Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, November 3rd. Spiritual sensitivity is a gift from God, but it can take time to develop. Today's podcast guides believers in how to acquire spiritual discernment. Spiritual discernment is the ability to see things from God's viewpoint, to understand them sort of the way He understands them, to see them from a whole different perspective and the way the world, the rational mind sees them. It is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, between what is good and what is best, between what is wise and unwise, between what is truth and error, between what is the self-will and the will of God. And I wonder when it comes to making a decision about your own life, do you ever think about the potential that you have within you as a believer to make a very wise decision because you have help, because you have a helper living on the inside of you, that God is genuinely interested in every decision? And not only that, not only spiritual discernment about situations and circumstances and decisions you have to make, but spiritual discernment about yourself. What makes you think the way you think? What makes you believe what you believe?
What makes you respond to situations and circumstances the way you do? Is it self-will? Is it the flesh?
Is it carnality? Or is it the Spirit of the living God, working and living and moving within you? Well, the title of this message is How to Acquire Spiritual Discernment. And I want you to turn, if you will, to the book of Hebrews. I want us to read just one verse, which we'll come back to, and we'll see many other verses. It's so very important that you and I understand this because, you see, if a person doesn't have spiritual discernment, how would you ever know whether God is speaking to you or it's just yourself?
How would you know in some situations where neither choice is wrong, but one is much wiser than the other? One is the will of the Father, and the other, the Father knows it's not best for you. So we have to decide that we want the best of what God has to offer or less than that. So Hebrews chapter five, and I want you to notice what he's talking about. He is talking about those who are not mature spiritually as believers.
And so this is the way he describes it. He says in verse twelve, Well, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you've come to need milk and not solid food. He said, Now, some of you should have been mature enough by this point in your life, you ought to be doing the teaching, but still you're just drinking milk. That is the simplest things of the Scripture for a person to understand. Then he says, For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he's an infant. That is, there's some things in the Scripture that are deep. There's some things that all of us should understand.
Basic principles of Scripture that don't come by simply or carelessly sort of reading across verses and saying, Well, I don't quite understand that. Then he says in verse fourteen, But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil, to make wise right judgments in life. So all of us need spiritual discernment. And I realize that many people will live their entire life and never even think about the idea, never even recognize that potential is there.
They'll just make decisions based on human reason, on the few facts that they have, and what seems to be the right thing to do, or what it appears that the world would certainly choose to be the right thing. What I want you to understand is there's a way to acquire spiritual discernment in your life for your daily life in every single decision you have to make as you look within yourself and as you look around you and those important decisions that affect you, your family, your business, your finances, your relationship to the living God. And certainly the first step is to seek spiritual discernment.
You say, well, what do you mean by that? Simply this, that it is not automatic. Once you choose to become a Christian doesn't mean that all of a sudden you look at the Bible, you understand it, and therefore you have spiritual discernment. That is not true because many people will go through life, as we said, without that. And so you see a reason the person does not have spiritual discernment is first of all, they don't even know it's available.
And secondly, they don't feel the need. It is certainly the will of God that every one of His children have spiritual discernment because He knows that the more spiritually discerning we are, the stronger our relationship with the Lord Jesus is going to be. The more obedient we're going to be because we're going to be able to distinguish between what's the will of God and what seems to be a good thing.
So number one, you must seek it. Secondly, and a very important part is, you must recognize, listen, your dependence upon the Holy Spirit and be submissive to Him. Now you and I know that the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Godhead, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. And that Jesus said, I'm going away, and if I go away, I'll send Him and He'll be in you, with you, and upon you. So that every single one of us who's trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Each and every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He comes in salvation when you not trust Christ as our Savior. He seals us as a child of God forever. And then He begins His multiple ministries in our life. He's the one who determines our spiritual gift. He's the one who chooses for us the manifestation of that gift and how we ought to express that gift. He's the one who gives us instruction in the Word of God. He's the one who opens our minds to understand the truth of the Word of God. He's the one who empowers us and energizes us and gives supernatural strength to face the situations and circumstances in life that we have to face.
He is a very vital, important part. For example, the second chapter of Acts and the tenth chapter of Acts, the Holy Spirit is referred to as a gift from God, the gift of God to every believer. And Jesus certainly spoke of Him.
Not only is that, He says, I'm going away, and if I go away, I'll send Him. He says in four times in the fourteen, fifteen, sixteen chapters of John, He calls Him our Helper. So Jesus saw the Holy Spirit as He, whom He would send as He went back to be with the Father as our Helper.
