Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Need for Discernment

I think most of us, if we're in the Word and seeking to follow the L-rd, strive to be discerning. And, this is most commendable!

The Scriptures show that being able to discern "between good and bad" ranks very highly in G-d's eyes.

In I Kings 3:9 we read part of Solomon's prayer, answering the L-rd's question put to him as to what he desired most from the L-rd: "
Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?"

The L-rd took note that Solomon didn't ask for other things that he could have lavished upon himself, "And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;"---vs. 11

G-d did grant Solomon his request, and in addition, gave him the other blessings he didn't ask for. This same principle is taught in the New Testament when the L-rd Jesus admonished His disciples, "But seek ye first the kingdom of G-d, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

How can we seek after the kingdom of G-d and and His righteousness without discernment to know and recognize these when we see them? We must, with Solomon, ask the L-rd for this discernment to judge between what is good and what is bad; what is of the L-rd and what is not.

It's interesting to note that of the few New Testament Scriptures that use the word, "discern", or a form of it, two of them quote the L-rd Jesus instructing His disciples about the times at hand:

Matthew 16:3---"And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?"

Luke 12:56---"Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?"

Even more, as we find ourselves in these last days, we sense the need for greater discernment.

While we are told that discernment is a gift of the Spirit: I Cor. 12:10a--"To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits;" we are also told that we are all to, "...believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." I John 4:1

While some believers are especially gifted with discernment, we are all to use discernment in our daily walk with the L-rd. How do we acquire the ability to discern, if we do not primarily have discernment as a gift of the Spirit?

I believe that Hebrews 5:14 reveals the answer to us: "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

This passage in Hebrews is talking about the milk versus the meat of the Word of G-d. Evidently, there were some believers who should have been more mature in their spiritual development, but were still nursing on the milk of the Word, i.e., the basic things of salvation, for instance. They were choking on the meatier portions of Scripture that taught more deep principles and doctrine, and thus they were still babies, not able to discern heresies, errors, deceitful spirits, and so forth.

Hebrews 5:13---"For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. " This was definitely not a good thing!

Here, then, is the key to having discernment-----become skillful in the Word of G-d! This skillfulness requires knowing what G-d's Word teaches and using G-d's Word in our daily lives as we make decisions, judgments, friendships, etc!

It's much like acquiring muscles. The more we exercise those muscles, the stronger they become. The more we know G-d's Word and use it in our lives (who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil) , the more discernment we will have.

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