googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: A Bible Study in Discernment

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Bible Study in Discernment

Recently, my Sunday School class has been studying the book of Job. Much of the book details the conversations Job had with his three friends who had come to “comfort” him but actually spend more time accusing him. As you read through the conversations, though, in many places we find that the friends weren't too far off from sound doctrine. In many cases, their only error was attributing Job's tragedy to some unconfessed sin of Job. Much of what they said was correct but a little bit was garbage.
As we live our lives day to day, there is no shortage of opinions we hear about God and the Bible. Some of what we hear is correct but some of it is garbage. As Christians, it is our responsibility to identify what is right and what is wrong. The Bible refers to this as “discernment.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

For some people, discernment is a spiritual gift. When discussing gifts of the Spirit, Paul said, “to some [are given] the discerning of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10). For others, it must be learned. Job says that wisdom and understanding comes with age (Job 12:12). Even so, I believe there are six steps we can follow to help us gain discernment.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalms 19:7)
We don't have to be geniuses or scholars. Psalms tells us that with the Bible, even the simple become wise. If we base our thinking on the Bible, we can never be very wrong on any subject.


Even if you sincerely trust the Bible, what good does it do if you don't know what the Bible says? What if someone said, “I believe the Bible when it says, 'The Lord helps those that help themselves'”? Do you say, “Amen!”? Nothing resembling that verse appears in the Bible but you can't know that if you don't study the Bible.

I worked in a bank for many years. Before the Federal Reserve issued any new currency, we would get detailed descriptions of what the new bills would look like. The best way to spot a fake bill is to know what the real bill looks like. Likewise, we can easily spot false doctrine if we know what correct doctrine is.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Let's look at this passage in reverse: This passage says we need to study to show ourselves approved. So what does it mean if we don't study? Obviously it must mean we aren't approved. Furthermore, if we don't study, we should be ashamed. Finally, if we don't study, we will not be able rightly divide the word of truth.


Most people have heard the expression, “Two heads are better than one.” This is based on a sound, biblical doctrine.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
There are abundant resources available today that Christians can turn to to find answers to tough questions. Also, a Christian can seek the advice of godly men or women.


Though we should seek the advice of others, we must never mistake their opinions for Scriptures. In your study Bible, the notes written in the margin are not part of the text. You need to compare whatever advice you receive to the Scriptures to make sure it is sound.
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11
Paul is normally someone whose opinion I would trust. Yet the Bereans were even skeptical of him. As he preached the gospel, they compared his words to the Scriptures to confirm what he was saying was true. We should do the same.


There's a difference between being skeptical and refusing to believe. Sometimes, we are wrong in something we believe and we need to be available to the truth. The Bible uses the term “stiff-necked” to describe certain, stubborn people who won't listen to the truth.
But they hearkened not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, and might not receive instruction. (Jeremiah 17:23)

Finally, we should always remember to seek understanding from God.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)


Jeff said...

Like the picture for this post. It is actually from my blog and I created it. I don't mind it being used, but would appreciate a link to my blog if possible. Thank you, Jeff

RKBentley said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comment.

It is a great picture. When I look for pics to use on my blog, I certainly never intend to infringe on anyone's creative work.

I get most of the pictures I use from Google images. Usually, I try to use pics that appear on a couple of sites. I do this for a couple of reasons: first, if it's a popular pic, it makes my blog more likely to appear in Google searches. I'm surprised at the number of hits I get on my blog from people doing image searches.

The other reason is that, if the image is already on a couple of sites, it's more likely to be “public domain.” For example, that same pic – albeit without the matte and word “discernment” - also appears That's not a fool-proof strategy, of course, since they could have stolen it from you as well.

But I must confess that there have been a few occasions, when a picture so perfectly matches the point of my post that I can't resist using it – even if it is not widely used. I've never had anyone question one of my pics. I do not advertise or make money off of my blog so I'm not trying to profit from someone else's work. Even so, I will try to be more careful about selecting pictures and giving credit to the source. If you would like me to remove the picture, just let me know.

I've happily published your comment which is automatically linked to your blog. I've been toying with the idea of adding a “blog roll” feature on my side bar. If I ever do that, I will look at adding your blog to it. I did visit your blog and it's very interesting. By the way, I see we're “neighbors.” You're in Paducah and I'm Louisville.

Keep up the great work. God bless!!