Discerning Good and Evil
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Heb. 5:14; NASB)
What is discernment? Some think it is a spiritual gift that only those believers chosen by God to have the gift possess. It is often confused with the gift Paul speaks about in 1 Cor. 12:10. However, that gift is the ability to distinguish between the Spirit of God and the spirit of the devil. Simply put, it is to determine whether words or actions such as prophesy or healings are from God or from the enemy. Of course, the gift is much deeper than this simple explanation, but that will suffice for our purposes here. Today’s verse is not speaking of this type of discernment. It speaks of something all believers possess by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Through practice we can become more sensitive to the nudging of the Spirit in our everyday lives. This is part of becoming a mature believer. The question is “How do we practice having our senses discern good and evil?”
First, it’s important to know that the Holy Spirit will never contradict Scripture. So regular reading of Scripture is part of the training. Although most of us will not remember everything we read, when the occasion arises, it can be surprising how much will come back. For instance, if you are trying to decide how to explain a sensitive situation to a friend and you don’t know if you should be completely forthcoming in the details, you might think the Spirit is leading you to tell a half-truth to lessen the blow. However, when you pass that decision through the Scripture test, it will usually fail because truth is a foundational part of God’s Word. So, you will then know that it is not the Spirit you’ve heard, but your own voice.
Regular prayer time is also important. The more time you spend alone with the Lord, the better you will get to know His voice. He speaks to each of us in a way that is unique to our understanding. A child knows his or her parents’ voices. Even if they can’t understand the words, they know the voice, and know they need to pay attention. It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. You may not fully understand what He is saying at first, but you will know it’s Him. This is not something that happens over night. It takes time and daily experiences, so don’t become discouraged. Sitting and listening can sometimes be more fulfilling than actively praying, so spend time quietly sitting in His presence.
Lastly, set your mind on the things above (see Col 3:1-3). When your heart is dedicated to doing what is right in God’s eyes, you will be surprised at how many things that used to be hard to figure out are actually much easier than you were making them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and know that God loves you and will guide you whenever you ask and are willing to listen.
Have a great week and God bless.