Operating In Discernment
I was sitting on the couch one day, as Sharon walked by. She looked at the top of my head and noticed something I had never seen. There was a spot up there. After being examined by a dermatologist, it was diagnosed as melanoma. Thankfully, it was something the doctor was able to remove.
I was thinking about just how important that diagnosis was. It quite possibly saved my life. The gift of discernment is in many ways similar. Discernment helps us see the truth about things we might not otherwise see. Spiritually, it can make the difference between life and death.
We are called not to just accept thoughts, impulses, opinions, and conclusions that seem apparent in our circumstances or logical to our mind. We are to learn to take the step of discerning things before deciding, reacting, or accepting them. It is through discernment we can detect where the spiritual world and natural world are interacting. We know that there are voices coming into our mind continuously. Some are from God, some from our own soul, some from people, some from culture, and some even from the demonic realm. What we receive and buy into impacts, the beliefs we have, the decisions we make and the destinies we end up celebrating or regretting.
We are told in numerous Scriptures to test the spirits.
In I Thessalonians 5:21-22, Paul says test everything and hold fast to what is good, rejecting what is evil. Even a negative thought about ourselves if we passively accept, can be a weapon of the enemy and can hinder us from having the faith and boldness to fulfill our calling. Jesus quickly used God’s Word to diagnose Satan’s lies and remove seeds, that could have caused a spiritual disease.
In Mark 8:17-18, Jesus lamented that his disciples had been given spiritual eyes but didn’t see, spiritual ears but didn’t hear. They hadn’t cultivated the spiritual discernment God had made available through His words and His Holy Spirit. In whatever situation you and I find ourselves, there are good words and deceiving voices coming towards us. There are opportunities for good and traps of evil, knocking at our door. Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not just the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, but the ability to tell the difference between right and almost right”. The enemy loves to put lies in something that is 90% true. He will even use scripture with a twisted emphasis or meaning to hook us into a lie.
We are taught by Jesus to discern times and seasons.
It is said that the sons of Isaachar (1 Chron. 12:32) were especially blessed because they could discern the seasons and knew what Israel should do. You are in a unique time and season of your life. There are opportunities and dangers at the door. It is so important to ask and discern from the Lord what His focus and priorities are for this season and learn not to grasp things that are for another season.
When it comes to people, Jesus taught us to use discernment.
People can be driven by many things. They can have true and false motives and we need God’s wisdom as we interact with them. Jesus would say things like, “Don’t throw your pearls before swine. By their fruit you shall know them. Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom”. God wants us to sense levels of trust that we are to give or not give- people we need to embrace and/or set boundaries. He also wants to continuously give us discernment to see and call-out the positive potential in people, encouraging them to grow and develop.
We, especially need discernment when it comes to spiritual warfare.
The Bible makes it clear that we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. It tells us that Satan will masquerade as an angel of light. He will seduce, oppress, accuse, afflict, and attack us with temptations, lies, words, emotions, and even physical symptoms of illness, discouragement, and hopelessness. Without discernment we can swallow the lies, be trapped and held prisoner by strongholds.
The good news is that we have authority in Jesus. We can cast down imaginations, strongholds, and even drive demons away from attacking us and other people. I love the lines from the old hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God. “The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him, …one little word shall fell him. That Word above all earthly powers no thanks to them abideth; the Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth.”
What do we need to do? We need to be very aware of the weapons of our warfare. These include the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and spiritual care and prayer partners, whom we can confide, in times of cloudiness and uncertainty. The Bible teaches that God is light and in Him is no darkness. It tells us all that is exposed to the light becomes exposed. In other words, if our hearts are honest and open to the truth, He will not allow evil attacks and suggestions to come in undetected. He will expose and give us the ability to cast out and replace lies with truth. He will also give light to see the good and perfect words and gifts He is seeking to bring into our lives that we often miss.
The Bible teaches us to cry out for wisdom and truth, to search for discernment in a situation, the way we would search for gold.
It begins with our own hearts. Psalms 139:23-24 (Amp) teaches us to pray, “Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way”. It includes submitting our lives to examination under the light of Scripture.
The passage in Acts 17:11, commends the Berean believers. They heard Paul’s teaching and searched the Scriptures daily to see if the things he said were true. If you will commit to a disciplined life in the Word, the Holy Spirit will supernaturally use the Word to help you discern between soul and spirit, to realize not just what you can know through observation but what the Holy Spirit will reveal. I John 2:27, tells us that we have an anointing from the Holy Spirit to detect truth and error. We can invite the Holy Spirit to quicken our spiritual eyes and ears to see, hear, and agree with what God is saying.
The Bible also speaks about, the fact, that in “a multitude of counselors there is safety.” We all have blind spots. But God gives us friends to see what we cannot see. That is why the Bible teaches that prophecies should be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses before they are received.
As you test things and come into an awareness of error, it is important to articulate the truth. Jesus, when confronted by Satan’s lies resisted the enemy with the words, “It is written”, followed by a truth from Scripture. I like to say Jesus’ gun was loaded from the times He spent in the Word, so he was ready to bring down the enemy’s lies.
One of the easiest ways to detect the enemy is by recognizing negativity. Because God is the God of hope, any thought or belief that leads to hopelessness is not of God. That is why one of the most powerful ways to launch missiles against the enemy’s lies is by declaring God’s word in praises. When you break the spirit of negativity around your thinking, Satan’s attack weakens and easily falls.
Another key in discernment is faith.
In James 1:5-6, James tells us when we ask for wisdom we are to ask in faith, not wavering. He says a doubleminded man is unstable in all of his ways. As we take steps to discern the truth, we are to boldly expect and act in faith, that we are receiving wisdom. It is important to believe God is giving you discernment, even while you might feel doubts in your heart. If you are bold in declaring the truth, God can give you adjustments, when you don’t get it quite right. The key is to live decisively, confident of God’s truth that comes from His word, in the light of the Holy Spirit.
I want to give you the following declaration to boldly declare in faith over your life. God bless you as you grow in discernment in Jesus’ name.
I don't just decide things or believe things people say or that come to my mind, I discern things. I am like the Berean believers mentioned in Acts 17:11. I receive the message with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures every day to make sure what I've heard is true. I trust the Holy Spirit because I John 2:20 says, I have an anointing from the Holy One, who has given me His Spirit so I can know and discern the truth.
I am constantly discerning the seasons, the people, the opportunities, the messages, the words, suggestions, emotions, and impulses that come into my life and into my heart and mind. I cross examine and judge thoughts and impulses, throwing out the bad and keeping the good. I recognize that the enemy masquerades like an angel of light to oppose my faith. But I am not ignorant of his devices; I am able by the Word to divide between soul and spirit. I love the truth, walk in truth, and every day of my life, the truth sets me free! In Jesus' Name.