The level of discernment to perceive the realm of the Spirit is increasing with greater vision and clarity. Just as Jesus did that which He saw the Father doing, ministering the words that He heard the Father saying, the Holy Spirit is increasing the ability of the Church to both see and hear from the realm of the Spirit. This increased ability will enable the Church to flow in sync with the Father’s heart to do the works that Jesus did. The Church is being empowered to operate at a higher realm of Kingdom authority, which includes perceiving the activity of angels and their movement. This is necessary in order for “For thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10).
Have you ever sensed the atmosphere around become brighter for no apparent reason? Or perhaps you saw a flash of lighting in the corner of your eye? Have you ever detected a sudden movement but when you looked more closely, there wasn’t anything there? If so, you may well have discerned the presence of an angel.
In this section, we will cover some basics as to how we can see and hear from the realm of the Spirit to discern the things of God. This includes the angelic activity unfolding around you that will launch you into a higher spiritual realm to work with your ministering angels. Be assured that in the same way that you discern the presence of the Lord and His divine nature is the same way that you are able to discern the presence of angels and their purpose.
In light of this, we will cover some prophetic basics in regards to hearing, seeing, sensing, feeling and perceiving the things of God and the heavenly realm. The ability to discern the presence of angels will place us in a better position to work with them as a Kingdom force in ministry. Discerning angels, however, is just the launching pad toward the goal of learning how to co-labor with them. My prayer is that the eyes of your heart be opened to see the things of the Kingdom in a way that you never dreamed possible.
The Gift to Hear and See
Every Christian is gifted to discern the Lord’s presence, hear His voice and follow Him. God created you to experience His love and to know His thoughts. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10:27). Jesus declared that all His sheep hear His voice, not just a chosen few. The Lord is our shepherd who knows His sheep and they follow Him. Therefore, every believer is able to hear His voice with the ability to discern His presence to follow His leading.
Inherent to your spiritual nature is the ability to discern the things of God and His Kingdom. God is a Spirit who created you with a spirit for fellowship. Once separated from God due to sin, the redemption power of God awakened your spirit to see the things of His Kingdom. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
HEARING His voice and SEEING the things of God’s Kingdom, including the operation of the Spirit and the activity of angels is fundamental to our walk with God. As sons and daughters of the Kingdom, you have been given the spiritual sight to see and the ears to hear the things of God. This is why Jesus said that “He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says” (Mt. 11:15, Rev. 2:7).
That which is of spirit must be heard in spirit. Hearing the voice of the Spirit requires that we cultivate a different way of seeing and hearing – with our spirit, the inner man. It is not by hearing someone speak in an audible voice with our natural ears that brings understanding to our minds, but by hearing His voice that speaks to our heart that enlightens our mind. God is a spirit who created mankind in His image with a spirit. In order to know the things of heaven, we must have the ears to discern the things of the Spirit with our spirit not our head! Jesus said,
It is the spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).
Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1) It is His Word that brings understanding to our heart not our theological training “as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:4:21). The truth is not found in our personal beliefs or understanding of the scriptures, but in a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. The scriptures are given to lead us into a living encounter with God.
When we hear His voice, the author of scripture, spiritual life is imparted to us because Christ is the living Word. The life of the Word comes from the eternal life that is in Jesus that quickens (makes alive) to us the things of God. The words that men speak, as Biblical as they may be, will not have life in them unless it is the Holy Spirit is anointing them that we may hear His voice speaking to us through them.
The Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of Truth, will lead us to Christ who is THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE. Jesus said that the Spirit of truth will take the things that are of His and reveal them to you. A person can know the Scripture and still not know God and His ways. It is the expressed purpose of God that we experience His person that we may know Him in Spirit and in truth for fellowship. Praise be to God, who has given to us the Spirit of Truth that “shines in our heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:6).
The Things of God are Spiritually Discerned
As sons and daughters of the Kingdom of our Lord, we give thanks unto our God who “has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). The things of God and the realm of heaven are yours in Christ! That which is in heaven is yours on earth! The Holy Spirit loves to reveal to you the treasures of heaven such as God’s wisdom, counsel, healing, and understanding,
But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (12) Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things that are feely given to us of God” (1Cor 2:11-12).
The things of God are freely ours! The Holy Spirit that lives within you loves to reveal the things of heaven to you, including the operation of angels. You have the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth. However, Paul tells us that in order to know the things of God they are spiritually discerned,
But the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:12-14).
