Overcomer #9 – Learning to Discern
A Chinese boy who wanted to learn about jade went to study from an old, honored teacher. This man put a piece of the precious stone into his hand and told him to hold it tight.
Then he began to talk about philosophy, men, women, the sun, and almost everything under it. After an hour he took back the stone and sent the boy home.
The procedure was repeated for several weeks with a different piece of jade. The boy became frustrated. When would he be told about the jade? He was too polite, however, to question the teacher’s wisdom.
One day when the old man put a stone into his hands, the boy cried out instinctively, “That’s not jade!” He had become so familiar with the genuine that he could immediately detect a counterfeit.
Spiritually, how can we discern genuine from counterfeit, divine from demonic, good from evil, right from wrong, truth from error?
1. Weigh all things with God’s Word. Measure teachings and movements on what they believe about primary doctrines, not just isolated texts.
What do they believe about God? About the inspired Word of God? About Jesus as the unique Son of God and only Savior of the world? About salvation by faith alone?
2. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying within you. Does the truth bear witness with confirmation and assurance? Or do you have a nagging sense of doubt that something’s not right?
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and he will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). We will know if the teaching is from God or not (John 7:17).
3. Measure it with the Cross. What is the attitude of this teaching or movement to Christ and his work on the cross? Does it eliminate Christ’s atoning sacrifice? Dismiss Christ’s triumphant resurrection? Deny picking up our cross and following Christ?
4. Test the fruit. Jesus said, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:20). What is the end result of this particular person, ministry, teaching, movement, organization?
Are the unsaved saved? Are they being added to the church? Are Christians strengthened, encouraged, comforted (1 Corinthians 14:3)? Is love for God and others increasing? Are lives being changed?
5. Compare it with God’s character. Does this person, teaching, movement, organization match what God is like? Reflect the person of Jesus? Display the fruit of the Spirit?
Learning to discern is a developmental process. “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
~ Pastor Dave