Hosea 14:9: whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but the transgressors will stumble.
Discernment is the ability to distinguish and chose the better of two paths or things which may look similar.
Paul rightly discerned the spirit of divination
Paul exhibited discernment when going through the city of Macedonia, and a young girl kept following Paul and his team saying that they were there to show the right ways of God. Her choice of words was right on point, but her spirit was wrong. And Paul, stirred in the spirit cast out the spirit of divination (a demonic serpentine spirit) that was operating in the girl (Acts 16:16-23).
If not for the expression of the gift of discernment, what do you think would have happened? The girl might have joined the church and the church would have been polluted from the onset, where satanic revelation would flourish and the church would be a satanic enclave for the spirit of witchcraft.
The lesson is that it is not about result, it is about the source. The bible says that by their fruit we shall know (discern) the false prophets (Matthew 7:15-23). The operation of the gift of that girl was linked to monetary acquisition, the Spirit of Christ is not two for a penny. Christ said that freely we have been given (in spiritual gifts) and freely we should express it, not for gain (Matthew 10:8). It is not a business.
Pharisee wrongly describing Christ
Due to lack of discernment, the Sribes said that Jesus was casting out devils by the Beelzebub (Mark 3:22-30). We have many such people in the church who classify speaking in tongues as demonic. And they can give you a catalogue of things wrong with it, wrongly discerning its origin.
Because they do not understand it, they relegate it and classify it as evil, scaring people away from it: all because they lack discernment on the operation of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus responded to those who said his miraculous acts were generated by Beelzebub, telling them that they are treading on dangerous ground.
Discerning the Spirit of the Anti Christ.
John tried to give a hint on how to discern the spirit of the antichrist, saying that such always reject the fact that Jesus come in the flesh (1John 4:1-8).
The question is: what kind of “Jesus” are they relating with? is it the one derived from the figment of their imagination? Do they want to reduce him from being the very God of the very God (Hebrews 1:1-3) because their imagination cannot capture how we can have “three Gods?”
To discern is to separate the real from the fake, the real from the unreal. Separating the small stones from the rice grains (even though they look alike, they do not taste alike), that gives a picture of what discernment is all about.
Jesus and discernment
As I said earlier, Jesus Christ warned of the necessity for recognising false prophets, saying that by their fruit we shall know them. When you cannot find the fruit of righteousness, we can conclude that is not the tree God has planted. And we have Jesus’ conclusion that whatever tree that his father has not planted will be uprooted (Matthew 15:13).
Because he was grounded in truth (he is the truth [John 14:6]), Jesus was able to discern the spirit with which Peter was speaking when he rebuked Jesus after he explained that he was going to die on the cross. He immediate recognised that spirit and rebuked it, saying, “get behind me Satan (Matthew 16:21-23).”
Jesus Christ talking with the Samaritan woman near the well of Jacob said that if she could accurately discern the kind of person he was, then she would have asked for living waters. Discernment is that important (John 4:1-14). It can make the difference between experiencing living waters and living in the patched places of the earth.
The problem of the people in the time of Jesus was the problem of perception.
The disciples asked Jesus why he kept speaking in parables to the people. He said it was to bring to pass the prophetic declaration of Isaiah that seeing they will see, but would not perceive (Isaiah 6:9-12, Matthew 13:13-17).
Jesus in another place rejoiced that God reveals things to babes, not the intellectual giants (Matthew 11:25).
It takes a converted heart to perceive the truth of God. Jesus said that except we are become converted to become a like child we would not enter in the kingdom of God (Luke 18:16-17). To Nicodemus, he said, except we are born again we cannot see (perceive, understand, tell) the kingdom of God (John 3:1-12). This obviously is not about the physical sight, it is about perception, the appraisal and recognition of what is not plain to the human sight, but can be experienced spiritually, in the dominion and power of God. It’s all about discernment.
In another place, Jesus said the kingdom is not measured in physical terms but that the kingdom is within us (Luke 17:21). How do you appraise what is within except your spiritual eyes are opened in discernment?