It would be great if Jesus came to speak directly to us, or take us up to heaven for a visit, or for an angel to appear in physical form and speak to us. Although we should be open for these types of experiences, most often the things of God are spiritually discerned. Because God is a spirit, and mankind is created with a spirit to hear and see the things of heaven, and angels are spirits, we can discern the presence and operations of angels in the same way that we can the things of God.
We can discern the things of the Spirit by listening with our heart. The heart is the gateway for our spirit to hear His voice for it is “with the heart that man believes unto righteousness” (Ro. 10:10). It is for this reason that Paul prayed for the Church to receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened in the knowledge of Him. (Eph. 1:17-18). The heart is the central communication center for the spirit of mankind that we may see and know Him!
Cultivate a listening heart and you will discern His voice. This requires calming the inner voices, the mental and emotional clamor that competes for your attention. It is by learning how to “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10) that you are able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit within you who loves to fellowship with you.
The Gift of Discernment
As Paul states, the things of God are spiritually discerned. Although the gift of discerning of spirits is a manifest gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:10) every born again believer has the ability to discern the things of heaven. How else would you know the voice of the Lord to follow Him, or to know when He is near? To be spiritually awakened to know the things of God includes the ability to discern the spiritual activity that is taking place around you.
The word “discern” means the process to examine something with the intent to search out its meaning and purpose. It means to “distinguish between” such as to distinguish between our thoughts, feelings, and understanding from that which is the Lords.
It can discern the motives and intentions of the human spirit as well as a person’s feelings. It can distinguish between the various anointings such as the gift of healing or the prophetic and how God is present, such as the spirit of holiness or as Christ the Lion of Judah. Basically, it is the ability to discern between the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of Satan and that which is of the soul realm of men.
The gift of discernment enables you to consider what is taking place around you. Did something just happen that made your skin tingle? Did the place around you get brighter or darker? Did you sense something in the atmosphere such as depression, anger, fear or anxiety? Or perhaps it was a feeling of peace, love or joy? Did the presence of God just enter into the room? Is what you are discerning good, bad, holy or ugly? Is it demonic, the human spirit, or the Holy Spirit?
The gift of discernment enables you to understand what you are dealing with, even its source and purpose. A Biblical example of this is when Paul is in Macedonia ministering the gospel of the Kingdom. For days a young girl follows him crying out, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shows us unto the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17) Now this might sound like a good advertisement and certainly what she was saying was the truth. However, it was not the words that bothered Paul, but the spirit speaking behind the voice that Paul discerned was a spirit of divination,
And it came to pass as we went to prayer; a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination meet us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. The same followed Paul and us crying, saying, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which show us the way unto salvation. ” Paul being grieved said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus to come out of her. And he came out of her in the same hour (Acts 16:16-18).
The gift of discernment enables one to determine the motivation and the source of the voice being uttered. Whether it is of the Holy Spirit that brings encouragement and edifies, or if it is a speech that sounds good to the natural ear, but behind the voice is a spirit of deception that is misleading, manipulating or controlling. (See 1 Cor. 14:10)
Basic Ways of Discernment
Have you ever sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit? This is your spirit feeling the nearness of His presence. Or felt refreshed by the Lord as you worshiped Him? This is His spirit renewing your spirit with His life. Have you felt your emotions flooded with a sense of mercy, compassion, and love that captured your heart? This is the Lord touching your feelings with His.
Has He ever whispered a thought that enlightened your heart with understanding? This is the still small voice of the Lord. Have you ever felt the love of God cuddle you like a warm blanket on a cold night? God often speaks to our emotions. Or perhaps the Holy Spirit touched your heart that brought healing to you? God loves to reveal His thoughts to you that you may know His heart. Or perhaps the spirit of your mind received a flood of peace that assured you that “Yes, everything will be OK!” This is the divine nature of God touching your soul, such as with courage, faith, peace or joy that strengthens that inner man, for we are partakers of His divine nature. (1 Peter 1:4)
God also speaks to your thoughts that are so gentle, that many miss them believing that they are their own. They may come as a single word or a series of thoughts. I often know the message that I am to minister as the Lord downloads His thoughts to my spiritual hard- drive that reveals His heart. He also imparts to your mind inner visions that are like daydreams. These pictures can be a single picture of something or like a moving film that is much like a daydream that is viewed on the screen of your mind.
He can also speak to you through His audible voice, open visions, trances, and dreams. These means are at a higher level of revelation as they are not so prone to our theology, prejudices, and understanding. Angels can also appear to us in these ways.
