"In the last
days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of
self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers,
disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving,
irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control,
brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited,
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a
form of godliness, although they have denied its power."
also be false teachers among you, who will secretly
introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who
bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And
many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the
way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they
will exploit you with false words."
children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were
yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called
you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because
it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'"
Today's church is
like the religious leaders of Jesus' day, who could tell the
difference between superficial things like pleasant and stormy
weather, but not between truth and error
(Matt. 16:1-3). So many
churches have relinquished biblical ethics and doctrine, a deep
reverence and worship of God, repentance over sin, humility
toward God and fellow believers, and a profound understanding of
God's character and work. All that has resulted in a low-level
commitment to holy living.
In contrast, God calls all true believers to pursue perfect
conformity to the absolute, holy standard of His Word....If
you're going to live a holy life that pleases the Lord, it's
essential that you be spiritually discerning.
What Is Spiritual Discernment?
Spiritual discernment is the skill of separating divine truth
from error. First Thessalonians 5:21 says we are to "examine
everything carefully." That speaks of testing something to
reveal its genuineness. We as believers are to evaluate
everything we come in contact with to distinguish what is true
and false, good and bad, or right and wrong. That can be a
difficult task. Why? First, we are constantly fighting the
sinful desires of our fallen flesh. Second, we face satanic
deception. The devil is doing everything he can to confound and
confuse us. Third, we are inundated with worldly influences that
seek to overpower us.
Opposing the world, the flesh, and the devil requires us to "hold
fast to that which is good" (v. 21). We are to embrace
wholeheartedly what is inherently genuine and true. We are also
to "abstain from every form of evil" (v. 22). That means we are
to separate ourselves from every form of perversion as though we
were avoiding a deadly plague or poison. One pastor correctly
forms of wickedness consist of perversions of the truth, of
spiritual lies, although today many look upon these forms
with indifference and regard them rather harmless" (R.C.
Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the
Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and
to Philemon [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961], p. 363).
Many in today's
church are indifferent about separating divine truth from error
because they lack spiritual discernment.
Why Is There a Lack of
knowledge of God's Word because the church has yielded the trade
and skill of understanding it to people who are ill-equipped to
do so.... Because experience and emotion have been elevated
above divine revelation, many who call themselves Christians
have no biblical basis for doing so....
Some say that
doctrine divides. That's true! If you set aside biblical truth
and remain silent for fear of offending people, opposition will
disappear, but so will some other things like truth, holiness,
and God Himself. [Jude 1:3-4]
Much of today's
church has a continuum mindset, a continuum being that which has
no discernable division into parts. Rather than seeing things as
black and white--as right and wrong or true and false--it
prefers to see things in infinite shades of gray....
is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of
scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in
His law he meditates day and night" (Ps. 1:1-2).
church's preoccupation with image and influence as the key to
church believes it must win the lost to Christ by winning
their favor, it no longer teaches the biblical doctrines of
sin, hell, repentance, or the cross because those would offend
the lost or make them feel uncomfortable. Instead it markets
itself as a benevolent, non-threatening agency whose primary
goal is to achieve prestige, popularity, and intellectual
acceptance among the lost. Its premise is, "If they like us,
they'll like our Jesus."....
Martyn Lloyd-Jones "saw that the elements of warning and of
opposition to error were essential parts of any true commitment
to the Bible... Accordingly he expected no approval from those
who accepted the prevailing attitude which put 'love' first
and treated arguments over doctrine as unchristian...." (The
Fight of Faith, p. 650).... True believers are an offense to
those who reject the truth. ...[John 15:18-20; Hebrews 10:33]
toward God's Word. Some teachers in the church are not trained
to study God's Word and end up with a wrong theology. Some are
trained, but opt to tell stories or mix man-made ideas with
biblical truth.... Still others arrive at what they believe is
truth by some mystical intuition, experience, or emotion....
because of the failure to carry out church discipline.... (Matt.
18:15-17)....The church should be sending a message to the lost
that says, "We are a holy people."
Many in the church
have only a shallow knowledge of God's Word, trust in personal
experiences or feelings as truth, or chase personal comfort and
success as a way of life...[Ephesians 4:14-15; Hebrews 5:12-14]
How Can I Be Spiritually
says, "Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to
understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice
for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her
as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the
Lord, and discover the knowledge of God." Are you willing to
follow the path that leads to spiritual discernment?
Pray for It....
desire for spiritual discernment by depending on the Lord for it
through prayer. ...James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom,
let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without
reproach, and it will be given to him."
Learn from Others....
1 John 4:1
says, "Test the spirits to see whether they are from God;
because many false prophets have gone out into the world."...
It's not a matter of praying in the evening, "Lord, give me
discernment," and then waking up the next morning and having it.
Spiritual maturity is the result of being nourished by God's
Depend on the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is the true Discerner who will lead you into all
truth (John 16:13). He perfectly knows the mind of God: "The
thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we
have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who
is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by
God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human
wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual
thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural [lost] man does not
accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness
to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are
spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all
things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For who has known
the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have
the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:11-16).
Allow the Holy Spirit to control your life by confessing and
forsaking sin and living a pure, holy life. Galatians 5:16 says,
"Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of
the flesh." As you are obedient to that, He will make you a
Study God's Word
Spiritual discernment flourishes in an environment of intense,
faithful Bible study. You will not be spiritually
discerning--even though you desire it, pray for it, learn from
the gifted and mature, and depend on the Holy Spirit --unless
you diligently study His Word. Only there will you find the
principles and truths to discern between truth and error. In
Acts 17, for example, the Jewish people of Berea received Paul's
preaching eagerly, and then tested his gospel message by
comparing it to the teachings of the Old Testament. As a result
many became believers.
In Acts 20 Paul warned the church leaders at Ephesus about false
teachers who would try to infiltrate and devastate the church.
His concluding word to them was this: "I commend you to God and
to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to
give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (v.
32). Paul knew that their careful study of God's Word was
essential for protecting the church from error.
Second Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourself
approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed,
handling accurately the word of truth." The laborer who gives
maximum effort to the quality of his work will not be ashamed
because of any faulty workmanship. That means the believer is to
present God's Word accurately to others in contrast to those
"wrangle about words" or engage in "worldly and empty chatter"
(vv. 14, 16). By doing so, he will receive God's approval and be
counted as one worthy to stand alongside Him. The unashamed
believer can say, "Lord, I studied and presented Your Word with
What about you? How do you study God's Word? In a superficial,
careless way, or carefully and thoughtfully? Digging deeply into
God's Word requires effort, but remember this: "All Scripture is
inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God
may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Spiritual discernment requires desire, prayer, learning from the
gifted and mature, dependence on the Holy Spirit, and a diligent
study of God's Word. If you follow those steps, you will
strengthen your doctrinal convictions, think antithetically, be
kept from worldly approaches, be a good interpreter of God's
Word, and confront sin. All that will help you mature and bring
honor to God!
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