The Source of Godly Discernment
Perhaps one of the most important, as well sophisticated passages that addresses the application of proper judgment (or “discernment”, which unfortunately is a more user-friendly word for most of use) is found in Hebrews 5:11-14, which states:
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
First, we should note that the writer states that in spite of his desire to press on and teach the weightier issues of God’s Word, he cannot because they are “dull of hearing.”
He goes on to state that in spite of the amount of time that they have been believers, in which they should be “teachers” by now, they haven’t even began to understand the elementary “principles” and doctrines of God’s Word, which he refers to as “milk,” that they are unable to metabolize whole food, the more deeper issues presented in God’s Word.
Discernment & Spiritual Growth
What a pathetic picture the author draws, that of believers who should be spiritual adults, yet spiritually immature believers unable to dig deeper into God’s Word; not because they have not heard the teachings, not because there’s not been a teacher to explain it, not because there is a lack of ability to perceive what is stated cognitively; but because of their lack of exercising proper judgment concerning what is good and evil.
In the same way that faith is like a muscle and must be stretched and used in order to grow (See Endnote #1) , the same principle is true concerning Spiritual growth, wherein the muscle spirituality must be stretched by using judgment and discernment concerning the difference between what is good and what is evil.
It’s like a baby that does not practice crawling, can never achieve the muscle necessary for standing.
What is unfortunate is that the lack of ability to judge is formulated because of a lack of desire to use it.
Why the Church is so Weak Today
Now it makes sense why today in our culture, which boast itself of tolerance and acceptance, and refuses to judge another; why people in general, and due to the compromise of the church, believers specifically are so spiritually immature.
We see the church large a number, but small in effecting the world around it.
There must be an application of God’s Word regarding judgment concerning what is right or wrong in order to create the condition for Spiritual growth.
The 21st century church in America as allowed the culture at large to define it, inhibited, alienate it, and emasculate it.
The Church of Jesus Christ in 21st Century America
Due to my current position as lead chaplain, temporarily filling in as the director of a large hospital, one of my functions is to host a monthly ministerial alliance wherein ministers meet in order to function better as the body of Christ in our local area.
These are some great guys that I’ve grown to love. And during our fellowship together I have had the opportunity to gain an overview of what the local church is doing in our area. I have no doubt whatsoever that these pastors are teaching the Word of God, which I have even witnessed in visiting their churches. Yet, the churches are so full of believers that have been polluted by our culture wherein they become “hearers and not doers of the word” (James 1:22).
What I have noticed in our culture at large within America as witnessed over the radio airwaves and Internet is a lack of spiritual maturity because we have allowed the culture around us to affect us, to drive us into submission by judging us if we judge others.
There is no Christian leaders I see on the horizon that has the courage to speak about the evil in the world.
Not just saying that abortion is wrong because it is killing human life, but that those that participate in this type of evil are evil themselves; rather they are Democrat or progressive liberal.
Who has the courage to say the Democratic platform is evil because it kills babies – no one, they are afraid to be seen as judgment; or judging the hearts of those that commit these atrocities.
Do you notice how the left has no problem calling conservatives evil because they will spend more money that we don’t have on social reform which causes our nation to become enslaved to the government.
Currently, 50% of our population is enslaved to the government for finances or healthcare.
Let me ask you this, who running for political office on a conservative platform is going to be willing to say “we must stop giving money to the masses, so elect me” – and who will vote him in.
You see the spiral downfall that the Bible talked about regarding the end of days, referred to as the “last days;” this is why no one can stop it. For in the future after the Rapture of the church occurs, and He (the Holy Spirit) who restrains evil, that indwells within believers (“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” ~ John 14:17; Eph. 1:13) will be taken out-of-the-way (literal Greek translation: “For the mystery of lawlessness already is working, only he is holding back now, until it comes out of the midst.” ~ 2 Thess. 2:7); the only way to stop evil will be when Jesus Christ returns to earth with His bride – his believers (Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 3:13: Jude 1:14; Rev.19:14),; this is how this downward roller coaster to hell will be stopped.
Yet the point of this article is that we as individual believers must again be willing to suffer for what we believe by calling evil, evil.
By being willing to stand out and oppose the liberals and progressives of this world that are bound by their leader Satan, who will lead them into hell.
Remember Jesus words to the Seven Churches, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev 3:22)
In fact perhaps we need to read about the last church of the Seven Churches of Revelation, symbolic of the last church prior to the return of Jesus:
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev 3:14-21)
What you’ll notice here is that Jesus is not inside the church, is outside knocking on the door – and not the door of the church, the door of the heart of the individual.
This church has become so emasculated that Jesus takes His message to the individual, “to him that overcome,” not to the church itself; because it is so powerless that it is just a few individuals within it who are fulfilling His Will.
It is you and I that must have the courage to call evil – evil, and good – good.
