This blog post got started when a friend asked me why Germany has accepted over one million refugees in a very short period of time. I responded that there are many economic reasons for that, but that from the spiritual perspective, God is atoning the land that was soiled by the Holocaust.

That the refugee crisis is something God is using might seem initially counter-intuitive. And indeed, many Christians and many in the wider population see the European refugee crisis as a camouflaged Islamic invasion - for example, 31% of Brits voting for Brexit believed that in a recent study.

Ten years ago, God gave me a prophecy about the coming reformation in Europe, which would last 30 years. The main message is that there would be a revival in the mainland Europe, and after Brexit I have feared that the hardening attitudes toward the Continent in parts of the British Church would obstruct the revival from coming over to Britain. 

The truth is that often many things aren't what they seem. Did you know that London has in the last 20 years become the most Christian and religious part of Britain - because of immigration? And that it is the white heartland of Britain that is turning increasingly agnostic, even when that is often pictured with the idyllic country churches. That is the difference between the visual evidence and the actual statistics.

There are many reasons why the Brits, Americans and Europeans should not think that the migration crisis has nothing do with us, as the main reason behind it is that we helped to destabilize Iraq and Libya, which has led to migration flow and the increased risk of terrorism.

First, we destabilized Iraq by toppling the country's government and removing Saddam Hussein in 2003. This was followed by the removal of much of the Iraqi civil government, which led to sectarianism and tribalism in Iraq, as the state machinery of Iraq was removed. The state machinery brought a level of oppression, but it also kept the country together. The resulting power vacuum led, among many other things,  to the rise of the Islamic State and terrorism. In essence, by removing the power of the Iraqi state, there was no one to offer protection apart from different religious and tribal groups, which began to fight against each other, as they looked to take control of various territories and resources.

See Iraq Synthesis Paper: Understanding the drivers of conflict in Iraq published by the LSE for more details.

These conflicts spilled over to Syria, causing the Syrian civil war, which further worsened the Middle Eastern refugee crisis and pushed it towards Europe. Had Saddam not been removed forcibly by the Western governments, which was 'justified' by the search for the weapons of mass destruction, it is unlikely that any of this would have happened.

Secondly, by removing Qaddafi in 2011, the Western governments destroyed the Libyan state, and the resulting fragmentation of Libya removed the barrier that had separated Africa from Europe - very soon Libya became a route to Europe and the operating space for human trafficking and even slave trade. Had Qaddafi not been removed, this route would not have opened, as the functioning state of Libya obstructed this migration.

So, we can see that it has been the destruction of these two states - Iraq and Libya - by Western forces, that created the refugee crisis and removed the barriers for large-scale human migration. For these reasons alone, we bear much larger responsibility for these refugees than most people realize.

Waiting for 70 years for a generation to pass

When the Jews went to exile in Babylon, they had to wait for 70 years until they returned, for the sin of the past generations had been very grave in God's sight.

Jeremiah 29:10 says:  "For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place." 

Daniel 9:2 says:  "In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem."

2 Chronicles 36:20-21 says: "And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years."

So, God let the land of Israel rest for 70 years after He had judged the sins of the nation, and then He let the nation return home. 

But when it comes to the Jews, it was after the Holocaust that the opportunity for the independent state of Israel opened up - and Israel became their new homeland as  fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The Jews have had no need to return to Germany, as Germany has, from biblical perspective, been part of the exile phase of the Jewish story. (Obviously, we are not expecting every Jew in the world to return to Israel for the end time prophecies to be fulfilled.)

It can't be a coincidence that it is 70 years from the end of World of War 2 in 1945 to 2015 when the EU and especially Germany were the recipients of masses of refugees. 

The war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. The end of war also triggered a huge refugee crisis with largest population movements in European history. But apart from destroying much of Europe and killing millions in Europe, the German nation sinned gravely against God's people. Can there be a greater sin that killing at least 6 million of God's chosen people?

