The most controversial aspects of The Shack‘s message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.” Jesus adds, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.” (Albert Mohler, The Shack – The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment)
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people? (1 Kings 3:9 ESV)
We often find it difficult to see what will result in the future from a decision that is made. If our minds are not clouded by uncontrolled emotions, we may clearly see the immediate consequences, but fail to see beyond that for many reasons. Many times we will need to make choices which involve discerning good from evil. In the verse above, Solomon asks God for the wisdom to discern between good and evil. We do not, however, have to be the king of Israel to be frequently faced with evil’s deceptive charms. As long as you live, evil will desire to devour your life. (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)
Most of us would very much like to see God’s hand write a special message to us in the clouds so that we might know God’s providential guidance and will for our own actions. The truly serious Christian wants God to lead in each step before him, but very often he is faulty in his discernment of God’s Will.
How is such discernment to be found? It is to found by listening to the voice of God in His Word; the Bible. In the Scriptures, you will find the mind and will of God through the careful reading and hearing of His Word. God makes it our duty to study and live by His Word because it will be to our good and to His Glory. Therefore, discerning the Will of God involves acting in accordance with the Bible’s teachings to test the circumstances and then follow the godly path.
Suppose you have some business pending, whether secular or spiritual (Personally, I believe it is correct to look at the secular as only a subheading of the spiritual because all the areas of life are under God.): that you do not know the correct course of action to take. What you want is to know the Will of God. To do this, you use your understanding and judgment to apply God’s Word to your situation to decide the proper course of action. We do this by reading the Bible; serious contemplation of the matter; seeking the advice of godly friends; and earnest prayer to God to grant us understanding. We must also do all we are able to submit our own pride to the wisdom of the Lord.
Are you seeking knowledge of God’s Will by mysterious impulses or impressions upon your mind? I would suggest to you that this is not safe. Should we look for marks or signs indicating the way we should go? I do not deny that sometimes in His mercy God may offer such indications of His guidance. However, we must not make such things our rule of discernment. The mind is often inclined to see what we want it to see. Our own inclinations may overrule good sense, prudence, and our knowledge of the Scriptures.
Christian, do not use the Bible as a fortune-telling book. In troublesome times, opening the Bible carelessly and allowing your eyes to gaze as they will upon some random verse of Scripture and then ascribing to it some meaning which fits your fancy is ridiculous. This is an abuse of the Word of God. Do not forsake the Bible for imagination, impressions, or impulses. Do you consider yourself a spiritual giant who can easily discern the divine from the diabolical? Such lofty opinions of yourself will make you dependent upon delusions and self-deception.
The Holy Spirit will lead us through our minds; that our thoughts will be directed to the Word of God. Saturated in the truth of the Scriptures, we may then confidently begin to apply God’s principles to our circumstances. This is the practice of godly discernment.
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Faith, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Prayer | Tagged: Bible, Christian, Christianity, Discernment, Divinity, God, Holy Spirit, Lord, Religious text, Scriptures | 3 Comments »