The Power of Discernment

The Power of Discernment

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God. What is good? What is acceptable? What is perfect? Here’s a hint. People will never lead you to perfection. It is impossible for the imperfect to go where they have not been. Maturity in Christ is an independent mission of finding completion in Him. Discernment takes knowledge of God and as it becomes our understanding it will begin to produce wisdom in our life. Wisdom is nothing more than applied knowledge. To be wise is to make choices based on sound knowledge and good understanding allowing it to change the way we think, live and speak.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) A lack of knowledge in our natural life can cause unwanted consequences. For example, if you are not instructed that if you touch a hot stovetop that you will be burned, then when you come in contact with one that you will likely touch it and pay the consequences. Spiritual instruction is absolutely necessary to change our life from natural to supernatural outcomes. We can present ourselves as “living sacrifices” but it is discernment that keeps us aligned with God and following Jesus Christ. We need knowledge. We need understanding. We need wisdom. We need discernment. What if we have it but are not using it? Well, according to Hosea, people are destroyed because they lack…or reject godly knowledge.

I Kings 3:10-14 (ESV) It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Solomon was the beloved son of David. David was a man after God’s Heart. Solomon following the footsteps of his father offered a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord. God came to King Solomon in a dream and asked, “What shall I give you?” The king could have asked for anything. He could have asked for riches and honor or a variety of natural desires. Solomon asked for wisdom or more importantly “understanding to discern what is right”. His request pleased the Lord and it was granted to him.

Godly wisdom and good discernment does not make us perfect. It is simply good judgment that readily discerns between good and evil. Good people are not always godly. Religious folks aren’t always godly. We are quick to follow preachers and teachers but reluctant to strike out and follow Jesus especially when He leads us out on our own. People are people. God is looking for those who desire Him above all things.

Remember when Jesus met the rich young man. (Mark 10) He called Jesus “Good Teacher” and quickly the Lord replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Discernment. Jesus was questioning the man’s knowledge and wisdom. He knew the commandments and religious rules and regulations. But did this rich young man have a relationship with God? Did he know God? Did he love Him? Did he recognize the Son of God standing before him? Well…when asked to leave this world behind, sell all his possessions and give everything away to follow Christ…he walked away. There are many people with a whole lot of head knowledge about the Lord. We need heart knowledge called discernment to change us and transform us.

I Corinthians 2:14-16 (ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

We have the Mind of Christ. We must decide to adopt His Mindset and gain knowledge of who He is from God’s Word. In fact, John 1:14 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God who came to us wrapped in flesh. Without a personal working knowledge, there is no wisdom. Without wisdom, it is impossible to discern between good and evil. God is good! He is always good! His Way is always the best. To know His Way, we must know His Word and allow His Spirit to guide us.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)  Jesus is the Word. He is the only Way to God. We cannot access God through man anymore but must personally enter His Presence. To read the Word is to actively engage in the process of spiritual circumcision as the Lord removes the callous hardness applied by life to break our heart and fill it with the Light of His Love. If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you have been given His Spirit. The Holy Spirit as you will see in the next scripture is called our “Helper”. He takes the Word of God like a surgeon to cut away the worthless and fruitless desires to give us a new life and make us a new creation just like the Lord promised to do.

John 14:25-27 (ESV) “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The Holy Spirit is our guide. He teaches us the meaning of God’s Word. He shows us how to apply it in our life through His Gentle Nudging or not-so-easy conviction. We are free to choose our way but in order to choose THE Way – reliance on the Spirit of God in us is important. The Spirit of God aligns our heart and mind with Him. In doing so, it creates inner peace as our heart is no longer in conflict with eternity. It is in this place that God changes us and transforms us. You were not created to be like anybody. God created you to be you. There is no one else that has your potential. There is no one else that can fulfill your purpose. To know Him is to love Him but aside from His Word (Truth) and His Spirit it is not possible to be a true worshipper. Our faith is planted solely in Christ to harvest the confident hoped needed to endure to the end.

Psalm 119:65-68 (ESV) You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.