What does He help us do? Many things, one of which is to be very discerning in the decisions we make in life, the way we see things, the way we evaluate them, so that every single one of us has the Holy Spirit. And He said, for example, the Holy Spirit is the one who will reveal Him, that is, who Jesus Christ is. When we come to the Word of God, He's the one who will give us understanding of what it means at this verse or that or the other. He says, for example, He called Him the Spirit of Truth. Why would Jesus call Him the Spirit of Truth except He knew that one of His primary responsibilities would be to enable a believer to discern what is true and what is not true. And we hear so many things today that's supposed to be the truth because of the person and their credentials and so forth of who's doing the talking.
The ultimate decision is what is truth from God's viewpoint. And the Spirit of God has the responsibility of showing you and me what is the truth. That's why you can't always believe everything you hear. You can't even believe everything you see.
And you certainly can't believe everything you feel. There is within us the Spirit of the living God who will give us discernment to be able to see what the eye doesn't see, hear what the ear doesn't hear, and be sensitive to what human normal, natural feelings do not feel. God has granted us a special, wonderful, exciting, all-empowering gift in giving us the Holy Spirit. Now, the work of the Holy Spirit is probably as clearly as any place described in 1 Corinthians chapter 2.
Look at that for a moment. Jesus had a lot to say about the Holy Spirit's work. And He said, for example, to His disciples, He said, Now, you think you're ready.
He didn't use that terminology but actually what He was saying. You're not ready to fulfill the Great Commission. You're not ready to do the work that I've called you to do. So I want you and my followers to sit down in the seat of Jerusalem until you be endued with power from on high. And He was talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in which the Spirit of God baptized all those believers into the body of Christ.
That is, now every single one of us is indwelt by Him. So Jesus had a lot to say about the Holy Spirit. Listen to what Paul said in the second chapter of 1 Corinthians because here he's giving us a very clear understanding of what it means for the Spirit to discern for us, to make clear to us, to give us accurate understanding, very clarity in what we are facing.
Here's what he says. He's speaking of the truth, for example, that He understands and that they had been given. So He says, For to us God revealed these things through the Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. The Holy Spirit, a person of the Trinity, certainly knows the mind of the Father and the mind of Jesus. Then He says, For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him, even so the thoughts of God? No one knows except the Spirit of God.
Now watch this. So that if I'm going to have spiritual discernment, I must have the Spirit of God enlightening my spirit and informing me and showing me what is the truth from God's viewpoint. He says, For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him, even so the thoughts of God?
No one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, Paul says, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God. That is, that which governs the life of a believer is not the Spirit of the world, which is so materialistic and so full of secularism. But our spirit is the Spirit of the living God. He says, Now we've received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. God wants you and me to know the truth, the difference between error and truth, the difference between good and what's best, the will of God and the will of man, wisdom versus lack of wisdom. He says, Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. When you have spiritual discernment, you'll be able to discern, you'll be able to understand, you'll be able to grasp truth that you would not be able to grasp any other way. He says now, But a natural man, that is, the person who is not saved does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, because they're foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised of the word, and the Greek is discerned. And so therefore, the Spirit of God is the one who interprets and Paul says, the natural man, he says, it's foolish to him, because what does the natural man do? He makes decisions based on his own human rationale. He makes decisions based on what appears to be right, what appears to be fair, what appears to be good, and what he or she would do if they were God in this circumstances. Let me just add this, in their ignorance.
That's what they would do. You and I are not ignorant. We have the Spirit of the Living God living on the inside of us to discern truth from error. That makes it possible for us to hear something and determined by the Spirit of God based on the Word of God.
Is that true or is it not true? Not based on my opinion or somebody else's opinion, but what is the teaching of the Word of God? That is the work of the Holy Spirit to give us a sense of discernment and to understand, as he says here, that this is not worldly wisdom. He's talking about Godly wisdom. For example, how would any of us understand the whole story of redemption, for example? That is God's redemptive plan from Adam and Eve all the way in the fall in the garden all the way to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the book of the Revelation, things that are going to happen.
There's no human rationale for all of that. And you see, one of the reasons that people parade the idea that God is going to accept you into heaven based on how good you are. And I heard some of that that was just appalling to me, that men of so-called intelligence, and then I had to back off and realize that human rationale, it seems fair, it looks like that's what God ought to do, but that is not what the Scripture teaches. And so how would you and I ever understand God's redemptive plan apart from the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit?
We wouldn't. How would we understand what justification is all about? Justification says that we are no longer declared guilty by God. Well, how could God not declare us guilty when we are guilty, very guilty of sin? The Spirit of God certainly gives us this sermon to understand. The reason you and I who are believers are not guilty and that we've been pardoned from our sin and we're going to heaven is not because of our good works but because. When Jesus Christ went to the cross, He died on the cross and paid our sin debt in full and pardoned us forever for our sin. If a person is not spiritually discerning and they say, well, you know, if God is a good God, He's a God of love, He's fair, He's just.
