(main text for this session: 1 John 4:1-6)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Biblical Discernment is foundational to Godly, Biblical Wisdom and it is also its main, critical component. Yes, that sounds like a mouthful and it is. Let me see if I can unpack what I am saying here.
Biblically-based Discernment is fundamental to Biblical Wisdom. Biblically-based Wisdom is the practical out-working of following and/or obeying God’s Word in a person’s life. Personal responsibility is involved in Biblically-based Wisdom. What I mean here is that Biblically-based Wisdom is personal, not just some abstract reality. Each one of us must read, study, understand God’s Word, God’s Commands (PRECEPTS), the Principles of Godly Living taught in God’s Word (PRINCIPLES), and the Examples of God’s People actually obeying His Word (PATTERNS). Thus, we individually must take in, understand, digest, and absord the Holy Word of God: its PRECEPTS, PRINCIPLES, and PATTERNS (the 3 P’s). “The 3 P’s” are essential for each one of us to understand and for us to embrace and follow, as written in God’s Word… in the sense that those “3 P’s” apply to the New Testament, Born Again, Disciple of Jesus Christ. Thus, as was first mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Personal Decision Making, that is Biblically-based and Holy Spirit-empowered, is the central basis for Godly Wisdom.
Let’s Unpack it:
Once a born-again follower of Jesus Christ is in the process of following Him and learning His Word… as that is happening and that disciple is growing in Christ, a miraculous thing should be happening … a deeper understanding of God’s Word should be developing. This does not happen without the study of and meditation on God’s Holy Word. It takes reading, studying, memorization, seeking to obey, and discussing with others His Word. It does not happen in a vaccuum. It happens in the context of relationship and in the circumstances of life. Biblical Wisdom develops as one lives and learns God’s Word… yes, even during failure of obeying. Forgiveness and brushing off the dust of failure in life and moving on with God is all a part this growing and learning.
Developing Biblical Discernment. The ability to see the truth from falsehood. This ability is central and foundational to Biblically-based Wisdom. Unless this base foundation is developed in one’s life, one cannot really develop Biblically-based Wisdom for applying knowledge with skill to life’s situations (i.e.: definition of Biblically-based Wisdom). Biblical Discernment is the “skill” developed from constant and consistent readying, studying, and memorization of God’s Word. But some will say to me, “Andy, that sounds like a lot of work”… and I would have to concur with that assesssment. Biblical Discernment is NOT developed by consistently attending Church on Sundays from birth to the grave and listening to the best, biblically-based, Holy Spirit-empowered sermons, ONLY. If that is all a person does, he or she will NEVER develop Biblical Discernment. Yes, it is true that the Apostolic and Pastoral Leadership of the Church is supposed to foster this (see Ephesians 4:14) that is only the “fostering” of this. It is not the END of it. The leadership of churches are to Inspire, Encourage, to Foster this further and deeper study of God’s Holy Word, the Bible. It is the individual responsibility and duty of each born-again disciple of Jesus Christ to dig deeper.
The Bank Teller:
How does a Bank Teller “discern” the true/real dollar bill from the counterfeit dollar bill (the fake or false)? He or she is taught to know, deeply, by constant and consistent observation of as many senses as possible the real/true dollar bills (all the denominations – 1, 5, 20, 50, etc…). These tellers and their trainers actually become experts in discerning the true from the fake in this process. And so it is with us, as born-again, followers/disciples of Jesus Christ… we are to know God’s Word so deeply, that it is so a part of us, intimately, that we “know it” so well that when false doctrines, false teachers, false prophets come along and deliver NEW DOCTRINES, NEW DOCTRINAL PRACTICES, NEW TRADITIONS, and the like… RED FLAGS pop up in our minds and hearts warning us quickly that what we are reading or hearing is false and we then warn others quickly and with great articulation (see Jude 1:3).
“Oh Andy, you are just too crazy about things like this and so nit-picky.” Yes, people have accused me of such things. Am I really crazy? Maybe, but that might be beside the point here… we can take that up later. But regarding Doctrinal Purity and Doctrinal Discernment, Jesus and His Apostles have much to say about this (i.e.: The New Testament of the Holy Bible).
My encouragement to you is to become so familiar with God’s Word, from Genesis to the last word in the last chapter of the book of Revelation… that you can sense the truth from the false: Biblical Discernment. As the Bereans did in Acts 17:11 – search the Scriptures daily to see if these things be so. Be like the Bereans, noble minded, and Biblically-based. SOLA SCRIPTURA! (i.e.: Scripture ONLY!)
Please tune in next time for the next installment in this series:
Biblical Discernment – Missing In Action?
Live like you mean it, for Yahweh’s Sake,