Making the right decisions in spiritual matters is of upmost importance. Life is an endless series of crossroads where we must make the right decisions in moral, spiritual and ethical matters. Often, we take the wrong path, but we can know the way to go as we face these challenges. We can turn to God and allow his plans to guide us in these daily decisions. He never expects us to be sinless, but he asks us to be faithful to him throughout our lives.
Paul writes to the Philippians and teaches them how to develop a more sincere, vibrant faith. He writes, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” (Philippians 1:9, NKJV).
Spiritual discernment is the ability to determine right from wrong. This skill is based on wisdom and is founded in an understanding of God’s purpose for our lives. There are distinct steps that can be taken in developing discernment.
First, proper spiritual discernment is based on faith in God’s way. We must know that God knows what he is doing. That he has the right answers and always has our best interest at heart. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
God is always good and that must be the backdrop for all that we believe and teach about God (Exodus 34:6; 1 John 1:5). The Psalmist says, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:8-9).
As we face decisions, therefore, we can relax in the assurance that allowing God’s Word to take us down a certain path will always be the best thing. In other words, we don’t have to consider God’s answer to a question and hope that it will be the best path to take. It will always be right, even if it is the “road less traveled” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Second, proper spiritual discernment is based on a knowledge of God’s Word. After we establish that God’s answer will always be right and productive, we must go to the Scriptures in order to determine the right path. It addresses every issue either explicitly or conceptually. Then, when we find the answer we must have the courage to act on it. Prayer will be our beacon against the storms of life. Maintain that lifeline with God and never be alone (Hebrews 13:5).
Third, proper spiritual discernment is based on the ability to see our place in the larger spiritual war. Ephesians 6:11-13 tells us that we are all engaged in a spiritual war with Satan. Satan knows he cannot destroy God so he is set on taking as many souls away from him as he can.
We must not aid and abet the enemy in our decisions. We must recognize the temptations that Satan will place before us (1 John 2:16). These will always appear as the most desirable and enjoyable paths. Yet, they are full of danger.
Fourth, proper spiritual discernment is based on the resolve to never waver on right decisions. We must steel our nerves so that we can take the time to make them properly and then carry them out. Satan will always provide the path of least resistance. We must never waver as people around us ridicule or pressure us into following their sinful ways. Our faith must endure as we remember that our souls are more important than any earthly thing (Matthew 16:26).
Nowhere does God ever say or insinuate that the Christian life would be easy. Instead, it is described as a race, a struggle bathed in sweat, tears and blood. Yet, heaven awaits where there will never be any more fear, pain, stress or death. Revelation 2:10 says, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” That is worth a few painful decisions. In fact, it is the ultimate delayed gratification!
What Does Spiritual Discernment Mean?