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Seth Doty

Discernment

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In your own words make your case as to what spiritual discernment is, the biblical foundation for it, how it is to be applied and gained, how far it "should" be taken, etc. If you wish, you can also mention areas you feel it applies to and why you feel that way. This thread was inspired by a post elsewhere on the board that seemed to totally lack any understanding of the nature, importance, or practical application of spiritual discernment. It occurred to me a discussion on the topic might be useful or possibly interesting at least... I will probably post my thoughts on the subject later but first will wait and see what others have to say about it.

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Spiritual discernment is something that comes from God and is necessary to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Proverbs, and elsewhere, tells us of the importance of discernment as we read the Word and live our lives.

Wisdom, discernment and understanding is something I pray for as I read, study and meditate upon the Word. I pray for these in my daily walk as well.

Scripture says we are to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. We can only do this with God given and Holy Ghost directed discernment.

Of course we have to be cautious and rightly discerning even with discernment! Spiritual discernment will always be in accord with the Word of God. We must always be careful that we don't confuse our own thoughts with discernment from God. We must beware of the trickery of the Enemy in trying to influence us, even disguised as angels of light. In order to be appropriately cautious, we must have a close relationship with our Father in heaven. Much wisdom, discernment and understanding is given to us through times of intimate prayer.

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I would not use my own words, when scripture is so clear below.

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

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There be lots of decrement being used today by the younger generation. And I suppose they feel their discernment outshines all that have gone before them. Many people are accepting their discernment, and I see why. For with this discernment they claim Jesus as Savior, claim to be walking with Jesus, while holding on to all they love of this world. One man wrote, I was raised in a church that taught that adultery, fornication, immodest dressing, and such sends people to hell, and now I'm married and have two children. I'm tired of that, I'm fed up with it, I'm looking for a main line church that will let me use Christian liberty so that I will be able to enjoy all those things that this conservative church has taught me not to do, plus I must stop them from warping the minds of my children.

True Bible discernment only comes to those who have been truly saved, and even many of the saved do not use true godly discernment, even many of them have been deceived, and way to many of them are carnal Christians walking after the flesh trying their best to deceive whomever they can.

True spiritual Bible discernment will not contradict the pages of the Bible, plus Christian liberty is not to be used as an occasion to sin.

The old Devil still thinks he can and will win, and he is deceiving many. While many are willingly letting him have his way in their lives. In all actuality they're trying to teach others while they are in need of being taught.

How can anyone walk with Jesus, follow Jesus, if they cannot spiritually discern the Bible? They can't.

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Hebrews 5:9-14:
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Called of God an high priest after the order of Medchisedec.
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, yea have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

According to this text, one evidence of spiritual maturity is the ability (born out of years of practice) to discern between good and evil.

Scripture is sufficient for all matters of faith and practice even though it doesn't specifically address every daily issue we face. Discernment must be exercised to apply Scriptural principles to our lives as we encounter dilemmas. A spiritually immature person says, "Show me in the Bible, chapter and verse, where it says I can't do _____," or, "Show me in the Bible, chapter and verse, where it says I must do _____," or, "Prove to me from the Bible that _____ is wrong." But a spiritually mature person shows discernment and draws wise conclusions even though every issue he faces is not spelled out in Scripture.

My pastor recently preached a great sermon on this text. He gave this illustration about maturity:
Young children need things spelled out for them. A parent says to his 8-year-old child, "I want you to clean your room. Make sure to put away your clothes and straighten the books on the shelf." A few minutes later, the child comes back and says, "I'm finished!" When the parent checks the room, he sees that the clothes are put away, and the bookshelf is as neat as a pin...but there is trash all over the floor. The child obeyed the clear command, but was not discerning enough to know how to "fill in the blanks" and complete the task. On the other hand, a 14 year old can be told simply to clean her room, and, because of years of practice and obedience, as well as a more developed relationship with her father, has gained an understanding of what Dad means by that request. She doesn't have to be told, "Now pick up those pieces of paper...Now put away the craft supplies"...etc.

Someone who expects everything to be spelled out, or who demands for it to be spelled out, is basically screaming, "I am spiritually immature." The fact is that Scripture does not spell everything out. Issues like dress choices, music/media choices, etc., are discernment issues.

Edited by Annie

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There is a HUGE problem of poor discernment. Satan is well able to appear in the guise of a Bible teacher, especially on TV & radio, & in popular churches.

Our folk see success in the HUGE congregations, popular music, enthusiastic worship, healings, etc. And they look at us. They get perhaps 40 hours of ministry from the media, & 1 or 2 hours from their leaders.