Through our Five Senses
We can also discern the things of the spirit through our basic five senses, which is the ability to hear, see, smell, touch and taste. The Lord will often “anoint” these natural areas to communicate something of the Spirit to us as follows.
Have you ever heard the Lord speak to your heart through an anointed message? This is how the Lord spoke to the two men on the road to Emmaus whose hearts burned within them. It is with my natural ear that I can sometimes hear the Word Himself speaking through someone that imparts a message to my y heart or that brings understanding to my mind. God can speak to you through your enemies, your neighbor and yes, even your spouse. Sounds such as the wind, music, and nature itself can speak to your spirit something that God wants you to hear.
Have you ever smelled something foul such as that of sulfur which is the presence of a demonic spirit? The fragrance of incense often means that the Lord has received our prayers or that He is pleased with our worship and praise. Sometimes I know that the Lord is near when I smell the fragrance of a rose. (S of S 2:1) Prophetically the nose represents the gift of discerning of spirits. When the Spirit highlights someone’s nose to me, I know that the Lord is speaking to me about their spiritual discernment.
Have you ever tasted something bitter in your mouth? This may be a word of knowledge that the person you are ministering to has an issue of bitterness. The taste of gold often represents God’s grace. The taste of salt may be a word of knowledge that someone you are ministering to is the “salt of the earth.” A taste of honey may represent the impartation of the wisdom of God (Proverbs 24:14). I humbly confess that I once tasted soap in my mouth which was the Lord washing my mouth of “prophetic gossip when I shared with someone what the spirit revealed to me about someone else.
Have you ever touched a letter or a person and discerned their intentions? Sometimes the Lord will touch my body that indicates the area where healing is to take place for someone. Sometimes I will feel pain in my body that tells me what a person is suffering from that I am to pray for. (Called sympathy pains) Sensations such as heat often mean that God is healing in that area. Most everyone can discern how strong the presence of the Lord is by the way their body responds to the anointing that touches them.
Have you ever seen someone that momentarily looked liked someone else? God was showing you that their character traits, history or gifting is the same as the person you are seeing. Sometimes God will allow us to see something through our natural eyes that which is taking place in the spiritual realm. I have seen the glory of the Lord hovering over the heads of our congregation as a cloud. Quite often I will see a light over a person’s head. When I bring this to the person’s attention they suddenly are aware of the Lord’s presence. As they breathe in the breath of heaven I often see the love of the touch their heart, for His presence and love is one. (1 Jn. 4: 16) What I see the Spirit doing often tells me how I should minister and pray.
Are You a Feeler Or a Seer?
I have discovered that there are two types of discerners, those that are feelers and those that are seers. A feeler discerns the things of God by “feeling” with their inner man things such as a person’s emotions, or the type of spirit that is present such as a spirit of fear, love, peace or joy. Others are “seers” in that they perceive with their spiritual eyes such as shades of light, colors, different strongholds, the presence of the Holy Spirit, angels and so on. Whether you are a feeler or a seer, it is the basic call of every Christian to hear the Lords’ voice and discern the things of heaven as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.
As an example of feeling, in Luke 8:45-46, Jesus is walking in a city and the people are pressing in on him when a woman with an issue of blood touches the hem of His garment. She believed that if she could just touch Him, she would be healed. When she touched Jesus and was healed, Jesus knew that somebody had touched Him and asked,
Who touched me? When all denied Peter and they that were with Him said, Master, the multitude throng you and presses in on you and you say, “Who touched Me? And Jesus said, “Somebody has touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”
The word that Jesus uses in regards to knowing that someone touched him is “I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me.” The word “perceive” translated means “to know by feeling.” Feelings is a way of discerning. A feeler discerns with their inner knower (usually the stomach area) that enables them to discern the things of the spirit, such as a person’s emotions and demonic assignments. Not only are feelers able to feel the things of the spirit, but God will impart His feelings to them that enables them to know God’s thoughts by understanding how He feels.
I often know how God feels by how my emotions are touched by His. Sometimes the Father fills my heart with such a deep love for a person I have to gasp for air to catch my breath. Or I may feel His mercy and compassion. Intercessors often feel God’s burden for something. While a seer may receive something that is informal in nature, a feeler tends to be emotionally inclined in their nature. Young seers tend to be overly analytical and feelers tend to be overly emotional until they mature in their gifting.
