by Pastor Greg Neal
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. ~ Hebrews 5:14
DISCERNMENT, n. The act of discerning; also, the power or faculty of the mind, by which it distinguishes one thing from another, as truth from falsehood, virtue from vice; acuteness of judgment; power of perceiving differences of things or ideas, and their relations and tendencies. The errors of youth often proceed from the want of discernment.
It is amazing to watch the learning process of a child. Often a child is too young to discern between that which is good and that which is bad. They will pick up dirt and eat it. They will play in the toilet. They will run out into the street without thinking twice. The stove may be hot and the young child will walk up and touch it. When eating off of the floor no consideration of germs is taken. How about walking through a fire ant mound? A child would rather eat candy than vegetables. They would rather play than go to bed. What is the problem that causes a child to do these things? It is a lack of discernment. They are too young to know how to totally discern what is good and bad and what is good and best. Imagine watching an adult eat dirt, or playing in the toilet, or eating food off the floor, or purposely playing in an anthill, or eating all candy and refusing to eat vegetables. We excuse the child for this behavior but not the adult. Why? Because an adult should know better. In other words, a true sign of maturity is good discernment. Tragically, there is a lack of discernment among God’s people. As Christians we do not seem to have the maturity to discern between good and bad, or often times between good and best. So why do we lack Spiritual discernment?
I. The lack of spiritual discernment shows a lack of spiritual growth.
Why do some “mature” Christians not have more spiritual discernment than they do? One reason is they are into the things of the world and not into the things of God. There has to be sacrifice made to grow. You have to give up things that keep you from growing and take on the things that make you grow, if you want to grow. The reason any sensible parent will not allow their child to have a diet consisting of only cookies and candy is because as tasty as they might be they do not contain the necessary nutrition for growth that child needs. Far too many Christians are feasting on the “tasty” diet of this world and not getting enough “Spiritual” nutrients.
II. A lack of spiritual discernment shows a lack of a proper pattern.
True spiritual discernment compares everything to Jesus Christ. Our goal should be to conform to His image. The question ought to always be, is this what My Saviour would do? Oftentimes, we make decisions based on what is acceptable to society and not what is acceptable to God? Is it that we are more concerned about what people think than we are what God thinks? If it is unacceptable to Christ, it ought to be enough to make us change our behavior. Unfortunately, too many Christians are conformed rather than transformed.
III. The lack of spiritual discernment shows a flesh-oriented perspective.
Christians today have become dangerously worldly and unspiritual. (I Timothy 4:7,8) We have far too much fleshly influence. Far too much of our decision making is based upon desires of the flesh. We choose colleges, jobs, churches, friends and even dates based upon the flesh rather than based upon spiritual things. That was Lot‘s downfall. He made a decision based on his flesh and the lack of discernment cost him and his family.
IV. The lack of spiritual discernment shows a lack of real skill in God’s Word
This is a sad thing, but so few of us have become skilled enough in God’s Word to use it to make decisions. While this is sad it is also ridiculous. God’s people ought to know God’s Word enough so they can make right decisions. It was customary for Jewish parents to teach their children not only the principles of God’s Word but also when and how to apply those principles. Our failure is hearing the Bible taught and not applying it. God’s Word was given to us to teach us how to live. Yet, most of us never go to the textbook to figure out how to make it work in our lives. This is reflected in our decision making.
V. The lack of spiritual discernment shows that our senses are under the control of the flesh rather than the Holy Spirit.
God gave us our senses to discern or choose. He did not give us our senses to judge. This is sad. God’s people often have the ability to judge things but not to discern things. We judge people rather than discern circumstances and what our reaction should be. We are lacking in discernment because we are lacking in Holy Spirit leadership. We are failing in many areas of our life due to a lack of surrender to the Holy Spirit but none may be as revealing as our lack of discernment.
VI. The lack of spiritual discernment shows our lack of wisdom.
James 1:5 says “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraided not; and it shall be given him.” Far too few Christians seek the Lord for wisdom. Many parents do not go to God for wisdom. Therefore they have no discernment in making decisions for their children. Many Christians do not ask God for wisdom and they have no discernment in making daily decisions.
VII. The lack of spiritual discernment shows the failure of ministering in our homes.
The word “use” in Hebrews 5:14 means habit. We are to be so in tune with God’s Word that discernment becomes a habit. The most effective form of learning is repetition. How many can think back to school and all of the monotonous drilling and reciting of rules, facts, and spellings. I can? But I can still list my helping verbs, recite the Gettysburg address, and I know “I” comes before “E” except after “C”. Why? Because it was drilled into my memory. How sad that we neglect to instruct our children in the things of the Lord which leads to a lack of spiritual discernment.
What kind of discernment do you have? Discernment is lacking in so many Christians today. The ability to choose between good and evil and the discernment to choose between good and best is vital for Spiritual success.