I will be the first to admit that I have asked the Lord for specific “things” and detailed outcomes more than I care to mention. All those prayers “instructing” God on what I needed, wanted, desired or thought that He should do. God’s Word tells us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But then, I have had many pastors and teachers instruct me to tell God exactly what I want and to pray in specifics. This is where the power of discernment works in our life.

I find that when I pray for “God’s Will” to be done – I have greater success in accomplishing peace in my life. Thinking of all those times I thought I knew what was best, but the Lord had something better in mind. There is nothing wrong with praying for specific things but it is better to seek the Will and Way of God. His Hope never leads to disappointment. His Way never comes up short. His Promises always produce fulfillment and full satisfaction. His Economy is abundance. God is good. His Love unfailing. His Goodness always pursuing me. I must simply know Him and love Him to have it all.

Today, my prayer is simple. “Lord, teach me good judgment and knowledge. I desire discernment. To see people, situations, and opportunities through Your Eyes and consider each with the Mind of Christ. This is my heart’s desire to be a living sacrifice and live a life acceptable to You, Lord.”

Proverbs 16:20-22 (ESV) Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.


To Know – A Devotion

I Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)

He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages,while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.


I want to know. I am reminded of this inherent trait every time I encounter our youngest child who always wants to know. She is not satisfied without knowledge. There is no such thing as ignorance on her part as she refuses to live in such a state. Human nature has the same problem it began in the Garden of Eden when the choice was made between life and the knowledge of good and evil. When presented the choice of obedience and disobedience the human mind quickly chose to know whether than live. (Genesis 2 & 3) This decision has plagued mankind since that fateful day. We seek to know. Every detail is important. This is why something like gossip is so hard to not listen to. It is why we have to see the movie that is all the rage when deep down inside the Spirit tries to steer us away. Knowing that His People would demand to know, God provided wisdom to enable His People to make good choices. He gifted us with something called discernment. The ability to see, recognize and apprehend the truth. Discernment allows a person to mentally distinguish differences. The Latin word is discernere which means to separate. God has called us to live a life separated from sin. With the understanding of good and evil, it is now our mandate to choose “good”. Discernment is the tool God has given His People. It allows us to live a holy life, to be consecrated for God’s Service and to walk in righteousness and truth. Obedience is possible when one is able to discern good and evil. It is not some mysterious phenomenon but a basic tool of understanding empowered by God’s Word and His Spirit to increase man’s separation from the world while reducing the distance between God and His Beloved.


Job 34:3-4 (NLT)

Job said, ‘The ear tests the words it hears just as the mouth distinguishes between foods.’ So let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.


History details man’s failure to discern good from evil and the truth from a lie. However, it is still necessary to do so in order to live the life God has called His People to live. The “ear” tests the words it hears. Truth is very important in the life of every believer. We are born with a mindset of sin that easily recognizes evil and closely associates with it. It is natural. God’s Truth is contradictory to human nature and therefore the mind must be reconditioned to see, recognize and apprehend it. It is impossible to distinguish the difference in good and evil without the development of wisdom. Wisdom is the knowledge of God paired with discernment to weed sin out of our life. (Proverbs 8:12) The transition from death to life is made possible only by Jesus Christ but moving from your old life to the New Life that is promised requires a new heart and mind. Good and evil are determined by the heart of man. (Matthew 12:35) Thirst for knowledge and hunger for the truth is a gift from God that can be satisfied by Truth found in God’s Word.


Hosea 14:9 (NLT)

Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the LORD are true and right and righteous people live by walking in them.
But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.


Discernment allows God’s People to listen carefully and separate the Truth from a lie. This is very important in establishing faith and trust in God. If faith is built on anything other than the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth, then it is a lie and will cause people to stumble and fall. The problem is religion and personal opinion often convolute the Truth as man adds his spin to the Gospel and personalize faith. God is good. He doesn’t need any help from His Creation to be more right or better. Anything that is contradictory to the Word of God and His Character is evil. Everything that falls outside of good even in the gray divide of complacency and compromise falls in under the heading of evil. There are no little white lies in God’s Perfection. There is no “well we will let this one slide” in His Judgment. There is good and evil. There is truth and a lie. There is obedience and disobedience. There is righteousness and unrighteousness. You are “in” or “out” to speak plainly. Oh, how I want to be “in” the Will of God, Way of God and Presence of the Living God. Discernment comes by wisdom and such Truth is found in the Knowledge of God and the understanding of His Spirit empowering God’s People to decide between good and evil choosing holiness and consecration over sin and despair.


