Discernment isn’t about anyone putting personal convictions on you or loading you down with a religious set of standards that you cannot meet, neither is it ripping someone else to shreds and calling them a false prophet when you don’t agree with their viewpoint. Yes, it’s true that in the last days there will be many that attempt to deceive. Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will show great signs and wonders so as to deceive and lead astray, if possible, even the elect (God's chosen ones).” Also, in Revelation 13 it talks about a beast that comes out of the earth that does great signs and wonders and deceives the inhabitants of the earth.
But going around calling someone a false prophet is doing nothing to edify the body of Christ. Our mandate is to “test everything” and get rid of the name calling, slandering, gossip, and people shredding. 1 Peter 2:1-3, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” It is perfectly legitimate when I say that a lot of what’s out there does not contain anything even remotely close to pure spiritual milk. That’s not being narrow-minded, that’s using good judgment in what my soul feeds off of. That IS part of discernment. That’s guarding my heart. It is part of the process of growing up into my salvation so I recognize good from evil.
I am horrified at what is on school reading lists now. You can dismiss it, but truly our school’s book lists are teaching our children how to accept and practice witchcraft. You can strongly disagree with me if you want to but it’s time to start calling it like it is. ‘Highly entertaining’ and ‘wildly creative’, can not be the basis for our acceptance standard with literature or movies or anything else. We need to draw the line. It always starts with a mild form to whet our appetites with something, but later it doesn’t take much to push the boundaries into something hard core.
It is all part of the process of discernment. It isn’t about my standard or yours. There is a standard by The Lord that He makes clear in His holy Word. Some things are just plain unholy. They are dark, there is no light in them at all. The bottom line is that they are not from The Lord. He never promotes them as having any value in His Word. On the contrary, He says to stay away from them.
Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” What is the difference between being conformed to the world and having an open mind about things? Hmm…I don’t know that God tells us to have an open mind about worldly things. He tells us to examine all sides before we make a decision. He tells us to test everything. He tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. What do we renew our minds with? It can’t be the latest entertainment to come down the pike. Now, CAN God use worldly things to speak to us? Sure, He can and He does sometimes, like song lyrics or movies or whatever. But I think it’s got to be highly questionable when we use those things as a basis for the way that we think.
Not everyone that professes to BE a Christian IS a Christian. I can’t tell you how many times “they are Christian” is thrown around like that just gives it the Betty Crocker seal of approval. The Lord says, “By their fruits, you shall know them.” Matthew 7:15-20 gives us what to look for to determine if someone or something is from The Lord or not. In other words, are they exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, self-control, kindness, meekness? Or are they promoting things that lead to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life? Do they point to God, are they edifying, uplifting, encouraging you and strengthening you in your relationship with Him or do they have a love of self? Romans 12 gives us another example of love and the fact that it must be sincere. Verses 9 and 10 clearly say to “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 also gives examples of what’s false. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
As I talked about in yesterday's post, people have a hunger inside them for eternity. There is something appealing about the mysterious, about worldly wisdom. People are hungry for the supernatural. People are hungry for something that is life-giving, not lifeless, not powerless rituals. So something that seems to exhibit these qualities will be attractive to many. Of course, these things are going to look enticing. Of course they’re going to be creative and artistic and funny and highly entertaining. Maybe the content does appear to look like the life of Jesus and promote some kind of moral value, but what they really are underneath is downright deceptive.
When we look at something we actually participate with it. If it's against God then it kills the life inside of us, it's kills our sense of discernment and wisdom until we don't know the difference between what's clean and what's unclean. Matthew 6: 22-23 is very clear, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
2 Corinthians 6:14,-18 "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing,and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’."
That’s why it’s so important to test and test thoroughly, not just a one verse here and one verse there. God’s Word is consistent to confirm in many places, not just one verse. Part of testing everything is always pursuing what is good for yourself and others. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, “Do not quench The Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” So all things, means, ALL things, right? And in regards to prophesy, I think any word from someone needs to be examined against God’s standard of love, because it all boils to down to love in the end. We are responsible to give a word when we feel The Lord prompting us to do so, but only in the context of love. We are not responsible for people’s reactions, but we are all responsible for our own responses. If our response is worse than the word itself and totally unloving and not exhibiting any fruit of The Spirit, than we need to examine what’s going on inside of ourselves.
Here are some really helpful definitions I came across thanks to Merriam-Webster:
discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art).
discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent.
perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling).
penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial.
insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy.
acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment.
All of these help to give a practical view of what we need to be doing in our daily lives.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Thank You Lord that You are faithful to teach me and lead me in my daily walk with You! I pray for a measure of discernment to rise in Your Body. Help us get rid of everything false and displeasing in our lives so that we bring glory to You! Amen!