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Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Before you read: This article is part of a larger series that builds on itself from the foundation up, with each study building on the last. If something in this article does not make sense to you or if you believe it to be incorrect please be sure you have read over the entire course before passing your final judgment. Also be sure to visit this page’s FAQ And Objections Page

There are more gifts of the Holy Spirit than just speaking in tongues. These gifts include the word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Many people call these the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, though! The Bible also says that people will have dreams, visions, and even cast out demons.

The point is that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not limited to these 9, and are actually limitless. The reason they are limitless is because they all come from God. They are all given by the Spirit of God. These 9 may be the ones listed here, but all the power of God Himself is behind a Christian if God wants to do something through them, whatever it may be.

The Difference between a Talent and a Gift

Sometimes people get confused about the difference between having a talent and having a gift. A talent is something that you happen to be good at. You work at it and perfect it. Like singing, art, or anything else, it is something you seem to be a natural at. It comes so easy to you that you may think “I’m just gifted.”

Talent vs Gift

But the reality is that you are TALENTED in it, not necessarily gifted. The difference is that a talent is something YOU are able to do. A gift doesn’t belong to you, and you can’t use it unless it is given to you by another.

With a talent, you can simply turn it on and off. At any moment you may be able to burst into song and dance or pick a pen up to begin writing. You control it. God may bless your efforts in learning and growing in your talents. He may even let you use a gift or two in the process, but there is a difference between talents and gifts.

A gift is not something that you can practice, turn on or off, or control like that. A gift is not something YOU are able to do. It is something GOD does THROUGH YOU. Take Samson as an example:

Judges 16:20

20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.

God had gifted Samson with great strength. But, when his hair was cut off (as you can read about in Judges) he was no longer allowed to use that strength. Yet, after he woke up, knowing his hair was gone, he said to himself that he would go out and do what he has always done, … but he found out that what he thought was his own talent was actually just a gift, which had been taken away.

The point is that we do not “practice” using our gifts. We do not gain skill in them through our own ability, and we do not simply “shake ourselves” and begin operating in them at our choosing. These gifts come from God Himself for certain purposes and for certain times.

If you remember in a previous unit we spoke of what it meant to be a prophet. We said that the gift of the prophet “bubbled up” inside of them. This is how these other gifts work as well. They “bubble up” from inside of us as the Spirit takes command.

Now that we have spoken of that we can continue to examine these 9 listed gifts.

What Are the Gifts “Word of Wisdom & Word of Knowledge?”

There is a big difference between having knowledge and having wisdom. A short explanation is that knowledge means you know something, but wisdom means you know how to use that knowledge. Sound strange?


Think of this example. Let’s say you know how to make a starship that can travel faster than light (yes, I watch Star Trek, stay with me here). Congratulations, you have knowledge. But what good is that going to do you? If you run around telling all of your friends and strangers about it then you may end up in the mental hospital.

Knowledge without wisdom can be dangerous. But, if instead of acting like a mad man you write your thoughts down and send them to the right person at NASA then you have acted with wisdom. Wisdom is when you know something AND know how to properly use that knowledge.

When the Spirit gives you the gift of the word of knowledge it means He has informed you of something. You may know something without being told by another. I personally have been given this gift before and quoted scripture that I had never even read. Yet I knew it because God was in me, and since I had Him, I had His WHOLE word.

When the Spirit gives the word of wisdom it means you not only know something, but you know what to do with it. For example, you may know everything in the Bible but not be able to explain anything to others without sounding like a judgmental, cruel, tyrant. But the Spirit can guide you in HOW to speak in a way that they can accept.

Once again, wisdom is not only knowing something but knowing how to properly use it. Solomon is a good example of this:

1 Kings 3:11-12

11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

If you look at the life of Solomon you will see that even when he had no knowledge he had the wisdom to know what to do.

1 Kings 3:24-27

24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. 25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. 26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. 27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.

WOW! He had no knowledge of who the child belonged to, yet he had the wisdom to know how to proceed and find out. This wisdom was a gift from God. You don’t control it, but you do choose to operate in it or not.

The Gifts of Faith, Healing, & Miracles

How many of us would pick up a sword and charge into an entire army by ourselves? That sounds like suicide to me. Yet there are many people listed in the Bible that did things just like that. They survived too!

What made them think that they could do that? It was faith. This is another gift given by God. The Bible even says that each one of us has a measure of it:

Romans 12:3

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Have you heard people use the scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?” Have you seen them fail at what they attempted? You see, that scripture connects to Romans 12:3. The question is what has He given you strength for? If He hasn’t given you the strength then how can you say, “Who strengthens me?”

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Faith is only as strong as the reality of what you hope for. If God did not say “charge that army” and you do it anyway then you are going to die. But if He DID say to do so then He will also give you the strength to do it. That strength is faith.

Faith bubbles up inside of you just like other gifts. You don’t control it. But you can choose to operate in it or not.

Healing is another gift that operates in conjunction with faith (as does prophecy and others). Healing is also a gift given for certain times and purposes. You don’t control it, but you do choose to operate in it or not when God says to lay hands on someone to heal them.

Speaking of healing, the gift of miracles works in the same way. You don’t control it, but you do choose to operate in it or not. It all depends on if Christ has commanded it and, therefore, given you the power and authority at that time to use that gift.

Discerning of Spirits

Since we have already covered tongues and prophecy in this course we will skip to the discerning of spirits. This gift is actually quite hard to have. It takes a great toll on a person. I say this because I know what it is like. Sometimes it’s hard on your emotions when you know things that people may be trying to hide.

There are times a person can come to you and say all of the right words. They can make you really believe that they are a child of God. But eventually, the sheep clothing comes off to reveal a wolf. Sometimes the sheep really is a sheep, though, but they may be dealing with a spirit of pride, or something else.


The discerning of spirits is a gift where God grants you the ability to see past the outside and into the spirit. While others around you may be amazed by someone, the Spirit lets you see the truth behind them. It also works in reverse to see the good in someone that others can not see.

This gift is helpful for many reasons. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to know who is your real friend and who isn’t? Who can you trust and who can you not? Who needs help with an issue and who needs help with another issue?

You don’t control it, but you do choose to operate in it or not.

It’s Your Choice

1 Corinthians 14:32

And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

This passage comes among others regarding the proper use of gifts in the church. When Paul says this he is saying that we are in control of our own selves. He doesn’t say we are in control of turning our gifts on or off, but we ARE in control of what we do with them.

We can CHOOSE to ignore the bubbling up, or prophecy and keep quiet, or the instruction of the Spirit to do something with wisdom. We can choose to obey or not. But we can not choose what God is going to do, how He is going to do it, or when He is going to.

Above all of this please remember, NONE OF THIS OPERATES BY EMOTION! Butterflies in the stomach do not equal a prophecy “just waiting to get out.” So how will you know when you are supposed to use these gifts? We are going to address that in our next unit.

Continue To Unit 4:6 – What Are My Spiritual Gifts OR

Return To Christianity 101 Unit 4 – The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

October 11, 2016 at 11:23 pm | | No comment

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When I was five I gave my heart to God. I went to a Christian school. God has gave me so much in my life. I love God so much and Jesus!

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