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What the Bible Says About Discernment

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


What is Discernment?

Many people use the word "discernment." However, the meaning might go much deeper than they understand it to be. The dictionary definition of discernment is the act of knowing something. However, discernment is more than simply knowing something.

In the Christian context, discernment is the act of knowing something based on the word of God. Your action proves that you know the difference.

Discernment Helps You Decide What Path To Take


Discernment Helps In Making Wise Decisions

All decisions are not wise ones. Many plans are made based on unwise decisions and poor judgment. When a person is discerning, he can make wise and practical decisions that will prove fruitful in the long run.

A person can determine what is right and what is wrong based on God's word. Then a discerning person puts into practice based on the word of God in every area of his life. There should be no compartmentalization when it comes to making wise decisions in every area of your life.

People should have a discerning spirit whether he is at work, in the community, or in the church.

Discernment Means Judging Correctly

When Jesus said, "Do not judge," it was not a blanket statement against judging at all. Therefore, the command in Matthew 7:2 is often taken out of context.

Jesus was not talking about never judging. There are times when people should judge. The Bible clearly states in John 7:24 that people should not judge by appearances. Instead, people should judge correctly when it comes to sin.

Discernment helps people to judge correctly instead of judging others unfairly or unrighteously. Jesus command “righteous judgment.” Right judgment comes from a discerning person, according to 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Discernment Helps to Eliminate Confusion

If you have a discerning spirit, it will help eliminate confusion and chaos around you. You will know what to do to stay in perfect peace and harmony even when others around you are judging wrong and having an unrighteous opinion about things.

When you can discern what is going on, then you are on the right path to deal with the situation in a righteous way that will be beneficial to all concerned.

Discernment Is Wanting What God Wants

Often we pray for what we want because we think it will make us feel better, look better, and have a better life. God, on the other hand, knows what's best for us. Therefore, He withholds that thing we pray for.

In that case, what we wanted and what God wanted for us did not match up. Jesus explained it in a simplified way. He asked two rhetorical questions in Matthew 7:9-10.

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“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?

If a person does not have discernment, he will pray for stones and snakes instead of the bread and fish God wants him to have.

Without discernment, people don't know which way to go.  With discernment, people know which way to go.

Without discernment, people don't know which way to go. With discernment, people know which way to go.

Discernment Is Necessary For Spiritual Growth

You will never be able to understand the deeper things of God without discernment. Some people don't grow into mature Christians because they lack discernment. They learn the elementary things and think that's all there is to learn. Then they live their lives based on the little they know. Most of the time, they don't even put any of that into practice.

Hebrews 5:14 compares a Christian without discernment to an infant who lives on milk and doesn't know how to do what is right. However, a mature Christian with discernment is one who eats spiritual food. Then he is able to understand and live by the deeper things of God.


What God Says About Discernment


Ask God to help you discern.

1 Corinthians 12:10

God grants discernment.

James 1:5

The Bible will help you discern bad teaching.

Acts 17:11

Discernment is knowing right from wrong behavior.

Hebrews 5:14

Discernment Makes the World a Better Place

If more people would have discernment, then the world would be a better place. People would know what to think, what to say, and what to do. They would not make wrong assumptions which cause them to do the wrong things.

People should ask God for discernment so they can make wise decisions and judge correctly. Having discernment also enables people to know when to speak as well as to know what to say.

A person who discerns what is happening around him is a person who more than likely is growing spiritually.


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on August 24, 2017:

phyllis burrell, sometimes it is discernment and sometimes it might be you. Keep in mind that discernment doesn't come with misguided motives. However, when it's you the motives are not always good.

phyllis burrell on August 23, 2017:

sometime I wonder is this discernment or is this me going back

on previous experiences. But.... I ask myself I don't want to think bad or misuse experiences.

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