Paul to the Corinthians
That was why Paul called the Corinthians Christians carnal, said they are still seeing things from the earthly point of view, judging according to appearance, and not judging rightly as the spiritual man would (1Corinthians 1:11-31, 3:1-5).
He disclosed to them that the ordinary eyes cannot see what God has arranged for those who love him; he said the carnal man does not receive the things of God because they are spiritually discerned, appraised and distinguished.
It takes the spiritual man with functioning spiritual eyes to flow with God. The natural man is not equipped to know the things of God (who is Spirit) but the spiritual has the eyes of the spirit. The bible affirms that we have the Spirit of God in us for the purpose of fostering discernment in us. Therefore, those who are spiritual have the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:9-16).
John and discernment
John said that we have an anointing (the impartation of the Holy Spirit) from the holy one and we know all things and no one can deceive us (1John 2:20). We need that because the bible says that in the last days there will be doctrines of demons (1Timothy 4:1-12). Jesus affirming that the earth will be awash with false prophets so much that if care is not taken they would deceive even the very elect, the chosen ones (Matthew 24:24).
the heart and discernment
Satan’s business is to keep people in perpetual servitude through maintaining the blindness of their heart, so that the light of the glorious gospel will not shine there (2Corinthians 4:4).
Whatever we perceive is controlled from the spiritual world, the Holy Spirit helps us as Christian to see from God’s point of view, in accuracy of truth, while the devil would want to deceive people into lies and prevent the light of the gospel from shining in their hearts.
If you can’t see from the heart, you can’t see at all (in a spiritual sense). That was why Paul prayed that the eyes of understanding of the Ephesians be enlightened that they may know what God wants them to know by discernment (Ephesians 1:18-19), separating the right from the wrong.
Paul also prayed for the Philippians Christians that their love will grow more and more in all discernment (Philippians 1:9). He wants them to not only be loving in their disposition, but also discerning. A loving person without discernment is a gullible person.
Solomon and discernment
You cannot be called a wise man without discernment. The book of Ecclesiastes said that the wise man knows the interpretation of a thing (Ecclesiastes 8:1), i.e. has the right judgment, is able to distinguish between the false and the true and also makes the right decisions.
Solomon asked God for a discerning heart (1Kings 3:7-14, 4:29:34), and that translated to wealth for him together with long life. He was described as the wisest man in his time. Discernment could be the difference between poverty and riches.
Discernment and association
Paul said we should not be deceived (undiscerning) because wrong association corrupts (1Corinthians 15:33). One characteristic of the discerning is in their choice of association. If you find out that your friends keep leading you into wrong things, then you have your lack of discernment to blame. Eve exhibited lack of discernment, yielding to the pull of the serpent, not discerning that was a wrong association. It led her into the pit (Genesis 3:1-10).
Discernment was prophesied to be the hallmark of Jesus Christ; it was written by Isaiah that milk and honey he shall eat to be able distinguish the right from wrong (Isaiah 7:13-16). In another place (Isaiah 11:1-5), it was said that because of the operation of the Holy Spirit in his life in the Spirit of knowledge, understanding, counsel and fear of the Lord, he would not judge by the sight of the eyes, he will judged with righteous judgment.
While on earth, Jesus operated by a strong flow of discernment. He even knew the thoughts of people (Luke 5:17-25). He can discern the difference between your likable facial expression and the venom that you carry within. Eve lacked that and fell to the devil.
Sons of Issachar
The Sons of Issachar (1Chronicles 12:32) were referred to as those who have understanding of the times and are therefore fully equipped to be leaders in Israel, to know what Israel should do per time. The force of discernment was in them. They knew what they wanted and where they should go to get it.
- Does Your Heart Condemn You? Rejoice! It is a clear indication that you are spiritually discerning (bummyla.wordpress.com)
- Observation (practicinghispresenceministries.wordpress.com)
- Gospel, Discernment, and Passion 2013! (defendingcontending.com)