Rather interestingly, 70 years and three days later after the surrender of Germany, in 11 May 2015, the European Commission proposed that EU member states should take in refugees under a quota scheme. Countries which had received large numbers of migrants and asylum applications – such as Italy, Malta and Germany – supported the proposal. 

Now, I am not trying to fit the dates forcibly, but to show that that it was roughly 70 years after the end of the Holocaust and the Jewish refugee crisis that preceded, accompanied and followed it when Germany opened the doors to the refugees in mass scale. 

So, what does this all mean? The Lord let 70 years pass in Israel before He let the Jews back home. He let the land rest for 70 years because of the evil they had committed. Now God seems to have waited for 70 years for Germany to be given an opportunity to receive this mass influx of refugees with no previous connection to the land. 

To me it seems that God in His mercy is removing a curse from the land. Matthew 25:31-46 says:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Once the Germans were guilty of killing Jesus by killing the Jews; now many of them will be received into the Kingdom because they opened their doors to the strangers.

Deuteronomy 19:21 says: "Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." 

Over four million Germans died because of World War 2; but the destruction they caused was much greater. So, to 'balance the books', God is applying New Testament principles and 'rewriting' Deuteronomy 19:21 as "Show pity, save a life for each lost life, save a hand for each broken hand, foot for each foot." 

This is fully in line with the redemptive principles of how God operates, although God won't be counting this mathematically but by judging the human hearts. 

Many Christian despise and vilify Angela Merkel for allowing this influx of refugees, but I do believe that she very much has been used by God in this.

How will Germany be able to leave the history of the Holocaust fully behind if not by showing compassion to another Middle Eastern people group in need?

2 Chronicles 7:14 says: "and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

What was the sin of the Germans? Killing millions of strangers - who were also God's chosen people. How will Germany as a nation demonstrate that they have repented from their sin? By receiving a stranger. Not just one but millions.

Germany has been a spiritual dry land since the rise of the Nazi Germany when hundreds of thousands of Christians who objected to the Nazi Government were purged from the nation. I believe that through the Germans receiving the refugees with all the difficulties they can bring is a sign of God healing the land, so that He can pour out one more great revival upon the nation of Germany. 

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at or by visiting 

There is an area of ministry related to the gift of discerning spirits that I have been extremely reluctant to write about, mainly as writing about it can so easily lead to heresy and misunderstandings. Also, many try to offer this kind of teaching as a method when it can only be used when authorised and guided by the Holy Spirit. So, generally I teach it on the need to know basis to Christians who are absolutely in the need of a breakthrough in this area. But in recent days I have been challenged to write about how the gift of discerning spirits can be used as a weapon.

It is because of the weaponising of the gift of discerning spirits that I have survived the last ten years of ministry, as we have expanded the work we are doing in the Middle East. So, what comes next is a mixture of Bible teachings and my battle notes, and my battle notes should always be subject to the authority of the Scripture and not the other way around. Our experiences are always subjective and in this area they can be often misleading, but the eternal truth of the Word stands forever.
My first experience of weaponising the gift of discerning spirits came in the late 1990s after I had moved to London from Finland. I had a friend in Finland with whom I hadn't spoken with for around two years. One evening I was in prayer when I felt led by the Holy Spirit to cast out demons of suicide and depression from his environment into the pits of hell. It didn't quite fit in with my theology at the time, but as the anointing of the Holy Spirit was so strong, I obliged.

I spoke with him around six months later and asked him what had been going on in his life at the time. Indeed, he had been contemplating suicide at the time but found the strength to pull through. Also, God had turned his life around, as he had met his future wife and they were about to get married.

This episode left me with a theological dilemma: I couldn't find a singular verse in the Bible about casting demons into hell, although when Jesus encountered the man who had been possessed by a legion of demons, the demons tell Him: "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" The implication of the story was that Jesus indeed had the power to cast demons to hell, but in other versions they only ask not to be thrown out of their country (which could well have been a deceptive tactic by the demons not to be thrown into hell but only out of the country – even when the devil tells a truth, he usually spins in a lie).

