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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Durso

How to Have a Discerning Spirit

The Lumination to Live Life Wisely
Jesus said, "I am the Light of the World."

There are two ways to live life. The first way is to make self-power and human effort the means of all we do. The second way is to depend upon God as the source. The first way is the most natural for sinful people who have fallen from fellowship with the living God. The second way begins with a divine miracle that changes the proud human heart into childlike dependence.

For about forty-five minutes today, I sat with a young man in his twenties, who grew up without a dad, so he had no father influence in his life. He had no direction, and the man who should have been there to help direct him was behind bars, having squandered his life on his selfish desires and being irresponsible about his duties as a man. Most of the time, I felt like crying.

The world is a sad place to live, particularly when the culture of a nation deteriorates right before your eyes. In the church of Jesus Christ, who said, "I am the light of the world," there should be far more discernment and a godly overcoming manner of life.

In the church, we can find three different kinds of people. We will call them,

  1. The Pretenders

  2. The Poor Prophets

  3. The Profitable Prophets

When writing to the church at Galatia, Paul said, "...there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, even now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!" (Galatians 1:7-9)

He repeated himself, anticipating the response of some readers who would respond by saying, "What did he just say." "As we have said before, even now, I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!" The word accursed referred to a thing devoted to God without hope of redemption. It became unusable and therefore doomed to destruction. The person who hears the message of Christ and then perverts it for his own purposes has gone the way of Judas; they are pretenders, fraudulent, and imposters as preachers of the Gospel. The man of discernment sees them as demons disguised as angels of light.

The second two are not fake but are both authentic preachers of the word of the Lord. However, they are different the one from each other in this way. Paul wrote, "Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from goodwill; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives..." (Philippians 1:15-17).

The message is the same, it is profitable to the hearer, but the ambition of the speaker differs. One preacher is out of goodwill the other is motivated by selfish ambition. Paul warned the Galatians about the doom of false teachers; however, to the Philippians, Paul rejoiced even when the motive of a man was corrupt. One day we who have experienced the saving rebirth will stand before Jesus to receive our rewards for service (1 Corinthians 3). Those who labor in goodwill receive a prize worthy of gold, silver, and precious stones that stand the fire of testing. Others will suffer loss; their rewards lost in the fire were made of wood, hay, and stubble. God will receive the glory for good done, whether because of our love or despite our selfish ambition. It will not be about sin already carried on Christ at Calvary but the material with which we build Christ's church.

Let us all follow Paul's command to humble ourselves, resulting in "...being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves;" (Philippians 2:2, 3)

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