One of the qualities I often ask the Lord to increase in me is discernment. Discernment, in a nutshell, is the ability to know the difference between truth and error, between right and wrong, and how to respond to that knowledge. It pushes past what seems by appearance or circumstance to be the way things are, to what is hidden or less obvious, but is the true reality. It is closely related to wisdom.
Because human beings have been created in the image of God, we are all endowed with a limited ability to discern by our natural senses and logic. We can also go beyond that to “hunches” or “senses,” because we are spiritual beings. For instance, strictly from a natural-man perspective, there are people who are recognized as shrewd or astute. We commonly say of someone operating in natural discernment that he is not easily fooled, or that you “can’t pull the wool over his eyes.” Possessing “common sense” is part of natural discernment.
In this series, I will be concentrating on how to increase in spiritual discernment, which, I feel, is vital if we are to successfully navigate the tumultuous world in which we live. For intercessors, being able to keenly discern is also needful in order to correctly pray and thereby receive answers.
Let me start by saying that among prophetic people, common sense discernment has sometimes been pooh-poohed as something reserved for less spiritual people. That would not be my position. God has given us intelligent brains and logical thinking as gifts which should not be despised.
In my experience, prophetic people who belittle common sense often do nutty things — not nutty because they are being prophetic, but just because they believe using their heads is not the spiritual thing to do. They cause grief to themselves and the Body of Christ as they float hither and thither on what they suppose to be “the winds of the Spirit” … but are not.
If you are a highly administrative, logical, sequential thinker, be assured that you are just as capable of being deeply spiritual as anyone else, no matter who has insinuated otherwise. God has made you that way on purpose. He loves and uses those who are free-flowing, impetuous types to pioneer new trails, but He needs you, too, to help them so they don’t drive the wagon train off a cliff!
What we want to guard against is depending on logic and good sense alone, for they can hinder us from moving in the miraculous, if we’re not careful. While God has given us these tools, they are very limited, and only yield their best value as we submit them to the Holy Spirit. If exalted to a higher level than they were meant to have, our soulish nature will end up perverting them into a form of unbelief. We need to go beyond them into the discernment which only the Holy Spirit can impart to us. Indeed, there are times when the Lord will lead us to do, say, or pray things which make no sense to our intellect, yet they make perfect sense to Him, and in the end prove to be exactly right.
Many believers have never even considered the possibility of going beyond their natural thought processes into the supernatural understanding which only the Lord can provide. Still others have wished they could, but don’t know how to get there. I hope this series will provide some practical ways for all of us to come into greater levels of spiritual discernment, for this is what the Lord intends for us to have.