But if you study the Bible carefully you see that there are clear references to demons that have been cast into the abyss. (This section comes from my book Five Movements: Winning the Battle for Your Prophetic Gift).

Satan and his angels were cast to earth in a heavenly battle between God’s angels and the fallen angels who became Satan’s demonic army. Revelation 9:1-3 says,  "And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power."

In the end times, a demonic army will be released by Satan, the fallen star. He will be given the key to the bottomless bit. But right now, Satan doesn’t even have the keys to hell in his possession.

The Bible says that when God’s angels defeated Lucifer and his rebelling angels they were only thrown to earth and not to hell. How did these demons end up in the pit?

In Revelation 9:15 an angel of God releases four demonic angels that have been bound by the River Euphrates. They go on to kill one third of mankind. They must be some powerful dark angels. Who bound them? And how have they been bound?

In Revelation 11:7 two sack-clothed witnesses are killed by “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit.” This beast must be yet another powerful demonic spirit. Who cast that spirit into hell?

I believe these demons were thrown to the bottomless pit first by Jesus and then by His disciples, and then by us. Satan himself has an exception clause from this early judgment given to him by God Himself. It is noteworthy that according to the Bible he never was the most powerful of angels; he only got the rebellion up and running through deception. If he was a cherub, then he would have been lower in rank than the archangels. 

Nowhere does it say that you can’t cast the demons into the pit, unless they possess a human being. Paul said, "Do you not know that we shall judge angels?" (1 Corinthians 6:3) We have been called to judge fallen angels with Jesus, and torment them ‘before the time’.

On surface, 2 Peter 2:4 seems to contradict this: "For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment."

It seems that in Peter’s mind all the fallen angels had already been shut down to hell. But the Bible never contradicts itself, and the key to the interpretation of this verse is found in Peter’s choice of the word ‘hell’. He uses the Greek word tartaroo which means ‘throw to Tartarus’. This is the only occurrence of this expression or reference to Tartarus in the Bible.

In Greek mythology, Tartarus was both a deity and a place in the underworld. But while Hades was the place for the dead, Tartarus was the place where the enemies of Greek gods were sent. Later on, it became a place for punishment.

Tartarus was used as a prison for the worst of villains but not all villains ended up there. This fits the biblical image of some fallen angels roaming the earth and some being bound in chains.

Now, I want you to consider this. How would God who is just bring punishment to the spiritual forces that caused man to fall?

Through man.

First He did it through Jesus and then through the disciples and now through us. Jesus had the power to throw demons into the abyss through the Holy Spirit. So have we. Jesus said to Peter,

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:18-19)

Read in context, it seems clear that Jesus has delegated to the Church His authority to bind the powers of Satan on earth and to set people free from the bondage to him. This is spiritual authority that can be used against demonic principalities.

God doesn’t only want to defeat His enemies; He wants to defeat His enemies through us. We can see this principle clearly in Paul's theology.

Ephesians 4:7-11 says, "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: 'When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers..."

The Book of Ephesians is all about the authority that Jesus has given to His Church, and these verses give theological justification for the work of the Body of Christ on earth. Because Jesus has descended before He has ascended, He fills all, and He is able to give gifts to all men. The fivefold ministry is one of the gifts that He has given to the Church, as it releases spiritual authority into the Body of Christ.

As a side note, we must say that this doesn't lead to any level of submission to the fivefold ministry at all, as the task of the fivefold ministry is to teach the Body of Christ to operate in this spiritual authority, which effectively means releasing Christians rather than asking them to submit to anyone else but Jesus. So, the Body of Christ doesn't need the spiritual authority of the fivefold ministry: what they need is the spiritual authority of Christ.

In Ephesians 6:12 Paul says: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

What is this wrestling but a close combat against demonic forces: a battle where one party will end up on top and the other defeated? And this is a real and not imaginary battle in which the gift of discerning spirits plays a vital part. For how will you even know where the enemy is if you can't discern it? 

