Spiritual discernment is a hot topic these days. Over at Robbymac we even have a dead discernment possum. With the revival in Lakeland Florida and The Shack being number one for Paperback trade fiction on the New York bestsellers list, spiritual discernment is again in the spotlight. Hell, Tim Challies even wrote a book about it.
He writes this about spiritual discernment when he reviews The Shack (my spiritual discerment tends to differ from his, alot…)
Spiritual discernment is not a popular subject among Christians today. Yet if we look to the Bible we find that it is a practice that God demands of all who wish to follow Christ. It is a practice or a discipline that the Bible continually relates to spiritual maturity. Those who are mature are those who are discerning; those who are discerning are those who are mature.
There is a clear relationship between maturity and discernment. The Bible tells us that discernment is the mark of those who have spiritual life, the mark of those who are experiencing spiritual growth and the mark of those who have attained spiritual maturity.
God wants His followers to be men and women who practice and who attain to spiritual maturity and spiritual discernment.
Discernment is primarily a Spirit-empowered discipline of the mind rather than an emotional response.
What, then, is discernment? It is “the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong.”
Discernment is knowing what God says to us in the Bible so that we can apply this to our lives and live in the way God would have us live. It is a skill that demands practice and one that demands intimate familiarity with the Bible. It is an ability that allows us, with God’s help, to filter what is true about God from what is false.
He goes on to say that we should “do the task God requires of us when he tells us to be men and women of discernment—Christians who heed God’s admonition to “test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
I guess he assumes that the man of God will know how to use the Word of God. “Use” being the most important word in the previous sentence.
I’m so glad that we have mature Christians with spiritual discernment, to tell us what we should not read and what exactly is revival. The God of the Bible probably agrees with everything the denominations agree on. The denominations agree on everything, right? They have to, because there are mature christians in all the denominations. And as Tim told us, mature christians have spiritual discernment. “Oh I get it, some are more mature than others.” Perhaps thare is a “level” that can be reached. You know the level, right? It’s the level where we tell people what they must do and believe and what they should not read.
Luckily for the mature christians the bible is inerrant. That means that everything mature believers say is also inerrant, right? “It’s all about interpretation you say?” Ok, I can buy that. According to whose interpretation? Mine of course, since I am a mature Christian. But then again, I don’t go to congregation meetings on Sundays. So, probably a mature Christian with spiritual discernment in your congregation needs to warn you against me. After all I am the one who won’t submit to authority, right? (Probably because I don’t believe in right and wrong.)
The Bible is very important to the mature discerning believer. Why then did Jesus say this to people who spend their whole lives in scripture: “John 5 : 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard.” Could it be that we can know the bible inside out and never hear God? Seems like it.
Some denominations baptizes babies. Some do not. Luckily for us the position of infant baptism is based on what Scripture says and that alone. It is important to note that when people agree with me, then they’re men of God. But if they disagree with my interpretation of Scripture, they cease to be men of God. Or, maybe they never were men of God in the beginning. Why should I accept your fallible, errant, human interpretation of God-breathed Scripture when you reject mine? 🙂
We use the Bible as we are. Let’s say there was this man. He wrote a lot of stuff about God and Jesus. Let’s say that the stuff he wrote brought me closer to God. Let’s also say he organized to have a man killed in order to marry that man’s wife. Can such a man bring me closer to God? What does your spiritual discernment say? What about the guy that said God told him to walk naked for 3 years. Pervert. Or the guy that claimed God told him to lie on his side for 390 days and 40 days on the other side. That’s the worst excuse for not working I’ve ever heard. There is also this guy that claimed that God told him to marry a prostitute. Yes, we all believe him right? Is he in line with scripture? “Off to the funny farm with you, young man.” Claiming that God speaks to a person. What does your spiritual discernment say? What about a teenage girl that claimed she was pregnant but did not have any sex? Will somebody please tell her about the birds and the bees? Should such people even be included in the written word of God? Can such people bring me closer to God? Perhaps God should’ve talked to us first. We who are so full of spiritual discernment. We all know the bible should be full of respectable people like us.
I think we do not see the people in the bible as real, live people. We see the side we’ve domesticated. After they met God, they were nice respectable people, right? We like to domesticate God as well. He should believe what I believe right? He should do what I deem to be the respectable thing right? Perhaps God is in desperate need of someone who will tell Him what to do? He should follow the rules of scripture, right? My God, doesn’t He ever read His own book?
I think spiritual discernment is important, but I also know that God is God and He can write beautiful stories out of the confusion we call life. (When it comes to the revival in Lakeland, I have trouble with the fact that they go into a building and call it the church 🙂 And the word “rivivalist” as in “Revivalist Todd Bentley” gives me the creeps.) I do not believe however we know the extent of our own brokenness. We see all the possibilities of how the devil will deceive us, but not how God will lead us. When we are busy with spiritual discernment I think we should be very careful. Just because we do not understand it, or because it does not follow the letter of the scriptures does not mean it is wrong, or that God could not possibly be involved. In Matthew 13:24-30 God sowed wheat. That night the enemy came and sowed weeds. God however did not root out the weed. It was His field. He would decide when to do what. ( “The servants asked Him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29″ ‘No,’ He answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them) Perhaps we should realize that God has time on His side. Perhaps we could be more grace-full. The Bible is about the grace God extends to people like us. People who are flawed but loved, and in the end it’s not about us who are soooo………….. good. It’s about a God that loves and does whatever He wants to do, whether we agree with Him or not, because after all He is God.
Here is some of the other posts on discernment that can be of assistance.