A child is born into this world and he begins to grow. His diet evolves from milk to soft food and eventually to steak. His steps, although non-existent at first, become sure and long. His attitudes, behaviors, and feelings mature. That child, at the age of 31, should no longer require a bottle. He is expected to grow up.
And just like a child, so too are Christians expected to grow up.
With a child, signs of maturity are usually evident and clear. A new Christian can be any age and the physical signs of growth are not always clear. However, Scripture talks about a distinct mark of a mature Christian.
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. – Hebrews 5:14 (ESV)
With discernment serving as the measure of a mature Christian, it’s important to understand discernment.
So, what is discernment?
Discernment is the Holy Spirit giving you the ability to sense what’s happening in the spiritual realm while still participating in the physical realm. Basically, you can tell the difference between God at work and the works of the devil and demons.
Charles Spurgeon said it best when he said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.
The Enemy of our soul doesn’t come in the most obvious ways. It would be much easier if he did.
Rather, he comes and brings temptations that can be justified away pretty easily. Things might seem almost right or enough right so that we fool ourselves into thinking it actually is right.
Discernment prevents that! It keeps us on the straight and narrow. It’s helps us “not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Cor 2: 11
Where do I start?
Before discernment can even begin to develop we have to become more mindful of the fact that the things that we see are not what’s actually happening.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6: 12 (ESV)
It’s easy to look around and see those wrong things. Any person, Christian or non-Christian can do that. But a Christian desiring to grow needs to start thinking differently
What we see isn’t what’s actually going on. It’s only a symptom of what’s happening in the spiritual realm.
It’s not easy to re-train the mind to think this way but for proper discerning growth — it is imperative. A mature discerning Christian can sense the spiritual battle even when the signs are not obvious.
If you walk into visit a psychic and something ‘feels off’, awesome. That’s very foundational discernment but not really what Scripture talks about in a mature Christian. When walking into visit a psychic (which, by the way, I do NOT want you to do!!), you should be able to sense that things are wrong. Scripture is very clear about psychics and so simple knowledge should tell you that things are wrong. But what happens if you run into the psychic at the grocery store? Can you still tell that demonic forces are at work in that person’s life?
Just as children show different maturity levels at the varied periods of growth, discernment should mature and develop over time. A Christian should move from that foundational discernment to the mature discernment that Hebrews talks about.
Mature discernment is when the Holy Spirit enables you to know things about the spiritual realm that you wouldn’t otherwise know.
As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. – Acts 16:16-18 (ESV)
Paul was a very mature Christian. Even when the slave girl was shouting about how Paul was teaching about God and salvation, he knew that the demonic forces were only crying out in order to create a distraction. With discernment, he addressed the spirit and not the girl.
I wonder who I would have addressed?
Discernment isn’t just about the demonic, a mature Christian should also be able to sense God at work even when nothing is visible. However, I’ve already said enough for today so I’ll share more about discerning God at work later this week.
If you have any thoughts or questions about discernment, I’d love to hear them! I don’t claim to be an expert but I always love diving deeper into Scripture for answers!! 🙂