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How to Develop Your Spiritual Discernment

How to Develop Your Spiritual Discernment

Never subjugate your minds to the media of this age and blindly be led in paths laid for us by the enemy of our souls. John MacArthur aptly said, “Unless we are willing to examine all things carefully, we cannot hope to have any defense against reckless faith.” Only in careful scrutiny will we be able to discern light from darkness.

We carry the world in our pocket. From international news agencies to social media platforms, we’re endlessly besieged with bytes of stories, political commentary, cultural opinion, conspiracies, blogs, and the ever-maddening notification ping of breaking news. A staggering 3.5 billion people on our planet have been identified as users and consumers of this assortment of media. In fact, most of us will spend an average of three hours every day engaging with this unrelenting barrage of information.

Over the past several months, we’ve seen how quickly news and social media can elicit fear, provoke anger, and fuel movements. This information overload is sometimes more than we can bear and has sent believers and unbelievers alike spiraling into despair and hopelessness as we’re simply trying to discern what to believe.

Throughout Scripture, believers are repeatedly cautioned to maintain a sharpened awareness of the difference between truth and error. Paul implored the Thessalonian church: “Test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21–22). Similarly, Paul encouraged the Ephesians to “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph 5:10–11). Therefore, spiritual discernment is not optional for the believer but is a clearly commanded necessity for proper Christian living. However, many believers have never been adequately instructed regarding how to develop truly biblical spiritual discernment. Such instruction is vital in the information surplus of our day.

Desire Wisdom

Our desire for spiritual discernment is directly related, at a deeper level, to our desire for wisdom. This type of wisdom is to be searched for, longed for, and pursued by every believer. In the opening sentence of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin said, “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” Calvin reminds us that to receive true wisdom, and therefore the spiritual ability to discern, begins with a right knowledge of our Creator. No doubt he would have had Proverbs 9:10 in mind: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The current inability to determine truth from error finds its origin in a fundamental lack of understanding of the holiness and glory of the triune God and the sinful depravity of man.

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