Discernment involves each one of us in thinking in a specifically Christian way about each issue. It requires that we employ our minds by informing ourselves through the study of the truth revealed in God’s Word. Yet information alone does not provide us with discernment. At the same time our hearts have to be engaged in devotion to Christ. Then and only then will we find ourselves in tune with the mind of God and be able to make judgments and appraisals that accord with that mind.

Discernment is seen in Scripture as an essential component for spiritual growth. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews expresses the importance of spiritually mature believers regularly and routinely making their decisions by distinguishing between the principles of good and evil: “solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (5:14). In the Old Testament the prophet Ezekiel makes clear that spiritually mature leaders will teach others how to recognize accurately the difference between the holy and the unholy (Ezek. 44:23). Discernment, according to Scripture, is a critical part of Christian life.

It was also seen as essential in making wise decisions, as James makes clear when he wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). If we are to be faithful, wise Christians in the pluralistic setting where we live among people who do not share our convictions and values, we need to see the need for discernment and also to develop skills in discernment.

Assessing and judging truth from error enables us not only to believe the truth but to be able to live appropriately. For it is clear that if you believe the wrong things, you will most certainly end up with a distorted piety and an impaired Christian witness.

The believer should understand that, and Jesus warned us that the hostility of the world is a natural condition. The responsibility of the believer is to know and trust the truth, and so be confident as we expose evil, confront lies, and unmask deception; and in so doing we are given a unique opportunity to present honor to Christ and announce the truth of His Gospel, which brings life, light, freedom, and hope.

Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes