge to a person, and then the wisdom with how to use that knowledge.
Only God knows the future of events. He can tell you future events through a word of knowledge and how to navigate that information to glorify Him in the word of wisdom.
These are not the only spiritual gifts that work together, as we will see in later posts. The Holy Spirit uses these two gifts together many times to show God’s omniscience and infinite knowledge, and then how He wishes for you to use that knowledge in practical ways.
The Gift of Discerning of Spirits
Paul speaks of the gift of discerning of spirits also (1 Corinthians 12:10). This is the Spirit-given ability to tell the difference between spirits in the spiritual realm. It is often used in spiritual warfare.
The gift of discerning of spirits gives spiritual insights and revelation of the plans and purposes of the enemy and his forces. There are four types of spirits: the divine, angelic, demonic, and the human spirit (2 Kings 6:17). The human spirit refers to the attitude behind words and actions, the third part of human nature (body, soul, spirit).
The gift of discernment of spirits is not the same as discernment, the ability to understand a situation through Christian maturity, listen to God’s voice, and becoming wise through experience. It can work in tandem with the gift of prophecy, giving the discernment of spirits, and then addressing the cultural or spiritual situation (Acts 18:17).
The Holy Spirit reveals which spirit is behind the attitude and nature of events. The Holy Spirit uses these powerful gifts to make us aware of the spirits of this world and to prepare us for spiritual warfare.
The devil has counterfeits for what God is doing. Discerning of spirits allows us to see the spirit behind wondrous events. We see the counterfeit trinity in Revelation, the extraordinary things the false prophet does in the name of the Dragon and the antichrist (Revelation 13).
Even today we see the devil’s counterfeits in our world. Clairvoyance, psychics, hypnotism, magic, the occult, séances, Ouija boards, witchcraft, sorcery, tarot card reading, palm reading, fortune-telling, and various other demonic activities counterfeit God’s word of wisdom that predicts the future.
Jeremiah sees the false prophets for who they are and prophesies the death of one of them within a year (Jeremiah 28). Several times throughout the Gospels, a demon was behind a person’s sickness. The gift of discerning of spirits shows us if a sickness is physical or spiritual.
Several times throughout our services, a person interrupted the pastor’s sermon. The spirit behind these interruptions disrupting the order of the service may have been demonic. When I took my first pastorate, a KJV Only visitor challenged other translations in our Wednesday night teachings.
I confronted the man and asked him not to push his views on the group. He challenged my youth and leadership. I told him if he would not stop pushing his views that he must not come to our services and Bible studies any longer.
The man had a spirit of division and challenged leadership as some people in the wilderness challenged Moses. He raised controversies to cause confusion amongst the people. I only had a problem with him if he did these things. He decided not to return.
We see how the Holy Spirit uses the gifts of a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom, and the discerning of spirits to guide His Church and provide information and practical steps to glorify Him in all we do.
He reveals His will and ways to us through these spiritual gifts. The discerning of spirits helps us in spiritual warfare and understanding the spiritual realm behind the actions and words of those who might threaten the Church. What other ways have you seen the Spirit work through these gifts?
We have gone on a deep dive of revelation gifts of the Spirit. Next, we turn to discover the power gifts and how the Spirit uses them to minister to the Church through us.