Day 69: Discernment


RIGHT VS. WRONG

How do you define right and wrong, good and evil, black and white? Life is much simpler when everything falls into easily defined categories. But when we struggle with sin, having a mind and heart of discernment proves difficult. This can especially be the case during times of temptation. The enemy thrives in the “grey area”, luring us into temptation as we are convinced that we’re doing the right thing, or that it simply doesn't matter, that we could be doing something worse.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. -1 Corinthians 10:13

Isn't it strange to think that every time we’ve fallen into sin there was actually a way of escape? Why then does it seem as though in moments of temptation that there are no ways out?. I remember during times of temptation praying out loud, “God, show me the way of escape," yet I still gave in. Why is that? Quite simply, it was a lack of discernment.

THE HOLY SPIRIT

Knowing how to escape takes prayer, discipline, and the Holy Spirit's guidance. Only God knows all the intimate workings of our lives. He knows when, how, and why the temptations will hit us at a certain time. The enemy has waged a customized war against our hearts. God in all of His infinite wisdom has countered each of those temptations with a way to escape.

Picture

How do you know if you have The Holy Spirit to guide you?

One of the Bible’s greatest truths is that when we come to Christ and commit our lives to Him, He comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. In fact, the Bible warns, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). If you know Jesus, the Holy Spirit already lives within you — whether you feel His presence or not.

Why has He been given? The Bible gives several reasons — but behind them all is our need for God’s help. The Holy Spirit, the Bible says, “helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26). He convicts us of sin, He opens our eyes to God’s truth, He grants us spiritual gifts, He counsels and guides us — all these and more would be impossible without His help.

Never forget that the Holy Spirit isn’t an impersonal force or power (like electricity or gravity); He is God. Think of it: God Himself now dwells within you if you know Christ! Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17). Because He lives within us, we can ask God to help us in our times of need, and to give us the courage and strength to live as we should.

Don’t try to live the Christian life in your own strength; if you do, you will only fail. Instead, trust the Holy Spirit to give you the wisdom and strength you need. [1]

If you have committed your life to Christ, move forward with confidence. With the Holy Spirit you have the wisdom to find a way of escaping temptation. Additionally we can take courage as Christians, for brothers and sisters around the world are undergoing similar temptations. As the body of Christ, we’re all in this together and can offer one another wisdom and discernment when we face temptations. Do not neglect to be held accountable. It is more than having someone to confess to after you sinned. It's also having someone to go to during temptation, that they may be able to point you to wisdom, discernment, and a way out.

For me, discernment was usually a matter of seeing the obvious ways out. Sometimes escape meant a literal doorway. Other times it was a mental doorway needing to be walked through. As you well know, the latter is much more difficult. Clearly if it were simple or easy you wouldn’t be here, right? So then why are you here? You are here because our man-made methods of gaining freedom will ultimately fail us. It takes faith in God the Father through Jesus Christ and being led by The Holy Spirit to find freedom. In this way, God gets all of the glory. He will grant you the discernment you lack in order to find a way to escape in times of temptation.

...for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

Why do I mention this verse? Simply because we must understand that discernment always comes from God. Like our salvation, discernment is a blessing that He is capable of bestowing in our moments of weakness. In my past, it often seemed that God was allowing the temptation to endure, that I’d learn to trust in His wisdom instead of trusting my own. Trust is a powerful thing, especially when the one you're trusting is the creator of all things. When you're staring down the valley of the shadow of death, trust that God is with you, He will comfort you, and He will protect you. He demonstrated this at the cross by paying the price for your sins. He will continue to demonstrate it by delivering you from temptation.

  • Pray for it

The Bible says that “...You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2) Often, we neglect to simply pray and ask God for the things we desire.

  • Recognize the Obvious

While ultimate discernment comes from above, there are obvious signs that we are to flee. In times of temptation, we should refocus our minds to recognize ways out.

  • Don’t trust Feelings

Our feelings get us into trouble. Remember that time when you felt “I’ll just have one look at this image?" And as you gave in, the emotions took over, your feelings ran wild. Or how about “I’ll just subtly flirt with this person, it won’t turn into anything.” The rush of being noticed and sought after seemed to carry itself through every part of your body and mind. How does it always end? With satisfaction and fulfillment? Or with pain and tragedy? Break the chain before feelings get the best of you.

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? -Jeremiah 17:9

Day 69 Application

How would you respond to someone who doesn't see anything wrong with lust and/or pornography? For example: "My girlfriend and I have sex while watching porn. What's so wrong with that?"

Why do you think understanding the spiritual aspect of sexual issues is so important? What would it have meant for you if this course didn't incorporate any faith-based material?