Summary: Spiritual discernment seems to be something lacking in many of the people in America who identify themselves as Christians. They're decisions seem to be the same as those of their unsaved neighbors. Should this be so? What does the Bible say?
Discernment - The act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment.
Keen insight and good judgment …
Imagine that you walk into a bank and you see that all of the customers are laying on the floor and the only person standing is a guy with a ski mask over his face and a gun in his hand. You also see that the bank teller is panicking and feverishly stuffing all of the cash from the cash drawer into a bag.
What would your keen insight and good judgment tell you about what is happening inside that bank?
Discernment. We all need discernment. If you have a certain type of color blindness you can’t tell a red light from a green light so you can’t discern whether to stop or go. That, of course, is why they standardized the positions of the lights with red at the top and green at the bottom.
Of course these are types of discernment that we need in order to get by in this world on a day-to-day basis but what about discernment in spiritual matters? What about so-called “Spiritual Discernment”? Where does that come from?
1 Corinthians 2:1-16 (Read from the Bible and have the congregation follow along in theirs)
2 Peter 1:3 NIV
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”
We have talked a lot about the need to know the Word of God in order to determine whether a doctrine or belief is true or not.
For instance we know from God’s Holy Word that Rob Bell’s claim that there is no need to fear eternal punishment in hell is wrong. We know this because it is a direct contradiction of the words of Jesus Christ Himself found in the Bible.
In Matthew 25:45 Jesus says, “Then they (the unrighteous) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
When you are trusting the fate of your eternal soul, who are you going to believe, Rob Bell or Jesus?
Now, that’s just one example but there are many more. Suffice it to say that there is much heretical preaching going on around the world and the Word of God protects us from believing those heresies.
OK. So, how does spiritual discernment protect us when were out in the world?
Let’s define Spiritual Discernment (SD) a little bit more …
SD is not just knowing the Word of God, it is knowing the Word of God and knowing the Spirit of God.
I know Pastor Karenlee better now on our 40th anniversary than I did on our 30th or 20th or 10th anniversaries. I’ve spent more time with her. I know what pleases her and I know what upsets her and I know what she is indifferent about.
This knowledge has come from years of interaction and observation.
The same goes with the walk with the Lord. As we grow in knowledge of the Lord in obedience to the Lord we form a stronger and stronger kindred spirit with Him over the years and decades. We gain the ability to sense His approval or disapproval.
We know what it feels like to be tempted and when His Holy Spirit checks us, to run from the temptation. We also know what it feels like to be tempted and when His Holy Spirit checks us to go ahead and commit the sin in spite of His warning.
We know the closeness of His presence when we are abiding in Him and the absence of His presence when we are disobedient. This knowledge of the presence of God becomes just as real as the knowledge of the approval or disapproval of one of our human loved ones.
With that understanding, let’s talk about how that is carried out into the world outside the walls of the church and our home.
We know that we are called to be witnesses for Jesus everywhere we go and that we are called to be ambassadors for Christ.
Suppose you strike up a friendship with someone from work who is unsaved and they come from a background that is very similar to your own before you came to know Jesus as your Savior.
After this friendship has developed you find that your new friend is not interested at all in coming to know Jesus but their real interest is dragging you back into the sin from which Jesus rescued you.
What should you do? What is the Holy Spirit telling you? Are you feeling the temptation to go back into sin? Is the Holy Spirit checking you? Is the Holy Spirit telling you to pull back from this friendship until the person is more receptive to the gospel? Is the Holy Spirit telling you to fast and pray for strength before spending more time with this person so that you will not fall into the temptation and sin? Is the Holy Spirit telling you to run for your spiritual life?