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The Power of a Discerning Spirit - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2022 12:00 am

The Power of a Discerning Spirit - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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November 11, 2022 12:00 am

Dr. Stanley explains why we need spiritual discernment and how to develop it.


Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Friday, November 11th. Self-reliance is of no use when it comes to discerning spiritual things. But believers have access to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Here's part two of The Power of a Discerning Spirit. We live in a world that's full of counterfeit, lies, half truths mixed with truth. We live in a day when you have to ask several times, am I hearing the truth or am I not?

Is this really the truth or is this some counterfeit? It's something camouflaged about what I see and what I hear. A world of deception, lies, and so we live in lots of turmoil because we don't know what to believe. You turn on the television and you hear one person say one thing and somebody else comes on next says something absolutely opposite. So, what do you believe?

You hear all about finances today and you hear about something else tomorrow and it's totally different. So, we live in an age of being overwhelmed with information, but not necessarily the truth. And if you operate simply on the basis of information without truth, you're going to get in trouble sooner or later. So, what I want to talk about in this message is simply this, and that is the power of a discerning spirit. It is the will of God that all of His children have a spiritually discerning spirit. That is, when you think about what discernment is, discernment is all about making judgments. It's about right judgment. It's about looking beneath the surface of things to see what's really there.

It's being able to hear what the person says and also hearing what they don't say. It's investigating something and not taking it for granted. It's evaluating. It's distinguishing.

It's looking deep down inside to find out what is the truth. Now, what's the source of real spiritual discernment? Well, the source of real spiritual discernment, first of all, it's the gift of God. You say, well, how can it be a gift of God?

Here's the reason. Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room the night before He was leaving, He said, I'm going to send you a Helper. He is the Holy Spirit. He will be in you, with you, and upon you. He will enable you. He will give you direction. He will bring things to your remembrance. He will help you understand the truth. That's the promise that every single one of us who is a believer has. We have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us to enable us and direct us to have spiritual discernment. So, we have a Helper.

And so, as you think about your life and you come to make a decision, listen, you don't ever have to make a decision alone as a believer. You have the Spirit of God living within you and He says, I'm sending Him as your Helper. So, we have someone to help us. You say, I'll help you how? In every single aspect of life.

We have Him. When you trusted Jesus as your Savior, He says He came to live in your life. Direction, guidance, your personal Helper. Naturally, He's going to help you make wise decisions. So, when you think about it, we have the asset number one of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be wise in our judgments.

But a second thing we have is this. We have the Word of God. He says, the entrance of Thy Word gives light. Now, so when it comes to making wise decisions and when it comes to having spiritual discernment, what is the basis of it? The basis of all discernment is the Word of God. Because every single situation and circumstance you and I are confronted with, there is an answer in the Word of God. You say, oh, I've got something.

No, you don't. You don't have any spiritual moral issues in life for which there's not an answer in the Word of God. So, when somebody says, well, how do I have a discerning spirit? Well, listen carefully. Think about it in this light. You come to church week after week after week after week, or you listen or you watch.

And you hear one principle after the other, one principle after the other. This is how God works. This is how God thinks. I'm just simply giving you what God says in His Word.

So, what have you done? You have filled your mind with biblical truths. Let's just take the Ten Commandments.

If you just take the Ten Commandments and you say, well, I'm going to run everything by that, that's just foundation. You think about all the truth in the Word of God, all through Paul's epistles and how he explained things and so forth. And so, when you think about that and you think about how God intends for us to work, listen to what He says in First Corinthians now back in this second chapter.

And begin, if you will, in verse ten. He says, For to us God revealed them through the Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 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. So that, listen, if a person is an unbeliever, they have no spiritual discernment.

Can't have it. No one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given us of God. The basis of all true, genuine spiritual discernment is the Word of God. 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.

Now watch this. But a natural man, that's an unbeliever, a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for their foolishness to him. And he can't understand them because they're spiritually discerned. You see, that word is a praise.

A Greek word is discern. He says, A lost person cannot understand the things of God because they are spiritually discerned. You say, Well, then how would a lost person ever get saved?

Here's how a lost person gets saved. They hear the truth and the Spirit of God from without. Takes the truth of God, drives it to their heart, their life, and convicts them of sin and begins to reveal the truth, the truth of salvation.

