We all like to believe that we have good discernment. I’ve noticed, however, that a fair number of evangelicals who claim to possess discernment fall for teachers and practices that actually violate God’s Word. Mostly, I’ve observed this phenomenon in Charismatic circles, but occasionally I also see Reformed believers claiming discernment as they embrace error.
For instance, I’ve been personally attacked by a self-proclaimed discernment blogger who took issue with a video I posted. The video presented the Gospel, begging non-Christian viewers to repent and turn to Christ for salvation. The blogger adamantly believed that, by posting the video, I denied God’s sovereignty in bringing people to salvation.
This blogger had evidently embraced hyper-Calvinism, which insists that God saves people without requiring any sort of human responsibility (perhaps I should do an article on hyper-Calvinism at a later date). But in reading her blog, I found that she made allegations about John MacArthur and Al Mohler that had long since been proven false. Furthermore, on her blog’s sidebar she had links to conspiracy theory websites.
Obviously, neither John MacArthur nor Al Mohler are above question, and I checked out her claims about each of these men as thoroughly as I possibly could. Her sources, it turned out, were unreliable and had axes to grind. Sadly, the blogger failed to use discernment in researching the allegations against these men.
Scripture, certainly, admonishes Christians to exercise discernment.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~~1 John 4:1 (ESV)
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)
But in our efforts to practice discernment, may I suggest that we also cultivate attitudes of humility? Sometimes we tout whatever discernment skills we have with a subtle attitude of pride, supposing that we have inside knowledge to dispense to “average” Christians who desperately need our expertise.
We forget that Biblical discernment encompasses so much more than calling out false teachers and warning other Christians against aberrational practices. True discernment moves Christians toward living in holiness and obedience to the Lord. Rather than than pointing to our presumed abilities at “rightly dividing the truth,” our exercise of discernment should draw attention to the Lord Jesus Christ in ways that honor and glorify Him. It should encourage us to know and obey His Word for His glory.
Am I discerning? I hope so. Do I bill myself as a discernment blogger? Um, no. Instead, I pray daily that, as I read and study the Bible, the Holy Spirit will grant me discernment. Not so I can have an edgy discernment blog with oodles of followers praising my apparent wisdom. I request discernment so that I can worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.