This is the definition from Wikipedia for Discernment. My definition is this......Using the Holy Spirit to tell if something is of or from God or not. Wikipedia touches on that in the Discerning of Spirits. I hope that this doesn't confuse you even more.
is a term used in Christian
tradition to describe the process of
for one's life.
All moral conduct may be summed up in the rule: avoid evil and do good. In
the language of Christian asceticism
, spirits, in the broad sense, is the term
applied to certain complex influences, capable of impelling the will, the ones
toward good, the others toward evil; we have the wordly spirit of error, the
spirit of race, the spirit of Christianity, etc.
However, in the restricted sense, spirits indicate the various spiritual
agents which, by their suggestions and movements, may influence the moral value
of our acts. Concupiscence, disturbances of the imagination and errors of
sensibility, thwart or pervert the operations of the intellect and will, by
deterring the one from the true and the other from the good (Genesis 8:21; James
1:14). In opposition to our vitiated nature, or so to speak, to the flesh which
drags us into sin, the Spirit of God acts within us by grace, a supernatural
help given to our intellect and will to lead us back to good and to the
observance of the moral law (Romans 7:22-25). Besides these two spirits, the
human and the Divine, in the actual order of Providence, two others must be
observed. The Creator willed that there should be communication between angels
and men, and as the angels are of two kinds, good and bad, the latter try to win
us over to their rebellion and the former endeavour to make us their companions
in obedience. Hence four spirits lay siege to our liberty: the angelic and the
Divine seeking its good, and the human (in the sense heretofore mentioned) and
the diabolical its misery. In ordinary language they may, for brevity sake, be
called simply the good and the evil spirit.
The scriptural basis for the discernment of spirits can be found in Galatians
5:16-24. Following the will of the spirit leads to holiness and following the
will of the flesh leads to sin. This also opens the door to the dark or evil
spirits / the workers of Satan. The will of the flesh is easy to be fooled
and/or leads to rationalizations of conduct that our hearts know better and to
idolize of the things of this world.
"Discernment of spirits" is the term given to the judgment whereby to
determine from what spirit the impulses of the soul emanate, and it is easy to
understand the importance of this judgment both for self-direction and the
direction of others. Now this judgment may be formed in two ways. In the first
case the discernment is made by means of an intuitive light which infallibly
discovers the quality of the movement; it is then a gift of God, a grace gratis
data, vouchsafed mainly for the benefit of our neighbour (1 Corinthians 12:10).
This charisma or gift was granted in the early Church and in the course of the
lives of the saints as, for example, St. Philip Neri. Second, discernment of
spirits may be obtained through study and reflection.
It is then an acquired human knowledge, more or less perfect, but very useful
in the direction of souls. It is procured, always, of course, with the
assistance of grace, by the reading of the Holy Bible, of works on theology and
asceticism, of autobiographies, and the correspondence of the most distinguished
ascetics. The necessity of self-direction and of directing others, when one had
charge of souls, produced documents, preserved in spiritual libraries, from the
perusal of which one may see that the discernment of spirits is a science that
has always flourished in the Church.