The only way to overcome in the wrestling match against an invisible enemy is to use the gift that makes the invisible enemy visible. And this gift is the gift of discerning spirits. I have written a lot more about this gift in my book Supernatural Love: Releasing the Compassion of Jesus Through the Gifts of the Spirit. 

I had only occasional experiences about this until I began to write The Red Scorpion: A True Russian Mafia Story with Rami Kivisalo. He is a former gangster who used to work with the Russian mafia  before he found Christ. He also became demon-possessed during his criminal career. Writing the book with him took me to two years of experiencing the power of hell, as to write for two hours I had to pray for two hours - every day for two years. It was two years of extreme intimidation and Poltergeist phenomena. During that time I saw many strange things manifested in the physical world, things which are impossible to explain through science.

It was during this time that I began to weaponise the gift of discerning spirits in a more serious manner, simply because that was the only way to survive spiritually and mentally.

How does weaponising the gift work?

When Jesus casts out demons He names the spirit by their specific manifestation. When he casts out a mute or deaf spirit, these spirits haven't caused physical deafness or muteness as sickness, it is only that muteness and deafness were the manifestations or side products of demon possession.

It is important to understand that these sicknesses aren't physical states and not to confuse demon possession with sickness. Most times Jesus simply seemed to know what kind of spirit He was dealing with, but in the case of the man possessed by a legion of demons He asks for their name. This is probably because the demonic horde created a cacophony of spiritual 'noise', and there was no clear impression of what He was dealing with. In this instance only Jesus asks for the demons' name, but in all cases He seems to know what kinds of spirits He is dealing with.

When I operate in the gift of discerning spirits, I am able to 'scan' the spiritual environment of situations, relations, people, projects and so on. It gives you accurate information about what kind of spiritual oppression or disturbance you are dealing with.

If I am full of the Holy Spirit I will probably sense the spiritual forces more as force fields that I can simply push away. If I am feeling spiritually weak, I will probably feel the depression or fear that a demonic spirit carries; if my spiritual discernment level is even lower, I will probably be bombarded by the negative thoughts and ideas that these demonic beings emanate.

Genesis 2:19-20 says: "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field."

This shouldn't be taken the wrong way, but the task of naming gave man the responsibility or authority over the animals. We can see this principle still at work in our life: it is through the way we define things that we perceive them and order them. Through naming things we take control over them.

Part of the gift of discerning spirits is the ability to name the spirits that you are dealing with. The devil is hiding behind deception, and the gift of discerning spirits attacks that deception revealing what demonic forces are operating behind deception. That discerning consumes an enormous amount of power. In one sense, the battle is over the revelation, for the moment we can see we can be freed from oppression. We can see this in the Book of Daniel 9 where Daniel had to wage spiritual warfare for 21 days before he could see.

Often, the moment of revelation is also the moment of liberation, as God's revelation carries enormous power.

Put simply, weaponising the gift of discerning spirits consists of naming what you perceive and asking that demonic power to leave: whether they leave to another country or hell might make us very little difference: the important thing is that these forces are cast out. But this can't be done methodically but in the power of the Holy Spirit. But over the last ten years I have done this a lot, but never without the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And it has helped me out of impossible-looking situations and demonic traps.

If you want to know how this can operate in a longer period rather than an instant, please read this true story about a magician in the mirror.

It is noteworthy that we see very little of casting out demons in the Old Testament, but the New Testament stories are full of them. This is because of the finished work of Jesus.

1 John 3:8 says: "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."

We are part of this work to destroy the works of the devil. And sometimes we need to weaponise the gift of discerning spirits to achieve that.

In Matthew 10:8 Jesus tells the twelve apostles: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

It is debatable how much of this an individual believer is meant to do today. But the Body of Christ as a whole has definitely been called to do this.

