Friday, March 13, 2015

THE PURPOSE OF DISCERNMENT

What are we to do with the information we gain through this exercise of our senses?

What is the purpose of seeing the difference between the good and the not-so-good?
When something is seen in the life of another, judgmental criticism is usually the product.

However, it has been stated that intercession on behalf of the individual would be much more appropriate.

According to the verses we’ve found which sound a warning to avoid being deceived, it would appear that the main purpose of discernment is to avoid being deceived.

Remember, now, we are NOT talking about the gift mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:10, the discerning of spirits. That is different from what we’ve been discussing in Heb. 5:14, which tells us to train our senses to make distinctions of subtlety concerning that which is good and that which only appears to be good.

What things are we warned about that could deceive us?
  • Dt. 11:16—serve other gods
  • Lk. 21:8—false Christs
  • 1 Cor. 6:9—unrighteousness cannot inherit the kingdom of God (also Eph. 5:5)
  • 1 Cor. 15:33—bad relationships corrupt your good 
  • Gal. 6:7—don’t try to get one over on God
  • 2 Thess.2:3—about the Day of the Lord (also Matt. 24:4ff)
  • 1 John 3:7—only those who DO righteously are righteous
  • 1 Cor. 3:18—don’t deceive yourself.

It should be evident to the casual reader, then, that the purpose of discernment is to protect oneself from deception.

And, since we know that the negative influences the positive, then the only recourse is to extricate oneself from the deceptive influence.

It is not enough to simply say, “Aha! You’re trying to deceive me, but I won’t let that happen.”

No.

You must flee from the influence the way Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22), which war against the soul (1 Pet. 2:11).

Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor. 15:33 is a prime example of how we have failed to use discernment in our daily lives.

It is a plain, unqualified statement that the negative influence will overcome the good.

The word “evil” in that verse is the exact same word used in Heb. 5:14, which is the basis for this study—κακός (kakos).

What have we been taught about “relationship evangelism” or “lifestyle evangelism”? (I googled the first term, and of the 10 articles that showed up on the first page, only one was against it, but not for the reasons I am putting forth here.)

On the surface, this form of evangelism is meant to encourage believers to live out the gospel in front of those with whom they have some sort of relationship—business, club, school, etc. No harm for the most part.

But, then this is taken further, and the believer is encouraged to develop relationships for the purpose of evangelizing. They are led to believe that their ‘goodness’ will overcome the other’s ‘badness,’ which is contrary to the verse mentioned.

It is also contrary to the illustration given in Hag. 2:11-13, which the Lord spoke against Israel.

Therefore, discernment would recognize that when the pastor tries to encourage evangelism among the flock through “lifestyle evangelism,” he is speaking contrary to the Word of God.

The follow-up to something like this is simple: get with the pastor in private to share what you know; if he does not hear you and cannot make a biblical argument against you, you’ve got a tough choice to make—leave or die.

It only takes a little leaven to leaven the whole lump (Gal. 5:9).

It only takes a little poison to kill the body.

CONCLUSION
Litmus paper is used to determine (discern) the ph factor of water, whether it is acidic or basic.

The Bible is our litmus paper which aids in our discernment of whether something or someone is good or bad.

We need to know the Bible and its contents. It is the Word of God, and is the ONLY tool spoken of that can make the subtle distinctions mentioned in this book (Heb. 4:12).

We are not to use the Scriptures to beat other people over the head about their misdeeds, regardless of whether those people are saints or sinners.

We are to use the Word for our own defense against being deceived (Matt. 4: 4, 7, 10).

Sadly, the scarcity of the Word is commonplace now (Amos 8:11), as the people of God have become much more comfortable with self-help programs presented as sermons, not knowing that they are feeding on junk food.

It takes years for a steady diet of less-than-nutritious food to show up in your system as the cause for your disease and inability to function at an optimal level.

After years of feeding on less-than-the-Word, the people of God have been rendered ineffective in an ever-increasing hostile world with which they must contend (Jer. 12:5). The only recourse to even consider the possibility of reversing this trend is to GET OUT.

Or, to use religious speak, saying it without such harshness—repent.

Action is required. 
  • Isa. 52:2—shake yourself; loose yourself 
  • Jer. 51:6—get out; deliver your soul (also v. 45, 50) 
  • Rev.18:4—come out 
  • Heb. 13:13—meet with Jesus.

If you have gleaned something from this, if the Lord has made you aware of the necessity of training yourself in discernment, then I encourage you to take action.

  1. Ask the Lord to show the areas in which you have been deceived.  
  2. Ask Him to open the Word to you like never before. 
  3. Ask Him to give you the grace to take action on what you see. 
  4. Take the action (James 1:22)

God is bringing up a people in this hour who will no longer accept the status quo, but will demand for themselves only that which helps them to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

Are you willing to stand with young Samuel when the Lord calls, and say, “Speak; your servant is listening”? (1 Sam. 3:10)


Are you willing to stand with Isaiah when the Lord calls, and say, “Here am I. Send Me”? (Isa. 6:8)

2 comments:

  1. Another good posting. I think one reason you might not get many comments is that too often you hit too close to home. I have seen a real move within believers to turn to new age readings and "helps" rather than scripture for their encouragement and growth as a person. They don't really understand how God has His own plan to grow us. There is a great tendency to want to think we are so great and so important. We would rather have our ears tickled with flattery than have real meat to chew upon, ponder, and then, possibly make changes in our lives in accordance to. We think we are way too important. Keep it up, friend.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Charlotte. I, too, find it amazing and somewhat discouraging that the Word has fallen by the wayside for so many believers. The New Age thinking has certainly been a factor. This thinking has permeated the churches through the pulpit and the pew. That is why we find so many leaders/influencers who are now saying that the Bible is an antiquated book and should not be used in association with a modern worldview. Truly sad.

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