The Greek words for discernment are anakrino which means to examine closely and diakrino means to separate out, investigate. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking of truth- John Mac Arthur. Discernment literally means the exhibition of keen insight and good judgement. In Christianity, to discern means to identify the true nature of a group, spirit or doctrine. To think with discernment is to think biblically.
Not all spirits are from God so we must test all spirits, 1Thessalonians 5:21. The Spirit of God is that that acknowledges Jesus Christ. We are not of the world therefore anyone who speaks from the viewpoint of the world (does not acknowledge Jesus) is not ministering to us for He that is in us is greater than that which is the world.
Our generation is flooded with prophets many of which are false, Matthew24:11-24. These self- proclaimed ministers appear righteous on the outside, Matthew 23: 28, 7: 15. Their message is based solidly on the word of God, perform great miracles and profess for all. They look very successful and have a great following, 2Corinthians 11:13-15 and Matthew 7: 21-23. Sound doctrine is crucial to salvation and growth in spiritual maturity.
To be able to distinguish between false and true ministers, one must test their utterances through the following;
Discerning Character– because Christ lives in us, we have a discerning character and we must develop it for it to function properly, Galatians5:22-23. Prophet spoke of Ghanaian ‘minister’ in South Africa who kisses ladies to heal and provide breakthroughs for them and sits on sick old women to heal them.
Discerning Motives– is the fruit of the spirit being manifested. This helps shifts through truth and falsehood whatever see or hear. False prophets will appear to deceive, even the elect, Matthew 24:11, 6:11-12. Does the speaker honour Christ in his ministration, 2Corinthians 8:23.
Discern level of reliance on scripture and (this is very key) – is the original intent of the scripture being preached accurately as fully inspired by God? 2Timothy 3:16. The word shouldn’t be preached out of context.
The Gift of Discerning of Spirit is the ability to distinguish between genuine revelations from God and that which is false and it is given to some individuals by the Holy Spirit, 1Corinthians 12:10. It is given for the benefit of others as well, to prompt and caution them when they are moving away from sound doctrine. Discernment is different from the gift of discerning of spirits though normally seen as one, both are needed today because of the rise of false doctrines and ‘ministers’. Every human possess some level of discernment- intuitive.
Negative Sources of Discernment- Acts 16: 16-19.
Some people gain discernment through extra-sensory perception. They go through studies and practical training. They gain skills through which they read people beyond the surface and can predict their actions and gain mastery over them (control their minds). Often it is done to gain power and control, materialism sets in later.
OBJECTIVES OF ‘SEEKERS’ OF DISCERNMENT
Their objective is to dominate people be able to manipulate them to their will. An example is some Pastors asking their members to eat grass. They do this to have control of souls.
They can’t discern the mind of God.
Having the gift of discernment does not make one a prophet.
It is expedient to fight deceiving spirits, 1Timothy4:1-3. Diviners and sorcerers are now ministering from the Bible and portraying themselves as Christians, we must therefore discern.
- Vulnerability to deception, Ephesians 4:14. Without discernment all winds will blow us around.
- Compromised lifestyle leads to lose of salvation, 1Timothy 1:18-20.
- Living by sight and false teachings and not by faith, Matthew 24:24.
- Lose of spiritual nourishment
- State of Apostasy, Revelations 2:6, 14-15.
IMPORTANCE OF DISCERNMENT
Discernment is the key to living an uncompromising lifestyle. Walking in the perfect will of God in all things.
Christianity involves true worship and wisdom. God strongly warns us of false prophets, Jeremiah 23:16. Study the word and rely the guidance of the Holy Spirit and follow His promptings diligently. The Bible provides the standard against which all teachings must be tested, 2Timithy 3:16-17. Thus, focusing on God. Rely on the spirit for the interpretation of scripture. Relying on oneself leaves one to all manner of private teachings and we leave no room for God’s guidance in revealing to us the riches of His word. A leader must be able to discern but this does not mean utter falsehoods. It is calls for people who are discerning to know truth from falsehood and it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning, 1Thessalonians 5:21-22.
[WRITTEN BY THE EXCERPT CREW OF THE EDITORIAL COMMITTEE, PENSA-KNUST]