Lesson 5




Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

C Define spiritual gifts.

C Identify the source of these gifts.

C Distinguish between spiritual gifts and natural talents.

C Explain purposes for spiritual gifts.

C Explain the objectives of spiritual gifts.

C Explain how these gifts are distributed.

C Identify abuses of spiritual gifts.

C Identify the key to using spiritual gifts.

C Distinguish between true and false [counterfeit] spiritual gifts.


Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (I Corinthians 12:1)


Jesus left His followers with the responsibility to extend the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. The power of the Holy Spirit would help them fulfill this task:

But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Jesus did not leave His followers with such a great responsibility without giving them the ability to fulfill the challenge. Spiritual gifts are supernatural abilities given by the Holy Spirit to empower believers to be effective witnesses of the Gospel.

The subject of spiritual gifts was one on which Paul taught in the early church. He said:

Now concerning spiritual gifts , brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (I Corinthians 12:1)

This chapter introduces the subject of spiritual gifts. Following chapters will concern the various spiritual gifts available to believers . Guidelines also will be given to help you discover your own spiritual gift.


The word "spiritual" means "characterized or controlled by the Holy Spirit.” A "gift" is something freely given from one person to another. A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to a believer to minister as part of the Body of Christ.

There is a difference between the "gift" of the Holy Spirit and "gifts" of the Holy Spirit. The "gift" of the Holy Spirit occurred at Pentecost (Acts 2) when the Holy Spirit came in answer to the promise of Jesus:

And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter…Even the Spirit of truth…(John 14:16-17a)

The "gift" of the Holy Spirit has already been given in answer to this promise. "Gifts" of
the Holy Spirit are supernatural abilities the Holy Spirit gives believers to enable effective

And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. (Mark 16:20)


There is a difference between spiritual gifts and natural talents. A talent is a natural

ability inherited at birth or developed through training. A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability which did not come by inheritance or training. It is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to be used for specific spiritual purposes.

It is possible that a natural talent may be sanctioned [approved and blessed] by the Holy
Spirit after one becomes a believer. When this occurs the talent then becomes a gift as
well as a talent. For example, a person may have a natural talent in administration because
of training he has received. After baptism in the Holy Spirit this natural talent may be
sanctioned [approved] by the Holy Spirit and he may be used in the spiritual gift of
administration .

Spiritual gifts provide spiritual capabilities far greater than the finest natural talents . Although we should use all our natural talents for the work of the Lord, we still need

spiritual gifts.


The purposes of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed in Ephesians 4:12-15:

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ;

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of
God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-15)

According to this passage, the purposes of the Holy Spirit are to:

-Perfect the saints

-Promote the work of the ministry
-Edify Christ and the Church

The objectives or goals of spiritual gifts are that we will:

-Become united in the faith.

-Develop our knowledge of Christ.

-Develop in perfection, with Christ as our model. -Become stable, not deceived by false doctrines. -Mature spiritually in Christ.


You learned earlier that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity of God. All three persons of the Trinity are involved in empowering believers with spiritual gifts:

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are

differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
(I Corinthians 12:4-6)

The Holy Spirit, God, and the Lord [Jesus Christ ] are all mentioned in this passage. Their involvement in spiritual gifts is shown in the following chart:

verse four verse five verse six
Lord God
Diverse Gifts Diverse Administrations Diverse Operations
(different gifts) (different ministries) (different ways gifts are used)


The gifts of the Spirit are also given to the Church as weapons of spiritual warfare to conquer the spiritual forces of Satan :*

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Since the battle in which believers are engaged is spiritual, then spiritual rather than

natural weapons must be used. Believers sometimes go into spiritual warfare without

knowledge of these weapons. Anytime you go to battle without your weapons you cannot expect to win the fight. This is why it is important to understand spiritual gifts. They are part of the spiritual weapons God has provided.


Each believer has at least one spiritual gift:

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (I Peter 4:10)

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. (I Corinthians 12:7,11)

* Cmdssoffers a separate course on the subject of spiritual warfare entitled "Spiritual Strategies : A Manual Of Spiritual Warfare.”

Because every believer has at least one spiritual gift, we each have a responsibility to discover and use our gift.

You will not be judged by how many spiritual gifts you have. You will be judged by your faithfulness to use the spiritual gift or gifts you have been given. The parable of the
talents in Matthew 25:14-30 confirms this truth.