Do they judge us, or them? The number who follow faithful Christian leaders gives the answer.

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There is a HUGE problem of poor discernment. Satan is well able to appear in the guise of a Bible teacher, especially on TV & radio, & in popular churches.

Our folk see success in the HUGE congregations, popular music, enthusiastic worship, healings, etc. And they look at us. They get perhaps 40 hours of ministry from the media, & 1 or 2 hours from their leaders.

Do they judge us, or them? The number who follow faithful Christian leaders gives the answer.

Yes, and it is the responsibility of the leaders to help their flocks grow in discernment. If large numbers of our congregations are attracted by the "success" of false teachers, then we need to ask ourselves why. Is it because we (the leaders...well, not me, but you, and my husband, and my pastor, etc.) are trying to "spell everything out for them," or teaching that the Bible spells everything out? If so, that's a hindrance to their growth in discernment. I think this is part of the problem I've observed...Not in your church, since I don't know you (and this isn't directed at anyone on here necessarily, since I'm not familiar with your ministries)...but pastors who "make rules" for everything, or hold up a list of "standards" for all church members to follow, or say, "Thus saith the Lord: rock mewsic is WRONG, and so is PAYANTS on WIMMEN--Kin ah git an AMEN?" really are not helping their flocks to develop discernment. They are treating them like children, and spelling everything out for them, even though Scripture does not spell everything out. This develops an unhealthy dependence on another person (just like Osteen's followers) who tells the member specifically what he can or cannot do, instead of showing the member how to lean on the Word and develop discernment for himself, guided by the Holy Spirit. No wonder the church is weak and immature and swayed by false doctrine! Such an approach to shepherding leaves no room for growth in discernment or spiritual maturity, since the "man of God" has everything all figured out and tells me every decision I need to make. Why think for myself when someone else is doing it for me? Pretty scary. Edited by Annie

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If large numbers of our congregations are attracted by the "success" of false teachers, then we need to ask ourselves why. Is it because we (the leaders...well, not me, but you, and my husband, and my pastor, etc.) are trying to "spell everything out for them," or teaching that the Bible spells everything out? If so, that's a hindrance to their growth in discernment. I think this is part of the problem I've observed...Not in your church, since I don't know you (and this isn't directed at anyone on here necessarily, since I'm not familiar with your ministries)...but pastors who "make rules" for everything, or hold up a list of "standards" for all church members to follow, or say, "Thus saith the Lord: rock mewsic is WRONG, and so is PAYANTS on WIMMEN--Kin ah git an AMEN?" really are not helping their flocks to develop discernment. They are treating them like children, and spelling everything out for them, even though Scripture does not spell everything out. This develops an unhealthy dependence on another person (just like Osteen's followers) who tells the member specifically what he can or cannot do, instead of showing the member how to lean on the Word and develop discernment for himself, guided by the Holy Spirit. No wonder the church is weak and immature and swayed by false doctrine! Such an approach to shepherding leaves no room for growth in discernment or spiritual maturity, since the "man of God" has everything all figured out and tells me every decision I need to make. Why think for myself when someone else is doing it for me? Pretty scary.



For the sake of discussion then lets go back to your illustration in a prior post about the 8 year old that was told: "I want you to clean your room. Make sure to put away your clothes and straighten the books on the shelf." I believe in your illustration the child got the specifics mentioned but failed to grasp the intent or "heart" of the command. How would you remedy such a situation in that child? Would you let them "figure out" what a clean room was for themselves over time and never mention the "trash all over the floor" until they decided for themselves it was a problem or would you continue to point out specifics until they understood enough specifics to where they started to get an idea of what a clean room was and you no longer had to point out such specifics individually because they knew? You mention that some pastors treat some of their church members like children by spelling out for them certain areas that are spiritually discerned, but perhaps it is because MANY church members ARE children spiritually and to return to your illustration with a few exceptions children are not likely to know or even really care if their room is clean or not unless they have been taught. As I see it that is the reason for preaching on things like rock music or what not from time to time. It is not for the people who have good discernment and are spiritually mature, they don't need it. It is rather like the scriptures say(and I paraphrase slightly) that the law was not made for the righteous but for the unrighteous. Areas that are not explicitly spelled out are taught for the people who have poor discernment and are like the child that doesn't seem to notice the trash all over the floor and is personally fine with it. Now obviously we aren't other Christians "parents" and they are not responsible to us directly, but I do not consider it a unfair comparison to compare a pastor pointing out specific spiritual "trash on the floor" to an older brother who knows very well through experience the parent isn't going to appreciate the trash on the floor of the eight year olds room and points that fact out to him before the parent comes in and deals with it personally. As happens with siblings though the younger may resent the older "telling him what to do" and may do it his own way anyway. In that case it isn't the older "siblings" responsibility to deal with it even though that older sibling may know very well that it is wrong and may have a strong temptation to try to correct it as he knows the parent would. It is ultimately up to the "parent" to deal with it if the younger sibling has no interest in listening.

