If we have no desire to be discerning, we won’t be discerning. Proverbs 2:3-6 says,
If you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
If we are driven by a yearning to be happy, healthy, affluent, prosperous, comfortable, and self-satisfied, we will never be discerning people. If our feelings determine what we believe, we cannot be discerning. If we subjugate our minds to some earthly ecclesiastical authority and blindly believe what we are told, we undermine discernment. Unless we are willing to examine all things carefully, we cannot hope to have any defense against reckless wandering faith.
The desire for discernment is a desire born out of humility. It is a humility that acknowledges our own potential for self-deception—“the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9). It is a humility that distrusts personal feelings and casts scorn on self-sufficiency—“on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:5). It is a humility that turns to the Word of God as the final arbiter of all things—“examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
No one has a monopoly on truth. I certainly do not. I don’t have reliable answers within myself. My heart is as susceptible to self-deception as anyone’s. My feelings are as undependable as everyone else’s. I am not immune to Satan’s deception. That is true for all of us. Our only defense against false doctrine is to be discerning, to distrust our own emotions, to hold our own senses suspect, to examine all things, to test every truth-claim with the yardstick of Scripture, and to handle the Word of God with great care.
The desire to be discerning therefore entails a high view of Scripture linked with an enthusiasm for understanding it correctly. God requires that very attitude (2 Timothy 2:15). So the heart that truly loves Him will naturally burn with a passion for discernment.
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