And then following that, of course, the Holy Spirit is there to give them direction. But here's what He says. He says, A natural man does not accept the things of God because they're spiritually discerned. And He says, Because they're foolishness to him. But he who is spiritual appraises or discerns all things, yet he himself is discerned by no one. Now, what He's simply saying is this, that when you and I have the Spirit of God living within us, what happens? We have the discerner.

He's the one who enables us to discern. Sometimes people who are lost are wise about some things. But when it comes to spiritual things, He says, The natural man receiveth not the things of God because they're foolishness to him. And one of the reasons it's foolish is because they feel like they're adequate within themselves and they don't need it. And you've heard people say, Well, I, you know, I don't need God. How foolish. And they have no discernment about what life is all about. They think because they have everything they need and everything is fine with them and they're healthy and their family's this, that, and the other. They don't need God.

It's foolish. A person with discernment knows life is short, judgment's coming, God is in absolute control, and no one can boast of tomorrow, not even the next minute. He's in control. But if we don't understand that and we make decisions forgetting the fact that God is in control, we get ourselves in trouble.

So, here's what He's saying. He's saying, You know, if a person is lost, then they're not going to have it. And you can read the whole hundred and nineteenth Psalm. It's all about the Word of God. He says, The entrance of His Word. When we have His Word entering our life, the light of truth begins to abide it within us.

So, ask yourself the question, Do I have a discerning spirit? Now, a third way we develop a discerning spirit is not only, for example, as a gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in our life through His Word, but what we're taught. Turn, if you will, to Ezekiel chapter forty-four. And it's interesting that specifically God said to the Levites, who were the priests over the nation of Israel, here's what He said to them.

One of their responsibilities, and He said in the twenty-second verse, They shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman, but shall take virgins from the offspring the house of Israel, a widow who is the widow of a priest, and moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. The specific responsibility of the priest was to teach them to have a discerning spirit. Then, of course, when you think about that, there's the whole issue of experience. Well, how do you develop a discerning spirit? By what?

By practice. You say, Well, suppose I fail. We all fail to begin with.

We all make mistakes. But here's what happens. If I want to develop a discerning spirit, first of all, I have to be a Christian. I'll ask God to give me direction. And I will do what I believe He's saying is best I know at that point. It may be exactly the right thing. It may not be.

You say, Well, suppose it's not. How do we learn? We learn by making mistakes. Well, I thought that's what God said.

But here's the key. We go back to what we said in the beginning. If you have the Word of God, which all of us have, if we have the Word of God and we have it in our heart, the Spirit of God will do what?

Decision comes. You want to be wise in what you do. He will bring back to our mind and heart the Word of God. See, here's what God says now. This is why I say read it, read it, read it, read it, read it, because here's what happens. When you read the Word of God, He's putting it in your heart. The more you read, the more you understand.

You read it, you read it, you read it, you read it, what's happening? We program our minds and our hearts, our spirit to think the way God thinks. You neglect the Word of God, what happens? You neglect the Word of God, you will begin to think the way the world thinks.

Because think about it, think about how much you hear from television or your job or whatever it might be. You listen to all these things, bombarded with information, information, information. And then there's the little bit of time you spend reading the Word of God, which will naturally overpower the other. If you're not careful, you let the world's viewpoint overpower God's viewpoint. Then you make wrong decisions. That's why I believe that every believer should read the Word of God daily. You say, well, read where? The truth is it doesn't make any difference. You're reading the Word of God, what's happening? He's getting His thoughts into your mind. And think about this, think about the clash, the clash of what the world is saying to you and bombarding your mind with versus the Word of God.

Which one is going to prevail? You cannot live a godly life and close this book. You can't do it. It's the Word of God. He says, how shall any man be pure?

By what? Absorbing the Word of God within his heart, within his life. Discernment comes as a gift from God. It comes through the work of the Holy Spirit. It comes through the teaching of the Word of God. And listen, it comes through testing and trial. All of us face tests and all of us face trials in our life.

And so what happens? We make decisions based on discernment. What is the mind of God? How would God have me to respond to this?

And how do I find that out? Reading the Word. Any issue, any, especially any moral issue that comes along in your life, there is a biblical answer, which means I have the privilege of exercising discernment.