James 4:8 (NLT)

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.


It is time for God’s People to increase discernment by strengthening and empowering their heart and mind with the Word of God and yielding to the Spirit of God which produces wisdom. Divided loyalty creates a divided heart which cannot withstand testing and will be broken over and over again. Our purpose in life is to remove those things that remain between us and God moving deeper into His Presence made possible by the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. God is whispering to you today, “Come closer.” As you clear sin and evil, He moves closer, too. As we strive to live in the Presence of God as His Holy Vessels, there are some essential components that will foster discernment in the life of a believer.


Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.


The Word of God is primary to developing discernment. Without His Word, we cannot recognize goodness. It is not our nature. Worldly ways have infiltrated our thinking and live in agreement with the flesh and sin nature of mankind. Therefore, we must develop new habits that are come from the Knowledge of God found in His Word. You will never be successful in knowing God or loving God without His Word. It is a daily requirement at times a minute-to-minute necessity. Familiarity with God’s Way allow us to escape the frustration of ignorant disobedience in all its randomness to a life of purpose living out the wisdom of God’s Plan. We have been asked to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” which will break the stronghold of false teaching that is prevalent in the world today. This is impossible without God’s Word buried deep in the recesses of the human heart. Ignorant faith is useless to God. It requires a Knowledge of God found only in His Word.


John 1:1-5 and 14 (NLT)

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

So the Word became humanand made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.


Discernment is born through salvation. To be born again, gives God’s Children a new mind and the mind of Jesus Christ and His Thoughts are now accessible. The weakness of human understanding starving for God’s Word demanded a visual representation so God sent His Only Son to demonstrate faithfulness, obedience, righteousness and total dependency on the Father. Jesus is the Living Word of God. He was with God from the very beginning. He is the Giver of Life. It was no secret that man would make a fatal choice. Jesus knew what was to come and still chose to give His People life. He is the Light that brings God’s Word to life. He is the Word made flesh to live out the Gospel. He is the Glory or fullness of God who showed mankind it was possible to live in unison with God and made the way for them to do so. Discernment requires a relationship with Jesus Christ. His Identity is revealed in the Word because He is the Word. Those who discover this truth are well on their way back to the Father through the Son.


John 16:12-14 (NLT)

 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.”


The Holy Spirit will guide you through the Truth to wisdom and discernment impossible to comprehend with the human mind. When the Word of God becomes true to you, salvation is possible. Faith in God is possible through Jesus Christ. But Jesus knows people inside out and the impossibility of faithfulness in the midst of sin. Jesus sent His Spirit to guide us every step of the way. One cannot ignore the Living Indwelling Spirit of God and expect to recognize the difference between good and evil. You cannot live for God without total dependency on Jesus and submission to His Spirit within you. God’s Word is incomprehensible and a mystery without the revelation of God given through His Spirit. He is our tutor explaining the complexity of God to finite human intellect. Galatians 5:16-17 expresses the importance of God’s Spirit in our life. The violently opposes of good and evil war for control, but God’s Spirit will prevail.


Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.


2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


Discernment is a powerful tool in serving God. Believers cannot discern good and evil or the truth from a lie outside of the Power of God demonstrated in the Knowledge of His Word, His Son and His Spirit. Sin will not allow it. Do you long to serve God faithfully? Is holiness causing a problem? Is consecration a foreign concept? Does submission cause you to stumble? These are all perfectly natural responses to God’s Truth. If you want to live a supernatural life, discernment is exactly what you need to know the Truth, understand it and live by it. All of God’s Power is on your side, so use it. Gorge yourself on God’s Word. Fellowship with Jesus Christ sticking closer than a brother. Stir up the Holy Spirit. Knowledge will turn to wisdom and you will live to know and discern the Truth! Be free in the Name of Jesus!


John 8:31-32 (NLT)

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”