But it is noteworthy that what we know about wrestling with principalities and demons comes mostly from the prophets in the Old Testament and apostles in the New Testament.

I wish I could write about this in greater detail, but it is not useful. For unless the Holy Spirit Himself guides you in this war, trying to wage it will only lead to destruction. For this is not a method that you can apply but a life filled with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

It is good to conclude with the words from Jude 1:5-10: "But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!' But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah."

So, in this post I have tried to share only as much as is necessary, in order not to encourage any false doctrine but to help those who find themselves in the midst of the fierce battle.

It is good to remember that this can also apply to our spiritual weapons: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 4:20-21)

To go any further, you must go in the strength of the Word and the Holy Spirit.

Developing the gift of discerning spirits
Ministering in the gift of discerning spirits

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at or by visiting 

The gift of discerning spirits is vital for effective prophetic ministry, especially in situations where you don’t have time to seek God’s guidance in His presence.

For example, if you are ministering prophetically, there will always be a large number of people who come forward to be prayed for. You will not have met any of these people before. I use the gift to discern their spiritual state. There are times when I receive a prophecy for them, but I can discern that they aren’t ready to receive it, because their commitment to Jesus is not steadfast enough.

There is a call over their life, but they are not ready to receive it yet.

At other times, people come to ask you to confirm a prophecy they say someone else has given to them, but you discern that all they are doing is to camouflage their heart’s desire with religious language. It is amazing how many people seem to think that a prophet’s blessing could somehow make a difference if God has already disagreed with you.

Sometimes, I can discern that people are lying to me; at other times I can discern a sin in their lives. I rarely tell them what I am seeing. Instead, I use what I discern as a material for diagnostic, direct, but non-condemning questions, no matter what the issue. After all, these people are seeking God at some level, even if they aren’t ready to spill the secrets of their heart to me. 1 Peter 4:8 says, "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.'”

The gift of discerning spirits is not a gift of exposing people, but a gift for helping them to be set free.

If you sense that there is a demonic influence in someone’s life, you should take the following steps.

1. Proceed cautiously until certain

It is fine and advisable to take your time. Ministering in the gift of discerning spirits can sometimes feel like stepping from a room full of light into a dark room. It takes a bit of time for your eyes to adjust, but soon you will begin to see the contents of the room.

2. Ask questions – don’t prophesy

One of the most destructive things you can do to people is to ‘prophesy’ what you see through the gift of discerning spirits, or proclaim it as a word of knowledge. This will only bring people under condemnation. So, you should almost never proclaim to the person you are ministering to exactly what you see. Instead, you can use what you see as material for questions.

3. Don’t let the darkness dictate your ministry

The devil is a liar, and often the enemy will seek to dictate the way you will minister by releasing deception, fear or uncomfortable emotions. Don’t let him deceive you, so that you will react to whatever he will project unto you, or the person you are praying for.

Instead, observe the person, the disturbance, and the flow of the Holy Spirit within you. You need to be aware of all three. It is not your job to react to whatever the enemy is doing, but to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in you.

4. Connect with the flow of the Spirit within you

The presence of God is there within you to protect you and to guide you to all truth. Jesus says in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

You must wait for the Helper within you to come. Wait for God’s presence to begin to flow within you before attempting to minister in any deeper way.

5. Minister in the flow of the Spirit

Every encounter with a demonic presence or influence is a spiritual battle. Hence you should only minister in the flow of the Holy Spirit.

6. Pray afterwards

Every encounter with the enemy takes its toll on you. If you worked in the London sewage system and went home, you would probably want to have a thorough wash before attempting to kiss your wife or husband! In a similar way, ministering with the gift of discerning spirits demands a time of prayer afterwards. Otherwise, these encounters with demonic influences in other people’s lives can have a negative influence in your life.

Unless you are careful, you will end up carrying the depression, anxieties, fears, negative thoughts and so on of the people you have ministered to.

Often, we minister to people who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. But after ministering to them, we must not stay in the valley, but climb back on the mountain of God’s presence.

