“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.” Hebrews 5:14
Spiritual discernment is as vital to the health of a Christian as eating vegetables is to the human body. Without the use of discernment, through the proper application of God’s Word, we will never be able to know God more fully or grow in our relationship with Him. We will bandwagon with lies and live by what makes sense to our untrained minds and reckless emotions!
One example of this is the phrase: ‘God knows my heart.’ The implication is, ‘because God knows my heart, you can’t judge me!’ This is often used to defend one’s actions, particularly when confronted by another believer. While it is true that God does know our hearts . . . This should be cause for the individual to genuinely beg God for a revelation of their own heart instead of a complacent, apathetic, and or stubborn lack of searching and application of God’s Word. James tells us in 3:17 that true wisdom will listen to admonition instead of denying error so change does not have to be considered. May we never forget that one of the chief reasons for a church is so that others may prod us out of our self-deceived complacency and remind us of who God is and what He requires (Hebrews 10:24-25).
The church as a whole has way too much trust in their own hearts which God says are, “deceitful above all else and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9.). We have very little trust for the Creator of our hearts. We are out of practice when it comes to a teachable spirit and a total dependence upon the Word of God to guide our lives. Conversely, we have perfected, to the point of incompetency, the misapplication of individual soul liberty and frivolous feeling driven doctrines.
Woe to anyone who would dare speak contrary to the passions and ideals of the heart. We throw verses at anyone who challenges our lifestyle. Like Satan, we twist Scripture from its original meaning and proudly proclaim, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Math 7:1) Or “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel16:7)
The spiritually undiscerning Christian will take these and other verses out of context and pick and choose Scripture passages that meet their already achieved level of Christianity. However, they will neglect such verses as Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” Matthew 18:15, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained a brother.” Titus 1:13, “. . . Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;”
The undiscerning Christian will not allow another individual to scrutinize their actions for several reasons: God knows the heart, the confronting Christian has faults, and they’ve prayed about it. This kind of individual will not take time to consider the possibility that they have erred. Sadly, they are often more concerned with their current position in life being confirmed as right than wanting to be stretched and shown their sin.
This is not to say that every instance where a confrontation takes place will always be accurate or even done in the right spirit. Yet, the spiritually discerning individual will welcome Biblical confrontation. “A wise man will hear and increase learning.” (Proverbs 1:5) We cannot embrace some portions of Scripture and neglect other portions and present ourselves as those who are exercising or training unto godliness. (I Timothy 4:7, “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”) The Lord wants us to test the things we see and not mindlessly accept them. “He wants us to hold them up to the standard of Scripture and discern whether they line up with God’s plumb line.”(1)
Discernment is crucial to the body of Christ, and is played out by individual believers interacting with the Word of God. When God has clearly spoken our application is a priority that requires no hesitation. In other words, we don’t need to pray about what God has already outlined for us in Scripture. Discernment is played out by individuals recognizing their own faults through Scripture. We then apply God’s grace to our own sin, so that we are qualified to gently, caringly, firmly, and even sharply point other believers to the Savior (Mat 7:3-6). Those who are willing to mutilate Scripture for their own purposes will be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14), and will defend their unstable Christianity because it endangers their pride to do otherwise.
Lack of discernment can be due to lack of maturity (an element of youth in the LORD). This immaturity is a natural process of the Christian life, however, one of the main characteristics of immaturity is an unawareness of one’s inability. This is why throughout Scripture, God commands His people to help each other along the pathway of holiness. The babes in Christ need to be nurtured and fed milk. There ought to be a time, however, when the baby moves on to solid food. If this does not occur, it is the responsibility and obligation of the mature Christian to confront and point out their sin, I Corinthians 3:1-3a, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: . . .”
Once believers have been made aware of an immaturity and refuse to submit to Scripture, the issue then is not a lack of maturity but rebellion. This rebellion results from a lack of discernment due to one’s own neglect to consistently meditate on and apply Scripture. This mentality has nothing to do with youth and everything to do with disobedience! Belief determines behavior; what do your actions reveal about your beliefs?
Written By Christa Mielke
Christa has served the Lord faithfully alongside her husband in full time ministry since 2007. She has a passion to introduce people to the beauty of a Christ-Centered relationship. She holds a BA in Biblical Studies and Sacred Music and has written extensively on adult and young women’s issues. Even as a full time mother of three and wife to (one) high maintenance and slightly deranged husband, she still finds time to grow her relationship with God through concentrated Bible and book studies.
1) Kassion, DeMoss, True Woman 201, pg. 35.