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Depend On God For Discernment

by Larry Miles

Text: Philippians 1:9-11

Intro: “Discernment is the Hallmark of Spiritual Maturity!” Spiritual discernment does not automatically come to the Christian but we must have it in our lives.  It will enable us to make the right choices spiritually.

Christians must make a decision to focus our minds on the things good from God. Romans 12:1-2 tells us that we must seek a spiritual-minded renewal in the midst of a mindless society. Colossians 3:1ff urges us to “seek the things that are above rather than the things on earth.” I John 2:15-17 shows us the importance of always striving to make the things of God our priority.

We must escape from “earthbound thinking” (1 Corinthians 1:18). We live in the physical real so we interpret everything through a physical prism.

God helps with discernment, but man must pray, seek and train for it.  Discernment can be developed, but it requires the heart of a seeker and a commitment to study. The greatest obstacle to a person’s developing discernment is one’s own heart.  An unbiased search for the will of God requires that we put our own will aside. We must desire above all else to know the mind of God, the subject of our study, and be willing to surrender to it when we find it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to always put our trust in God’s Word.  1 Peter 2:21-25, especially verse 22, tells that Jesus is to be our Example.

What is spiritual discernment?

Discernment is:

Spiritual Discernment is: A term used by Christians to derive the process of deciding God’s will for one’s life.

Illustration: “A man asked a farmer why the cow he was leading had no horns. The farmer explained, some kinds of cows are born with no horns, others have them removed while they are still calves, and a few have them broken while butting other cows. On the other hand, this cow has no horns because it is a pony.” (Illustration: via Wayne Polk, Shelbyville, IL)

Discernment is having the ability to tell the difference between a cow and a pony. It requires a certain amount of knowledge and the sense to apply it.

Spiritual discernment is essential because there are many false teachers today (1 John 4:1). Let’s deal now with Philippians 1:9-11 in a little more detail.

I. Why pray for discernment?

Verse 9 “And this I pray, that your love  may abound more and more in knowledge and all discernment” Verse 10 “that you may approve the things that are excellent” (noun form of this Greek word in NT).

  • To approve that which is excellent (v. 10a).

This is the account of what transpired after Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration.  The disciples did not understand what He was telling them and were afraid to ask.  The application to us is that if we are not willing to do what it takes to grow spiritually, we are in reality, not trusting God to keep His Word. In that He has promised, we could know His will in our lives.  By our lack of growth, it shows that we do not completely believe that He will equip us completely with the Whole Armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18)   If we are willing to grow as a Christian (2 Peter 3:18) and be more discerning spiritually, God will not let us down.

What Are some ways to develop spiritual maturity?


-Larry Miles lives in Louisville, KY and worships with the Cherry Street Church of Christ IN New Albany, IN

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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10