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For the sake of discussion then lets go back to your illustration in a prior post about the 8 year old that was told: "I want you to clean your room. Make sure to put away your clothes and straighten the books on the shelf." I believe in your illustration the child got the specifics mentioned but failed to grasp the intent or "heart" of the command. How would you remedy such a situation in that child? Would you let them "figure out" what a clean room was for themselves over time and never mention the "trash all over the floor" until they decided for themselves it was a problem or would you continue to point out specifics until they understood enough specifics to where they started to get an idea of what a clean room was and you no longer had to point out such specifics individually because they knew? You mention that some pastors treat some of their church members like children by spelling out for them certain areas that are spiritually discerned, but perhaps it is because MANY church members ARE children spiritually and to return to your illustration with a few exceptions children are not likely to know or even really care if their room is clean or not unless they have been taught. As I see it that is the reason for preaching on things like rock music or what not from time to time. It is not for the people who have good discernment and are spiritually mature, they don't need it. It is rather like the scriptures say(and I paraphrase slightly) that the law was not made for the righteous but for the unrighteous. Areas that are not explicitly spelled out are taught for the people who have poor discernment and are like the child that doesn't seem to notice the trash all over the floor and is personally fine with it. Now obviously we aren't other Christians "parents" and they are not responsible to us directly, but I do not consider it a unfair comparison to compare a pastor pointing out specific spiritual "trash on the floor" to an older brother who knows very well through experience the parent isn't going to appreciate the trash on the floor of the eight year olds room and points that fact out to him before the parent comes in and deals with it personally. As happens with siblings though the younger may resent the older "telling him what to do" and may do it his own way anyway. In that case it isn't the older "siblings" responsibility to deal with it even though that older sibling may know very well that it is wrong and may have a strong temptation to try to correct it as he knows the parent would. It is ultimately up to the "parent" to deal with it if the younger sibling has no interest in listening.

I completely agree, Seth. Preachers have a duty to apply Scripture for sure...to suggest practical ways in which certain Scriptures inform daily decisions. My problem doesn't have to do with preachers making reasonable applications, but with making their own personal applications (in areas of discernment) the "rule" for everyone else, and ostracizing every person and every ministry that applies Scripture at all differently. It's all in how it is presented. I know in several churches I've attended there is a "new members'" class or a "new believers'" Bible study, where those who are spiritually immature are fed the milk of the Word, and learn the basic doctrines of the faith. And, the milk of the Word also goes out in general sermons, along with heavy doses of instruction in discernment. I don't have a problem with a preacher using Scripture in a message to come to the conclusion that certain kinds of music are not pleasing to the Lord. But I think a preacher who is not careful to distinguish between "thus saith the Lord" and "thus is my conclusion/opinion" is going to set himself up to be dealing with people who never grow up spiritually. A pastor who doesn't leave room for people to be discerning isn't going to help his congregation to mature spiritually. A pastor who "makes rules" for his people (I'm talking adults here, not the youth group) isn't equipping them for spiritual maturity. The younger/newer members of the congregation do indeed need things to be spelled out more (where Scripture spells them out), in addition to being taught HOW to think through things and use Scriptural principles to arrive at wise conclusions. It's not either/or, but both/and. Experience in discernment is gained as younger believers watch and learn and listen how the older believers apply Scripture. It's not gained by having rules forced upon them with no sound biblical basis. That's all I was trying to say.