There are many spiritual gifts, but no believer has all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? (I Corinthians 12:29-30)

A person may have more than one gift, but no one has all the gifts of the Spirit. If he did, then he would have no need of others in the Body of Christ.


A spiritual gift from God can be abused . To "abuse" a gift means to not use it properly . You can abuse spiritual gifts by:


The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (I Timothy 4:14)

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (II Timothy 1:6)


While ministering in Samaria, Peter and John met a man named Simon who wanted to have the powerful gifts he saw demonstrated. Simon offered money to obtain these abilities. Peter said :

Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this
(Acts 8:20-21)

Spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit. They cannot be obtained by any other method. You cannot just decide you want to have or use a certain spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit must give it to you.

On another occasion , seven sons of the chief of the priests saw the miracles of the Apostle Paul and tried to use this gift to cast out evil spirits:

And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them and overcame

them, and prevailed against them so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:15-16)

It can be dangerous to try to operate a gift without the Holy Spirit’s anointing.


In I Corinthians 12-14 Paul deals with proper use of spiritual gifts. To summarize the teaching of these chapters he states:

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…Let all things be done decently and in order. (I Corinthians 14:33,40)

God is not the author of confusion. Where there is confusion the gifts are not being used correctly. Spiritual gifts can also be improperly used when you manipulate people, gain wealth, or use them for your own selfish satisfaction rather than in ministry to others.

The guidelines for use of gifts which Paul gives in I Corinthians 12-14 prevent

confusion. You will have an opportunity to study these in the "For Further Study" section of this lesson .


When you "glorify" your gift, you consider it more special than other gifts. You begin to see the gift as greater than the Giver.


The Bible indicates there are many gifts which come from one source. The source of spiritual gifts is the Holy Spirit. He gives and operates these gifts in the lives of

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (I Corinthians 12:4-7)

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth on teaching;

Or he that exhorteth on exhortation: he that giveth let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)

There is one source of spiritual gifts but there are many different gifts. No gift is more
important than another. Your position in the Body of Christ is compared to parts of a
human body. Just as in the human body, the smaller parts such as the eye have important
functions, the seemingly "small" gift is often quite important in the functioning of the
church. Some gifts involve greater responsibilities, but no gift is more important than

Some parts of the human body have greater responsibilities than others. For example, the eye lets you see what is around you. It guides you when walking. It permits you to read and see and enjoy God’s creations. The eye has greater responsibility, but it is no more important than the big toe which provides balance for walking. The guidance of the eye for walking is useless if you have no feet with which to walk . The eye’s function to
permit reading is useless if you have no brain to understand what you read .

Sometimes misunderstanding arises in the Church when believers do not recognize the spiritual gifts of others. For example , one person may have the gift of giving and may not understand another believer who does not give as liberally. Or one may have the gift of administration and become very impatient with people who are less organized.

Each believer should use his spiritual gifts to work together with other believers who have
different gifts . When this happens, the Church functions effectively as the Body of


You are only a steward of spiritual gifts. A steward is someone who does not own that with which he works. He uses something given to him by another person . He uses it in behalf of the person who gave it to him . You are a steward for Jesus Christ:

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (I Corinthians 4:1)

Part of the "mysteries" of which you are a steward are spiritual gifts. They are given to you by the Holy Spirit to minister effectively for Jesus:

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (I Peter 4:10)

As a steward, you will be judged on the basis of your faithfulness to use the gifts you have been given:

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (I Corinthians 4:2)


The main passages identifying spiritual gifts are listed below. Read these before you study the following chapters. These verses introduce the various gifts:

-Romans 12:1-8 -I Corinthians 12:1-31

-Ephesians 4:1-16 -I Peter 4 : 7 -1 1

Remember that these gifts are special abilities from God to minister in different ways. While there may be some evidences of these in all our lives it does not necessarily mean we have a certain gift. For example, all believers are to give to the work of the Lord with tithes and offerings. But the gift of giving is an unusual generosity prompted by the Spirit of God . All believers have a measure of faith according to the Word of God. But the gift of faith is a special ability to believe beyond that of the ordinary Christian.


Some people claim that all of the spiritual gifts listed in the Bible are not for the Church today. They believe some gifts, like prophecy, tongues, miracles, etc., were only for the early Church. These people say that after the Church was established and the New
Testament written, some spiritual gifts were no longer needed. They often use I
Corinthians 13:10 to explain their belief:

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (I Corinthians 13:10)

They say that when the perfect revelation of God’s Word was written, there was no longer a need for tongues, interpretation, and prophecy. They say that once the Church was
established there was no longer a need for confirming signs and miracles.

