Discernment is the ability to recognize the differences between objects and teachings so as to determine what is real and what is a copy. When it comes to religious truth, it is the ability to discern the teaching of men and to recognize truth and error, right and wrong, prophets and false prophets, real and counterfeit.
Discernment is based upon one’s knowledge of the truth. How does a government agent discern the difference between a real twenty-dollar bill and a counterfeit one? They study a real twenty-dollar bill with all its nuisances until they know it so well that they can spot a counterfeit.
How then are we to be able to tell truth from error? We need to follow the example of the Jews in Berea who heard Paul preach. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11]
They recognized that they needed a reliable standard by which they could test the preaching of Paul. The standard was the Word of God. The Psalmist said, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” [119:160] Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” [John 17:17] The first standard we are to use in discerning the teachings of preachers, churches, religions and sects is to measure their teachings against the truth, the standard of the Word of God.
The second standard we’re to use in determining truth from error is the person of Jesus Christ. He is the way, the life and the truth. [John 14:6] How can any teaching be right that contradicts His teachings or His very being? Recently, a leader of a worldwide Christian organization when being asked about Jesus statement in John 14:6 said, “Jesus was wrong.” On the basis of the Word of God and the teaching of the Word of God, I can say unequivocally he is a false teacher and must be rejected.
One of the great dangers we face today is that people approach the idea s of right and wrong from two extremes. On one extreme is the blind acceptance as truth that which we hear from the pulpits, radio waves and TV as absolute truth. I am constantly telling people to measure what they hear from these sources by the Word of God. If they find something that contradicts the Word of God, question what has been said. Sometimes the difference are matters of fundamental truth and the teacher along with the teaching must be rejected and other times it may be a matter where there are two different legitimate interpretations of a passage of scripture. If the latter is true, we must be charitable and not cause a division.
The second danger is to reject everything we hear because it doesn’t measure up to our ideas of right and wrong. Nothing is more dangerous for both individuals and society than to have conflicting subjective standards of right and wrong. In this situation there is no right or wrong and no ability to discern the truth. The product is societal chaos that leads to anarchy. A reading of the book of Judges reveals the dangers of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.
How then do we carry out the admonition of the Apostle John? “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” [1 John 4:1] We need to prayerfully study the whole Word of God and measure the teachings of others against it. We must avoid the error of measuring the Word of God against our ideas of right and wrong, truth and error and then rejecting the Word of God. We must set the teachings of men regarding the person of Jesus Christ over against the teaching of the Word of God and reject every teaching that contradicts what the Bible says about Him.
When confronted with a question, Jesus rejected the basis of the question by saying; “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Matthew 22:29] When the Jews questioned Jesus right to heal on the Sabbath Day his response was, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” [John 5:39] For Jesus the very Son of God the standard for truth was the Scripture. How dare we suggest some other standard?
One last word regarding truth and error, right and wrong. As you read the pages of this web site measure them against the Word of God. If you find something that contradicts what the Bible teaches, please feel free to contact me let me know what has been written contrary to the Word of God. It’s not a matter of what you or I feel is right or think is right but what the Bible says is right. Know the truth! Study the Word of God!