The Brilliance of God’s Discernment
Christians and non-Christians alike possess natural discernment. This is the discernment that allows us to judge and understand people and situations. This judgment is learned and can be a product of our environment and the culture we live in. As is evident in these times, human morality varies from culture to culture and from generation to generation which makes this discernment unstable. What we perceive or encounter gets weighed in our scales that we call balanced and the result is what we discern to be acceptable or unacceptable. What was favorable two generations ago might not be discerned as favorable in this generation. As time progresses the current generation seems to discern more and more leniency towards their own thinking and behavior as it best fits their ideals and lifestyles. There must be something better; something more consistent.
One example of this natural discernment can be witnessed in how one culture views the appropriate treatment of women and children versus another culture viewing it as inappropriate. It is only by the pure grace of God Himself that we were born in a culture that favors honorable treatment. Unfortunately, the privileges we claim we also shamelessly take for granted. The discernment in some hard line religiously dominated areas see the treatment of some people as a means to their own gain (without even a remote regard for their well-being) while imagining it is cloaked in worship. Lord, help us see that natural discernment alone is poverty and we desperately need Your true discernment to guide us in this difficult age. Your word says people without Your discernment are doomed. (Hosea 4:14) Help us to thrive Lord and be blessed!
The source of true discernment does not come from our world leaders, cultural acceptance, norms, habits, or even the majority. The source is God alone. As we pray and study the Word, this true discernment grows. As our ‘mind of Christ’ (1 Cor. 2:16) matures, it comes in agreement with the Scripture and with the Spirit. We must renew our minds so we are able to recognize when we hear strange teaching or see shifts in morality that does not line up with what we know about Christ and His word.
When we have true discernment we know not to fear events in the world. We discern the enemy’s influence on people and situations but we know Jesus has conquered the world so we choose thanksgiving and prayer in the face of uncertainty. We will discern that in our trials, God desires to sanctify us and we will choose to look up during the trial and discern God’s love for us. The peace He gives will transcends every thought. God is perfect order. When we try to discern in the natural mixed with the supernatural there can be chaos in our thinking. We establish order by yielding to the Spirit of God then seeking His perfect discernment. We then discern where our strife is – and it is not with flesh and blood. Discern the battle you are fighting as significant for your growth as well as having kingdom significance as opposed to seeing it merely as another struggle to endure. That is empowerment for turning what the enemy would have has your stumbling block into what God would have for your advantage!
Discerning of spirits is one of the gifts spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12. This gift enables a believer to know the underlying motivation of a person or situation. A believer operating in this gift will be able to discern whether the person is operating under the inspiration of the Spirt or if they are merely expressing their own thoughts, feelings, or desires or even if they are speaking from the influence of an oppressive spirt. One way a believer can discern spiritual influence is by the ‘feeling’ the spirit brings. The Spirit of God brings love, joy, and peace. A wrong spirit brings feelings of heaviness and agitation. A person influenced by a wrong spirt can bring heaviness with them into a meeting and draw all attention to themselves in an attempt to manipulate the gathering. A discerning person will recognize the problem and pray for wisdom to know how to proceed. There could be a hesitation on the part of the person due to concern of coming across as insensitive or uncaring – but be strong in the Lord! The source of this gift is God and is given under the Spirit’s control. It originates from a place of power not fear! People search for a power that is beyond them. There are demons of witchcraft among people around us – even in the church. If they do not seek the power that resides with God for righteousness, they WILL seek it elsewhere and find it with wrong spirits. Lord, give us true discernment when we come together in Your name. If there is a spirit with a desire to hijack whaat You would have for us, guide us in Your orderly ways. (Note: Discerning of spirits has nothing to do with spiritualism (belief that the dead communicate with the living). Wrong spirits are the ‘rulers of the darkness of the world’ – fallen angels or demons. Matthew 10:8, Ephesians 6:12)
We should always make an effort to discern the Spirit when we meet with other believers because our aim is to follow His guidance. We never want to miss what the Spirit would like to do on our behalf. Lord, teach us to lay aside our human plans as needed when we sense Your movement in our gatherings. We welcome Your presence and desire your direction!
An example of true discernment is found in Acts 16:17. Paul and Silas were on their way to a prayer meeting when a slave girl (who made a large profit for her owners by fortune telling) continued to cry out for days, “These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the slaves of the Most High God.” Paul was aggravated and turned to the spirit (is it interesting it says the spirit and not the girl?) saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away. Even though the girl was proclaiming truth regarding Paul and Silas, Paul discerned she was speaking under the influence of the enemy and the proclamation was meant to bring disruption instead of glory. Oh the brilliance of God’s discernment!
