Discernment – The Deciding Factor

Spiritual frauds and shysters would rather you not exercise discernment. Popular charismatic ministries discourage any real self-examination or analysis of truth and error. To do so, would unveil their unscrupulous ways. They even go so far to say that to point out doctrinal error would be harmful to the cause of Christ. One of these is Paul Crouch, founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network. He discourages any form of critical assessment. He says “When we get [to heaven] the true believers should have worked it out in agape love and, if not, the Lord Himself will reveal to all who was right and who was wrong.”

Actually, that is as far from the truth as can be. Jesus warns us many times to be careful about error and false doctrine and that we must exercise sound judgment. The idea that one day it will come as a big surprise who was right and who was not is idealic at best, and often nothing more than a smokescreen for false teachers to hide behind. The Holy Spirit is here to teach us the truth through Godly individuals who are called to instruct us. Christ tells us that you will be able to tell which ones are false and which are not by their fruit. It is imperative that believers examine all things in life.

In these postmodern times, there has never been a more pressing need to carefully consider what we see, hear and believe than now. We must hold up all things to the light of Scripture, and while many insists that they are doing just that, it is hard to explain how so little has changed over the years in churches. The church body should be growing more consecrated and spiritually in tune with the Spirit, yet a different kind of church has emerged. While churches are to find clarity from the Word, and be ever submissive to the authority of Scriptures, Christians are becoming more worldly, committing less time and resources to the church and its ministries. According to a Barna Poll the real meat of church life that dipped substantially in the last 20 years, has been church attendance and Bible reading. We are like the man building his barns to create a more comfortable life for himself (Luke 12:13-21). To combat this 21st century dilemma where the church is at a dangerous level of comfort and appears to be in coasting mode, we must all be wise to how we manage our time, monies and abilities. We must ask ourselves whether our main interest is to further advance our living conditions, or are we are seriously looking to increase God’s Kingdom?

Foremost in this parable of the farmer is the sin of greed. He wanted greater security and comfort. He had no immediate desire for anything else. He covets his physical needs above his own soul. It resembles what goes on today. People come to Church, if they have time or are not too tired (being well rested seems a prerequisite these days before you can worship). Evangelism does not occur regularly and judging by the low attendance at church prayer meetings it no longer seems to hold people’s interests as it once did. While years of neglect and worldly influence have left the church largely lethargic and ineffectual, it can be reversed. You begin by denying self. You do this by not allowing yourself to occupy the central spot. Instead, make God your daily worship. When we are looking to Him and His interests, we are not preoccupied with ourselves. It is as simple as the following formula:

Deny self – look to Jesus – serve others.

If your thoughts are always about self, your life will become as though it were porous and any spirituality that existed will seep away. Keep your focus on Christ. Do not indulge the flesh and its lusts. Discernment means more than to judge between right and wrong doctrine, or, false and true teachers. It is the means that leads you to think and act in a manner that is consistent with truth. Concentrate your mind on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8) The Christian that does will exercise discernment on just about everything that touches his life and will enjoy the transforming power of the Word. Knowing and then doing ignites real change. God will once again work mightily through His people. Our assemblies will once again be well attended on Sundays and prayer meeting nights. The testimony of Christ will be shared by others and a new life will be experienced.

The parable of the farmer did not end well for him. God tells us he died that night. His time had run out and along with it, any opportunity he may have had not only to be part of God’s Kingdom but to assist in building it. He was too self-absorbed to pay attention to what mattered most in life.

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8:36)