It cannot be overstated how important it is that we see things accurately in order to function properly in this world. For example, we have to pass an eye exam before we receive a license to drive a motor vehicle to confirm we are good judges and can accurately distinguish the location of objects and read signs while driving at high speeds.
Furthermore, even our eyes can fool us. Often, we are fooled into thinking that what we see is reality. For example, magicians make a living proving the hand is quicker than the eye.
In regards to our own thoughts and opinions, often we actually impose our own perspectives upon situations and project our own picture onto people, places, and things that may or may not be true. I have been shocked on numerous occasions when I found out, after getting to know a person better, that I had a wrong impression about them.
The reason why people fall away is because they fell into a trap or snare of the devil that they walked into because their spiritual senses were dulled and they chose to justify a lifestyle that causes them to fall away from their purpose in Christ. As image-bearers of God, we are called to reflect an accurate picture of God and Christ to the world (Romans 8:29). Let’s look at Jeremiah’s call:
Text: Jeremiah 1:1-13, 17
I. Jeremiah’s call: Jeremiah 1:4-8
1. Before we were born God called us and gave us a purpose in Him.
2. We were ordained by God and commissioned before any person recognized it in our lives!
3. Because of this, we should not be afraid to obey God in anything He calls us to do!
4. He has called us to essentially three things, based on Jeremiah 1:10:
A. To root out; to get to the root of our lives and circumstances instead of being like most people who are superficial (Ephesians 6:10-12); to see beneath the surface into the spiritual realities of life.
B. To destroy and overthrow (to overcome the sin in us and in our midst).
C. To build up and plant, which is a life and environment based on God’s word.
II. Discernment as the qualifier and criteria of the call
The call of God on our lives doesn’t just happen automatically. The great qualifier to fulfill our call is the ability to discern accurately what is true and false; to accurately identify what we see.
1. Jeremiah 1:5: Before God sent Jeremiah to speak for Him, He had to test him to see if he was able to “see” properly so that His word would come forth accurately and in power! (The Bible teaches us in 1 John 4:1 to test the spirits; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 teaches us to discern between the various beliefs about Jesus and to distinguish between the true and false gospels that are in the world.)
A. When God was choosing another king to replace King Saul, He told the prophet Samuel not to judge by outward appearances when he thought that one of David’s brothers was chosen by God because he was tall and warlike looking. (Read 1 Samuel 16:7.)
B. Titus 1:15 teaches us that “to the pure all things are pure but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but even their thoughts and consciences are defiled.” This passage speaks about how we project our own perspective and reality upon life based on our own spiritual and emotional state.
C. All of us have a great call upon our lives to do great things for God and positively impact our families, friends, and neighbors. But before we can be released into this, we need to develop our ability to discern the difference between right and wrong. Those who are disobedient to God are called “self-deceived” by God in Titus 3:3.
2. Jeremiah accurately saw an almond tree and a boiling pot coming from the north before God commanded that he dress himself and go speak His word. God said that He watches over His word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:13, 17). Thus, first there was a litmus test before Jeremiah was capable of ministering. Often, people want to go start churches or ministries and be leaders before they have adequately developed in the discerning process. (People are usually in danger of leaving Christ and leaving their church while they are in a transition from being a simple person to a person who is able to discern truth.)
III. Principles of Discernment (discernment is the faculty of discriminating; acuteness of judgment and understanding)
This has to do with growing in the ability to know the difference between right and wrong, between what is God’s will and what is of the flesh, the devil, or the world. Discernment has to do with growing in knowledge, insight, wisdom and discretion. The whole book of Proverbs was written for the purpose of developing young people in discernment (Proverbs 1:1-7).
1. Regularly receive the word of God into your soul.
A. Joshua 1:8 teaches us that if we have His word in us we will “observe and do” what He commands (we must see correctly before we can do correctly).
B. Hebrews 4:11-13 teaches us that the word increases our ability to discern even the secret motives of the heart.
C. When we are dull of hearing the word (which means we don’t carefully listen and respond to it) then we are spiritual babes. The mature are those who constantly attempt to put into practice the word they receive from God (Hebrews 5:11-14; Mark 4:24-25).
D. Faith comes by the word (Ephesians 6:17; Romans 10:17). Faith in God means that we have an accurate picture of God who is on our side and is greater than any of the forces of evil arrayed against us as children of God!
2. Continually renew your mind (Romans 12:1-3).
A. This has to do with humbling ourselves and allowing our thoughts and desires to change through repentance from sin and from conformity to the world.
B. Second Corinthians 10:3-5 teaches us to take captive every thought. Satan appears as an angel of light; those that are not receiving the word of God are receiving their thoughts from devil-inspired sources and are conforming their lifestyles and receiving their motivations from Satan.
C. Don’t lock into a stubborn mindset; be continually growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
3. Participate in the life of the Body of Christ.
A. First Corinthians 12:14-18: we need the eyes and ears of others in the church to guide us.
B. God speaks what the Spirit is saying to the church through the preached and spoken word–not just to individuals (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).
C. Galatians 6:1-2; Hebrews 3:12-13: We need each other to be encouraged when we are feeling weak and not viewing reality through the word of God.
D. Proverbs 15:22; Psalm 1:1: We need counsel from godly people in the church.
4. Regularly stand in the presence of God through worship and prayer.
A. Second Corinthians 3:17-18: We reflect the accurate picture of Christ when we behold His face in the Spirit.
B. Psalm 73:2, 3, 12-17: We receive true knowledge when we come into the presence of God in the sanctuary.
C. Matthew 26:40-41 and Ephesians 6:18 teach that we can literally “watch” when we pray so that we won’t “enter” (or walk into) temptation. This kind of prayer seems to be corporate prayer or prayer with at least 2-3 other people. (“Watching” implies having our spiritual eyes open so that we can see what is really going on and behind the things around us in the natural world.) Our Solemn Assembly, which involves three days of fasting and prayer, can change your life and give you much discernment!
D. We need to have a continual attitude of great hunger and thirsting after God for His wisdom, which only comes by seeking God’s face (Proverbs 2:1-12).
5. Discern the will of God in our circumstances. Some in the church just run ahead and take every opportunity that comes their way instead of seeking God and taking steps towards discernment. (I know people who moved out of state just because of an opportunity for a job. They never sought the Lord. The result was their family broke up and they backslid because they never found a church family that could support them!)
A. Proverbs 3:5: When we intentionally put God in front of everything we do and commit it unto Him then He will direct our paths. In other words, be in an attitude of prayer, examining the scriptures and in receiving counsel from brothers and sisters when making a major decision. This is how we put the Lord always before us.
B. Psalm 37:23: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. A good man is a person who walks in God’s ways and discerns the right steps to take.
In summary, discernment saves us from self-deception because it implies that we are continually in a process of receiving objective, godly input from regular reading of the scriptures, the preached word, godly counsel, corporate prayer, and continually discerning the will of the Lord in our circumstances. Discernment is one of the top prerequisites before God can bring us to the place of our purpose in the earth.
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