Discernment – Why We Need It


Definition of discernment:

“The quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure; an act of perceiving something; a power to see what is not evident to the average mind.” The definition also stresses accuracy, as in “the ability to see the truth.” Spiritual discernment is the ability to tell the difference between truth and error. It is basic to having wisdom. [1]

I’ve heard it said that discernment is the ability to tell the difference between right and almost right.

“That we henceforth be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and their cunning and craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14).

I’ve been a believer since January of 1983. In 1984 I made a friend in our neighborhood who attended my church, and we would ride together to choir on Wednesday nights.

One of those nights she gave me a bunch of cassettes and told me “You will love this preacher.” I told her that I would give him a listen. The next day I put the first cassette in while I did dishes. The preacher was Kenneth Copeland. I listened to about ten minutes of this man and turned him off.

I was a babe in the Lord and no one told me that Copeland’s teaching was questionable. I just knew that God did not want me listening to that man. He talked about never being sick – NEVER. He said he never even got a cold. Then he made jokes about a man who was feeling blessed because God had allowed him to get a used Chevy that he had wanted. Copeland said, “I told that man that if that was truly from the Lord, he should have asked for a Cadillac – and a brand new one!” He laughed at his own lame joke.

That’s when I turned it off. That’s when I knew that Kenneth Copeland was not someone that my Lord Jesus would want me listening to. I should never get sick? I should be rich because I’m a Christian?

Was this true? Should Christians never be sick? Should we all be rich because we’re children of God? Something didn’t ring true. I had to go to the only place I knew would have the answer, my Bible. I knew that I had a bad feeling as I listened to Copeland, and I knew that God had urged me to turn him off. I wanted to know the truth.

I went to Acts in my Bible. I was sure I’d be able to see how the first Christians lived. I’d find out if they were prosperous and disease free. What I found was what I suspected to be true. The Apostles were jailed, tortured and ultimately killed, except for John. And he had been boiled in oil, yet lived because of the Lord.

Then I went to the Gospel of John to see what Jesus said about our lives as His followers.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Luke wrote:

“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Revelation 21:4 says:

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Suffering, tribulations, bearing our own cross, pain, crying, and death – well, this was a far cry from what I had heard Kenneth Copeland preaching. That was my first experience with discernment from the Lord. It was overwhelming to me to know that my heavenly Father protected me from the heresy I heard when I was a little more than a year old in Him!

I look around today and I am shocked at the lack of discernment in many Christians. How could someone who was drawn by the Holy Spirit and born-again in Him, listen to a motivational speaker like Joel Osteen, and then rave about him as an amazing preacher? Really? Which part of “Your Best Life Now” would not be a big red flag that this man is not preaching the gospel of Christ?

People who know me know that I’ll be honest with them, even if that means they might not like what I am saying. When I hear someone talk about Benny Hinn and how much they enjoyed his crusade and how many people were healed, I tell them the truth about him. I tell them that he is a fraud, that he talks to the dead, that he believes we are little gods, and that he says that God takes over his mind at times before he preaches, and doesn’t remember one word he has said. Our God is a God of order – not confusion. We know who is the author of confusion!

Should preachers live like kings in mansions? The only mansions I have read about in the Word are the ones Jesus is preparing for those who love Him. Christians have no problem seeing their favorite “preacher” living in a $10 million dollar estate. I am not saying that a pastor of a large church should live like a pauper. I am saying that a pastor who is living large is not the kind of shepherd I would ever want to be my pastor.

1 Timothy 6:10 says:

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Christian bookstores can be a nightmare for someone who lacks discernment. These stores are in business for the same reason anyone goes into business—to make money. One would hope that if one of these stores is owned by a blood bought, born-again Christian, that they would have a conviction about what is sold in their establishment. I have yet to find one like that.

I remember when The Shack came out. I was in a Christian bookstore and picked up the book and scanned through it. I had the urge to hurl it across the store! I resisted that thought and put it down hard. The clerk gave me a strange look. I walked over and asked if she had read The Shack. The girl said. “Oh yes, it’s great, isn’t it?” OY. God give me patience.

If you have not read The Shack, you are blessed. If you, because of my article, decide to look for it, I do hope that you will see it as garbage. I’m sorry, but I tell the truth about these things. I think more people need to be vocal. If you have discernment from God and you see a brother or sister lacking in discernment, help them!

I have discerned that the “prosperity” preachers are frauds. I have discerned that “name it and claim it” is not Scriptural. I have discerned that we will never be little gods. All of these teachings could be easily detected as heresy by simply looking in the Word.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

People with itchy ears like to hear what makes them feel good. The Bible is not a smorgasbord; pick what you like and leave the rest. The Bible is God’s Word to us. Everything we need to know about Him and about life is found within its pages. How amazing is that? The Creator of the universe is our Father and wants us to know what is good for us and what is not.

Acts 17:11 is one of my favorite Scriptures. It says:

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

Did you see that? Even after they heard preaching, they went to the Scriptures to make sure they had heard the truth. I’m sure you’ve heard, “Be a Berean” We should all be like the Berean church.

Perhaps you have placed yourself under false teaching, and have not repented and trusted Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sin. There are many preachers who love to tickle itchy ears. Does your preacher speak about sin, and how it separates us from God? Does he preach repentance – agreeing with God that you are a sinner, and to turn away from it?

If he does not, then you are playing church. You sign up to help for every event. You may even teach Sunday School. You are a helper at every Vacation Bible School and of course you are on the clean-up team. These are all good things! But if you think that doing these good deeds will get you into heaven, you have missed the gospel of Christ. How many good deeds is enough to gain entry into heaven when you die? Have you never seen this Scripture?

Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The Bible says that God is sending “strong delusion” in these end times. The Bible makes it very clear why God is sending this delusion.

“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

So if you think you lack discernment, could it be that you have neglected the reading of God’s Word? Perhaps after you study His Word, you will begin to apply what you’ve learned to your life. You may see that the preachers you have been relying on to impart wisdom from God’s Word have actually been preaching a different gospel. That’s a scary thought, but isn’t it more scary to continue listening to empty and deceitful words?

Get right with God! He sent Jesus to die for you so that you could be reconciled to Him.

Many hymns are like mini-sermons. Look at the words you sing , “Jesus Paid it All”:

“I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Trust Jesus for your salvation. Then pray for discernment as you read His Word.


[1] Definition taken from gotquestions.org.


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