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What the Bible Says About Discernment

Updated on February 12, 2017

What is Discernment?

Many people use the word "discernment." However, the meaning might go deeper than they understand it to be. Discernment is more than simply knowing something.

The dictionary definition of discernment is the act of knowing something. In the Christian context, discernment is the act of knowing something based on the word of God. Your action proves that you know the difference.

Discernment Helps You Decide What Path To Take

Discernment Helps In Making Wise Decisions

All decisions are not wise ones. Many plans are made based on unwise decisions and poor judgment. When a person is discerning, he can make wise and practical decisions.

A person can determine what is right and what is wrong based on God's word. Then a discerning person puts into practice based on the word of God in every area of his life. There should be no compartmentalization when it comes to making wise decisions in every area of a person's life.

People should have a discerning spirit whether he is at work, in the community, or in the church

Discernment Means Judging Correctly

When Jesus said, "Do not judge," it was not a blanket statement against judging correctly. Therefore, the command in Matthew 7:2 is often taken out of context.

Jesus was not talking about never judging at all. There are times when people should judge. The Bible clearly states in John 7:24 that people should not judge by appearances. Instead, people should judge correctly when it comes to sin.

Discernment helps people to judge correctly instead of judging others unfairly or unrighteously. Jesus command “righteous judgment.” Right judgment comes from a discerning person, according to 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Discernment Is Wanting What God Wants

Often we pray for what we want because we think it will make us feel better, look better, and have a better life. God, on the other hand, knows what's best for us. Therefore, He withholds that thing we pray for.

In that case, what we wanted and what God wanted for us did not match up. Jesus explained it in a simplified way. He asked two rhetorical questions in Matthew 7:9-10.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?

If a person does not have discernment, he will pray for stones and snakes instead of the bread and fish God wants him to have.

Baby drinking milk
Baby drinking milk | Source

Discernment Is Necessary For Spiritual Growth

You will never be able to understand the deeper things of God without discernment. Some people don't grow into mature Christians because they lack discernment. They learn the elementary things and think that's all there is to learn. Then they live their lives based on the little they know. Most of the time, they don't even put any of that into practice.

Hebrews 5:14 compares a Christian without discernment to an infant who lives on milk and doesn't know how to do what is right. However, a mature Christian with discernment is one who eats spiritual food. Then he is able to understand and live by the deeper things of God.

What God Says About Discernment

Ask God to help you discern.
1 Corinthians 12:10
God grants discernment.
James 1:5
The Bible will help you discern bad teaching.
Acts 17:11
Discernment is knowing right from wrong behavior.
Hebrews 5:14

Discernment . . .

Discernment is seeing what really is instead of seeing something as you want it to be.

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    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 4 months ago from Richmond, VA

      phyllis burrell, sometimes it is discernment and sometimes it might be you. Keep in mind that discernment doesn't come with misguided motives. However, when it's you the motives are not always good.

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      phyllis burrell 4 months ago

      sometime I wonder is this discernment or is this me going back

      on previous experiences. But.... I ask myself I don't want to think bad or misuse experiences.