for the Faith
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 4:00pm
Take these simple steps in letting the Holy Spirit
guide you in the midst of a world of confusion and noise.
When was the last time you heard discernment discussed? It’s not a
popular topic today,
yet there’s probably never been a culture more in need of it. We’re
overloaded with information but short on insight. One click online gives
access to more information than our ancestors could have imagined. But
how do we know what’s true? And has knowing more made us any wiser?
of discernment is all around, causing overwhelming debt, unsolvable
problems, and the emotional turmoil of strained relationships. Even
right and wrong are up for grabs. We increasingly resemble the
disastrous era of the judges in Israel when “everyone did what was
right in his own eyes” (Judges
midst of such confusion, believers need
to develop a discerning spirit so that they can know truth and the
Lord’s direction in every circumstance. Without it, we’ll veer
off course and find ourselves in trouble. Discernment—the ability to
look beneath the surface to see reality—involves evaluating information
or situations, recognizing differences, considering consequences, and
thereby making sound judgments. In our humanity,
none of us have this kind of wisdom,
but the Lord is willing to give us the discernment we need.
Why do we
recognize God’s voice.
To discover and fulfill the Lord’s plan for our lives, we must be able
to hear His voice. Suppose you ask Him to guide you in making a
decision. When a sense of direction comes, can you tell whether it’s
from God or your own mind? If you seek advice from a fellow believer,
can you determine if the Lord is speaking through him? Without
discernment, you won’t know for sure and, as a result, might take
numerous wrong turns in life.
Bible in some respects speaks definitively about how to live, it doesn’t
directly cover every situation. For example,
no verse will tell you whom to marry or
whether to move for a new job. But this doesn’t mean God is silent on
the issue. Although your particular situation may not be
mentioned in Scripture, biblical principles cover every decision you’ll
ever face. The Holy Spirit (... 3rd person of the Trinity
...), dwelling within, is there to guide us
to the right understanding of how to apply God’s Word.
Every day is filled with decisions—some inconsequential, others
life-changing. We often run on autopilot without giving a second thought
to our choices; then we see only the outward appearance of each
situation instead of looking beneath the surface to consider possible
future implications. For instance, do you stop to think about the
financial burden a spontaneous purchase might cause?
distinguish good from best.
every decision is a choice between right and wrong; we may just need
to know the best path to take. God doesn’t want us to just limp
along in our Christian lives; He desires that we thrive in the
fullness of His will. Each day we’re confronted by decisions that
set our course to one degree or another. The only way to make
choices aligned with the Lord’s will is by seeking the mind of
Christ on the matter. It may seem like a grey area to us, but He
knows exactly what He wants us to do and is willing to guide us
through His Word and His Spirit.
distinguish truth from error.
desperately need a discerning spirit is to recognize deceptions. Much of
what we see and hear is based on a perspective influenced by the world
and Satan, the Father of Lies. Even our school systems are plagued with
error. Beginning in elementary school, children are taught that we’re a
product of evolution. Universities continue the indoctrination with
godless ideas and intolerance of a biblical worldview.
being deceived by sin.
reminds us that “… whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
Sin deceptively promises enjoyment, which lasts only briefly and
eventually results in a bitter harvest. Many of life’s pleasures are
given to us by God, but there will be temptations to go outside His
boundaries. Then, we must consider the painful consequences that await
us down the road—and also remember the blessings of obedience.
distinguish between legalism and liberty.
Personal convictions aren’t necessarily moral mandates for all
believers. Scripture is explicit about the Lord’s standards. Within
those boundaries, God also offers protection by impressing on us to
maintain or avoid certain practices, based on our unique strengths and
weaknesses. So if someone pressures you to conform to his standards, you
should be able to distinguish a biblical command from a preference.
communicate with others.
Perhaps the most difficult area of discernment is in the realm of
relationships. It’s easier to read between the lines in a book than it
is to truly understand another person. Remember, discernment is seeing
the reality beneath the surface. This means we are to listen for not
only what is said but also what isn’t said. Discernment is vital in
determining whether someone’s being truthful, but it’s also important in
our efforts to help others. By picking up on emotional signals that lie
beneath one’s outward appearance or pleasant words, a sensitive
individual is able to offer encouragement.
Spiritual discernment is a gift of God.
It’s not something we can manufacture in ourselves, but
a quality He develops in us if we’ll
choose to ground ourselves in prayer and Bible reading. The more
time we spend communing with God and filling our minds with His
thoughts, the more discerning we will be. The goal is to let His Spirit
guide us in every moment. To do that, we must guard what we allow into
our minds. Worldly thinking will
overpower spiritual discernment if we spend two or three hours in front
of the television and only ten minutes in the Bible.
Because of the Holy Spirit’s continuous presence within us, we never
have to make a decision alone or depend on our own limited resources.
He’s always there to guide us into all truth and help us recall Christ’s
However, we have a responsibility to
put Scripture into our mind so He can bring it to our remembrance.
The time to begin developing discernment is now.
You cannot afford to wait until you are facing a critical decision.
Sound judgment is produced through practice as our senses are trained to
discern good and evil (Heb.
5:14). It’s not a matter of perfection, but a
long process of learning to distinguish God’s guidance. We’ll all make
some mistakes along the way, but each wrong turn is an opportunity to
learn as we evaluate the outcome.
Begin today by spending time in prayer and filling your mind with
Scripture. Ask the Lord for guidance, and to the best of your ability,
do what you think He’s saying. If you’re truly seeking to follow Him,
He’ll show you the way.
Sources: Adapted from
an article by Charles F. Stanley at
Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB),
with links to the www.classic.biblegateway.com
"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be
Call or email me if you have questions.
"Saint Pete", Sr.