A biblical example of a seer with spiritual sight is noted in 2 Kings. Elijah has just been translated to heaven. His mantel falls from heaven upon Elisha, who received a double portion of the spirit of God that rest upon him. Elisha is walking to Jericho when the sons of the prophets ran out to meet him. Even from a distance they could see the spirit of Elijah resting upon Elisha,
Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him, they said, “The Spirit of Elijah does rest on Elisha.” And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him (2 Kings 2:15).
Something had changed in regards to the person of Elisha. What was it that they could see? Was it a spiritual presence? Did the glory of God become visible upon the face of Elisha as it did upon the face of Moses? Elisha had not changed physically but spiritually. It was because of their spiritual sight, that the sons of the prophets saw the spirit of Elijah resting upon Elisha that was not visible to the natural eye.
A person that is a seer should pray with their eyes open so that they can discern by “seeing” the operations of the Holy Spirit and the strongholds of the enemy or any demonic activity. I often see a light upon a person’s head, which tells me that the Lord’s Spirit is upon them. Or I can see like x-ray vision, the spiritual condition of a person’s heart. Sometimes I see a band upon a person’s head that indicates that the spirit of their mind is in the grips of fear. Or I may see a mantle of the Lord on their shoulders or an eagle above their head which represents the prophetic anointing.
Most everybody I know has seen a flash of lightning which is the movement of an angel in the room. Others feel a movement of angels as a wind. There are many ways to discern the things of the Spirit which is unique to every person. The way I see and discern may be different from the way that you do, but it is the same gifting.
In summary, the same way you that discern the presence of the Holy Spirit, demonic activity and the operations of the human spirit is the same way that you are gifted to discern the presence and activity of angels. Because the things of God are spiritually discerned and angels are of God, you can discern their presence.
Because angels are ministering spirits with the nature of heaven, their presence can bless the atmosphere of your home, workplace, church and ministry. I have found that when I welcome them I can actually feel the warmth of their presence. Sometimes it feels like the fire of God’s presence, other times like the peace of God and other times the atmosphere around me brightens because of their light that brightens my day!
We should not be afraid of angels nor should we hesitate to invite them in our midst as they are part of the heavenly host of heaven, which is our home. Nor should we on the other hand, be overly surprised when they are in our midst or call attention to them in a way that is overly emphasized. The call of every Christian is to be supernaturally natural and naturally supernatural. After all heaven is our home.
Putting It All Together
The things of the Kingdom of God are freely ours in Christ which is the grace of God. The Holy Spirit loves to reveal the things of heaven to you, including the operation of angels. Because the things of God are “spiritually discerned” and angels are of God, we can discern their presence and movement. In doing so, we can learn how to work with them for they are ministering angels with the call to serve the church.
In every basic way that God communicates to you, He can reveal the presence and activity of angels to you, such as through your five senses of sight, taste, touch, smell or hearing. Or through a visitation, open vision or dream. You may feel their presence just as you would when the Holy Spirit touches you with His healing love. There are many ways in which the things of God and His Kingdom can be spiritually discerned.
The Lord is increasing the level discernment that will give the Church greater clarity and vision to see the realms of heaven. Like all spiritual gifts and talents, they are developed by reason of use. One of the means that we use to activate our people in their gift of discernment is to allow them to discern the presence of an angel when they come into our meetings. At this point, I may direct the people to where the angel is standing and ask them to take a moment to “discern” the angel’s presence. This is followed by asking the group to share what each of them perceived.
For example, someone may feel a presence of peace while someone else may see the angel as a light in the same area. Someone else may discern its nature such as an angel dressed for battle or an angel of peace. Or it may be an angelic watchman with a message. (Dan. 4:13) It is by canvassing the discernment of the group that we are able to glean the nature, purpose, and type of angel that is present.
This enables us to have a corporate witness concerning the things of God. At times we may invite the angel to participate in our meeting or ask the Holy Spirit to give us direction in regards to the angels presence that will enable the group to corporately flow with the operation of heaven that is according to the heart of the Father for “Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
It is here in the atmosphere of corporate unity that as a Church we discern the things of God. Being led by the Holy Spirit our goal is to engage with the realm of heaven to do that which we see the Father doing and speak the words that we hear the Father saying as Jesus did. This includes discerning the presence of angels which is the onramp to learn how to co-labor with the angels of heaven that are called to serve the church on earth. We are now learning to do this and the best is yet to come!
In our Father’s heart and love,