Another example is found in 2 Kings 5. Naaman, a captain in the Syrian army was a leper. He went to the prophet Elisha and he instructed him to wash seven times in the Jordan to receive his healing. When he did this, his skin was restored to health and he went back to Elisha to offer him a gift. Elisha, however, would not accept the gift. When Naaman left, Gehazi, (Elisha’s attendant) sought Naaman to deceitfully persuade him that Elisha now wanted the gift and he would bring it to him. Gehazi then stored the gift in his home. When Elisha asked Gehazi what he had been up to Gehazi did not tell him. Elisha not only discerned Gehazi’s dishonest spirit but also what he had done. Elisha operated in power and with a sound mind to discern the things of God and to speak out. Therefore, he was not held back by fear of what might happen because of the confrontation. Elisha had the fear of the Lord and was not moved by the fear man.
♥Father, You have all discernment. I desperately need Your impartation to serve You better. Thank you Father that You have given me everything I need for holiness in my life. I turn away from relying on my inferior natural discernment and I ask to be filled with Your brilliance. I desire to discern good from evil, Your Spirit from the world’s spirit, and Your truth from a lie. I ask to discern the work of the enemy in my life and by Your glorious power I am sprung from his trap! Thank you for allowing me to see the greatness of Your power available to all believers that are yielded to Your Spirit. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts and Your ways are superior to the world’s ways. Teach me what You desire me to know. Your servant is listening! I pray and believe in the name of the darling of heaven, Jesus Christ. Amen!
Here is a song to bless you in prayer and worship.
♥1 Kings 3:9 So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to ________________ between __________ and ______________. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” Solomon asked for a heart obedient to the word of God so that he could serve His people with discernment. How about you? Let’s have an obedient heart to God at all times. A heart that does not waiver but is steadfast! In this way, we will be able to discern what is pleasing to God and serve His people in truth. Amen!
♥Psalm 119:66 Teach me good judgment and ________________________, for I rely on Your commands. Loving the word of God leads to good judgment and discernment. Do you love the Word? Do you find your life in the Word?
♥Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be _____________________ by the ____________________ of your mind, so that you may __________________ what is the ____________, ______________, and _________________ will of God. Do you discern that you must be vigilant in order to maintain your commitment to serve the Lord? Do you also discern that the world tries to charm your heart away from the things of the Lord? Being transformed leads to discernment and discernment leads to knowing the perfect will of God.
♥Philippines 1:9 And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in _________________ and every kind of ____________________, so that you can _____________ the things that are _________________ and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the _________ of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the ____________ and ___________ of God. Bishop Wordsworth says, “that delicate tact and instinct, which almost intuitively perceives what is right, and almost unconsciously shrinks from what is wrong.” It cannot exist without love. With God’s love (agape) comes the spiritual insight we need to live and serve.
♥Matthew 24:4-5 “Watch out that no one ____________________ you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will __________________________ many.” In the last days more deceiving spirits will be unleashed so we must be prepared to discern the counterfeit.
♥Matthew 24:11 Many false prophets will ______________ _________ and _______________ many. This verse is speaking to those who have turned away from the faith and are then deceived. Maintain the love of God in your heart. Do you discern that to maintain something it requires effort? We must have true discernment to recognize a false prophet. How would you discern a false prophet or teacher in your midst?
♥Revelation 13:11-14 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; he had two horns like a lamb, but he sounded like a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast on his behalf and compels the earth and those who live on it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He also performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in front of people. He ____________________ those who live on the earth because of the _______________ that he is ________________________ to perform on behalf of the beast telling those who live on the earth to make an ______________________ of the beast who had the sword wound and yet lived. If you do not want to be deceived you must be able to discern. In this scenario, having natural discernment will not enable you to discern the truth of what is happening. Because of the powerful signs he is allowed to manifest, people will be deceived. Father, give us discernment to see through the enemy’s endeavors both now and in his “great fury”. Give us wisdom to know he is the ultimate false prophet, with an unholy gospel, and counterfeit signs.
The next five scriptures are examples when Jesus used discernment.
~John 1:47 Then Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said about him, “Here is a true Israelite; no deceit is in him.” Jesus discerns the inner motive and heart.
~John 2:23-25 While He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many trusted in His name when they saw the signs He was doing. Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man. Jesus discerned the people’s superficial faith because they witnessed His miraculous works. He did not trust himself to those who made a profession based solely on a witnessed miracle. Our profession of faith must go deeper. It is always a matter of the heart. We must not marvel at the miraculous and follow Him because our eyes have had a feast. A true confession is based on a heart that is certain of the reality of who and what Jesus represents.
~Mark 9:17-27 Out of the crowd, one man said, “Teacher, I brought my son to You. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. Whenever it seized him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.” Jesus replied, “Bring him to Me.” When the spirit saw Him, it immediately convulsed the boy. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. “How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father. “From childhood,” he said. “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!” Then it came out, shrieking and convulsing him violently. Jesus, took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. Jesus discerned it was a spirit by asking questions.
~Matthew 16:15-17 Jesus asked, “But you, who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Johan, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.” Jesus discerned the source of Simon Peter’s wisdom.
