Charles Spurgeon once said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right”. From this statement, I observe that some situations are just too “disguised” to be discerned. The ability to discern is, indeed, a gift given by the Holy Spirit. A gift to enable Christians clearly recognize and distinguish between the influence of God, Satan, the world, and the flesh in any given situation.
WHAT IS DISCERNMENT?
The word “discernment” describes being able to distinguish, discover, judge or appraise a person, statement, situation, or environment in an uncommon way. The New Testament describes the ability to distinguish between spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10), and to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
In order to grow from infant Christians to mature Christians, we must learn discernment. We must train our consciences, senses, minds, and bodies to distinguish good from evil.
Can you recognize temptation before it traps you?
How about being able to tell the difference between the correct use of the Scripture and a mistaken one?
Can you bring up questions and predict situations before they overcome you? Good advice from mature, discerning believers can help us know what to do when trouble comes.
A GLOBAL NEED
One great man of God would always pray thus about a decision: “It does not matter to me one way or the other. Lord, give me peace about the right direction”.
In times like this, we need people like “the children of Issachar, …that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel [the world] ought to do; …and all their brethren [humanity] were at their commandment” (1 Chronicles 12:32).
In times like this when sin is the order of the day, sinners need believers (watchmen) to warn them of the danger of their sinful state (Ezekiel 3:17).
Weak believers need strong believers to help them discern false prophets with harmful doctrines that may lead them astray (Matthew 24:24).
In times like this when the world is faced with a global pandemic — evidently a sign of end-times — we need the Balm of Gilead (JESUS) to heal the world.
And like the Old Testament Egyptian nation, every nation needs a discerning Joseph to advise Pharaoh on divine ways to eradicate the hunger suffered by the masses.
HOW TO GET THE DISCERNING SPIRIT
God is the Giver of spiritual discernment through the Holy Spirit, the Source of all wisdom. This Spirit is given to man at salvation. Believers in Christ Jesus have the Holy Spirit living within them. Without the Spirit, the things of God will never make sense (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Discernment also comes with spiritual growth through the consistent study of the word of God. Knowing and understanding God’s word equips us to make better choices when we’re faced with tough decisions, questions or situations.
However, sustaining this spirit is very crucial, as like every gift, it can be lost. A fervent prayer life will keep this divine gift active in us.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DISCERNING SPIRIT
The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of one’s life. Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most Christians stumble. Many Christians are barely able to measure the things they hear against the infallible standard of God’s Word. Thus, they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behaviour.
In short, they are poorly armed to take a decisive biblical stand against the onslaught of unbiblical thinking and attitudes that face them every day.
The Apostle John issues a warning when he says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1). According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer – it is required!
BARRIERS TO SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT
Sin is a deadly cancer that can sap spiritual energy from a vibrant Christian. Flee from it!
2. CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD
Many professing believers are also in conformity with the world which make them lose their gift of discernment.
Others barriers to sustaining spiritual discernment include: Carelessness, unfaithfulness, fear, lack of faith, prayerlessness and over-confidence.
HOW CAN I SUSTAIN THE SPIRIT OF DISCERNMENT?
To keep your spirit awakened always, there is the need to:
- steer clear from sin,
- have a consistent prayer life,
- desist from conformity with the world and
- never doubt that God will always lead you in the right direction.
Backslidden and proud Christians should also repent and watch their lives.
Finally, as you go about your day-to-day activities, always remember:
- one, the choices you make today have a lasting impact on your life. It will determine whether you will be overwhelmed tomorrow. Wisdom is a choice. Be wise!
- Two, trust in the Lord and seek His guidance. He will give you the discernment you need. Not only for the big decisions, but for little decisions as well.