What’s The Purpose Of Discernment?

Discernment ScrollThis past Sunday I asked people on Facebook and Twitter what they believe the purpose of discernment is. Happily, several people responded, and all of them had excellent answers.

Most respondents emphasized that discernment enables us to distinguish between truth and error. Several elaborated that discernment protects the Church from false teaching. I wholeheartedly agree, and I praise God for giving us such a wonderful shield against deception. So many theological aberrations compete for our attention that discernment cannot be optional.

Two friends delighted me by going a bit deeper. One noted that discernment was, at the bottom line, for God’s glory. Her answer got to the very heart of what I wanted to say in this essay. If we consider discernment as having its purpose apart from glorifying Him, we make the disastrous mistake of once again placing ourselves in the center of God’s purposes.

The other friend expanded on the first friend’s answer by citing Scripture:

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)

He added that discernment helps us serve and love God better. My heart definitely did a happy dance when I read his comment because he so closely resembled my daily prayer concerning discernment.

As I come to my time in God’s Word each day, I ask the Lord to increase my discernment through its doctrines. But immediately I sense impure motives for that prayer request. I feel a strong temptation to make the request so that I can excel as a discernment blogger. Confessing that horridly self-serving motive, I discipline myself to instead ask for discernment in order that I might worship Him in spirit and in truth.

It appears to me that people frequently label themselves as discernment bloggers so that they can establish their authority. Not all commit this sin, I realize, but I’d hazard a guess that even those who don’t commit it experience the temptation, at least occasionally. If we pretend not to feel that pull, we put ourselves in tremendous danger.

Discernment is necessary in navigating the Christian life, especially with so much false teaching creeping into even the best churches. By all means, pray to be discerning! But please make sure you ultimately seek this attribute for God’s glory rather than your own purposes.

 

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The Best Method For Vetting Discernment Bloggers

IMG_1892Imagine believers testing the teachings of the apostle Paul! To Bible-believing Christians, the very thought of scrutinizing him seems preposterous! We now understand that several of his letters rightfully belong in the Canon of Scripture. In the early days of his ministry, however, his apostolic authority hadn’t yet been recognized, so Jewish believers had to find a way of authenticating his doctrine.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. ~~Acts 17:10-12 (ESV)

Discernment bloggers love quoting verse 11. They want us to use the Word of God as a standard for determining whether or not someone is a false teacher. Obviously, I wholeheartedly agree with measuring someone’s ministry against Scripture’s teachings the way those noble Bereans did — that’s one of the main reasons I constantly encourage you to read your Bibles and use sound methods of interpretation.

Being good Bereans also requires that we Continue reading

Praying For Your Pastor To Resist Temptation

Pray For PastorYour pastor, like mine, requires your prayers on a regular basis. He’s probably a godly man whose faithfulness and integrity serves as a model for everyone in the congregation, making it seem as if he’s a spiritual giant with no personal problems or needs. His willingness and availability to minister to each person in the church lend credence to the idea that he exists solely for our benefit. Thus, we often fail to understand that he has just as many physical and spiritual needs as we have.

This week, I plan to offer a few ideas on how we can pray for our pastors. By no means will I touch on every area in which these men need prayer support; I regret my own shortcomings in praying for the two men who shepherd the church I attend. Rather, I hope my posts will spark ideas, leading you to develop your own ways of praying for your pastor.

For me, the most difficult area of praying for my pastors has been Continue reading

God’s Glory In The Rear View Mirror

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We’re all angry these days. Everything offends even the most godly of us, and we use our social media platforms to make sure the world knows how upset we feel. Some of our rants are legitimate, but even then we can go over the top in responding to whatever bee happens to buzz into our bonnet.

I’ve done it too. As I point with one finger, three of my own fingers point back at me reminding me of an outraged post I once Continue reading

Forgive — People Do Stupid Stuff

FortressA brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. ~~Proverbs 18:19 (ESV)

We offend each other. Sometimes we even do it in pubic forums, telling ourselves that we merely want to get to the truth. And I’ll admit that some situations actually do  necessitate stepping on toes in order to reprove sin or confront false teaching.Even in those instances, however, we should do our best to be as gentle and winsome as possible.

Regardless of our motives or intentions, the fact remains that we will do stupid stuff to offend our brothers and sisters in Christ. When that happens (as it inevitability will), we shouldn’t be surprised if the person withdraws from us. Haven’t we withdrawn from people who have offended us? Of course we have!

Proverbs 18:19 brilliantly describes the defensive posture of someone who has suffered an offense. He understandably barricades his heart against further hurt, usually feeling betrayed and vulnerable. The thought of forgiveness seems far too overwhelming! So he fortifies himself against further perceived abuse.

Although we understand such self-protective instincts, the Bible Continue reading

When Separation Reveals A Lack Of Discernment

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Why do we embrace division at the slightest hint of disagreement, eager to assign black hats instead of extending charity to people who disagree with us on isolated matters?  Definitely, we must separate from those who seriously deviate from sound doctrine. I don’t advocate partnering  with folks like Beth Moore or Rick Warren. And I’m cautious of certain people in the Reformed camp who make multiple compromises that suggest a doctrinal slide.

To some extent, division is necessary, and even commanded in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 clearly instruct us to distance ourselves from those who walk in contradiction to the Gospel. Several other passages support this practice. If you read many discernment blogs (even the reputable ones), you’ve seen all the classic verses on this topic.

And I’ll go on record as Continue reading

The Sinking Sand Of Self

I have never outgrown my love for Shirley Temple movies. Several years ago, John gave me the complete collection of her movies on DVD as a birthday gift. Some of my favorites include The Little Princess, Captain January and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Her character in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm often assures people, “I’m very self-reliant!” In the story’s context, her self-reliance always rescues her from horrible dilemmas, therefore becoming a desirable quality.  In fact, when my sister and I were kids, our mother used this movie to encourage us toward self-reliance.

But in the context of salvation and spiritual life, nothing could more dangerous than depending on oneself. We may think our good works and religious devotion commend us to God, but those things simply can’t support us. Before His judgment throne, only the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the righteousness that He imputes to us can justify any of us.

Any ground other than Christ will prove itself to be nothing more than sinking sand. Little Rebecca, precisely because of her charming self-reliance, must never serve as a spiritual role model. Christ alone is our solid Rock. Let’s make sure to stand  on Him!

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