We live in a day and time where we need to exercise discernment as followers of Jesus as well as in the church. There are many things that can cause us to go astray if we are not vigilant.
In First Corinthians 12:10, Paul refers to “distinguishing between spirits” as a spiritual gift. It is a gift God gives to believers in order to recognize lying spirits and to identify deceptive and erroneous theology and doctrines. Paul warned when this gift of discernment is not being exercised in the church, distortion of the truth occurs. It is vitally important that church leadership bathe everything in prayer and seek God’s face for direction when making decisions to lead God’s church.
However, this gift of discernment is not something that is only exercised in a corporate church setting. In 1 John 4:1, believers were exhorted to “not believe every sprit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” We are to heed that instruction as believers to test everything against the Scriptures. Whether it be worldly philosophies, new theologies or doctrines, and even new perspectives and ideas that come out of the mouths of people such as politicians, celebrities, community leaders, and even pastors and religious leaders. Just because someone claims to be a pastor does not mean that their teachings line up with Scripture. In fact, there are many false doctrines out there that are preying on people. We are to test everything that comes through our television sets, over our radio waves, and across our laptops and phone screens.
To have the spirit of discernment is to possess the ability to judge well. We get our English word “aesthetic” from the Greek word for discernment, meaning moral perception, insight, and the practical application of knowledge. First Timothy 4:1 tells us: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Thus, we are urged to “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 1:8).
So I urge us all to pray for and to use Godly discernment in our personal, daily lives. We need to be careful and heed the warnings about false doctrines and other teachings that are not from Scripture or focused on God’s Kingdom. If our teachings or beliefs focus on anything before God’s Kingdom, whether politics, celebrities, or any other person or ideology, we need to spend time in the Word and in prayer seeking God’s face first and foremost.
Walking the journey together,