~Luke 9:54-55 When the disciples James and John saw this (while on the way to Jerusalem the Samaritans in a village did not welcome Jesus), they said, “Lord do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them. In our natural discernment would we have such harsh words for someone that would reject the Gospel of Christ? If Jesus would not have his disciples say such a thing, He would have the same word for you and I when we come across someone who rejects Jesus. Lord, help us to discern the reason for the rejection, and wisdom and knowledge to then know what You would have us do.
♥Acts 14:8-10 In Lystra a man without strength in his feet, lame from birth, and who had never walked, sat and heard Paul speaking. After observing him closely and seeing that he had faith to be healed, Paul said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet!” And he jumped up and started to walk around. Paul first observed the man and then discerned the spirit of faith in him.
♥John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John discerned Jesus. Later in verses 31-33 John says, “I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on – He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” John discerned Jesus (and His mission) by revelation of the Spirit. By introducing Him as the Lamb of God, John discerned the many aspects of Jesus’ mission and His sacrificial character.
♥Proverbs 10:13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the _________________. Lord, give me wisdom to discern the words that bring comfort and edification to your people.
♥Proverbs 15:24 For the _____________________ the path of life leads upward. The one that discerns Your ways find themselves on the path of life. Set your mind on what is above, not what is on earth (Col. 3:2).
♥Proverbs 16:21 Anyone with a ___________ heart is called ______________________. From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. It speaks with discernment and is able to edify and influence others.
♥Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool is considered __________ when he keeps silent, _______________ when he seals his lips. Wisdom indeed! Have you ever spoken words and then wished you could take it all back? True discernment from God comes when you step away from needing to defend yourself and choose instead to leave room for your Defender. Lord, help me to discern when to ‘seal my lips’. I am not a fool. I have discernment from the Giver of all good gifts! Praise God! Shall we have discernment and honor the Father with our good gifts?
♥Proverbs 18:15 The mind of the _________________ acquires knowledge. Let’s we be wise and search the Scripture, learning to discern the path of life and even assisting a fellow believer along the way!
♥1 Corinthians 14:29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should ____________. (tying in with 1 John 4:1 here)
♥Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now ________ __________ light – for the _____________ of the light results in ______ goodness, righteousness, and truth – __________________ what is _________________ to the Lord. Shall we discern through our walk with Christ was is pleasing to Him, rejecting what is not and holding steadfast to what is? This requires faith in action. Discern what is good, right, and true and walk in it. You can do it by the power of God when you yield to the Spirit.
♥Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature – for those whose senses have been trained to _____________________ between good and evil. This tells us discernment can be cultivated. If God has given us discernment shall we operate in the provision He has given? In order to discern between good and evil we must train ourselves by studying the Word. Practicing spiritual discernment helps to keep us from doing the wrong thing. This discernment will empower our Christian service. Praise God!
♥1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but _________ the spirits to ________________ if they are ___________ God, because __________ false prophets have gone out into the world. (tying in with 1 Corinthians 14:29 here) True discernment is needed when someone comes forth with a word, with a manifestation of the Spirit, or when we hear a teaching or preaching. We must first have discernment from God. We must work beyond our flesh to gain God’s understanding. There may be a time when someone approaches you with a ‘word’. You should discern whether or not if is from the pureness of the Spirit and the person did not add any of their thoughts or emotions to the ‘word’. Remembering the Spirit operates through imperfect people with varying degrees of sanctification. This is also true if you have a ‘word’ for another believer. You should always test the spirits to determine if the ‘word’ was indeed from God and was not from the influence of a different spirt or even your own thoughts. Discernment can also say wait. The Lord will reveal the time when a ‘word’ should be spoken. Sometimes the ‘word’ given was meant only for prayer. Discernment is a must!
Matt 16:1-3 The Pharisees and Sadducees approached (Jesus), and as a test, asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them: “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times.” Jesus told them they can read the ‘signs’ to predict the weather yet they can’t look to the heavens for a ‘sign’ of the times. Discerning the weather was not as valuable as discerning that Jesus was indeed the darling of heaven (it was a disruption to their thinking). We must also put aside our natural discernment and look to the scriptures for discerning the ‘sign’ of the times we are in. (Please read for indications of signs of the times. Hosea 3:5, 2 Tim. 3:1-5, Acts 2:17-21, Matthew 24: 6-8, 2 Peter 3:3)
Remember: (1) Pray the prayer throughout the week (or your own specific prayer relating to discernment) asking the Lord to reveal insight to you regarding all aspects of discernment. *Try not to take your prayer time lightly as you seek the Lord regarding insight into these gifts of the Spirit. (2) Fast as you are able on Tuesday. (3) Complete the Scripture blanks for further study. And (4) if you have not already done so, add your name in the comment section indicating your intent to participate – it is never too late!
In His grace,