How to Have Spiritual Discernment
1 John 4:1 NLT
Dear Friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
I remember praying in the beginning of my Christian walk for God to give me discernment. For whatever reason, I had in mind that discernment would come to me automatically. I would just instantly know if something is of God or in God’s will. Not to say it cannot happen that way, but little did I know most of my discernment would come from experience.
God allows us to go through certain situations to mature us spiritually. Growing can cause temporary pain but in the end, you will be thankful for the wisdom this growth has imparted. Realize that no human being is perfect and we all make mistakes. This is why it is so important for your main authority to be Jesus. He is the only one who will not lead you astray but right into the hands of your Father. Discernment starts by having a direct relationship with God and reading His Word for yourself. Other resources and people are meant to help along the way but not to be used as the main source.
3 Tips on Having Discernment
1 John 4:2 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
Jesus is my number one go-to person when it comes to having discernment. If someone is speaking about other religions, what do they say about Jesus? If someone is teaching a certain doctrine, what do they say about Jesus? Is the primary focus on Jesus or something else? If someone is influencing you to do something that you are uncertain of, did Jesus already teach about it? You need to know who Jesus is to have discernment. Everything was made through Him, therefore He is the filter in which you can know right from wrong. You have to have a personal relationship with Jesus. This starts with accepting Him into your life and reading the Bible.
One of the best teachers of life is experience itself. There were certain circumstances God allowed me to go through that I did not like, but in hindsight, it was absolutely necessary. You can tell a child not to do something like touch the hot stove and they will not listen until they experience for themselves why you told them not to do it in the first place. The experiences God allows you to go through will teach you very quickly how to discern certain situations. Treat your experiences as valuable lessons.
We naturally do not want to wait for anything. This is likely the reason why I thought discernment would come to me automatically. Sometimes it did, in other instances, it took time for me to ponder on the situation, or it even took months before God gave me the proper understanding. God will reveal in His perfect timing exactly what you need to know. He could be waiting for you to be more mature to handle the truth or for a certain situation to come to pass first. Whatever it is, trust God in the meanwhile to give you the understanding you need when necessary.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in ourselves that we forget our true purpose which is to share our faith in Jesus, spread the Gospel, and to love God and others. I have realized that the true meaning of “20/20 Vision” this year was God revealing truth, making corrections in our hearts, maturing us in the Lord. It’s not about achieving self-ambitions or what God can do for your happiness.
Getting everything you want out of life is worthless in a world that is dying every day because of sin. I can honestly say God has already done enough by sending Jesus to die on the cross. Anything else is just a bonus.
Do not lose sight of the true gift of eternity by focusing on the temporal things of this world.