A Few Thoughts about Discernment




Knowing truth from lies

A1 The Bible is the only source of 100% truth.

B1 Truth is reality. It is the plain correspondence theory of truth.

B2 It is most reasonable to believe this about the Bible because of Jesus. Did He exist? Did He do what is written about Him? Are the Gospels true history? Were the Gospels written in the middle first century?

B3 It’s reasonable to consider knowing the Bible well will result in knowing good from evil. Hebrews 5:14 WEL But solid food belongs to those who are mature having their spiritual senses exercised through use to discern both good and evil.

C1 Someone who is mature, that is, full grown on the food of Bible study will have their spiritual senors mature, too.

C2 Spiritual senses=

D1 The Greek word αἰσθητήριον aisthētḗrion.

D2 It means145 (aisthētērion, neuter noun) focuses on the principle of sense and especially its result. 144 /aísthēsis (the feminine cognate) is the brand of sense-discernment which shrewdly sizes things up. 145 (aisthētḗrion) is “the concrete organ of sense, becoming virtually a habitual ability which must be developed and enables believers to distinguish between the spirits. It is a spiritual gift which must be developed in practice” (DNTT, 2, 391).

D3 This particular sensor is used to distinguish good from evil. Both good and evil are based on God’s standard.

C3 Exercised means exercised. Physical exercise has good effects. Spiritual exercise does too. The more spiritual exercise we do, the stronger we become.

C4 The Greek word for discern is διάκρισις diákrisis. It means 1253 diákrisis (from 1252 /diakrínō, see there) – properly, a thorough judgment, i.e. a discernment (conclusion) which distinguishes “look-alikes,” i.e. things that appear to be the same. (Note the intensifying force of the prefix, dia.) See also 1252 (diakrínō).

C5 By Bible reading, study, thinking about it, memorizing, and living it has a great effect on us. We will be able to distinguish good from evil.

A2 The interpretation of the Bible

B1 The plain, normal sense consistently

B2 Recognizing the historical and cultural settings

B3 Recognizing prescriptive from descriptive passages

A3 The basics we must know

B1 The basic summary of what we must do: Matthew 22:37-40 MKJV Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

B2 It includes all that God speaks: Matthew 4:4 MKJV But He answered and said, It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

B3 When the Bible quotes someone whether king or commoner, the quote is accurate. The quote may or may not be truth. Example: Matthew 9:33-34 MKJV And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb one spoke. And multitudes marveled, saying, Never was it seen like this in Israel! 34 But the Pharisees said, He throws out demons by the ruler of the demons.

A4 The importance of personal learning. Instead of reading commentators, listening to teachers, going to meetings, we must daily study the Scriptures themselves.

A5 The importance of meditating on and studying Scripture

B1 Studying

C1 Ezra did: Ezra 7:10 GW Ezra was determined to study the LORD’s Teachings, live by them, and teach their rules and regulations in Israel.

C2 The Psalmist did by reflecting on Scripture: Psalms 119:15 GW I want to reflect on your guiding principles and study your ways.

C3 Correct study and interpretation leads to staying in the truth instead of wandering away: 2 Timothy 2:15-18 PickNT Make every effort to render yourself approved by God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, handling the Word of the Truth correctly. 16 But shun godless, empty chatter, because those who do it will become increasingly godless, 17 and their word will spread like gangrene—among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the Truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they overturn the faith of some.

B2 Meditating on Scripture is not passive that is bypassing the brain, going into a trance, seeking the wisdom masters of the spirit world, etc. All those things of not God’s way and are condemned. Scripture meditation is active. It is like brain exercises as we study. Joshua 1:8 NIV Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

B3 Example:

C1 Verse: Hebrews 5:12-14 MKJV For indeed because of the time, you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again what are the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have become in need of milk, and not of solid food. 13 For everyone who uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, even those who because of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

C2 Simple, brief interpretation:

D1 Milk and solid food. A diet of milk in associated with a baby. Solid food is associated with someone mature.

D2 Applied to spiritual knowledge and understanding, a diet of milk means one is unskillful with the Scriptures like an infant. A diet of solid food means the person will have their senses exercised in discernment.

D3 Discernment refers to recognizing God’s way from some other way. God’s beliefs from some other belief, and God’s lifestyle from some other lifestyle.

D4 Actively thinking about this verse, studying its meaning, its cross references, etc. produces knowledge. Knowledge applied to a situation is wisdom.

A6 Study leads to spiritual growth in discernment for individuals and the congregation

B1 Apostles studied: Acts 6:3&7 MKJV Therefore, brothers, look out among you seven men being witnessed to, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this duty…7 And the word of God was increasing. And the number of the disciples in Jerusalem was multiplying exceedingly; even a great crowd of the priests obeyed the faith.

B2 Humans words do not last, but God’s word does: Acts 12:23-24 MKJV And immediately the angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give God the glory. And he was eaten by worms and gave up the spirit. 24 But the Word of God grew and increased. [Emphasis is mine]

B3 Spread around: Acts 13:49 MKJV And the Word of the Lord was carried throughout all the country.

B4 Bears fruit: Colossians 1:5-6 MKJV for the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, of which you heard before in the Word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you as it has also in all the world, and it is bearing fruit, even also among you, since the day you heard and fully knew the grace of God in truth,

B5 Heard in reading and teaching has a great effect: I Thessalonians 2:13 MKJV And for this cause we thank God without ceasing, that when you received the Word of hearing, of God, you welcomed it as the Word of God, not as a word of men, but as it is, truly the Word of God, which also effectually works in you who believe.

A7 Discernment

B1 We are to pray for it as Solomon did: 1 Kings 3:9 WEB Give your servant therefore an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this your great people?

B2 Our love is to grow. This love is not just tolerance. It is a love with the conditions of knowledge and understanding. Thus, we won’t just love everything and everyone but will have discernment. Philippians 1:9-10 ISV And this is my prayer, that your love will keep on growing more and more in full knowledge and perfect insight, 10 so that you may be able to determine what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

C1 The word discernment is the Greek word αἴσθησις aísthēsis. It means properly, the brand of sense-discernment which “cuts through” hazy ethical (moral) matters to really “size things up” .

C2 Thus, knowing God’s standards, we can decide if something is godly or ungodly.

C3 We give praise to God by our actions and give witness to His truth.

B3 We are commanded to test all things: I Thessalonians 5:21 BSB but test all things. Hold fast to what is good.

B4 Discernment is a regular activity in the Christian life. See Jesus’s rebuke of the religious frauds:

C1 Luke 12:54-57 GW Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud coming up in the west, you immediately say, ‘There’s going to be a rainstorm,’ and it happens. 55 When you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and that’s what happens. 56 You hypocrites! You can forecast the weather by judging the appearance of earth and sky. But for some reason you don’t know how to judge the time in which you’re living. 57 So why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?

C2 Simon, a Pharisee, was asked by the Lord Jesus to judge: Luke 7:43 GW Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.” Jesus said to him, “You’re right!

B5 This is the reason we must know the Bible well: Hebrews 4:12 NIV For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

All of our Christian life is one of discernment. Is this teaching, activity, belief, congregation, preacher, etc. safe? By knowing, studying, and applying the truths of Scripture, we can prevent much heart grief.

A Few Thoughts About Discernment

Discernment, testing, decision making, Christian duties, Bible study


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