What they fail to note is that knowledge is also mentioned in the same passage as being "vanished" or done away with:

…whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
(I Corinthians 13:8)

If we use this verse to say tongues, interpretation, and prophecy are no longer needed, then we must also say knowledge is no longer needed.

This passage actually refers to a future time when the "perfect" Kingdom of God is

established on earth. Since what is perfect has come, we will have no need of any of the spiritual gifts then, because …

…He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

We will have no need of messages through prophecy, tongues , or interpretation, for we will be dwelling with the God who inspires such messages. We will have no need of the word of wisdom or knowledge, for we will be living with the source of knowledge. We will not need discerning of spirits, for…

…there shall no wise enter into it any thing that defileth…but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27)

There will be no need for gifts of healing for…

…In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life…for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)

Also remember the purposes and objectives of spiritual gifts given in Ephesians 4:1 2-1 5. The purposes are for:

-Perfecting of the saints.

-Promoting the work of the ministry.
-Edifying Christ and the Church.

The purposes for which the gifts were given still remain. The saints still need to be

perfected, the ministry still needs to be promoted to the ends of the earth, and Christ and the Church need to be edified.

The objectives are that we will:

-Be united in the faith.

-Develop our knowledge of Christ.

-Develop in perfection, with Christ as our model. -Become stable, not deceived by false doctrines. -Mature spiritually in Christ.

God would not give spiritual gifts for these purposes and objectives and then remove them without these things being accomplished.

-Are all believers united in the faith?

-Has everyone developed fully in the knowledge of Christ? -Are we all perfected?

-Are our church members stable and not being deceived by false doctrines? -Are all our church members spiritually mature?

The answer to all these questions is "no.” These objectives have not been accomplished. For this reason we know all of the spiritual gifts are still for today. God gave spiritual gifts to accomplish certain purposes in the Church. He will not withdraw any of these gifts without these purposes being accomplished. The Bible also says that the "gifts and callings of God are without repentance" (Romans 11:29). This means God will not
change His mind and take back a spiritual gift or calling He has given.


In I Corinthians 1 3 the Apostle Paul gives the key for using gifts of the Holy Spirit . He introduced the subject in I Corinthians 12 :31. He listed some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and then said…

…and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (I Corinthians 12:31)

I Corinthians chapter 13 explains that "more excellent way." Read the entire chapter in your Bible. This chapter gives the key to using spiritual gifts. That key is love. You can prophesy, have the gifts of healing, faith, giving, etc., but without love in using these gifts , they will not be effective .

Gifts are unprofitable when used without love. Speaking in tongues becomes like a noisy clanging. Every gift is worthless, "it profits nothing" , unless it is used in love . Love is

the "more excellent way" in which the gifts are used. The gifts become a channel through which God’s love can flow to those around us. Love is the key to using spiritual gifts
effectively .


Satan counterfeits the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A counterfeit is something that imitates something real, but it is not genuine. Satan is a deceiver. The Bible says he sometimes even appears as an angel (II Corinthians 11:14). In the final days of time, there will even be a Satanic counterfeit of Christ called the antichrist (I John 2:18,22).

Much counterfeiting of the gifts is accomplished through the occult. For example, the word of knowledge is counterfeited by witches pretending to foretell the future and the unknown. A witch is a person who seeks to know things and perform acts through
supernatural sources other than God. Their source is Satan. Counterfeiting of the gift of discerning of spirits is done by mind reading.

Even miracles are counterfeited by Satan (Exodus 7) and will be performed by the

antichrist (Revelation 13: 14) . The Bible also speaks of false prophets (Acts 1 3:6 -12 ). The question is, how do you distinguish the counterfeit from the real?

The counterfeit does not fulfill the Scriptural purposes of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Read again Ephesians 4:12-15. Any true gift of the Holy Spirit will accomplish these spiritual purposes and objectives.

Counterfeit gifts do not agree with what the Bible teaches about Jesus. When anyone
ministers a gift , what do they say about Jesus? Does it agree with the written Word of

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his

subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

(II Corinthians 11:3-4)

You can also recognize counterfeiters by their personal characteristics. These are listed in II Peter 2 and the book of Jude. Study these chapters in your Bible to help you
distinguish the real from the counterfeit.