Originally written March 1, 2018
What is discernment? To me it means two things. To know between good and evil, spiritually and to know between good and evil, naturally. Spiritually is to know whether something someone says or does is inspired by God, angels, or from Satan and/or demons. Naturally is to know whether something someone says or does is of good and selfless motives, or if their motives are for selfish, evil reasons.
How do you get discernment? Well, Hebrews 5:14 says "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." It seems like this verse tells us we get discernment through practice and by eating the solid food of God through His word in the Bible. We can also have the gift of discerning of spirits found in 1 Corinthians 12:10. We won't be talking about this because we all do not have this gift. We all can have the discernment that Hebrews 5:14 talks about though.
I think we all have a pretty good grasp of what discernment is. The problem is that many of us do not actually have "good discernment" because we do not practice it and we don't read or study the Bible as much as we should. We probably haven't even asked God for discernment either. Many of us may not even consider discernment a tool we need everyday anyway. Let me tell you why you need it and why you should be asking God for it.
There are many scriptures that tell us not to be deceived and that many will be deceived, and even where it says Satan deceives the whole world! Why should we worry about being deceived? Because we may think we are doing good stuff for God and then when Jesus returns He tells us to depart from Him! It says in Matthew 7:21-23 that “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
These people were obviously deceived because they were serving Jesus, even performing miracles and casting demons out in His name. They thought they were going to heaven. We could spend all day talking about this verse and about salvation, but I think we can all agree on one thing here, they were deceived. We could have performed 1 billion miracles in our life, but if we come face to face with Jesus and He tells us that, it was all worthless to us. The problem with being deceived, is that you don't know you are being deceived. If you did, you wouldn't be deceived anymore. The next thing I say may make some people angry or defensive, but I ask that you put your guard down and truly take it to heart.
Are you deceived? Are you following someone else that is being deceived? Your pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, apostle? Is everything you or they are saying line up with the word of God? Is everything 100% biblical or are they just saying things that make you feel good, that tickles your ears? I am not in any way asking you to leave your church or ministry either. Your leader may only be off by just a little bit. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. What I am saying is that if you do discern that what they are teaching doesn't line up with the Bible, DON'T follow it. It's that simple. Don't make a big deal of it or think that everything they say is wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. Give them grace and love them, but don't follow that particular teaching.
It says in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 that "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." Just to get your mind thinking, and I am not throwing anyone under the bus, but do you really think God want's everyone to be rich? Didn't Jesus turn away a rich man because he wouldn't sell his things and give to the poor?
1 Timothy 6:5, warns that "constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." This isn't the only doctrine I am talking about testing either. There are many more, in and out of charismatic circles. There are some ministries that dedicate themselves to expose wrong teachings! Where is the gospel there? There are many misled ministries out there. If the Lord reveals one to you, don't rebuke them publicly. Love your neighbor as yourself. You wouldn't want to be humiliated and treated that way.
Jesus said "see to it that no one misleads you" (Matthew 24:4) The word of God says "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
I don't believe the leaders of our church intend to harm us or deceive us. It is a slow process. Satan is a liar and will always be a liar. He will keep lying to us until we believe that lie. It might not be that big of a lie to begin with, but eventually it turns into something big. So big in fact that Jesus will have to say depart from me! I am not saying every preacher, teacher, evangelist, prophet, or apostle is being deceived or are deceiving you. I am telling you to be careful and test everything against the word of God. Do not be led astray because everyone is doing it or teaching it. Just because a ministry has a lot of money and has a lot of fruit, doesn't mean they aren't deceived. Look at Judas, he was one of Jesus's main disciples. He was deceived enough to turn Jesus over. I mean come on, how does that happen? You knew He is the Son of God, how could you do that? Lies, temptation, and sin. That's how it happens. It can happen to the best of us. Adam and Eve were deceived. Saul and David were deceived. Everyone can be deceived.
You can't afford to be deceived. Ask God for discernment, practice discernment, and read the Bible. Learn the truth and keep it next to your heart. Seek God, His kingdom and His righteousness. Everything will be added unto you. Even discernment. I believe anyway.
Know who you are following and test their teaching. If you can't picture Jesus teaching it or doing it, it probably isn't true. Line everything up with the Bible and discern if it is true. We can't afford to be wrong...