What comes to mind when you think of the word discernment? Is it angry basement bloggers? Someone with an ax to grind? Or is it, as one minister recently said, “someone who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit but a relationship with the Bible, those people lead people to Hell.” That little snippet right there shows why discernment is so necessary. Discernment is simply examining teaching to see whether it is biblical or not. As simple as that sounds sometimes, discernment is hard. In this context, I’m not discussing whether it’s hard to tell if something is biblical or not, although that is sometimes the case; I’m talking about times when discernment seems problematic because it hurts.
The quote I started with shows you how discernment can sometimes hurt. You’ve listened to someone for years, you trust them, but all of a sudden, things begin to feel off, but then you realize it’s more than a feeling; they are taking Scripture out of context. Does this sound familiar? As you start to allow yourself to ponder the statements you hear like, “It’s not Father, Son, and Holy Bible,” you immediately push the questions to the side. But a few weeks later, something else goes on, so your mind has questions, but then the speaker says, “don’t quench the Spirit.” So you slam on the breaks and stop your mind because you don’t want to offend the Holy Spirit.
Those types of statements are meant to manipulate us from thinking and examining things in light of Scripture. But after you get into the Word and discover things are wrong, you realize you need to walk away. Some things are easy to leave behind, and other things, well, you start rationalizing, I know this part is terrible, but this part is correct; that is when discernment hurts.
The enemy isn’t going to fool you with a 100% lie, he may even give 90% truth, but the other ten percent will shipwreck your faith. When discernment hurts, the only question we need to ask is, what does the Word say? If you can’t find it in the Word, you don’t need anything else that may be attached to it, no matter how good it is. When you’ve listened to someone for years, it hurts to acknowledge when they go off the path, but for our spiritual health, we must admit it. There are strings we have to cut even when we don’t want to. There are songs I like, but they come out of a church that has many heretical teachings. It doesn’t matter if I like the music; the root is unbiblical theology, even if it isn’t present in a particular song.
There is a particular minister I enjoy listening to and have gotten much from, but he has specific teaching that is entirely unscriptural. I can’t afford to keep listening to him because even when he’s teaching good things, the other aspect of his understanding is always present somewhere. Discernment counts the most when it hurts the most. You know deep down something is wrong, but you want to make excuses, you’ll find yourself saying, “Well, I don’t believe that I’ll just ignore that part.” You cannot afford to do that, especially when you are first coming out of false teaching. Listening to “the good stuff” of what you walked away from only reminds you of the feeling you had being a part of something. Music especially brings back feelings and emotions, and when you are trying to walk away from false teaching, or false worship, you need to surround yourself with the truth.
You may say, “but it’s just one thing,” but if you can’t find that one thing in Scripture, there is nothing you need from that teaching. I’m not talking about minor theological disagreements but actual unbiblical teaching. We can’t afford anything unbiblical in our spiritual lives. It’s hard to quit listening to something or someone that’s been part of your life for years. When you stop listening, it feels like you are missing something that is going to happen. What you do in response matters; read Scripture, watch teaching explaining why that thing is wrong, or pray.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that reading from the King James, New King James, and New American Standard Bible causes me to remember particular Word of Faith and Prophetic viewpoints of teaching. It may sound silly, but I know those translations are like triggers in my mind. It’s been a struggle for a year. I love the NKJV, but many verses cause old teachings to come to mind. So even though it’s hard, I’ve put my NKJV away, and I’m spending time in the Christian Standard Bible and English Standard Version. When I’m reading, there are times when the KJV still comes out, but I know that for me to get out of the charismatic mindset fully, I’ve got to read a different Bible.
You will have different things you need to do to walk away from false teaching. You need to get Bethel off your playlist for one, and there may be other things as well. I had to quit going to specific conferences, which meant that I had to stop listening to those speakers. There have been times where I’ve felt I was missing something, so I’d go watch a service or check a prophet’s Facebook page. I can’t do that; I can’t afford to have one foot in truth and one foot in false teaching; none of us can. It hurts when we know we have to cut something out of our lives, but it will hurt us more if we don’t.