Worldview Bulletin: Learning Discernment

I write often about the discipleship required to know truth in every sphere of society. I am usually speaking of learning truth through reading, listening to lectures or podcasts, learning in training events, classrooms, conferences, and small groups. But there is another level to learning truth and it involves learning to recognize its presence or its absence through spiritual discernment.

Recognizing truth or the lack thereof in this manner requires having your senses trained. I remember a conversation with a good friend one day. He was warning me about articles from a certain “news” source for they lacked truth and often good sense. I remember bursting out a bunch of questions. What are your sources for this? Did you research these articles and find out their information is wrong? Where can I find a good source that disqualifies this website as a source of truth? He did not have the answers to my questions. I was poised to dismiss his claims. He told me it was obvious to him that the site lacked credibility. It took me sometime before I could understand this. The website was saying things my circles validated as true. These were not questioned. I did not choose to dismiss him out of hand, because I knew him to be a wise friend. However, I had not yet gained understanding.

Once I learned to see from my spirit, to discern, I recalled this conversation and realized just how obvious I recognize malarkey even when others think it credible. Malarkey always has just enough of truth mixed in to make it believable. The spiritual discernment of truth heightens the natural senses as well to recognize where truth is lacking. The lack of spiritual discernment decreases the ability to see truth in the natural or to recognize where it is missing.

Spiritual discernment is an inner witnessing to the truth. It is a signal you recognize. I hesitate to say “feel” because in a way that is an accurate word, but I would be remiss to give you the idea that it is something reduced to an emotional experience. Discernment can work through your emotions, but it is not empowered or ruled by emotions. It is spirit over emotions, not the other way around.

Discernment is Spirit to spirit. It is the Holy Spirit making known something to your spirit. It has its own language. It is that inner knowing.

I remember coming in to work one day after having the previous day off. I received a phone call from a new client who had been in for a consultation the day before. The client was exceptionally articulate and pleasant on the phone. Except I had the nagging “feeling” that this guy was not to be trusted. That there was something very unsettling about him. I had absolutely nothing to point to in the natural. I could not even see him. I was only on a phone call. It was not until later when I learned more about his case that I understood why I had an inner alarm going off.

Discernment ought not to be confused with suspicion. I was not suspicious of this client. I was not inclined to distrust him except that I had that inner knowing this was not a good guy. Suspicion is fear driven and carnal. It starts with distrust based on previous experiences or persistent distrust of people. Suspicion sees a youngster with a book bag in a convenience stores and wonders if they are going to shoplift. It believes the worst. It starts from a place of distrust.

Discernment is not preconceived. It recognizes in real time what is going on. It is not looking to self-protect or catch what someone is hiding. The Spirit tells you something is true and good just as much and more than alerting you to something that is false or malicious.

If you walk in the light, walking by spirit, it is not something you turn on or off. Your inner sight and hearing are to be always on. This is the same way we operate in the prophetic. We are always listening. We are always alert to more than what we see or hear in the natural.

Some people are better at it than others because they have honed their spiritual senses more than others. It does not make them necessarily wiser than others. Not everyone uses the knowing well. Just because we are aware of something unseen does not mean we have the liberty to share it or act on it. Sometimes we make a lot of messes while we are growing in discernment.

The people with the greatest levels of prophetic discernment are often the most rejected because, even when they are to say what they see, the undiscerning cannot see (blind) and cannot hear (deaf). Sometimes we do not want to be deceived so we cling to what we can see, touch, and hear. Relying on the natural can be the greater deception. Jesus said we need the hears to ear and eyes to see.

As Christians we do not invalidate what we see, hear, and touch. But the substance of truth dives deeper directly to our spirits. Sometimes we cannot understand because we have not trained our senses to hear and see what the Spirit sees and hears.

“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

I Corinthians 2:10a-14

Discernment is not a gift some Christians have, and others must make do without. We all can train our spiritual eyes and ears. We can all know truth by spirit. It does take practice. It takes tuning into the right station. It takes learning.

Here are a few steps to help mature your discernment:

  1. Spend time with the Holy Spirit. Sit with Him. Get to know His Voice.
  2. Read your Bible. Meditate on the Truth. Know it deep down inside you. Not just a head knowledge but get the substance in you.
  3. Spend time with prophetic people. Being apart of a community that is Spirit-filled helps provide the culture necessary to nurture your own prophetic maturity.
  4. Journal – start writing down those moments when you are receiving discernment and judge when you were right or wrong as you see the fruit of that knowing.
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