And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Philippians 1:9-10 (ESV)
In television technology, Error Detection and Handling (EDH) protocol is commonly used as part of the standard interface. This protocol allows a television receiver to verify that each field of video is received correctly. The EDH contains certain “bits” to signal that a prior link in a broadcast or transmission chain contained an error. The EDH protocol does not provide for error correction, only error detection. Why are we talking about television technology, errors, and correction systems? We too need spiritual methods to not only detect moral errors that are so prevalent in this present world system but that also provide a way to correct them. We need discernment. Today we introduce a new series, “Discernment: Seeing with 20/20 Vision”.
Discernment involves the process of keen insight and good judgment. People are usually discerning about things that are important to them. For example, if you are watching your weight, you will be very discerning about the food you select and its preparation. If you are in need of legal advice, you will exercise great discernment in the selection of the best lawyer to assist you. In similar manner, spiritual discernment helps believers “judge well”.
Spiritual discernment encompasses separating divine truth from error. This is a difficult task as we are torn between the world’s influence, our human flesh, and Satan’s deception. First Thessalonians 5:21 advises us to “Test all things; hold fast to what is good.” The world has told us there is no such thing as “good”—no standard of right or wrong; it is all relative, based on each person’s unique situation.
When the Church exercises spiritual discernment, it is accused of being intolerant: individuals who “hold fast to what is good” are labeled as narrow-minded and bigoted. If believers, individually and collectively, are to be “salt and light” in a fallen world (Matt. 5:13-16), spiritual discernment must be practiced and protected. Spiritual discernment equips believers to clearly recognize error by “seeing through God’s eyes.” It finds its basis in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.
God’s Word is the ultimate source of truth. It becomes the spiritual “EDH” by which we can detect error and is the perfect standard by which we distinguish right from wrong.
- For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)
- The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (Ps. 119:160)
The Holy Spirit, living within us, is the Truth Discerner, who will lead us into all truth. He knows the mind of God and will direct us based on God’s purpose and plan for our life.
- But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)
- So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Gal. 5:16)
God has given us His Word and His Spirit to guide us in all wisdom and knowledge, that we may live righteous and holy lives (2 Pet. 1:3-4). If we seek only to be “healthy, wealthy, and wise”, we will not be spiritually discerning. It is our responsibility as children of light (Eph. 5:8) and defenders of truth (1 Pet. 3:15) to embrace and cultivate spiritual discernment.