THE VALUE OF GOOD DISCERNMENT
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
You don't need to be a doctor to understand diagnosing heart disease as sorosis of the liver is not a good thing. A proper diagnosis is essential to return to good health. What is true of our physical condition is also relevant to our emotional and spiritual needs. Therefore, good spiritual discernment is of great value.
Discernment: (Diakrisis) properly, a thorough judgment, i.e. a discernment (conclusion) which distinguishes "look-alikes," i.e. things that appear to be the same.
Sometimes Christians wonder why they can't obtain victory over a particular sin or why they are tempted when they were enjoying freedom from sinful desires. The answer I am going to suggest may shock you. During the past thirty years, on occasion, I have recommended to people their problem and received a doubtful look. People often doubt what they can't see. Unfortunately, this can be true even when God declares it to be so.
When I mention spiritual warfare, the knee jerk reaction among the practical is, "He lost it." Among the "Super spiritual," it's the cause of everything. The devil loves it when we go to extremes. The truth be told, spiritual warfare can be found to one degree or another in every book of the New Testament except for two.
WE WALK IN JESUS STEPS
When Jesus began His ministry, He was driven into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (Matthew 4:1) God has a purpose in spiritual warfare. Jesus had to face temptation so that He could be a faithful high priest. "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted." (Hebrews 2:18)
Jesus was without a sinful nature; He was repulsed by sin. He could not be tempted from within. He, therefore, could only be tempted from outside Himself, hence the need for the tempter. We cannot even begin to consider all the uses that God has, in this age, for demonic influence. To assume the devil is not a problem or that your issues never originate with him can be a grave mistake.
When Jesus was hungry, the devil tempted him to take matters into his own hands. Have you ever been pressed to the wall, and the thought comes out of nowhere to do something you would never usually think to do? Can you tell me for sure the idea did not come from a demon spirit?
Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and told Him to throw Himself down. The devil questioned Jesus's identity and God's faithfulness in one swift accusation. At such a time, it takes a person with a sound spirit and an assured heart to not consent to fear-mongering. Just look at what is going on in the world today. Six months ago, such behavior would have been unheard of in America.
Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the entire world for a little act of worship. The Christian knows that eternity belongs to him. His future is secured, and His riches will not be denied him. Why would a Christian need to look for anything outside of God's will?
SATAN'S CLOSEST ALLY
Satan's closest ally is our sinful nature. It is not easy to discern where the problem lies because demons appeal to our sinful nature; knowing it is there, they can accomplish the most significant harm. First, sin separates us from God, who alone can secure our victory over spiritual warfare. When we sin, the accuser of the brethren goes to work and condemns us before God, so we will feel uncomfortable going to Him.
To this devilish technique to separate us from God who loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, there is a simple answer. The just shall live by faith, so let us believe in the high Priest of our confession.
"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was not tempted from within Himself, but He fully understands temptation. We give in to sin from time to time, which is a momentary sense of relief, but in the long run, it stings like the worst bee. He never gave in to sin; He endured the temptation all the way and was always victorious.
Furthermore, when we do sin, we have a throne to go to and find grace and mercy in our need. "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) When tempted to let go of our confession because we have once again failed the test, know that God loves you still.
A PERSONAL WORD
In 1967 I was saved; yet, it was not until 1990 that I received discernment concerning spiritual warfare. You can sit in a classroom and learn about driving, marriage, or baseball, but until you get out and do it, you're in the dark. I was overwhelmed with hardship, hospitalized, lost my job, and my house. Laying in a hospital bed, I asked myself, "What just happened, and why is my life falling apart?" It was not an easy answer. It was easy to blame myself; I was partly to blame, even chiefly, but not entirely.
I thank God for meeting me as He did in that dark hour. It opened a world to me I had not known. It is not about blame but seeing something beyond human vision, to prevent the worst thing from happening. Can you imagine the outcome had Jesus failed His test? He was victorious because He was God, holy, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He also saw the devil for who he was and what he was trying to accomplish. Do not make light of that discernment; you may need it sometime. I guarantee it. Ephesians 6 is in the Bible for a reason.
AN EXPLOSION OF DEMONIC ACTIVITY
To find what the world looks like through God's eyes just read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's gospels. Jesus had no problem discerning evil spirits and casting them out. Not so with you and I. However, because we can't see them or cast them out does not mean they don't exist or cause us grief. I quote just a few of the many references from the New Testament.
"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their deeds." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
"For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain." (1 Thessalonians 3:5)
There is warfare that takes place within us, as recorded in James 4. However, as war is within us, so warfare is outside of us. We do not war against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
"An overseer, then, must ...not be a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil." (1 Timothy 3:2, 6) Be sure as the devil fell; he seeks to help others to fall also.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A GOOD DIAGNOSIS?
VICTORY OVER SIN, THE WORLD, AND THE DEVIL!!!