Summary: After sin, the second biggest issue that most people in the body of Christ face is right discernment. Discernment is the ability to examine the situation, apply a good dose of experience, stand back and get a perspective on the recipe, and take the approp
Opening illustration: I read this past week of a couple (let’s call them Carl and Clara) whose twenty-five year marriage was a good one. Not the most idyllic, but good. They now had three grown children who loved them dearly. They were also blessed with sufficient financial security to allow them room to dream about a lakeside retirement home. They began looking. A widower we’ll call Ben was selling his place. They liked it a lot and returned home to talk and plan. Months passed. Last fall, right out of the blue, Clara told Carl she wanted a divorce. He went numb. After all these years, why? And how could she deceive him...how could she have been nursing such a scheme while they were looking at a retirement home? She said she hadn’t been. Actually, this was a recent decision now that she had found another man. Who? Clara admitted it was Ben, the owner of the lake house, whom she inadvertently ran into several weeks after they had discussed the sale. They’d begun seeing each other. Since they were now ‘in love,’ there was no turning back. Not even the kids, who hated the idea, could dissuade their mother. On the day she was to leave, Carl walked through the kitchen toward the garage. Realizing she would be gone when he returned, he hesitated, ‘Well, hon, I guess this is the last time …’ His voice dissolved as he broke into sobs. She felt uneasy, hurriedly got her things together, and drove north to join Ben. Less than two weeks after she moved in with Ben, her new lover, he was seized with a heart attack. He lingered a few hours ... and then died. Almost makes us think of the poor choice Abraham and Sarah made with Hagar in Genesis 16.
Let us turn to 1 Corinthians 12 to check out the gift of the spirit of discernment.
Introduction: After sin, the second biggest issue that most people in the body of Christ face is right discernment. Apparently discernment is a Biblical expectation. It is wrong to simply assume that everything that seems to be supernatural is truly the work of the Holy Spirit. What does 1 Corinthians 14: 29 and 1 John 4: 1 says? In reality this may be authentic work of the Holy Spirit; human emotion or personality; the work of deceiving spirits. How may we know whether a particular event is the genuine work of the Holy Spirit?
Do you ever pray for discernment? People tend to pray for things that they feel are useful at the moment and fruitful for today and tomorrow. But discernment, you say? Just exactly what is it and why should I be including it in my prayers? Discernment is the ability to examine the situation, apply a good dose of experience, stand back and get a perspective on the recipe, and take the appropriate action at the appointed time. It’s what most people would call “good judgment.”
What is the process of discernment? (4 key Biblical tests)
1. Does it give glory to Jesus Christ in the present and in the future?
• John 14: 26
• John 16: 13 – 14
If you ever wanted to know how it was that the New Testament came to be written, your answer is right here. The disciples didn’t walk around Galilee with little note pads waiting for Jesus to say something so that they could take notes and then negotiate a publishing contract. They had absolutely no intention of writing anything. They never expected Jesus to leave. But later - much later for some of them - the necessity arose to preserve the things that had happened so that those of a new generation could know about them. That was when they began to write. However, I think that by extension we can see a valid application of the text. The reason the Holy Spirit would put these things into the minds of the apostles was because He wanted to put them into our minds. It is the Spirit who puts the words into Scripture, and it is the Spirit who helps us recall what we have read when we need it.
This is not a promise to the church at large. This is a promise to these eleven men, which benefits the church at large. The text literally says, “He will guide you into all the truth.” There is a particular body of truth that Jesus has in mind. This is not a promise to guide people generally in their exploration of physics and horticulture or atomic energy. The truth is the truth about God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the truth with which the Holy Spirit concerns Himself. But, God’s Spirit doesn’t only show us the future in a prophetic sense … He tells us what is to come in a practical sense. He guides us in our decision making. God’s Spirit gives us guidance when it comes to practical matters. In Acts 15, the Spirit brought peace to a troubled church as they had to adjust their style of ministry to reach a new group of people. The Spirit also helps us in the selection of a college, choosing a job, finding a mate, and making investments. But we must have ears to hear. Moreover, we must first obey His revealed will before He reveals His explicit truth.