Maybe a situation that parallels our "trash on the floor" illustration would help. Let's say that a Christian friend of mine (a new believer) has visible tattoos and body piercings. I personally don't think that tattoos/body piercings are best...I think they identify a person with a culture that is worldly. But, my friend, a spiritually immature person, has not yet discovered or developed the discernment to understand why anyone could have a problem with these things. I would not go to her and tell her that her tattoos and piercings are not pleasing to God and should be removed. And I wouldn't want my pastor saying these things to her, either. Rather, I would trust the Holy Spirit to work in her heart as she attends church, sits under good, sound teaching, rubs shoulders with more mature believers, reads the Bible for herself, develops a more intimate relationship with Christ, and learns to walk in the Spirit. Eventually, she will come to the place where she will consider these issues and make an informed, discerning decision regarding them...She might remove one piercing, but leave another in...So be it! Her application might differ from mine, but she has at least considered the issue from a more mature point of view than when she started, and has surrendered that area to God, and is doing what she believes He wants her to do. She is "growing up" spiritually, not because things were spelled out, but because she has developed discernment.

When I see what I perceive to be "trash" on a fellow believer's "floor," I don't always address it directly, and I don't think God does, either. The young child in the illustration isn't in disobedience to the father--he did what he knew to do with a willing heart--he simply didn't have the discernment to go further. I'm sure I have plenty of "trash" on my "floor" that will become apparent to me as I continue to walk with the Lord...stuff that right now isn't visible to me at all because I don't have the wisdom and experience to see it. The "trash" analogy breaks apart a bit at this point, because in reality, "cleaning the room" takes a lifetime. The point that the illustration is making is simply that those who have walked with the Lord longer have developed greater discernment.

Did that scenario muddy the water? Edited by Annie

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Maybe a situation that parallels our "trash on the floor" illustration would help. Let's say that a Christian friend of mine (a new believer) has visible tattoos and body piercings. I personally don't think that tattoos/body piercings are best...I think they identify a person with a culture that is worldly. But, my friend, a spiritually immature person, has not yet discovered or developed the discernment to understand why anyone could have a problem with these things. I would not go to her and tell her that her tattoos and piercings are not pleasing to God and should be removed. And I wouldn't want my pastor saying these things to her, either. Rather, I would trust the Holy Spirit to work in her heart as she attends church, sits under good, sound teaching, rubs shoulders with more mature believers, reads the Bible for herself, develops a more intimate relationship with Christ, and learns to walk in the Spirit. Eventually, she will come to the place where she will consider these issues and make an informed, discerning decision regarding them...She might remove one piercing, but leave another in...So be it! Her application might differ from mine, but she has at least considered the issue from a more mature point of view than when she started, and has surrendered that area to God, and is doing what she believes He wants her to do. She is "growing up" spiritually, not because things were spelled out, but because she has developed discernment.

When I see what I perceive to be "trash" on a fellow believer's "floor," I don't always address it directly, and I don't think God does, either. The young child in the illustration isn't in disobedience to the father--he did what he knew to do with a willing heart--he simply didn't have the discernment to go further. I'm sure I have plenty of "trash" on my "floor" that will become apparent to me as I continue to walk with the Lord...stuff that right now isn't visible to me at all because I don't have the wisdom and experience to see it. The "trash" analogy breaks apart a bit at this point, because in reality, "cleaning the room" takes a lifetime. The point that the illustration is making is simply that those who have walked with the Lord longer have developed greater discernment.

Did that scenario muddy the water?



My way of dealing with it would be different than yours. If I had a relationship with them, and thought they were truly trying to seek the Lord with a pure heart I most certainly would point out the "trash on the floor" in their lives when the situation warranted it. I might not walk up to them with a "list" of all the things they need to fix, I might not worry about a existing tattoo as it is under the blood of Christ, but if they had tattoos already and now that they were saved wanted to go out an get a cross tattoo or a bible verse tattoo(and I have know people that wanted to do just that) I would most certainly say something to them about it in a kind way and explain why it wasn't a good idea. Same thing about questionable music or any one of dozens of different things. I would want someone I respected to do the same for me if I didn't see a problem with something I was doing and yet it was actually wrong. That is because spiritual discernment is in many ways like learning to read or playing an instrument. Maybe some child somewhere learned to do those things well by being mostly left alone to teach themselves, but the vast majority do much better with a teacher. The Ethiopian eunuch was honestly looking for truth, yet he did not have a good grasp of what he was reading till God sent Philip to guide him. Same is true with immature Christians. A very small percentage will devour the word and grow by leaps and bounds with virtually no guidance at all, a spiritual child prodigy if you will, but the vast majority will grow very slowly or not at all without guidance. That is what discipleship is about. Proper discipleship teaches just about everything, including spiritual discernment. To teach discernment properly you teach the word of God heavily, inside and out, you try to teach the proper heart towards God, and you also use specific examples prevalent in todays culture which might easily include many different topics not explicitly spelled out in the scriptures like smoking, or even "rock mewsic" and "PAYANTS on WIMMEN" to use your spelling mockings. :wink The failure of mature Christians to do these things is part of why so many new Christians start out in the right direction and then fall head over heels into all sorts of various errors and never develop much spiritual discernment. The longer they go without it the harder it is for them to learn it. If you could just teach one thing having the proper heart towards God would be it, but we are not limited to teaching just one thing and specifics are important too. Edited by Seth-Doty