This list has been taken from my book Supernatural Love: Releasing the Compassion of Jesus Through the Gifts of the Spirit.

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at or by visiting 

The gift of discerning spirits is the ability to discern spiritual influences or presences in our life and environment. It is one of the gifts Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.

We can see the gift of discerning spirits operating in many occasions in the Bible.

In Acts 5:1-11 Peter confronts Ananias and Sapphira who lied about giving everything they had got from selling a house. As a result, they both end up dead.

In verse 3, Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?”

Undoubtedly, Peter was operating in the gift of discerning spirits, although he might not have called it as such.

In Acts 16:16-19, when Paul was at Philippi, a slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination followed Paul and cried out that Paul and his companions were the servants of the Most High God, and that they would proclaim to the Philippians the way of salvation.

Paul listened to her for three days, but finally, “greatly annoyed”, he commanded the spirit to leave  her. What followed  was that  her masters, who made a lot of money from her fortune telling, complained to the magistrates, who threw Paul to prison.

This is one of the most fascinating examples of the work of the Spirit in the Bible.Why didn’t Paul cast the demon out straight away? Why did he wait for three days?

I believe that it was because through the gift of discerning spirits, Paul would have been suspicious of why the demonic spirit caused the slave girl to proclaim what on surface level seemed helpful to his cause.

Eventually, Paul must have had cast the demon out, as he didn’t want to accept a testimony of a demon. But it seems that the demonic spirit was trying to trigger Paul to react, and it succeeded. As the result, Paul and his companions were thrown into prison.

Thankfully, God outplayed the enemy and used Paul to bring the Philippian jailer to faith. But here we can see a complex scheme by the enemy in operation, where nothing was what it seemed.

I have identified nine steps in the development of a fully mature gift of discerning spirits.

1.   Studying the Bible on a daily basis

If you want to develop the gift of discerning spirits, you must study the Bible regularly. God has given us His revelation in the Scripture. Reading the Bible prayerfully begins to develop the discernment within us. In Joshua 1:8, God speaks to Joshua who is getting ready to enter the Promised Land and encounter his enemies: 

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

Only when we study the Scripture diligently, we will be able to have a good success in defeating our enemies. 

2.   Cultivating a lifestyle of experiencing God’s presence

Reading the Scripture is necessary, but it is not enough. We must also spend time in the tangible presence of God, and learn to open the streams of the living water—the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit—within us.

The gift of discerning spirits needs a continual flow of the Holy Spirit’s presence within us to operate. It is perhaps the most energy- consuming of the gifts. Sometimes, it feels like walking around the city with an active, spiritual nuclear reactor within you!

3.   Discerning your emotions

With the help of what the Scripture says about your emotions and the protection of God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to discern and analyse your emotions.

Many Christians seek to ignore their emotions and motivations, trying to combat the negative ones with faith. But you must also understand your emotional life and its key dynamics. If you feel depressed, rather than ignoring it, acknowledge it, and seek to understand why. What has caused you to feel depressed? Is there any specific reason? Or if you feel angry, why do you feel angry? Try to go a little bit deeper than the superficial motivations. The real reasons for your anger are nearly always deeper than what you are reacting to. At the root of our soulish and fleshy reactions are often nearly forgotten experiences—memories that influence and direct our behavioural patterns without us discerning it.

4.   Resisting negative emotions and sensations with faith and the presence of God

But the analysis of your own emotions and motivations isn’t enough. We must learn to use the shield of faith and hide ourselves in the presence of God. Psalm 27:5 says,

"For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle."

God’s presence is our shield and our protection against the schemes of Satan.

5.      Separating emotions from the spiritual force energising them

As you seek to remain protected by the shield of God’s presence, over time, you will begin to sense how the emotions and loaded half-facts the enemy uses to attack you will become separated from the spiritual force behind them. As they become disconnected from their power source, they will begin to lose their power on you.

