Discerning in Doctrine But Not Discerning in Character

Discerning in Doctrine But Not Discerning in Character

Press on in spiritual discernment—to be deliberate in separating truth from error and right from wrong. There is never a time to relax your guard when it comes to this critical discipline. 

I believe that discernment matters. I believe that spiritual discernment is a necessary mark of spiritual maturity while a lack of spiritual discernment is a concerning mark of spiritual immaturity. As the book of Hebrews tells us, “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). There it is, the connection between maturity and discernment.

There are many reasons I find myself at home among those who hold to Reformed theology, but one key reason is that the tradition places high value on discernment. Many of those who come to appreciate Reformed doctrine do so after finding a critical lack of judgment in their previous traditions. Disturbed by a blend of good teaching and bad, sound doctrine and unsound, they look for churches that care about diligently separating truth from error and right from wrong. They soon find themselves in a Reformed church.

Yet as I have reflected on discernment over the past 20 years, I continue to find myself perplexed by a strange conundrum: Sometimes the people who most value discernment in doctrine are the people most prone to neglect discernment in character. They can display a kind of credulity that makes them especially susceptible to listening to and believing untrustworthy sources. Ironically, their emphasis on discernment leaves them vulnerable to lies.

We all need to understand a hard truth: there are people out there who make stuff up. It may seem hard to believe, but it’s reality. There are people who fabricate facts, who create accounts of events that did not happen, and who write up conversations that never took place. There are people who act as if they have exhaustive knowledge of other people’s inner motives and desires when they do not and cannot. And even if some do not go that far, they may deliberately exaggerate matters and spread as truth what is no more than rumor or hearsay.

Read More

Scroll to top