PJ’s Daily Devotional for Monday, March 27, 2017.
Discernment is the ability to know the truth from error, good from evil.
Discernment is dependent on two sources: The Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God. Even though discernment has spiritual origins, discernment should not be relegated into some obscure corner of the church or worse, categorized as only for certain types of churches; discernment is a call for every Christian! Discernment is important for every born-again believer to develop because it is a call to distinguish truth from error and to separate good from evil.
The Bible teaches us in Hebrews 5:12-14, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
How do we arrive at attaining this maturity? We arrive at knowing the truth by studying the truth. Remember from my devotion, “The Rhythms of Bible Reading” based on Hebrews 4:12, the Bible witnesses about itself, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The Word of God discerns your thoughts and intentions of your heart; telling you the truth so you can know where you are and are not yet mature in Christ.
Developing and practicing discernment is a spiritual process in that the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to make you become a person who knows the truth and who knows what is good. But it is a willing process by which you must choose to grow up in the knowledge of the Son of God and apply it.
That starts with the mind: In Philippians 4:8, the Bible calls us to think with a discerning mind, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” This then gives us the skills to know truth from error. Paul says in Philippians 1:9-10, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
But it can’t stop in the mind, we must practice what we know to be true: The Apostle Paul says in First Thessalonians 5:21, “But test everything: hold fast what is good.” Again in Romans 12:9, the Bible teaches us, “Let love by genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
Discernment is the holding fast to what is good. We experience it first in the mind and then that changes our hearts; this is the transformation promise of Romans 12:1-2, which happens as the Word and Spirit renew our minds! As our hearts and minds are trained by the Word and Spirit, we grow up so that we think and act like the “mature” who in Hebrews 5, “have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
Our Bible reading calls us to grow up and mature in our understanding and use of God’s Word; this is the dual process of study and application; mind and heart; doctrine and practice, personal and community; thought life and lifestyle. Discernment does not grow up through study alone or doctrine alone. Discernment grows just as the Bible says it does: it is “trained by constant practice.”
The Church of Jesus Christ is in profound need of discerning Christians. Will you apply yourself to being one of the people in your local congregations who is trained up through the Word and Spirit: to know truth from error, good from evil. Our churches will not grow in faithfulness and fruitfulness without discerning members.
This is an imperative to all followers of Jesus Christ. But only those who choose obedience will ever become discerning of the things of God. As Jesus taught us, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).