6.      Experiencing the spiritual forces as negative force fields or spheres

After you experience that sense of disconnection, you often begin to experience the demonic spiritual beings as something like negative force fields.You will sense how their pressure on your mind increases and decreases.They come at you like waves that hit the shore when a storm begins to rage, but slowly, as you resist, they begin to recede.

Some of the emotions will still keep on getting through your defence, especially during intensive attacks.

But at this stage, you don’t need to, or shouldn’t, even engage with these emotions and demonically charged thoughts at all. Instead, you should wait under the shield of faith and God’s presence, until the most intensive phase of the attack is over, and then you can pray and counterattack.

In the meantime, you should focus on reconnecting and maintaining the flow of the Holy Spirit’s power and presence into your life. You are no more fighting against these forces actively; instead you are focused on the Lord, and His presence fights for you.

Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God."

It is at this stage when you begin to realise that the devil’s main goal is to disconnect you from the flow of the presence of God in your life. But you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and you don’t need to leave His temple. Instead, you are hiding in His pavilion.

This is a place where the storms of life no more affect your mind as strong as they used to.They might still be coming at you, but your security is the Lord and His presence. 

7.   Learning to operate with the gift

The gift of discerning spirits is both for everyday life and ministry. In my prayer life, I wait for the disturbance of the demonic spirits to lift before I practise any active prophetic listening. In my everyday life, I resist whatever reaction the demonic disturbance seeks to impose on me. In ministry, I am mindful of the spiritual environment, and factor it in.

There are situations in everyday life that will have completely different consequences depending on the spiritual atmosphere.

You can often discern the presence and operation of a demonic influence in the room where you minister, as you are confronted with impure or negative thoughts, or fear and discouragement. Often, I feel the presence of the demonic forces as a tangible, heavy wall that tries to shout at me and tell me that it’s unbreakable.

One of the main dangers when you are seeking to minister in the supernatural is that the enemy is also operating in that dimension. This gives particular challenges when it comes to operating in the prophetic gift.

Often when I minister in a church, I encounter strong spiritual resistance. In that situation, I dare not to receive or share any new revelation, but operate from the revelation of the Word and specific prophetic revelation that God has given to me before that event. I sense the atmosphere through the gift of discerning spirits. It is only when I feel that the spiritual resistance is lifting that I step into the prophetic flow.

Prophetic ministry is ministry in His presence, and if I don’t sense His presence, I can’t really accept any prophetic revelation.

There are two main reasons: first, you can be deceived. Second, even if you aren’t deceived, your listeners can be deceived. Matthew 13:19 says,

"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart."

I have realised that, often, people aren’t receptive to a word, and the evil one snatches it, before it has any time to make any impact.

But I can ‘hammer’ the atmosphere with the revelation God has already given to me beforehand and create a new atmosphere where listeners become receptive. That is why it is so important to prepare for any ministry time in prayer, so that you will have the confidence to stick with the word that God has given you in advance, no matter how  much the enemy attempts to intimidate you. In this kind     of ministry, I can spend hours in the Holy Spirit speaking to me about an event, but this only gives me the ability to deliver His word faithfully.

8.   Learning to tolerate continual spiritual disturbance

One of the hardest things about this gift is that you will often feel and experience these spiritual disturbances, which can be emotionally and even physically taxing. Often, you have been called to live and minister in an environment where sin has created strongholds in people’s lives, so this is mostly not something you can easily escape from.You will simply need to learn to tolerate emotional discomfort at times.

9.   Learning to rest again in God’s presence

You need regular times of rest in God’s presence.You must be able to remember that your ministry is not just warfare, but at the heart of it is rest in God’s presence and fellowship with Him.

Psalm 23:5 says, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies."

There is a lot of spiritual disturbance in the world and around you. Sometimes, you have been called to confront those forces around you, at other times to ignore them.

This list has been taken from my book Supernatural Love: Releasing the Compassion of Jesus Through the Gifts of the Spirit.

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at or by visiting 



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