By Benjamin H. Liles
In my article on Giving God Thanks and Praise, just a couple of days ago, I said I'd write an article soon, that "having discernment...is important to our walk with the Messiah Jesus." To be honest, I don't always feel mature enough to be discerning, but I can show that because of remaining in God's word you can have discernment and thus become more mature in the process. It is different from feeling you don't have it when you obviously can.
Studying God's word in and of itself can be very fascinating, but it can also be frustrating, time-consuming, and still be so rewarding you wish you did it even more soon than doing so now. In the latest article, I wrote The Messiah will Come Again I wrote the words, "There is a reason a lot of us as Christians proclaim the message of the gospel of Jesus with such fervency and prayer. It is so that no one will perish or be left behind if there is such a case." And I backed up my claim with what Peter said about it in 2 Peter 3:9-10.
To show this in effect I remember hearing a bible teacher from an Austin Bible College, as I am originally from Austin, saying, "All scripture in and of itself is circular in nature. Scripture will always back up scripture. I intend to prove this over the course of this semester." I wasn't even following Jesus our Lord and Savior at that time. There is a reason that New Testament writers used their own scriptures to authentic who Jesus was and how He fulfilled Old Testament law, writings, and prophecy.
So, what is discernment and how can we have it? We're told, "Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them For the ways of the LORD are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them" (Hosea 14:9). If none of you knows anything about Hosea I can tell you this: God had Hosea marry a prostitute for the reason that Israel behaved in the same manner. "When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord" (Hosea 1:2, New King James).
The funny thing is, and maybe it isn't so funny, is that we act just like ancient Israel did. Is there any coincidence in that? Or does the God in the Heavens surely know the hearts of men? Again: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made (all) man (kind) on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart" (Genesis 6:5-6, New King James). I know what I'm writing so far has little to do with discernment, but I'll get back to that. I want to show why we lack it.
If our natural hearts are inclined to evil in His sight, due to the entrance of sin from Adam and Eve, then how much more does God understand our hearts? Moreover, why is it He keeps doing His best to get our attention? Let me be quick to point this out: the times we're living in at this moment the earth is in the beginning stages of birth pains. It longs and desires for the Lord of the Universe to come back. It wants restoration. This planet we live on is convulsing in ways that even terrify us. Recent news of fires in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN, as well as the tornado outbreak due to severe weather in the south should be proof enough this world is falling apart, so to speak.
We all know God is real, but we deny Him that right to work within and without our lives. I've done it for a large part of my life to date. Ever since I married my wife and have watched her walk in faith with God I got jealous to have a more real and substantial walk with Him myself. Let's see how scriptural that is: "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives" (1 Peter 3:1). My wife has done this. So, now that I have set the precedence that scripture shows we can know for certain we can "know" God, let's dig to how we can have discernment, other than relying solely on Hosea 14:9.
"The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has understanding sees through him" (Proverbs 28:11). We all seem to be wise in our own ways, but we can know and tell if someone is being genuine with us or not. Look at the word just a little after "poor" in the verse. We could easily replace the word "understanding" with the word "discernment." How would that read? "The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has discernment sees through him." It works well within the context. Another verse that would back up Proverbs 28:11, is "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit?" (Matthew 7:16-17, New American Standard).
Friends, within a very short amount of time and with a handful of verses I have shown, and rather adequately the need for discernment. Without having discernment, you can't know for certain how people are. Those who are unsaved and lost are like a ship buffeted by winds and waves, being tossed about as if on a stormy sea. However, those who follow after God, who desire Jesus in their lives, walking after Him, showing themselves approved by studying and living the word out daily. I want you, the reader, to know I am not calling you out. But time is short and getting even shorter than it already is. I just want to stay on the horn, alarming you to know and see the times for which they are. I feel it is my duty, obligation, done out of love for--first--God on High and then--secondly--for you. I'm not done with this subject but want to give a little time for the words I have written to find their way to your heart.
Father, I know You can keep me holy and pure as You already are. I desire this. I need this. I have been tired of being filthy as the Prodigal Son was. Sometimes, even though You declare me and clothe me in Your righteousness, I still feel like I roll around in the mud. If I do, I don't really mean to. Help me to be more like You: caring, kind, compassionate, loving, and patient so that others see You within me as well as my heart. Renew me and keep me within You. I thank and praise You for this. In Jesus' name. Amen.