“Teach me good judgment, wise and right discernment, and knowledge, for I have believed (trusted, relied on, and clung to) Your commandments.” Psalm 119:66 AMP
Discernment is defined as” skill in understanding, grasping and comprehending; the ability to recognize or identify as separate and distinct.” Syn: “perception, acumen, penetration, insight, discrimination. The capacity to distinguish and select the excellent, the appropriate or the true”.
In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:15; “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Jesus says “Beware” which simply means to “be-aware”. Are we aware of false ministers and teachers among us? Jesus said in the next verse, “You will know them by their fruits”.
There is only one way to tell. You must exercise discernment, and spiritually speaking, you can only do that by relying on the objective standard of God’s Word. There is no other standard to employ in the search for Truth. Jesus said: “Your Word is Truth” (John 17:17). “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm119:105). In order to use God’s Word as our standard, we must really understand it and to really understand it we must study it!
So much of what we see in the Church today is geared toward entertaining people, meeting their ”touchy, feely, emotional needs”, and utilizing music and pep-talk sermons to “win them” supposedly to Christ.
The “gospel” being disseminated oftentimes is incomplete and almost always unbalanced. Only by regular Bible study and a true heart of submission and repentance before God will we be spared the confusion so pervasive in the Church today.
I Thess. 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."
The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer-it is required.
The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one's ability to exercise discernment in every area of his/her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves a person subject to all manner of false teaching.
Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most believers stumble. They show little to no ability to measure the things they hear and are taught against the standard of God's Word whereby they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior.
Discernment is more than just a skill. Discernment is a gift from God before it is anything else. Yet there are skills you put to use in using your gift and you can become better at it through training and experience.
Discernment is more than just a process. Even for the most 'material' or 'small' matters, there is a Spirit at work nudging us and leading us. Also, for 'spiritual' matters, there are disciplines, methods, processes, means, and tools which the Spirit can work through to help us discern rightly.
The gift of discernment is the ability to recognize what is genuine from what is pretence; what is of God from what is not of God.