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My way of dealing with it would be different than yours. If I had a relationship with them, and thought they were truly trying to seek the Lord with a pure heart I most certainly would point out the "trash on the floor" in their lives when the situation warranted it. I might not walk up to them with a "list" of all the things they need to fix, I might not worry about a existing tattoo as it is under the blood of Christ, but if they had tattoos already and now that they were saved wanted to go out an get a cross tattoo or a bible verse tattoo(and I have know people that wanted to do just that) I would most certainly say something to them about it in a kind way and explain why it wasn't a good idea. Same thing about questionable music or any one of dozens of different things. I would want someone I respected to do the same for me if I didn't see a problem with something I was doing and yet it was actually wrong. That is because spiritual discernment is in many ways like learning to read or playing an instrument. Maybe some child somewhere learned to do those things well by being mostly left alone to teach themselves, but the vast majority do much better with a teacher. The Ethiopian eunuch was honestly looking for truth, yet he did not have a good grasp of what he was reading till God sent Philip to guide him. Same is true with immature Christians. A very small percentage will devour the word and grow by leaps and bounds with virtually no guidance at all, a spiritual child prodigy if you will, but the vast majority will grow very slowly or not at all without guidance. That is what discipleship is about. Proper discipleship teaches just about everything, including spiritual discernment. To teach discernment properly you teach the word of God heavily, inside and out, you try to teach the proper heart towards God, and you also use specific examples prevalent in todays culture which might easily include many different topics not explicitly spelled out in the scriptures like smoking, or even "rock mewsic" and "PAYANTS on WIMMEN" to use your spelling mockings. :wink The failure of mature Christians to do these things is part of why so many new Christians start out in the right direction and then fall head over heels into all sorts of various errors and never develop much spiritual discernment. The longer they go without it the harder it is for them to learn it. If you could just teach one thing having the proper heart towards God would be it, but we are not limited to teaching just one thing and specifics are important too.

I don't have any problem with your approach, Seth. Discipleship does indeed include teaching about how to apply Scripture. My only point is that only a "list of rules" given from the pulpit doesn't help church members to grow in discernment. A pastor who regularly gets up and denounces rock music, pants on women, watching football on Sundays, and/or [insert any other discernment issue here] without any reasonable explanation, and who mandates choices that should be left up to the Holy Spirit, is begging for his members to remain immature spiritually. Why should they listen to the Holy Spirit or go through the process of thinking through something if "the answer" (which is not spelled out in the Bible, and which good, sincere Christians disagree on) has already been given to them?

And I'm curious to know what you mean by, "I might not worry about an existing tattoo as it is under the blood of Christ." (Isn't all of that person's sin, past, present, and future, under the blood of Christ when that person receives Him by faith?) Maybe the "trash on the floor" that I picked for my scenario muddies the water...I don't think getting a tattoo/body piercing is sin, in and of itself...but maybe we should pick another discernment issue so we don't get hung up on an issue that is merely for illustration's sake. I'd say pants on women, but I have a feeling we've discerned differently there, too. Maybe we agree on music??

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And I'm curious to know what you mean by, "I might not worry about an existing tattoo as it is under the blood of Christ." (Isn't all of that person's sin, past, present, and future, under the blood of Christ when that person receives Him by faith?) Maybe the "trash on the floor" that I picked for my scenario muddies the water...I don't think getting a tattoo/body piercing is sin, in and of itself...but maybe we should pick another discernment issue so we don't get hung up on an issue that is merely for illustration's sake. I'd say pants on women, but I have a feeling we've discerned differently there, too. Maybe we agree on music??


Perhaps "under the blood of Christ" was a poor choice of words, yes all sin past and future is covered by that. What I was attempting to say is that once sin is past, if they are not continually and willfully persisting in it I am not about to beat them up about it. Take something like divorce for example. That is wrong, if someone i know is currently and willfully involved in that process I most certainly will criticize them for it and tell them God's views on the subject. However, if it was in their past, and it either was not by their choice in the first place or if it was they would not do it if they had it to do over again, then I would not say a critical word to them about it save only that they are biblically disqualified from doing a few things should that issue come up. That is what I was trying to express when I said I "wouldn't worry about existing tattoos". As far as getting new ones though, I don't even think that is really a matter of much spiritual discernment. I don't think it is hard to figure out Gods will in that matter.