What is the truth about this situation? Most people wouldn't be in the mess they're in financially, relationally, or in many other ways if they consulted the Word of God and said, Lord, is this decision I'm facing according to Your Word, what shall I do? Give me direction in Your Word. You know, there's some passages that I turn to whenever I've got a decision to make. There's some passages I turn to over and over and over again. Same passage.

Why? It's a reminder that God will show me if I will wait. For example, He says He acts in behalf of those who wait for Him.

That is a major principle to me. He acts in behalf of those who wait for Him, which says in a situation I think, okay, now Lord, what would You have me to do? And I come to that passage of Scripture. He says He's going to act in my behalf if I wait for His time. And so, I'm not going to make a fast decision.

You said You would act in my behalf, so I'm going to trust You to give me guidance to know what to do, but I'm going to wait for Your guidance. You can come up with any question, any situation, circumstance. God will give you a discerning spirit if you are willing to submit to Him, yield to Him, because you have His Word, you have the Holy Spirit, you have the teaching of the Word of God, you have His promise and His presence in your life. Now, think about it. You're thinking about getting married. What's your criteria? Is it the will of God? Are you going to make a decision based on what you see and what you've heard?

Are you going to make a decision on what's the truth? And I would say to you, if you're going to marry anybody, and I've said it over and over again, before you marry them, I don't care what they have and how good looking they are. You better go find out what their family's like.

What kind of family do they come from? You say, well, that hasn't got anything to do with it. Oh, yes it does, for the simple reason. Listen, that's where it began. And I hear people say this once in a while, well, I know he drinks, but I'm going to get him over that. You could never show me in the Word of God where it says, marry this young man who is living in sin and drinking and carousing. It's not in the Word of God.

Read the book of Corinthians, for example. How can you mix light with darkness? Well, are you saying that my boyfriend's darkness? If that's the kind of life he's living, he's living in darkness. You want to live a godly life, young lady, and you want to mix your life with darkness? He says, you don't do it. He questions the fact even of going into business with somebody who's not a Christian.

How can you mix it together? You see, the truth is, it's not that God is not clear. We just don't like what He says. A discerning spirit says, I want to know the truth and I want to know the truth, not to consider it, but to obey it. Listen carefully. A discerning spirit is the greatest protection you have in a world of information that's so full of mixture of truth and error. We all need a discerning spirit. And it is my prayer, if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you think, well, how does all this work with me? Well, it won't work, because He says, the natural man receiveth not the things of God. When you trust Jesus as your Savior, that's when the Holy Spirit comes in, that's when He enables you, that's when you begin to see things as they really and truly are.

So, I ask you this question. Why would you wait to receive Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as your Savior, Lord and Master, when He is the only Savior? Why would you wait?

Could you give me a good answer there? Why would you wait when your greatest protection is His presence within you and the power to discern rightly? Why would you wait in a world of confusion and people being mixed up about so many things and not knowing which way to turn and how to make decisions and all the uncertainty that envelops this world of ours? Why would you wait if you'll think you shouldn't wait? Because it can't get better waiting.

And I would challenge you to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins and tell Him that you need Him in your life. You're receiving Him as your Lord and Savior and Master. You want what's best for you.

You want what's best for your family. You're trusting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Why would you wait?

Frankly, I'd be a little bit afraid to wait. God does know how to get our attention, doesn't He? Amen. Father, how grateful we are that You love us.

Gracious, kind, and so forgiving, and so patient. You said You'd give us the Holy Spirit who would live within us, be a part of our life, give us direction, guidance all of our life. I pray that You'll sink these truths, God.

Sink them, not just so deep. But Lord, as a vital part of our thinking every day, what's the will of the Father? What's the truth about this? I pray for somebody seated here this morning. Lord, I pray that You'll help them to understand that it is always wise to obey You and that it is the Spirit of God that's telling them what they should do. For somebody here who's unsaved and wondering why their life isn't such a mess, give them understanding this morning. It doesn't have to be where it is. You can change it in a moment, and You're willing to, if they're willing to trust Jesus Christ as our Savior. This is our prayer in His name.

Amen. Thank you for listening to Part 2 of The Power of a Discerning Spirit. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-19 06:55:53 / 2022-11-19 07:04:07 / 8

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