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" Biblical Discernment "

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, (Phil1:9)

But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb5:14)

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: ...to another discerning of spirits... (1Cor12:7,10)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1Jn4:1)

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph5:11)

If we are going to talk about "discernment" we should first be sure we understand what the word means. To Discern == 1) To perceive with the eyes or intellect; detect. 2) To recognize or comprehend mentally. 3) To perceive or recognize as being different or distinct; distinguish.

Paul writes, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING being enlightened; (Eph1:17-18)

As we grow in spiritual maturity we grow in our "knowledge of Christ."(Phil3:10) As we get to know Him, we understand the "hope of his calling."(Tit2:13) As we know Him and His Holy Spirit, we are then able to discern those spirits which are "false."(1Jn4:1) And maturity also helps us recognize the difference between that which is good and that which is evil.(Heb5:14) Sometimes we must also "expose" the evil by means of the Truth; "Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict...for there are many...deceivers...whose mouths must be stopped."(Tit1:9-10)

First of all, discernment involves the ability to recognize the false when we see it, compared to Truth. The falsehoods are oh so very subtle! Recently I received something from an e-mail list I'm on, which I'd like to use as an object lesson. The article was on the subject "thorns" and contained some rather good-seeming things. But one passing comment was made, which I'd like to share here as an example, which totally turns upside down the doctrinal credibility of the author:

   "The thorns of the field wouldn't bring death to Adam; his being
    banished from the Garden of Eden and its tree of life did that."
This statement CONTAINS truth. But let's look at it. It is true that the thorns would not bring death to Adam. It is true that Adam was banished from the Garden of Eden. It is also true that God's reason for the banishment was so that they would not partake of the Tree of Life.(Gen3:22-24) But the "banishment" was not the CAUSE of Adam's "death." In other words, the diabolical subtle suggestion..."it was God's fault" that Adam died. ...or...If God hadn't banished Adam from the Tree of Life, he wouldn't have died.

No! The "fault" was Adam's...for "sinning." God had promised "In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die..."(Gen2:17) And Adam ate... "she also gave to her husband...and he ate..."(Gen3:6)

The rest of Scripture says the same thing: "The wages of sin is death.."(Rom6:2 3) "The soul who sins shall died..."(Ez18:2 0) "In sin my mother conceived me..."(Ps51:5) "Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one..."(Psa 53:3)

So, while the statement CONTAINS truth, it *IS* a lie!

You see the cleverness of Satan and his false prophets. They will speak a lot of truth. After all, Satan even quoted Scripture to Jesus, in tempting Him. But, distorted or out of context. The false prophets will sprinkle truth with these quickly-passing lies. And will usually do so in such a manner that the hearer doesn't realize that it even happened, nor yet, have a chance to respond to and refute it. The "ministry" which forwarded this example we've used just now, is characterized by MUCH false/distorted teaching...but most people don't realize it, because of the many truthful things they present.

Another quick example: Recently Chuck Missler spoke in a local church. Many fascinating facts he shared, along with the Scriptural ties to those things as appropriate to the Last Days and prophecy. At the end of one session he went into a pompous review of the "Gospel."

"What is the Gospel message?" 1Cor15:3-4 "Christ died for our sins..He was buried..and rose again." With a few descriptive comments, this was the extent of the message he presented. And this, by itself, was supposedly the "duty" he fulfilled at that moment, and everyone listenning would have received what they needed to hear. But he left something out.

Jesus gave the message in Lk24:46-48. "Christ suffered..rose from the dead." So far so good, Chuck. What's next? "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name." Missler did not do this!

Even Catholics and Lutherans believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. But without "repentance" there is no salvation. Paul summed it up "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts20:21)

So, by stopping where he did, Missler preached a false gospel. What he said, as much as he said, was truth. But because he did not give the "whole message" that truth became a lie. And anybody hearing him that day, expecting to hear what was needed for eternal life, left lacking. Still eternally lost. Again, a clever deception! Especially, since he was claiming to tell them "everything they needed to know."

So now, ...once the error has been discerned, what is the proper course of action to take? Expose it.(Eph5:11) Don't "fellowship." (2Jn9-11)

There are many ministries that call themselves "discernment." One may focus in on psychology. Another on Promise Keepers. Some, on rock music. Another on ???? ...you name it...they're out there. Many of them are very good, staying grounded on God's Word; comparing the error against the Truth of God's Word and making it easy for people to see and understand, and thus be warned.

But there are others who relish in going out, looking for all the garbage they can find, and spreading it all around for all to see. I've seen some forwarded e-mails from people who had found yet another URL of falsehood, and were giddy with glee at having found yet another instance of rottenness and corruption. Discernment "witch hunts."

In correspondence with the director of one of these I was told words something to the effect that, "the darkness brings out the light." Thus, I presume, the more corruption we show, the greater is the light?

(Shall we..sin that grace may abound? God forbid!! Rom6:1-2)

But what does God's Word say? Jesus said, "Let your LIGHT so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."(Mt5:16) Paul wrote Titus, "by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict"(1:9) The world is already dark enough! True Believers are to shine forth God's Word. When the deceiver comes around, we retort, "It is written..."(Mt4:7)

These corruption mills tend to engage in both activities. They spread out the darkness. And what scant little teaching they present is laced with falsehoods and omissions, like in our object lessons here.

In the case of the one object lesson, I wrote to the source, sharing the Scriptures of truth about "Adam's death," as I did in this article. Since I have not heard a correction from them, I have to assume it was not an oversight, misprint or typo.

In many instances organizations are named, as well as the individuals, when it is appropriate, as we have done. Paul wrote, "Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. (1Tim 5:20) "rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in faith."(Tit1:13) "With all authority"(2:15) And when "exposing" the unfruitful works of darkness, we are to have "no fellowship" with them. (Eph5:11) John writes, "if anyone comes...and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."(2Jn10-11)

Primarily, however, the True Believer is to "hold fast the faithful word" (Tit1:9) ...being bold in "exposing the unfruitful works of darkness" (Eph5:11) ...by letting our "lights shine" (Mt5:16) ...not giving "place to the devil" (Eph4:27) You know, Satan really loves all the attention he gets. Even if you're knocking him, if you are busy checking out what he's doing, your eyes are not on the Lord. He doesn't care, as long as you are not...

"...LOOKING UNTO JESUS, the Author and finisher of faith."(Heb12:2)

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things." (Phil4:8)


Discernment Strategies

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