"Leviticus 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD."

That passage is pretty much dealing directly with what God thinks of tattoos and other forms of self mutilation. It is graffiti on the walls of Gods temple. The only "possible" argument is whether this is ceremonial law or Gods moral law and I think it is pretty clear it is moral law. Edited by Seth-Doty

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Perhaps "under the blood of Christ" was a poor choice of words, yes all sin past and future is covered by that. What I was attempting to say is that once sin is past, if they are not continually and willfully persisting in it I am not about to beat them up about it. Take something like divorce for example. That is wrong, if someone i know is currently and willfully involved in that process I most certainly will criticize them for it and tell them God's views on the subject. However, if it was in their past, and it either was not by their choice in the first place or if it was they would not do it if they had it to do over again, then I would not say a critical word to them about it save only that they are biblically disqualified from doing a few things should that issue come up. That is what I was trying to express when I said I "wouldn't worry about existing tattoos". As far as getting new ones though, I don't even think that is really a matter of much spiritual discernment. I don't think it is hard to figure out Gods will in that matter.

"Leviticus 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD."

That passage is pretty much dealing directly with what God thinks of tattoos and other forms of self mutilation. It is graffiti on the walls of Gods temple. The only "possible" argument is whether this is ceremonial law or Gods moral law and I think it is pretty clear it is moral law.

The Leviticus passage is talking about cutting oneself and printing marks "for the dead," which was an ancient pagan rite. I wouldn't put today's tattoos/piercings in that category at all. (Do you think it is wrong for women to pierce their ears? We know that the ancient Israelites pierced their ears, noses, etc.) That's why I used them (tattoos/piercings) as an example of something that's not spelled out specifically in Scripture, but which rather fall into the "discernment" area. Graffiti on God's temple?? This passage says nothing about that...The bodies of the Israelites weren't God's temple at all. Nowhere in Scripture is the connection made between tattoos and defacing God's temple. If tattoos and piercings are graffiti on God's temple, what about makeup, hair dye, and earrings? Be that as it may, I think we pretty much agree about what discernment is, and how it is gained. (And I don't care to argue about tattoos at the expense of hijacking the thread.)

Thanks for clarifying your previous remarks. Edited by Annie

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(And I don't care to argue about tattoos at the expense of hijacking the thread.)


Fine, then I won't bother arguing with you about it because we both know we usually disagree on just about everything that is a matter of discernment and the chances of either of us changing our minds is likely somewhere between slim and none...

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Fine, then I won't bother arguing with you about it because we both know we usually disagree on just about everything that is a matter of discernment and the chances of either of us changing our minds is likely somewhere between slim and none...

Well, I don't know about that...I'm pretty sure we'd agree more than you think. And I do think we agree about what discernment is and how it is gained (spiritual maturity, experience, discipleship, Bible study, etc.); would you agree? See how agreeable I'm being? :) (And I will say that I've been known to change my mind when shown to be wrong...Remember the valiant men? ;) ) May it never be said of either of us that we are not willing to consider the arguments of fellow believers, evaluate them seriously, and be willing to change our minds. Edited by Annie

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Hebrews 5:14 - "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

Key words in this verse:

1. strong - strong, firm, immovable, solid, hard, rigid: in a good sense, firm, steadfast

2. meat - food, nourishment (this verse is speaking of spiritual food that leads to an unshakeable faith and unmovable convictions)

3. full age - extremely skilled and accomplished in human integrity and virtue

4. reason of use - a habit whether of body or mind; a power acquired by custom, practice, use (in other words, we must make discernment a priority in our lives)

5. senses - faculty of the mind for perceiving, understanding, judging

6. exercised - to exercise vigorously, in any way, either the body or the mind (discernment takes work)

7. discern - a distinguishing, discerning, judging

8. both good and evil - hanging onto the good and rejecting the evil

1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 - "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil."

Discernment requires judging whether something is good or evil. Please consider this warning from the scriptures:

Isaiah 5:20 - "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

A Christian will not reach spiritual maturity if he or she has not acquired the ability to discern both good and evil. A very great multitude of born again believers are still babes in Christ (and have been babes for many years) because they focus on liberty rather than obedience.

