The following is merely a few expressions of the gifts that may be identified as you learn to let the Spirit of God flow from your spirit to your soul and through your body:
WORD OF WISDOM
A supernatural utterance of divine wisdom and instruction, for divine aid in persecution, to minister Truth, to escape a snare, to understand a situation from the Lord’s point of view so counsel is appropriate. Often the application of a word of knowledge.
WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
A supernatural utterance of divine knowledge, to reveal a person’s need, expose error, or to reveal a person’s identity. Generally speaking a word of knowledge deals more with objective facts or data, while a word of wisdom deals with what to do with that information. It’s not essential to be able to identify which is at work in any given situation, and trying to do so may even become a distraction.
GIFTS OF FAITH
The supernatural impartation of confidence for patience, protection against enemies, divine intervention, preservation from judgment, and deliverance. Remembering that our confidence is in the Lord’s faith, which is perfect, keeps us from focusing on either the quality or quantity of our own faith, and even trying to distinguish whether it is a manifestation of this gift or not.
GIFTS OF HEALING
Supernatural healing of diseases, relationships, or other impairments, whether progressively, unconditionally or conditionally. The more we see things from the Lord’s perspective the more likely we are to see this gift functioning on multiple levels at all times. Since it is the Lord’s desire that all be made whole, we can assume that as He flows through us, this gift, like all others, will be active unless there is a block that hasn’t been dealt with yet.
WORKING OF MIRACLES
The supernatural intervention in the ordinary course of nature, for provision, deliverance or to express the authority and supremacy of the One Who resides within us. This mastery over the supernatural and natural elements is the exertion of His authority according to His direction and timing, often used to testify to the truth of His word or actions through His people.
The gift of prophecy is a supernatural utterance in the language of the speaker. It is commonly used for announcing future events, imparting a ministry, increasing confidence, and generally to encourage and build up either an individual or group.
DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
The supernatural insight into the supernatural realm, for discerning the source of an utterance, sickness, insanity, violence and immodesty, whether from a supernatural being (angelic or demonic) or from some aspect of a person’s soulical being (the flesh enlivened in the mind, will or emotions). Identifying the source points us in the right direction for further pursuing the Lord in dealing with a situation.
DIVERSE KINDS OF TONGUES
The gift of tongues is a supernatural utterance in an unknown tongue, as a sign to unbelievers, for speaking to God, and to express devotion. Paul boasted that he spoke in tongues more than others, and since he valued this so highly we likewise should esteem this gift highly. As it is developed, it is quite possible that you may find a different language being used in different circumstances; you may be able to sense what is being spoken by the language being used, even without interpretation.
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES
The supernatural giving forth of the meaning of utterances in other tongues following the message in tongues. For edification, instruction, understanding, or to encourage the participation of hearers. The combination of tongues and interpretation is generally the equivalent of prophecy.
The Gifts of the Spirit and Dependence on the Lord
Learning to be ready and available to move in all the gifts of the Spirit is part of the learning process. The goal is not to become proficient at moving in the gifts, but to rest in dependence on the Lord. Not just for our training in how to use them, but also when, where and how. He is the beginning, the end AND the middle of our instruction. Our results are not measured by how well we function in the gifts, or even if others are set free, but are we ministering out of rest and confidence in His life flowing through us rather than our abilities, strength, or even our training.
The diversity of the gifts of the Spirit is as essential as the diversity of the members of our body, and as such each is under the authority, training and supervision of the Lord, our only Head. Because our spirit is under the authority of the Holy Spirit, and our soul is under the authority of our spirit, the exercise of supernatural gifts, which function through our soul, is subject to control by the individual’s spirit. Which is again an emphasis on why we need to be learning dependence on the Lord and allowing Him the freedom to be removing every hindrance between our soul and our spirit.
Challenges in Learning to Move in the Gifts of the Spirit
There is a difference between being “child-like” and “child-ish.” Maturity is not a function of age, experience or education, talent or even anointing or gifting of God. Neither is it a function of how much we can accomplish, how well we function in the gifts, or what church or movement we belong to or are affiliated with. Rather, it is a function of our dependence on God alone to get our needs met. It is the recognition that whoever meets our needs in some manner controls us. It is acting on that recognition by learning to say, “No,” and being willing to let the Lord alone be the One Who recognizes our growth. What may look like going from mistake to mistake to others, is going from glory to glory in His eyes.
