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Posts Tagged ‘discernment’

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From Eddie

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Do you have discernment

Terry Enns:

“If I go to the grocery store, I can usually distinguish between the ripe, ready-to-eat fruit from the overripe and time-to-throw-it-in-the-garbage-can fruit.

Take me to a used car lot, and I have a harder time determining what’s a good ride and what’s a worn-out set of wheels.

Set two people in front of me who are considering marriage, and after a couple hours and a few pointed questions I can usually tell if their relationship is rocky road or firm foundation.

Whether it’s fruit, cars, or relationships, the ability to be discerning is not only helpful, but it is often life-saving. And that was the message of Solomon to his son in Proverbs 2.

Seek discernment, the sage told the son. Be perceptive, discriminating, comprehending, and alert — and then act on what you see and discover to be true and right.

Now discernment is hard work. It takes effort and energy, time, practice (which generally includes at least a few occasions of failure), and constant vigilance. It’s hard. But it’s always worth being discerning. In a series of almost proverbial statements, Solomon instructs his son on the value of cultivating discernment —

  • It will keep you from perverse talking and perverse talkers (vv. 11-12)
  • It will keep you from perverse living (vv. 13-14) — it will enable you to evaluate the cost of what you are doing so you don’t end up in the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time
  • It will keep you from perverse thinking and perverse thinkers (v. 15) — little is more difficult than learning the discipline of thinking rightly and truly about yourself, your circumstances and God. Discernment will keep you off the crooked path of unrighteous thinking.
  • It will keep you from perverse companions (vv. 16-19; cf. also chs. 5-7) — lack of discernment will make sin seem right (or at least not so terribly wrong), deluding and confusing you about the end of ungodly relationships. Discernment will enable you to see that unrighteous relationships lead only to death (vv. 18-19). And discernment will stimulate you to forsake such perversity.

Said another way, discernment is the pathway to good (i.e., godly) living.  The hard labor of attentiveness and discernment yields a life of peace and joy.

As Tim Challies noted,

When discernment is attacked and destroyed, a flood of opportunistic false teaching is waiting to attack through the weakened defenses. Nobody dies from lack of discernment or by not believing in discernment. Rather, a lack of discernment leaves people to wither under the attack of false doctrine. A lack of discernment leaves Christians unable to protect themselves and others, and allows sin to flood in.

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What does learning to do long division in your math problem on your own (without a calculator) have to do with discernment? Tim Challies explains:

But like doing long division, it is far better to do the work ourselves and to ensure we understand how to discern. The theological equivalent of using a calculator may be just Googling what John Piper or John MacArthur says about a certain topic and taking that word as law. It may be asking a parent or pastor and accepting what they say without further thought. We are all prone to want to get to the final tally without going through the intervening steps.

But like the kid who cheats by using a calculator, we cheat ourselves if we do not do the difficult work of discernment. As we discern what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, we train ourselves to think as Christians and we train ourselves to really understand what discernment is. We make sure that we understand the difficult business of discernment—not only the end result but the process of getting there.

To understand more, read the rest of this article here.

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Haven’t done this for awhile, so I thought I would resurrect this practice of posting random quotes I have come across.

“The evolutionists seem to know everything about the missing link except the fact that it is missing.” – G.K. Chesterton

“When Christians stop thinking about the next world, they become totally ineffective in this one…”- William Wilberforce

“It is so much easier for me to clearly see the sin in others and not my own.”–Aaron Sauer

“Spending time WITH Christ should always result in us being more LIKE Christ. 1 John 2:6”–Stephen Altrogge

“I have but one  candle of life to burn. I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light” John Falconer

“Nothing wrong with praying while you are driving, but Jesus said, “Go into your room” where you can lay hold of God”–Terry Virgo

“The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.”–unknown

“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” –C. H. Spurgeon

“This is not a time for weak men in weak pulpits in weak churches preaching weak messages.”–John MacArthur

“Unquestionably, it is the part of a good pastor . . . to drive away the wolves when threatening to make an attack upon the fold, and that not merely on one occasion, but so as to be constantly on the watch, and to be indefatigable.”–John Calvin

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Last of the posts on questions by Craig Cabiness in Worldliness (edited by C. J. Mahaney).

He writes, “After reading these questions, you may get the feeling that practicing discernment is a lot of work.  It can be, but it’s worth the careful deliberation because the goal is lofty:  discerning what pleases the Lord!” We have considered time and heart questions already in previous posts.

Content Questions

  • What worldview or philosophy of life does this program or film present? What’s the view of man’s nature? What’s the view of sin? Is sin identifies as such? What’s the view of God-ordained authority figures? And how do these views relate to God’s view?

  • What does this program or film glamorize? What is valued or considered important?

  • Who are the heroes of the story? Why are they heroic?

  • Is sin shown as having negative consequences? Or is sin glorified or rewarded? Is sin presented in an appealing or seductive way?

  • What is humorous in this work? How are people made fun of? What is mocked?

  • Does violence appear as a natural part of the story, or is it used gratuitously to entertain?

  • What’s the sexual content? Is there nudity? Sensual or seductive dress? Are there images, language, or humor that are sexually impure?

  • Is sinful self-sufficiency honored? Are the heroic characters concerned for others or merely for themselves?

  • Does the program or film portray materialism as “the good life”?

  • Would seeing this help me better understand God’s world? Would it help me understand my surrounding culture better without tempting me to sinful compromise?

  • Will I benefit in any way from viewing this program or visiting this web site?

  • Does its content or artistry reflect truth, beauty, or goodness?

  • Online, do I communicate graciously, patiently, and humbly? Do I use crude or arrogant speech? Is my speech consistent with the gospel, or does it reflect worldliness?

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“The truth is under attack more today than at any other time in history and this should not be surprising in a culture that so values religious freedom and tolerance. Add to such an accepting culture unparalleled speed of communication and the ability to publish books and other writings quickly and easily, and we can rightly conclude that error is being spread with startling speed and efficiency. What the church needs today is a class of believers who are identified as the experts in discernment and as those who have special ability in this area.”

Tim Challies writing on the spiritual gift of discernment in The Spiritual Discipline of Discernment.

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It is easy to be duped into thinking that just a little error is harmless and will not matter. And yet Scripture teaches otherwise. Pastor and author Joshua Harris speaks of “half a poison pill” to describe the mindset of many Christians in which they think repeated exposure to just a little bit of evil will not harm them. These Christians seem to think they have a sin threshold beyond which they dare not go. Yet these people may as well ask just how much of a poison pill they need to swallow before it kills them. “The greatest danger of the popular media is not a one-time exposure to a particular instance of sin (as serious as that can be). It’s how long-term exposure to worldliness—little chunks of poison pill, day after day, week after week—can deaden our hearts to the ugliness of sin. Repeated exposure to error can lead us to unwittingly swallow a lethal dose. Error may be subtle but it is always deadly.

The truth is under attack more today than at any other time in history and this should not be surprising in a culture that so values religious freedom and tolerance. Add to such an accepting culture unparalleled speed of communication and the ability to publish books and other writings quickly and easily, and we can rightly conclude that error is being spread with startling speed and efficiency. What the church needs today is a class of believers who are identified as the experts in discernment and as those who have special ability in this area.–Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment

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