Edited by brosmith

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Hebrews 5:14 - "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

Key words in this verse:

1. strong - strong, firm, immovable, solid, hard, rigid: in a good sense, firm, steadfast

2. meat - food, nourishment (this verse is speaking of spiritual food that leads to an unshakeable faith and unmovable convictions)

3. full age - extremely skilled and accomplished in human integrity and virtue

4. reason of use - a habit whether of body or mind; a power acquired by custom, practice, use (in other words, we must make discernment a priority in our lives)

5. senses - faculty of the mind for perceiving, understanding, judging

6. exercised - to exercise vigorously, in any way, either the body or the mind (discernment takes work)

7. discern - a distinguishing, discerning, judging

8. both good and evil - hanging onto the good and rejecting the evil

1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 - "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil."

Discernment requires judging whether something is good or evil. Please consider this warning from the scriptures:

Isaiah 5:20 - "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

A Christian will not reach spiritual maturity if he or she has not acquired the ability to discern both good and evil. A very great multitude of born again believers are still babes in Christ (and have been babes for many years) because they focus on liberty rather than obedience.

:amen: Great post, brosmith! Couldn't agree more; you covered it all. I especially like your last sentence: "A very great multitude of born again believers are still babes in Christ...because they focus on liberty rather than obedience." Obedience to what we know in Scripture is foundational to developing discernment. Edited by Annie

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Not long ago I was preaching at a local church and the Sunday school class I sat in on (ages 18-30 or so) was discussing spiritual discernment and maturity. The definition I gave to them for spiritual maturity was as follows:

Spiritual maturity should be the ever increasing state of a believer's spiritual life when he ceases to constantly attempt to justify what he wants to do by pointing to the things that aren't clearly spelled out in God's word, and he begins to seek only to glorify God through simple obedience to the commands that are clearly spelled out in His word.

Once the maturing believer is being guided by the Spirit of God in obedience to the Creator and not being constantly controlled by any other motivation, he begins to realize just how useless this world's wisdom and pleasures are when it comes to fulfilling the will of God. Neither Godly wisdom nor Spiritual discernment are required in order to accommodate one's own fleshly desires and it would seem to at least be close to blasphemy to attribute the pursuit of one's own desires through devilish wisdom to the discernment of scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is why true discernment begins to manifest itself in large part when one realizes that the pleasures of this world, be they overt sin or "merely" omissions or just whimsical participations in the popular, are mutually exclusive from doing the will of the Father. It is simply not possible to serve two masters.

:twocents: (Or slightly more) :icon_mrgreen:

Edited by speerjp1

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Not long ago I was preaching at a local church and the Sunday school class I sat in on (ages 18-30 or so) was discussing spiritual discernment and maturity. The definition I gave to them for spiritual maturity was as follows:

Spiritual maturity should be the ever increasing state of a believer's spiritual life when he ceases to constantly attempt to justify what he wants to do by pointing to the things that aren't clearly spelled out in God's word, and he begins to seek only to glorify God through simple obedience to the commands that are clearly spelled out in His word.

Once the maturing believer is being guided by the Spirit of God in obedience to the Creator and not being constantly controlled by any other motivation, he begins to realize just how useless this world's wisdom and pleasures are when it comes to fulfilling the will of God. Godly wisdom nor Spiritual discernment are required in order to accommodate one's own fleshly desires and it would seem to at least be close to blasphemy to attribute the pursuit of one's own desires through devilish wisdom to the discernment of scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is why true discernment begins to manifest itself in large part when one realizes that the pleasures of this world, be they overt sin or "merely" omissions or just whimsical participations in the popular, are mutually exclusive from doing the will of the Father. It is simply not possible to serve two masters.

:twocents: (Or slightly more) :icon_mrgreen:



Its amazing how content a person can really be if they put their trust in Christ, and fully surrender. I might add, they will feel like they have more, when actually they do not, they just have the contentment of the Lord in their hearts, for they stop having to have so much worldly stuff to feed their wants. Seems this is something many Christians never find, and struggle with all the days of their life.

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Not long ago I was preaching at a local church and the Sunday school class I sat in on (ages 18-30 or so) was discussing spiritual discernment and maturity. The definition I gave to them for spiritual maturity was as follows:

Spiritual maturity should be the ever increasing state of a believer's spiritual life when he ceases to constantly attempt to justify what he wants to do by pointing to the things that aren't clearly spelled out in God's word, and he begins to seek only to glorify God through simple obedience to the commands that are clearly spelled out in His word.