Personal Immaturity in the Use of the Gifts of the Spirit
Just because someone is immature (aren’t we all?) doesn’t give any of us justification either to ignore the results of their gifts or to neglect their operation in our own lives. But we need to be reminded, and remind others when appropriate, that just because there are gifts operating in a person’s life, even on extremely high levels, doesn’t mean they are walking in the Spirit, in dependence on Him. All it means is that they have either been especially gifted by God to fulfill a need and/or have done the work necessary to tune their senses to be able to function in the gifts. These both deserve acknowledgment, but do not compensate for a lack of dependence. The Old Testament is FULL of examples of individuals moving in various gifts of the Spirit, yet none of them was able to live in a dependent relationship, since the resurrection had not yet occurred and rebirth was not available.
Does the life and ministry (in the broad sense) of the person line up with the giving character of God? Many times we can’t know this because a leader or minister may be isolated from the people to whom they minister. But over time, and as our discernment is honed, we will be able to pick up on discrepancies between what is said and what is done. Just as we wouldn’t automatically accept financial advice from someone who has just declared bankruptcy, we don’t accept that the ministry is from the Lord just because it sounds right and meets certain criteria. Likewise, we will also discern the Living Word of the Lord; the person who’s just gone through a bankruptcy may have learned MUCH MORE about finances because he’s been willing to make mistakes. So signs of hypocrisy are merely red flags that must be checked out with the Lord. (You may also notice that often what a minister is ministering on is something he or she is struggling with or the Lord is teaching them, not necessarily something to be ministered to others…)
Control is just another word for flesh, or getting our needs met our way, without God. At this time, we are all controlling in one way or another. In the functioning of the gifts, control is exhibited through either the use of the gift itself or even refusal to learn to function in the things of the soulical realm. We control to get our needs met or to prevent hurt (rejection).
So we can use the gifts to gain recognition or to prevent rejection. Either way it is the flesh, and is ultimately an attempt to control not only our own circumstances, others and our selves, but God Himself. Since He knows this very well, and hates our flesh, He’s not going to let it come between Him and His purposes for us (healing, freedom, dependence on Him).
It is likely that He will arrange circumstances to show us the failure of our own resources and provide us with the knowledge and opportunity to turn to the gifts of the Spirit in order to address the circumstance. This could be an external circumstance, such as a crisis or urgent need, where we need to hear from Him and He brings us into contact with someone who gives us an undeniable word from God, or He could give us such a hunger for Him that we become willing to set aside every hindrance and belief that keeps us from having that hunger satisfied.
Remember, though, that it is not the gifts that satisfy, but dependence on the Lord. Also recognize that just because someone may be trying to use the gift to control does not prevent the Lord from moving to meet the need—don’t reject the fruit of the gift because it is “done wrong.”
Flowing in the gifts of the Spirit is an outflowing of something that already resides within each of us. If we find it a strain and a struggle, either emotionally or mentally, or find it hard to act on the gift, we are likely trying to move in the gifts out of our own strength. Quickly recognizing that there is a struggle is a great way to learn dependence, which is our ultimate goal. In this way we can have confidence that we are not hindering the Lord from accomplishing His plans in us, and can enjoy the process as He quickens our supernatural senses to entice us to have eyes only for Him. The more dependent on Him we become, the more oblivious to moving in the gifts we become, regardless of the magnitude of the gift. When we are eating dinner with the Lord, whether He asks us to pass the salt or raise the dead, it’s all the same to us. Another way we exert independence in the exercise of the gifts is to evaluate the results according to our own standards. Remember the successful use of the gifts is not judged by the final result, or the response of the people, but are the gifts flowing because we are depending on the Lord?
There are at least two ways judgmentalism plays into learning about the gifts. First, being on the receiving end of ministry, and rejecting the ministry given. It is likely there will be a reaction on the part of the one ministering. Conversely, if you are the one ministering, and your ministry is rejected or even evaluated objectively. All ministry is judged objectively; it’s when we ascribe motives or manipulation that we are likely to offend or be offended. This WILL happen, so it’s just something to be prepared for.
Using the gifts to correct others’ behavior, doctrine or temperament is probably the most disruptive aspect of the learning curve. Most people hold off learning to move in the gifts until they’re at church, so it’s safe to say that all the mistakes are also saved for their fellowship. This can make for disruptive meetings, and what prompted Paul to encourage order. The responsibility, however, lies with each individual believer to be able to self-discern prior to moving out in the gifts, as well as learning how to objectively evaluate the activities in the Spirit during meetings. The more we learn dependence at home, and make our mistakes privately, the less likely the mistakes that we make in public will cause undue disruption. (A great way to deal with criticism on whatever scale is humor—it’s hard to be angry when others are having a good time!)
