The Discipline Of Spiritual Discernment

Were we to judge on the basis of what is hidden to us, we would be guilty of sinful judging. Swavely defines sinful judging as "Negatively evaluating someone's conduct or spiritual state on the basis of nonbiblical standards or suspected motives." Said more colloquially, to judge others is to decide that they are doing wrong because they do something the Bible doesn't talk about or because you think you can guess what it in that person's heart.1

Christians sometimes speak of making "right" decisions. They speak of coming to a place where they need to make a decision and need to make the right one. But when we are living in God's will, obeying his will as it has been revealed to us, there are no right and wrong decisions. When we have ruled out what God has expressly forbidden, and when we have searched the Bible and prayed for wisdom, we are free to choose.2

As I write this, my sister and brother-in-law are contemplating moving to New York City. As they have approached me for my counsel, I have told them that they should not base their decision on what they perceive as open doors or feelings of internal peace. Rather, they should look for principals that would govern this move: will they be able to provide for the family in New York City? … Will they be able to find a church where they can meet with God's people …? Do they have pure motives for wanting to move?3

Because gifts are given for the benefit of the body, it seems likely that where there is a need, there will be someone with the gifting to fill that need. If a church has a desperate need for a person with the gift of teaching, it seems likely that someone within the church has been given such a gift and may fill the need, at least for a season.4

Five principals that help you to identify with how you have been gifted:5

  • Begin with prayer
  • Look for Passion
  • Ask others
  • Try them
  • Keep trying

Because the spirit of Satan breeds worldiness rather than godliness, men and women with the gift of spiritual discernment are able to see worldliness for what it is. Many Christians, and especially young Christians, confuse carnality for godliness, man-made rules for God-ordained holiness. Discerning Christians will be able to distinguish between what is truly holy and what is simply a manufactured holiness that leads only to failure and discouragement.6

"Those who witch hunt end up riding brooms." Sooner or later, Christians who spend their days seeking out and responding to the transgressions of other people can quickly become insufferable.7

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