Once the maturing believer is being guided by the Spirit of God in obedience to the Creator and not being constantly controlled by any other motivation, he begins to realize just how useless this world's wisdom and pleasures are when it comes to fulfilling the will of God. Neither Godly wisdom nor Spiritual discernment are required in order to accommodate one's own fleshly desires and it would seem to at least be close to blasphemy to attribute the pursuit of one's own desires through devilish wisdom to the discernment of scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is why true discernment begins to manifest itself in large part when one realizes that the pleasures of this world, be they overt sin or "merely" omissions or just whimsical participations in the popular, are mutually exclusive from doing the will of the Father. It is simply not possible to serve two masters.

:twocents: (Or slightly more) :icon_mrgreen:

Well said! There is a vast difference between looking at our Christian walk from the perspective of "how far can we go, what can we get away with and still be okay with God", and the purposeful pursuit of holiness for the sake of being close to God and walking in His Spirit.

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Someone who expects everything to be spelled out, or who demands for it to be spelled out, is basically screaming, "I am spiritually immature." The fact is that Scripture does not spell everything out. Issues like dress choices, music/media choices, etc., are discernment issues.


Hi Ms Annie:

You make some v. good points there.

God bless.

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In your own words make your case as to what spiritual discernment is, the biblical foundation for it, how it is to be applied and gained, how far it "should" be taken, etc. If you wish, you can also mention areas you feel it applies to and why you feel that way. This thread was inspired by a post elsewhere on the board that seemed to totally lack any understanding of the nature, importance, or practical application of spiritual discernment. It occurred to me a discussion on the topic might be useful or possibly interesting at least... I will probably post my thoughts on the subject later but first will wait and see what others have to say about it.


Spiritual Discerment is when a born again christian by the The Holy Ghost can distinguish and or acknowledge if things be of God or not and being able to judge rightly on them. 1John 4:1 tells us to try the spirits to acknowledge if they are of God for the reason of false prophets in the world.

1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
The first priority is on discerning a truth of the Gospel. John in the same thought also talks of the spirit of the antichrist, who doesn't acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh.
Even in taking of the Lord's supper some christians take it unworthingly, that is why we are charged to examine outselves. If we eat it unworthily we do it not discerning the Lords body. The corinthians were sick and even dying because of this. In thier case it was because they ate thier own supper at church and replaced this with the Lords supper and in doing so left many without food or drink, they weren't discerning the Lords body. Which is a testamony of what Jesus Christ did for us in giving his body on the cross. Christians today can even take it unworthily if they do not take it serious. In 1 Corinthians 5 we also charged to not eat or accompany a man that is called a brother is a fornicator, or covetous ect. not to eat or fellowship with him. The epistles from Paul to the Corinthian church are a good example of a chirstian church who lacked spiritual discernment. This is why he called them carnal and babes in Christ in chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians. He could not talk to them spiritually but carnally. In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul was correcting them because they were putting themselves at odds by giving credit to Paul Apollos, and Cephas, but not Jesus Christ. He reinerates this point in chapter 3. In chapter 2 he tells them that the natural man cannot discern the Spirit of God. Those corinthians were not yet mature enough to discern spiritually. Spiritual discernment is also used in false teachings.

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Real spiritual discernment comes from having the mind of Christ within us - through the memories of what the Bible actually says in physical words on the pages of the scriptures - and having enough of his word in our minds to 'know better' when a subject comes up. We hide his word in our hearts, through the leading of his Holy Spirit, and will be lead into all truth because God gave us the words of knowledge in the written word of God to see his doctrine clearly.

It's not as 'spiritual' as some may think - and not so 'lead by the Spirit' either - but the Lord expects us to use our mind of deduction to 'prove all things' from the words on the printed page.

Hope I expressed it correct enough.

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5 hours ago, Genevanpreacher said:

Real spiritual discernment comes from having the mind of Christ within us - through the memories of what the Bible actually says in physical words on the pages of the scriptures - and having enough of his word in our minds to 'know better' when a subject comes up. We hide his word in our hearts, through the leading of his Holy Spirit, and will be lead into all truth because God gave us the words of knowledge in the written word of God to see his doctrine clearly.

It's not as 'spiritual' as some may think - and not so 'lead by the Spirit' either - but the Lord expects us to use our mind of deduction to 'prove all things' from the words on the printed page.

Hope I expressed it correct enough.

I am not following this train of thought GP. Your first paragraph seems to flatly contradict your second paragraph. First you say this comes about "through the leading of His Holy Spirit."

But then you say, "and not so lead by the Spirit either."  :blink:

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