If you haven’t noticed, In The Word Ministries has dedicated at least one teaching series each year to the general topic of truth. We’ve delved into truth through series on the whole counsel of God, seeking truth, and the wisdom of God, just to name a few. And now, in support of this year’s theme, 20/20 VISION, we are focusing on the topic of discernment.
So what! Why should we care about discernment? Without spiritual discernment we risk “the light within us becoming darkness”. There are many factors that affect our ability to know truth. For purposes of this teaching, I’ll share two that immediately necessitates the need to cultivate a spirit of discernment.
In the 21st century there is little understanding or agreement as to what truth really is. As defined in the postmodern world absolute truth does not exist. Supporters of postmodernism deny long-held beliefs and conventions. They maintain that all viewpoints are equally valid.
Political posturing and social jockeying have taken the pursuit of truth to new levels. Individuals and organizations utilize misinformation (the unintended sharing of false information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false) to influence advocacy and individual agendas. Even institutions once deemed guardians of truth—media, government, business, and non-governmental organizations—are now viewed suspiciously.
 The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report
The Heart wants what the Heart wants
People reject a standard for truth because of their greater desire to do “that which seems right in their own eyes”. But what is right?
A recent Barna Research study, The End of Absolutes: America’s New Moral Code, found no agreement on the definition of morality today.
What is it based on? Where does it come from? How can someone know what to do when making moral decisions? According to a majority of American adults (57%), knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. This view is much more prevalent among younger generations than among older adults. Three-quarters of Millennials (74%) agree strongly or somewhat with the statement, “Whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know,” compared to only 38 percent of Elders. And Millennials (31%) are three times more likely than Elders (10%) and twice as likely as Boomers (16%) and Gen-Xers (16%) to strongly agree with the statement.
People want “what they want” including freedom to choose what fits their preference and life style, even if it means disobedience to God.
The Need for Discernment
Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. Luke 11:34-35 (RSV)
In our text Jesus teaches the “Parable of the Lighted Lamp” to the Pharisees and the crowd. Jesus uses the metaphor, the “lamp of the eye” to describe the use of the eye for more than “sight” but also for “light”. Jesus explains when the “eye is bad”, the problem is not due to a lack of light—but due to a lack of perception or how they see truth. Even with light, only those with eyes to see will see it.
Discernment is needed to provide “light” within us to contrast error with the goodness of God. The lack of spiritual discernment is like color-blindness–it may not seem that important initially but its harm become evident when your life depends on it. Error paints the world, not in terms of black and white, right or wrong, but in dangerous “shades of gray.” Be careful lest the light in you be darkness.