Testing the spirits deals with all three aspects of discernment: revelation, interpretation, and application, although a different kind of spiritual filter needs to be applied to each aspect.

I might pick up a revelation accurately only to interpret it incorrectly. Or I might get a revelation and its interpretation right, only to get stuck on the application (what I am supposed to do with that information).

For example, let’s say I get a revelation about a political situation, but it happens to touch on a sensitive area in my own experience. If I have hung on to bitterness, for example, my revelation will be tainted by my bitter opinion, which will render my revelation worthless to the kingdom of God.

I need to be mindful of the influences that may come to bear on my thoughts and prayers and especially on the way I communicate. As I test the spirits around me, I need to include my own spirit, continually consulting with the Holy Spirit for guidance as to what to do.

This is why Romans 12 tells us to present our members to God as an acceptable act of worship, so we can “prove what the will of God is,” what is “good and acceptable and perfect.” (See Romans 12:1-2 NKJV.)

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God will help us identify our prejudices, whether they are personal, geographical, cultural, denominational, or whatever.

If we present ourselves to Him, He will bring us into progressively greater cleansing. We will have less and less in common with the god of this world, and our own filter will become more effective.

In other words, our progressive sanctification is just as important to our testing of the spirits as is our giftedness or instruction in techniques.

Always remember, each one of us is supposed to learn to test the spirits; it is part of the Christian life!

Prayer of a Discerning Heart

Gracious Father, I thank You for Your great love. I want to be rooted and established in it. I declare that I trust in Your ability to lead and protect me more than I trust in the devil’s power to deceive me. Furthermore, I declare that I have not received a spirit of fear, but power, love, and a sound mind. I choose to honor Your Word by examining everything in light of it and holding on to that which is good. I choose to honor those in authority over me, while asking that You sharpen my own capacity to grow in discernment from the Holy Spirit. Keep my feet firmly on Your path and my eyes clear with Your light. Without You, I am more helpless than an infant. With You, I am victorious over every enemy assault. I pray this in the name of Your Son Jesus. Amen.

Blessings to clearly discern revelation, interpretation and application!

James W. Goll


The Discerner bookYou Can Be a Discerner BundleThis article has been adapted from a portion of The Discerner book, Chapter 7 on Testing the Spirits: “Do Not Believe Every Spirit.” If you want to learn more about how to discern and apply revelation in your life, you will love The Discerner book or audiobook and the complementary You Can Be a Discerner 3 Message SetBuy them both together in our You Can Be a Discerner Bundle, and save up to 44%!

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