At one time or another we are all tempted to use the gifts for our own purposes, for getting our needs for attention and recognition met. Being tempted is not the problem, but failing to recognize this subtle distraction can be a long-term problem, one which often affects individuals, fellowships and even entire movements. The more we have our confidence in our dependence in the Lord, that He has already met all our needs permanently, we will be generous to let the Lord flow to and through us however He chooses regardless of the results or who gets the credit.
For instance, many groups within local bodies spring up around different aspects of ministry gifts in order to encourage, organize and regulate those gifts. But the Holy Spirit never abdicated that role to others, and if we look to that group for recognition or even accountability we have rejected His sovereignty in our lives. So though it can be helpful to learn from others’ experiences, there is no substitute for learning from and being accountable to the Lord directly.
Likewise, there is no excuse for not pursuing the training just because you DON’T belong to a group that provides a safe environment for learning, or even if you don’t have a church available at all, or one that relegates gifts to another time, place or adds external (structural or legal) qualifications. For instance, just because a church leader doesn’t believe teenagers are capable of ministering in gifts of healing or prophecy doesn’t let YOU off the hook! You don’t need anyone’s permission to be available for training from the Lord. Just ask the Lord to arrange the appropriate circumstances—it’s possible, though not likely, that the Lord may use your training to correct another’s beliefs. And the best lesson for him would be your maturing in that gift.
One way arrogance shows up as gifts are being expressed is by leaving the impression that the person with the gift is somehow more mature, blessed or anointed because of the working or fruit of the gift. Though there are many Old Covenant occasions where God did indeed specifically bless, anoint, and even “mantle” someone with a specific gift or ability to carry out His purposes, we are now spirit beings, and have everything that was available Before Christ, PLUS His Eternal Life! Instead we want to recognize that the reason a gift or ministry is flowing in a person’s life is not because they are on a “higher level,” or that they are “closer to God,” but because they have received the training that God has offered to practice and use that which God has given TO ALL. Honor is due to those who have worked hard, often with great patience and suffering, so we respect those who move in ministry gifts of all kinds, but we do not attribute the results to a gift or blessing, but to their cooperation with the Lord. There is only One Level in the Kingdom—we are all equally joint-heirs with our Older Brother, and each of us is equally a son of our Father.
Until we come into the fulness of His Reality, we are all immature. So we look at all kinds of ministry and ministers objectively and as a learning experience, neither rejecting or accepting according to our own standards, but through relying on the Lord for His quickening confirmation or redirection.
Lack of Knowledge
Gaining the knowledge of the Lord is simple. It is not easy, because it will cost us everything, but it is simple. It is doing things God’s way, and accepting that what He says is truth IS Truth. To have His mind, we will have to give up our own understanding, of ourselves, the way God does things, His purposes and plans, and even relieving those who claim authority of any perceived responsibility. His ways are not our ways, because He is the Only Way. We are learning to work with Him on a need-to-know basis; if we need to know, HE will tell us (through whatever means He chooses).
Until we are living in complete and utter dependence on Christ we will be susceptible to attacks and interference from the enemy. He will definitely stick his nose in our training, especially if we are beginning to enjoy freedom, for he knows that it does not take long to learn to wield these weapons against him and his plots if we are depending on the Lord for training. He will set up individual yet predictable roadblocks to our becoming comfortable and accustomed to letting the Spirit have His way through our spirit. These roadblocks and hindrances will coincide with the strengths and weaknesses of our temperament, which also greatly determines the location of our wounds and the lies we believe. As we seek the Lord for healing, and for training, He will direct the battle with unrelenting precision. We will succeed, and enjoy ourselves as well! Remember we have nothing to fear from the demonic realm, but in Him we are already overcomers and mighty men of valor!
Most of all we need a safe environment in which to make mistakes. This is one of the reasons the Lord Himself wants to be our Teacher: only He can treat you with the unconditional love, acceptance and honor that befits your true identity as a spirit being. As you begin to learn under His tutelage, it is likely that He will put you in circumstances of all kinds, including work, family and church settings, in order for you to both test what you have learned but also learn how to recognize and overcome rejection. Remember there are only two kinds of people in this world—those that have been rejected, and those that have been rejected MORE! The Lord will also be building your confidence in His ability to teach and speak and your ability to hear and act.
Though we learn directly from Him, what we learn is generally put to the test in our day-to-day environment. As we minister in a variety of situations, we learn how the Lord is considerate of His audience, how to exert self-control, how to behave under pressure, and how to accept correction, deserved or not. Find your motivation, encouragement, feedback, safety and security in Him, and we can boldly and restfully let Him live His Life through us throughout the day.
Adapted from Knowing God by Dianne Thomas