What we should also notice is that while they think that they are rich because they prosper, Jesus advises them to buy gold tried in fire; which is a synonym for holding faith under persecution – remember the Bible has but One Author, rather it is Jesus speaking the book of Revelation, or the writers of the New Testament; there is a connection between each book of the Bible as is seen when Peter declares:
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ“ (1 Pet. 1:7)
The Holy Spirit is the author of God’s Word, wherein he uses the same “Figures of Speech” in communicating God’s Will to man.
Remember what the Old Testament prophet stated concerning the last days (Isaiah starts addressing the last days in the chapter prior to this one, and continues with these passages)
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa 5:20)
It is up to each individual Christian believer to choose to exercise proper biblical discernment concerning that which is evil and that which is good if he truly desires to grow spiritually – this judgment must be started with ourselves – have we become lukewarm?
Have we learned to rationalize the sin around us without calling it evil.
Are we polluted by this world because we have become part of them (See Endnote #2) – we are all guilty of this and the three fingers pointing back at me make me feel very uncomfortable as we all learned to keep our mouths shut and to allow evil to prosper.
We must remember what Paul told the church of Corinth, which of all the New Testament churches may be closest to our own (See Endnote #3). I Corinthians 11:31, states:
“For if we would judge [Greek: diakrino] ourselves, we should not be judged [Greek: krino].”
The first word for “judge”, diakrino, means to separate thoroughly, to withdraw from, to discriminate, or decide; depending on the grammatical breakdown.
The second word for judge, krino according to its grammar means to condemn.
Therefore, we understand that this is passage is stating that,
“if we would discern ourselves; with the implied intent of change, we would not be subject to ultimate condemnation.”
This is what is to take place within the life of the believer according to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Deception – Warning
Also, without judgment we have no ability to perceive danger when it is present.
This is why Jesus spoke so often (Mat. 24:4,5,11,24; Mark 13:5,6; Luke 21:8) about deception to His followers (Believers – Christians – saved), which He would not have done if it were not possible for them to be deceived, as seen in the following Scriptures:
The only protection against deception is God’s Word and its application as seen in proper Biblical judgment.
Paul and others also warned us concerning deception as recorded in: John 7:24; Acts 20:28; Romans 16:18; I Corinthians 3:18; 5:1-13; 6:9; 15:33; Galatians 1:6-9; 6:3,7; Ephesians 4:14; 5:6; 5:11; II Thessalonians 2:3,10; 3:6; 3:14-15; Titus 1:10-16; II Timothy 2:15; 3:5-7; Hebrews 5:14, James 1:22,26; II Peter 2:14; I John 1:5, 8; 3:7; 4:1; II John 1:6-9; as well as the seven times that the word “deceive” is used concerning the Devil in the book of Revelation.
There are dozens of Scriptures which demand that believers exercise judgment – for a much more thorough examination of the subject of discernment and judgment please see: “Judging ~ Church Discipline ~ Forgiveness & Turning the Cheek.”
What we must keep in mind is that these references are exclusively to believers, it is the believers that can be deceived when they refuse to stand firmly on God’s Word and judge according to what God has said.
There is a real connection between:
Spiritual perception, the understanding of God’s Word, and most of all Spiritual growth
The habitual use in exercising judgment in regards to good and evil.
1. The Process of Faith
Faith only grows when it is stretched by tribulations (problems, hard times, difficulties, calamities, trials, and testing; they’re all synonymous concerning the “trying of our faith”). Faith can only grow incrementally, as more and more is demanded of it. This is because trust is a process contingent upon experience, as someone (or in the case of God and His Word the Bible – Rom. 10:17) proves they are trustworthy situation after situation, we trust them more and more. In this way faith is analogous to a muscle which must be torn before growth can occur. Therefore, we must always realize and therefore understand that testing is not done simply as a process whereby God attempts to validate the existence of our faith, or its degree, which might appear cruel on the surface; but that these trials are necessary for faith to grow, and that without these trials, it is impossible for faith to mature ~ James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:12.
2. Christian idolatry can be seen when believers: “Worship Their Work, Work at Their Play, and Play at Their Worship.”
3. The church of Corinth displayed such poor judgment that it had allowed incest to be accepted openly, as well as believers defrauding other believers financially, their preoccupation with mysticism, along with signs and wonders in place of gifts of the Spirit, where the supper of the Lord was abused in drunkenness and gluttony, while others went hungry. Where selfishness became the norm to the extent that Paul worked a full-time job to support himself as well as the Ministry (which he later regretted because it added to their spiritual immaturity) no doubt exhibiting their lack of financial support in spite of the fact that they were very affluent. Yet, in a close examination it becomes apparent that all of this existed because of their lack of and refusal to exercise proper judgment according to the mind of Christ. They were a very worldly church that refused to judge and intervene according to the church discipline (As Jesus instructed us in Matthew 18:15-17).
See the full article on judgment: ” Judging ~ Church Discipline ~ Forgiveness; Turning the Cheek“