Thursday, March 14, 2013

Discernment


Discernment

 

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1

Discernment is one of the Spiritual Gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 that God gives to His children through the Holy Spirit working in them.  Discernment is a form of wisdom, but not wisdom of earthly things, but of spiritual things.  It is an understanding of the intentions and motives of the heart, the truth that is hidden by words, the true nature of man.
We are told in 1 John 4:1 to test the spirits, whether they are of God or not.  The gift of discernment is how we accomplish that.  It allows us to see through what our eyes see with the wisdom of God to look upon the heart. 

Being seeped in God’s word is an important part in receiving and using the gift of discernment.  It is is described in Hebrews 4:12 as “piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Hebrews 5:14 tells us that when we have taken in the word as ‘solid food’ instead of ‘the milk of the word’, we “by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Solomon asked for wisdom in 1 Kings 3:9, but not just for any kind of wisdom.  He specifically asked for discernment.  He said, Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”  In verse 12 God tells Solomon he has honored his request and given him “a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.”  And we all know that He also gave Solomon riches and honor because God was very pleased with Solomon’s request for a spiritual gift that would benefit His people as King Solomon judged them.

Not long after that, in 1 Kings 3:16-28 we read that two women came to King Solomon.  One had given birth to a son, and the other, living in the same house gave birth to a son three days later.  But the second son died because his mother laid on him while she was sleeping.  When she awoke to find him dead, in the middle of the night she took him to the other woman, laid him beside of her, and took her son, switching the two babies so that she would have the one still alive.  When the mother of the live son awoke she saw that it was not her baby beside her, and they appeared before King Solomon to have him hear their case.
There were no birth records, no fingerprints and footprints, no hospital bracelets of identity and no DNA tests available. How could the true mother be found?  King Solomon acted with the discernment of his heart, saying “Bring me a sword.” When they brought him the sword he said “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.” 

King Solomon understood the heart of the mother who stood in front of him.  The true mother spoke up and said “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” while the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him. King Solomon said to the court and the women, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”  Discernment served King Solomon as he judged the people for years to come.
Peter also had the gift of discernment.  In Acts 5:1-5 we read of a husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, who sold a piece of land.  The newfound church didn’t keep possessions to themselves, but shared everything (Acts 4:32-37).  No one claimed anything for himself, and all proceeds from sales was brought to the church and dispensed to all. 

But when Ananias came before Peter to bring the proceeds of the sale of his land to the church, Peter was already aware that it was not all that he had received from the sale.  Peter spoke up, exercising the gift of discernment, and said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”  Ananias fell dead at Peter’s feet, and later as his wife entered, sharing in the deceit, she also died.  No one told Peter about the sale of the land – except the Holy Spirit living in him, and also living in Ananias and Sapphira.    
Discernment allows us to look upon the heart, and understand the motivations and intentions of another.  When counseling another, this can be a crucial gift, especially when addictions are present and sometimes veil the truth, the underlying problem.  It can also be useful in determining the basis of a ministry.  Friends, not everyone who gets behind a pulpit is a preacher called by God.  Satan calls his own to ministry as well.  Understanding whether you are listening to a man of God or a false prophet is vital to the protection of yourself and your church.

When you have received discernment, understand that it is a gift to be used in love to correct, not to judge and condemn.  Jesus cast out many evil demons, but not once did he do it in anger.  He even heard the request of the legion of demons in Mark 5:1-13 and sent them into a herd of pigs.  In all gifts, we are expect to use them through the working of the Holy Spirit in us, which is the Spirit of Peace.  James 3:17 says “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
If you desire discernment, ask for it.  Even in Spiritual things, we have not because we ask not.  God gives the Spiritual gifts as He wills, and His will is affected by our prayers.  But be very careful as to why you ask for it, and sure you are ready to receive it.  You may not like what you find when you receive it.  It can be heartbreaking to see the true motives and hearts of others.  God purposefully shields us from the things He sees daily.

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