The third action we must undertake in order to walk led by the Spirit is to activate and consistently use our discernment.
Acts 17:11, “These were more fair minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
One of the great plagues of our modern era, one of the reasons much of the church finds itself in the spiritual condition it is currently in is lack of discernment. Few today possess the heart of a Berean; few today take the time to search the scriptures daily to find out whether the things they have heard are so.
In my years of ministry I’ve had the misfortune of hearing many distorted and outright heretical doctrines. Every time they are spoken with conviction and pathos, yet when I ask the individuals espousing them where such things can be found within the Bible, they begin to backpedal, stutter, and point to the individual who came up with said doctrine.
‘You’ve got to believe this brother Mike, it came from a reputable source, it came from a very popular minister, a well-known evangelist, how can you doubt the veracity of it?’
Because it’s not in the Bible!
We must have discernment when it comes to the things of God, and we must take the time to search the Scriptures and make certain that what we hear, what we receive, what we allow to take root in our hearts lines up with the Word of God.
When we entrust our spiritual nourishment to a third party, and blindly masticate and swallow everything they say, we run the risk of shipwrecking our faith and following after blind teachers who would have you follow them rather than follow Christ.
I hope and pray that if I ever start teaching transcendental meditation, multiple ways into the kingdom of God, the nonexistence of hell, and dozens of other unscriptural doctrines floating about, you would be wise enough, and discerning enough, and know the Word of God well enough to call me on it.
I’ve had people I thought were spiritually stable throw me curve balls insisting that Paul the Apostle was a demonic plant, an impostor who sought to lead the church astray, that ‘the rapture’ had already happened and we were living in the millennium, that it no longer matters if we sin, or what sins we commit because grace covers it all, and a host of other things.
And I used to wonder why my hair was turning gray!
Since we’re on the topic of discernment, I want to discuss if only briefly how it is that we can discern the voice of the Lord. Much could be said of discernment, but there are four ways in which we can know whether we are hearing from the Lord or not.
The first way we can know that what we are hearing is the voice of the Lord is that it will exhort us to holiness, righteousness and sanctification.
The voice of the Lord will never direct us toward licentiousness; the voice of the Lord will never direct us toward sin, covetousness, pride, arrogance, or self-righteousness. The voice of the Lord will always exhort to daily deny ourselves, to daily pick up our crosses, to daily follow humbly after Christ, and to daily strive for holiness and righteousness.
The second way we can know that what we are hearing is the voice of the Lord is that it will bring freedom in the Lord.
Men today, as in the days of old, are constantly attempting to bring people under bondage.
‘Do what I tell you, only listen to my teachings, only follow my doctrines, remain faithful to our denomination.’
This is not the voice of the Lord, because there is freedom in Him, and as wise servants we must listen to the voice of Christ, and follow the doctrines of Christ, and remain faithful to Christ, rather than to men.
The third way we can know that what we are hearing is the voice of the Lord is that it will bring peace.
The peace of which I speak is not the peace that the world can offer, but rather the peace that only Christ can offer. The peace the world offers is dependent on circumstances. If you’ve got a good paying job, if you’ve got your health, if you’ve paid off your house, if you bought the new car, then in the eyes of the world you have peace. The peace Christ offers rises above our circumstances, our hardships, our trials, and in the midst of them, in spite of them, we have true peace in Him.
The fourth way we can know that what we are hearing is the voice of the Lord is that it will compel us to altruistic and selfless love.
Do you see yourself greater in your own eyes, or do you see your brother greater than yourself? The voice of the Lord will compel us to humility, it will compel us to see ourselves not as spiritual juggernauts, not as theological giants, but as servants of the cross who have much to learn, and who have much to grow.
One thing is certain, God will not leave His children in the dark, He will not be silent toward their pleas, and if we take the time to listen, if we take the time to hear, God will speak to us, and we will know that it is His voice.
Too often however the voice of the crowd drowns out the voice of God, and in our desire to be part of the crowd we dismiss or discount the voice of the Lord. Men have this overriding desire to ‘belong’ whether it is to a certain church, a denomination, or a ministry, that causes them to overlook inconsistencies, or dismiss the voice of God because what God is saying goes against what the church or denomination is saying.
One of the more extreme examples are certain denominations that have now opened their doors and their arms to all manner of perversion, and those belonging to these denominations by and large continue to fill the pews and write their tithe checks.
‘I know that my denomination is taking an unbiblical stance, I know that they are going against the fundamentals of the Scripture, but I’ve been here for so long, and I have so many friends here, and it will be hard to integrate myself into a new congregation.’
And so, they remain in a polluted place, listening to polluted teaching, and given enough time they themselves will become polluted even though the voice of God told them to run, to flee, to wipe the very dust of the place off their feet because ‘Ichabod’ had been stenciled on the walls of the sanctuary and the glory of God had long departed.
Galatians 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.