Both the Old and New Testament have a lot to say about discernment. What value does discernment have in a believers life?
The Bible On Discernment And Its Value
Believers who are discipled in truth will easily discern and detect error. Believers will therefore defend their faith from deception.
“Jesus wants believers who are able to test, able to try, who know how to prove what is good from what is not, hold fast to what is good and abstain from every appearance of evil.”
Topics & Timestamps
0:10 – What we are keen about at ACFAR
0:30 – Discernment
0:46 – What is discernment?
1:08 – What does the Bible say about discernment?
1:47 – The Old Testament on discernment
2:35 – The New Testament on discernment
3:45 – Jesus warns and commends the seven churches
4:48 – The purpose of identifying false teachers
5:59 – Why discernment matters for a believer
Top Quotes: The Bible On Discernment And Its Value
“Believers who are discipled in truth will easily discern and detect error. Believers will therefore defend their faith from deception.”
“The Scriptures generally teaches us that those who are discerning understand the value of God’s law even more than gold.”
“Discernment protects believers from being blown back and forth by winds of deception.”
Other Content On This Topic
Rodgers Atwebembeire from the Africa Centre For Apologetics Research.
Our Focus at ACFAR Centres
At the centres for apologetics, we are very keen about three things;
1) Helping believers to develop biblical discernment.
2) Helping believers to know how to defend their Christian faith.
3) And to know how to conduct outreach to people involved in cultic groups or false religious movements.
Let’s talk about discernment. Discernment is a word that is often not well understood by Christians today yet one of the most important topics that the Bible discusses. Especially in light of false teachers and false teachings. We describe discernment as that ability of understanding God’s word well enough that you can use it as a standard by which you measure, you test, you prove, you differentiate between truth and error, right and wrong, and often the difference between right and what is almost right.
What The Bible Has To Say About Discernment
What does the bible say about discernment? You will be surprised that the Bible has so much to say about this important discipline. For starters we are told in 1 Corinthians 12:10 that the discernment is a spiritual gift. Something that the Holy Spirit gives believers according to His will and certainly one that we must be grateful for. But we also notice that discernment is something that somebody can develop or grow into- that ability to differentiate, that ability to test things and find out what is genuine from what is counterfeit.
The Old Testament On Discernment
The Old Testament challenges the nation of Israel to practice biblical discernment. You see for instance people asking Moses, “How are we to know who is a true prophet? If a man claims God has spoken to him, how do we tell the difference between him as a true prophet or a false one?” And Moses gives them some characteristics or ways in which they can discern a false prophet. He says that this might be a man who prophesies things and they may even come to pass. He may even perform signs and wonders. And then he says, “If such a man tells you to go after other gods, know that such is a false prophet because a true prophet would be faithful to God’s teaching and would not contradict himself.”
The New Testament On Discernment
We will see in the New Testament that Jesus himself exercised discernment. Do you remember him in his conversation with Satan in the wilderness? Satan using God’s word, distorting it, taking it out of context, selectively citing it in order to mislead Jesus? Jesus is able to discern the subtle deception and the distortion behind Satan’s words and is able to expose those lies. We see the discussion between Jesus and the teachers of the law in his day. Especially a point in case is that a discussion about whether they should pay taxes to Caesar or not. The Pharisees have laid the trap for him and they know that whether he says, “Yes, let’s pay taxes”, he will have a problem with them. If he says, “No, let’s not pay”, he will have a problem. Either way yes and no was a trap. But Jesus is able to detect the deception in the question and therefore wisely create a third option and challenge these Pharisees. Jesus not only exercised discernment but you will see that he actually cares about it.
Warnings and Commendations regarding Discernment
When he writes to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, he writes especially particularly and he reminds them of the danger of false teachers in each of these letters. But then he commends some of the churches for being able to discern those who called themselves Apostles but actually were not. Meaning that these believers had the ability to tell the difference between a false prophet from a true one. When he writes to the church at Thyatira, he criticizes them for lack of discernment. For not being able to test and find out whether the teachers of their day were true or not. You can tell that Jesus cares about discernment. He wants believers who are able to test, able to try, who know how to prove what is good from what is not, hold fast to what is good and abstain from every appearance of evil. You will notice that scripture itself warns us about spiritual deceivers and leaders. And the purpose of telling us that they are false teachers or deceitful workmen is not so that we can just get knowledge about them. But so that we can discern them, we can identify them, with the purpose of exposing them.
Paul and Peter warn against false teachers
Paul in writing to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 11:13 he talks about the false teachers who are preaching another Jesus, a different spirit and a different gospel. And he rallies the Corinthian believers to exercise discernment lest they be deceived. The Apostle Peter does the same in the 2 Peter when he warns of false prophets who teach destructive heresies. And essentially, he is saying, learn to identify them, learn to differentiate their teachings from what the Bible teaches that you may not be captives to error.
The Value of being discerning
The Scriptures generally teaches us that those who are discerning understand the value of God’s law even more than gold. We find that in Psalms 119 – if you read Psalms 119:125 -128. The Bible further tells us that those who are discerning are able to make good and wise judgments. That for those who discern, discernment not only leads them into the truth but it protects them from error. You read in Hebrews 5:12 – 14 and we learn that discernment is a sign of spiritual maturity. How do you know someone who is mature? You know him not because they say they are but because they have developed the ability to tell the difference, to distinguish, to prove what is true from what looks like but actually is not. Discernment acts as a means of protection, guarding us from being deceived and taken captive spiritually. It protects believers from being blown back and forth by winds of deception. It grounds believers in truth because on the basis of knowing what is true, they are able to tell what looks like is truth but actually is false. So, you can see why you need discernment today. As we see the mushrooming of false churches and so, false fellowships that seemingly look Christian but actually are not, the Bible calls you and I to test before we trust. The Bible calls you and I to exercise discernment- to see to it that we are not taken into captivity. And the bible reminds us that when we know what is true, we can tell what is false. And that is why discernment builds on the foundation of discipleship. That believers who are discipled in truth will easily discern and detect error and therefore defend their faith from deception.