Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Week Eleven - Discern


“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12

The Discerner – it literally means, the judge.  Hebrews 4:13 supports this definition saying, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” It creates an amazing and awesome image.

God’s Word is an executer of justice.  It is the rule and ruler in the Hand of God.  No thought or intent is beyond its examination.  There is no place to hide, but that the all-seeing eye beholds.  And I love that phrase, “of him with whom we have to do”.  We will answer face to face to the Great Judge who is aware and involved in every area of our lives. 

We work at excusing ourselves for our pettiness, weaknesses or ill temper.  But when we look into the Word of God, we see that we are held accountable.  Not only that, but every excuse is wiped away because inside the blood of Christ there is power to overcome our weaknesses and we can live as victors.  All our whining, complaining, and resentments are fully recognized by the Spirit and power of the Word.  We are called to face ourselves honestly and boldly knowing that, not only does the Judge already know our motives, He has made provision for our restoration, yea, He has already paid the price.

There is no reason for a Christian to be trying to live under the radar, no reason to have secret sins.  There is no such thing with God.  Why not then live openly and honestly?

“Oh, be careful little eyes what you see….for the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see”.  Simple children’s song, but a mature and great truth.

Are you trying to live a secret life?  Do you fail to recognize that God sees straight through all your excuses and ulterior motives?  May as well lay it all on the table today and give up the pretense.  The Great Judge sees straight through you.



“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  I Corinthians 2:14

When I was young I thought this verse said that people could not understand the things of God because they were spiritually unable or stupid.  I didn’t know the meaning of the word discerned.  The verse took on a totally new light when I discovered the true definition.

Discerned here means to examine or judge in a legal sense.  It is quite a strong definition. It indicates that though the natural man can understand and discern many things, he is without the spiritual power to connect the dots.  He cannot see the beauty of Scripture, the holiness of God, or the wealth of wisdom hidden in Christ.  Because he cannot look into the depths of godliness, he casts it off, counts it all as foolishness and goes his way void of spiritual understanding. 

Verse 15 goes on to say, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things…” And the meaning of “judgeth” is “discerneth”.  So, to discern or examine is to more than just making a choice, we are now called upon to judge – to weigh the options, to look into the law and determine rightness.  This takes spiritual wisdom.  The writer of Proverbs tells us, “…incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou sleekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God…”  (Proverbs 2:2-5)

Discerning or judging the things of God requires spiritually directed wisdom.  The natural man does not have access to such wisdom.  But, the Christian, willing to examine his life and make judgment based on God’s law and principle, will find a wealth of beauty, fellowship and holiness of life that will bring glory to God.

My initial definition makes for a good question.  Are you spiritually stupid? Maybe you do not have God’s Spirit within you.  You need to come to know him through salvation.  Or, you may be a starving, carnal Christian, one who just lets Sunday’s sermon be your only meal.  You need to get into the Word for yourself and grow.

The beauty and depth of God’s Word is for those willing to delve into it.  The more you learn, the more you grow, and the more you grow, the more beautiful it becomes.  Take the challenge…let your spiritual discernment increase.


“Is there iniquity in my tongue?  Cannot my taste discern perverse things?”  Job 6:30

My husband went with a youth group to Panama.  On this trip he repeatedly encouraged the young people to see, touch, and taste the culture.  One evening they were having refreshments and a bit of a singsong.  He picked up a cup of Panamanian nut milk from the table so he could taste the culture.  As he did, to him it tasted rancid.  Now he had a dilemma.  What is he going to do?  It tasted too bad for him to even consider drinking, but after his talks with the young people he didn’t want them to see him disposing of the drink.  So, he walked over to the piano, sung a few songs and then walked away leaving the drink on the piano.

The things to which we have grown accustomed set our personal tastes.  This is true throughout all cultures.  Clothing choices, foods, housing and many more are acceptable according to our culture.  As a Christian, our tastes are to be set according to Scripture. 

The word “discern” here in Job holds the idea of realizing or the development of a skill.  Job is saying that his taste buds realize when something is rancid or soured.  This skill has come by practice.

He is telling his friends that just as he would recognize drinking soured milk or eating a rotten potato, he would recognize sin in his life.  He has developed the spiritual skill of knowing right from wrong.  He knows the taste of sin, and of righteousness.

What about you?  Do you know when you have sinned?  Does it have a certain taste that you easily recognize?  Do you find it perverse – distasteful?


“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

“Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment…”  Ecclesiastes 8:5 & 6

The ability to discern between good and evil and time and judgment belongs to those who are mature and wise.  It comes by exercise and experience.  There is much to be said about the wealth a person gains as they travel down the road of life.  They have the ability to look back and see where decisions brought about changes in their lives and, if they are wise, they can see how those decisions brought either good or evil to their lives.  They come to understand the principle of time and of sound judgment.

I loved to play checkers (draughts) with my grandfather.  He would nearly always win.  However, throughout the game he would try to teach me to look ahead on my moves, to make plans and to try to see the outcomes of my choices.  It has proved to be a good skill for life. Wisdom means taking time to look forward, to discern what will be the outcome of our choices.

The definition in both of these verses is to distinguish, pass judgment, to understand, recognize or know. It is the ability to look ahead on your moves, to recognize good and evil, to know the right time and to judge the outcomes.  The mature and wise Christian has learned this skill.  Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong, it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”

The young Christian is wise to develop this skill.  It comes by observation and by application. Observation of the testimony of others – how have their choices impacted their lives for good or for evil?  And, by application of the Word of God – using it as a judge for decision making in our own lives – faithfully obeying the Word and allowing time to show us God’s blessing.  It is developing the distinct taste of righteousness. Such wisdom and discernment do not come overnight, but are the fruit of a life lived in accordance to God’s directives.

Need help with decisions?  Weigh up the good and evil, the pro and the con.  Compare the decision with Scripture.  Choose to take the path of God’s Word.  Let God prove Himself to you.  Taste and see that He is Good!



“And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.  Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”  Malachi 3:18 & 19

When all is said and done we will see who was true and who was not.  I have heard preachers say that we will be surprised who is in Heaven and who is not.  We do not have the ability to see into a person’s heart.  We are not the discerner of the thoughts and intents, God is.  So he tells us that when we stand before him, all will be revealed.

The definition in this verse means to look, to select and to see.  It truly means that we will be allowed to see the difference.  As we go through life in this realm we can only judge by people’s fruits and even then our judgment is sadly often based on our own prejudices.  Because we cannot see into the heart, we can only look on the outside.  I think that is why we are told that comparing ourselves among ourselves is not wise.  We do not have access to all of the truth about each other.  So, our best path is to judge ourselves only.

When we get to Heaven God will be the revealer of every man’s character.  He will be the one that reveals his true servants.  Then, we will all be made perfect, as jewels we will shine forth.  Our true colors will appear and any disguises will be removed.

Knowing this truth motives the soul to be open with the Lord and requires that we allow any false pretense or intent to be examined and slain.  If we want to shine brightly here on this earth, we must be pure.  We need to shine forth the testimony of Christ and be true servants of the Lord – servants that others can recognize. 

Are you shining forth?  Can people see your testimony?  Are you hiding behind some disguise?  When the day comes, will you be a jewel or a diamond in the rough?

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