My discernment will kick your discernment’s ass

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.

Brother Maynard

Kingdom Grace 

Dave Faulkner 


Scott Williams

Cynthia Clack 


11 thoughts on “My discernment will kick your discernment’s ass

  1. Hmm… I used to be in a place (physically, a building we called church, mentally, locked in that mindset) where I believed what this guy wrote. I would have looked at it and said, “Yes, that sounds right to me.” Hmm… but it wasn’t. I recently realized that maybe one of the problems with certain mindsets is that they have confused God with the Bible – like they are interchangeable – to the point they seem to worship and follow the Bible.

    The problem with that is that it is not even what the Bible tells us to do. 😉

    He says that discernment is a “Spiritually-powered discipline of the mind.” Umm… that is a scary lace to be – relying on your own mind to discern. It is more of a gut-level thing born of relationship. Speaking of which, within the relationship, He is always free to (and sometimes does) just come right out and tell us what the deal is.

    In some places, where I am at would be considered heretical and who knows what else, but I think the Bible – and knowing it – are a whole lot less important than Jesus… and knowing Him. 🙂

  2. Hi Katherine,

    Watch out, you will be burned at the stake. 🙂
    The Bible never refers to itself as the word of God. It refers to itself as Law, Prophets, Writings, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgements and ordinances. The word of God is a phrase usually associated when God speaks. That is where the relationship is so very important. I love the Bible. I think it is our constitution. I also know however that when I know my country’s constitution, I know very little of the people who wrote it.

    God is alive. Not many christians know this. We would rather have a relationship with surity than with God. We would rather have a relationship with the Bible than with God. We can see the Bible, but not God. This is what Heb 11:1 says. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Katherine, God loves you. More than that, He likes you.

  3. Hi Paul,

    thanks for writing The Shack. I think it’s message will go a long way in healing our relationsip with God and it gives us a chance to put our lives into our Father’s hands and trust Him with it.

    thanks again and I’m glad I could make you grin 🙂

  4. Superb post, and thanks for being kind enough to link to my blog. Abmo, if you haven’t read it, John Goldingay’s book ‘Models of Scripture’ will take further the point you make about the different ways in which the Bible functions authoritatively.

  5. “God is alive. Not many christians know this.”

    This is so true and it breaks my heart. This Truth – Him alive and real – are the only reasons I survived this far. I have only recently (about 1 1/2 years ago) found a friend who will listen – who knows this – who understands.

    So many people, when I have tried to talk to them about God – alive and active and doing things – they would get uncomfortable, nervous. They didn’t want to know – looked at me like I was crazy. Hmm… I don’t know. Maybe, once you have heard God’s voice, you are a little crazy. 😉

    “Katherine, God loves you. More than that, He likes you.”

    *smiling* Thank you. I seem to be in need of reminders in that area.

  6. Hi Dave,
    thanks for the “superb post” part 🙂

    I’ll definately try to find John Goldingay’s book. Thank God for the internet and amazon otherwise I would have to kiss “Models of Scripture” goodbye. Our bookshop only goes “Hu?” when I ask for a specific title 🙂 I enjoy your blog.


  7. Hi Katherine,

    Sometimes my mind will wander around and then settle on somebody and that is the person I’m praying for. At the moment, that person is you. And all I’m getting from our Father is that He likes you a lot. I’ll pray that this will become a anchor in your life.

    God bless

  8. Accepting Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior creates the possibility of a monumental, everlasting change (2 Cor. 5:17 …a new creation, the old has gone…) Part of that package is Spiritual discernment since we share this new life with God’s Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17; 23-25). Like some here, I no longer attend a brick and mortar church but look to fellowship, prayer and Bible reading to satisfy me. I found myself struggling so often with the cursory, shallow messages spewed forth to placate and patronize the flock. The life-changing challenges in the New Testament put regular church attendance to shame. God did not tell us He wanted to bless us financially or give us new homes or cars. Rather, he warned us of suffering and chastisement.
    1 Timothy says in Chapter 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it…”
    As far as I can tell, setting your face like a flint to follow God’s leading will slim down your list of friends since many believers have blended their lives with the teachings of the world. Do we seek God before making decisions? Are we willing to stand alone and trust Him for our provision and life_direction? The closer we align ourselves to our Heavenly Father, the more rewarding our life will be…even without the “stuff.”

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