If I'm good, then I'm going to heaven. What they don't understand is, and here's what you, if you'll just recall this and remember this, you never hear them talking about sin. Sin is the whole issue. Sin is the problem. Nobody talks about sin.
They talk about being good. God's a God of love and if He's good and He's fair, we're all going to heaven. We're going to all get there one of these days. There probably, maybe there's more than one God and certainly one of these days we're going to all end up in the same place. Human reasoning but totally erroneous. Totally erroneous and there's nowhere in the Bible you could ever get that and prove that to be true. But that's the world's thinking. So before we get too hard on the world, let's remember, Paul said here, he said, what is true is foolish to them.
Why? Because they do not have spiritual discernment. Therefore, every single one of us, we're indwelt with the Holy Spirit, we must rely upon Him. We must call upon Him to give us understanding of the Word of God and to give us understanding of what's reality when we are facing decisions in life and we have His assistance and His guidance and His direction, which is one of the reasons that our Heavenly Father sent Him, He knew we would need Him in our life.
Now, that's one, for example. We said, first of all, we must seek to have the spiritual discernment and secondly, we have the Holy Spirit to give us guidance and direction and interpret for us and so we need Him. Number three is simply this and that is if you're going to have spiritual discernment, you must be willing to study the Word of God. For example, if you want to know what God thinks about something, you go to the guidebook. This is God's revelation of Himself. This book right here in print is who God says He is. Now, He does not give us one sheet, one page that says the following are the characteristics of God. He was much wiser than that. If God had done what most people think He ought have done and that is, okay, God says here's who I am, here's who Jesus is, here's who the Holy Spirit is, on the next two pages you find out how we operate, how we think. You know what we'd do?
We'd read four pages and forget the rest of it. Here's what He's done. Very wisely, God has unfolded Himself, so to speak, all through this book from the very beginning in Genesis chapter 1 verse 1 to the last verse of the revelation and what happens? As we read and as we study, the Spirit of God opens our minds and our hearts to see how did God operate in the garden? How did He operate with Abraham? How did He operate in David's life? How did He operate in Daniel's life? How did He operate in Paul's life? How did He operate in Peter's life? How did He operate in the life of the nation of Israel, nation after nation? How did He operate among the wicked and among the godly?
What was God's responses? That's how we discover who God is. And you see, He's wise enough to know that it isn't just a matter of making statements, but He's illustrated who He is, how He thinks and how He operates in all these so-called, people call the stories in the Old Testament.
They're not stories, they're illustrations of who God is, how He works and how He thinks. And therefore, if we want to know who God is, how He acts, how He thinks, what motivates Him, we get in the Scriptures. We begin to understand, we begin to read, we begin to say, well, this is the way God thinks because this is what He did. Now, I want you to turn, if you will, in this book of Hebrews to the fourth chapter. Want us to read just one verse out of this fourth chapter. Here is a good description of God's Word.
Listen to what He says. Chapter four, verse twelve. For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.
Look at that. He says, first of all, the Word of God's living. This is not a dead book. The Word of God is just as much alive today if God had just spoken it yesterday.
It's just as alive. It is relevant. Listen, it is applicable to every single aspect of life because God in His wisdom has given us His instruction book. This is His instruction book, How to Live.
This doesn't answer all the scientific questions about life or arithmetic or mathematics. That's not what it's about. This is about living. This is about the most important thing in your life, living. This is about living. This is about dying. This is about eternity. This is about how to relate to one another, how to relate to our heavenly Father.
It's the most important book and it is absolutely infallible and inerrant, up to date, current in every circumstance and situation in life. That's why thousands of years later we're still reading, Thus saith the Lord. Here's what God says. This is the way God operated.
These are the things He said. Where do you find the mind of God? How do you find out how God operates you? Go to the book and see how did He operate here and here.
Here's what you're going to find. He's never inconsistent. He's always the same. This book not only is current, it's not only applicable, but listen, it never changes. It is immutable. It is the unchanging revelation of the living God who never changes. And so therefore this is the basis of all spiritual discernment.
I want to say that again. The Word of God is the basis of all spiritual discernment because we want to make wise decisions. We go to the wise one. We want to make right decisions. We go to the one who always did what was right. We seek direction and guidance and to know what is the truth. We go to the one who is the truth, one who tells only the truth, one who guides only by the truth. You cannot have spiritual discernment and neglect the Word of God. Thank you for listening to How to Acquire Spiritual Discernment. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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