Developing The Spiritual Gift of Discernment
There are lots of things in life that needs clarity. Just because it looks “right” in any of your “measurement”, doesn’t mean every thing is just right. I am not minimizing the ability to reason or think through. But there are things that are way beyond our ability to look or think through, especially when we come to spiritual things. How do we know we are on the right path? How do we know it is the will of God? How do we know we are doing the will of God? How do we know? Where do we get the confirmation? from our senses? People? Or what else? These are not just easy questions. In order to approve all things and hold fast, that which is good or right, we need to develop the ability to discern.
Often times, making a right choice is more than doing something smart. The ability to discern is more than having a good skill. Discernment is a spiritual gift, according to the scripture, and that is to be able to distinguish whether a saying, teaching, doctrine, written word, or event is right or wrong, or it is from the good or the evil one. But the question also is, how do we know that? How do we know whether the saying, teaching, doctrine or any word or experience is from God or the devil? Here are few hints for you.
1. You need to know your Bible. Sounds simple, right! It sounds simple but unless you know the scripture, not the head the knowledge, but having intimate relationship with the word, there is no way that you discern what is from God and what is from the devil. It is through the scripture that you discern the source. Not knowing the scripture leads to error and destruction. “If I were the devil,” writes J. I. Packer, “one of my first aims would be to stop folks from digging into the Bible…I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorns, hedges and mantraps…” why? Because it is through the word that you come to the knowledge and understanding of what God’s will is.
2. Don not accepts anything that you read or listens on face value. “The fool believes everything,” says the scripture in Proverbs 14: 15 but, “the prudent takes heed to his step.” The greatest mistake that we can make is when we receive and believe everything that we heard and ignore to discern. No matter what you heard, or whom you listen to, you need to carefully test and examine it in the light of the Bible. We are instructed to test, prove, examine everything in I Thessalonians 5:21. Remember, everything means everything!
3. Listen to God’s voice and seek His precence diligently. Most people want to hear from God what they want to hear and when they want to hear, but not what He wants to tell them. Because our lives filled with a bunch of hyper-stimulated and meaningless activities, we don’t have the patience to listen to His voice and seek His precence diligently. But seeking God must be our diligent work, because those who seek will find Him. When you have the gift of discernment it motivates you to seek God’s will and purpose and apply that with understanding. The bible says in Prov 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Just your way looks right, feels right, sounds right doesn’t mean it is right. Not all the way is God’s way. There are “things”, “voices” or “ways” sounds or looks identical to God’s will, but how do you discern if you don’t develop the spirit of discernment? Don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. Don’t pray just for the sake of prayer, but develop a hunger to be in His presence. God doesn’t want your list, but your heart. The greatness of prayer is not on the length, or the quality of your words but the humbleness of your heart the ultimate desire to be in His presence more than anything else.
4. Ask God for the gift of discernment. God gives gifts. The gift of discernment is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gift of Discernment is the ability to perceive whether such things as people, events, or beliefs are from God or the devil. People with the gift of discernment know that Satan and his demons disguise themselves as holy (1 Cor. 11:14-15), empowers counterfeit miracles (Ex. 7:11-22; 8:7; Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Tim. 3:8) deceive people (2 Thess. 2:9), and empowers false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1), false prophets (Matt. 7:15), false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13), and false doctrines (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3).
5. It is one thing to desire the gift of discernment – and it is quite another to use it properly in a right way. We should not act like children concerning spiritual gifts as Corinthians did in 1 Corinthians. Spiritual gifts are not given for entertainment or any kind of personal gain. They should not also be treated as any kind of natural talents. There is a distinction between a natural talent and a supernatural or spiritual gift. Both comes from God, but spiritual gifts are supernatural. And the Holy Spirit or God gives gifts for three general purposes:
1. To glorify God (1 Pt 4:11) and Christ (John 16:14).
2. To edify the body of Christ (Ep 4:12-13; 1 Cr 14:26).
3. To lead souls to Christ (1 Cr 14:16; Ep 4:11).
The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to serve others, to bless others and to benefit others. So that the whole church, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14, may be edified or the whole church may be built up. You are using the gift that you receive from the Holy Spirit for your benefit but it is NOT given to make you “special,” “glorify” or cute in any way in the church. It is one thing to desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit but it is quite another to submit to the giver, and use it to edify ourselves and others in a biblical manner.
The need for spiritual discernment among God’s people is greater today than it ever has been! And I think we all need to ask God, the giver of all gifts, through prayer, according to His will, in a manner that glorify Him and for the benefit of His church.
Eyob B Kassa
April, 12, 2012