Let’s be honest, ladies. There’s a certain satisfaction to picking apart false teachers like Beth Moore (why is she always the first one to come to mind?), Ann Voskamp, Lysa TerKeurst and Sarah Young. Okay, we do need to show less discerning believers why such teachers shouldn’t be followed, especially when so many women’s Bible Studies use their books. But when “discernment ministries” do little else than try to discredit anyone they disagree with, they’ve abandoned true discernment in favor of cheap gossip.
Early in December, I wrote a couple articles linking Biblical discernment with wisdom. Tired of simply finding creative ways of saying that discernment involves so much more than sniffing out false teachers, I decided to explore what Scripture actually teaches about discernment and wisdom so that we can all learn how to use discernment in daily life.
Today I want to look at a passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians to see the difference between worldly wisdom and godly wisdom.
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. ~~1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (ESV)
In this passage, the apostle Paul makes a distinction between human wisdom and the wisdom that God the Spirit teaches us through His Word. Human wisdom reflects values and priorities that exalt humanity, even when those values and priorities fly in the face of Scripture. As erudite as human wisdom might appear, it inevitability clashes with God’s perfect wisdom.
As Christians, we must pursue God’s wisdom, which He revels in His Word. His wisdom indeed included warnings against false teachers and. their doctrines, but it goes well beyond that topic to instruct us in living lives that glorify God.
Consequently, godly discernment encompasses so much more than calling out false teachers. It demands that we study, understand and correctly apply all of Scripture. Through studying God’s Word, we develop an understanding of how our daily lives can honor and glorify the Lord. Again, honoring and glorifying Him most assuredly includes identifying false teachers, but it encompasses far more.
In future articles, I hope to spotlight some of the ways Christians should apply discernment in everyday living. My posts will by no means exhaust the subject, but I want to help you see the practical side of discernment. Sometimes, discernment isn’t quite what we expect.