dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish


Reviewing Humble Orthodoxy, Week 8

Title: Discernment
Speaker: Josh Harris
Session: Main Session #1, Na07
Date: May 26, 2007

Main Texts
Romans 12:1-2 (also 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

Some Opening Thoughts
This is the first of eight messages on discernment. I have taken a lot of notes, so without further adieu. . .

A Brief Outline
–> What is discernment? The ability to judge well.
–> 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
–> Two reasons that we need to give special attention to discernment:
–> 1. Spiritual discernment is not as simple as separating the peanuts from the popcorn in a bowl of cracker jacks. We are not naturally discerning.
–> 2. Whether or not we have spiritual discernment is a matter of life and death.
–> “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
–> Ultimately, discernment matters because God’s glory is at stake. He has revealed Himself to us in His Word, and the right teaching and application of that Word brings Him glory and reveals His character.
–> The good news for us is that God has revealed in His Scriptures how we can grow in discernment.
–> “I am your servant, give me discernment, that I may understand your statutes.” (Psalm 119:125)
–> While we’re to ask for discernment, we’re also to work at it. We gain discernment through the study of God’s Word.
–> Romans 12:1-2
–> In light of what Jesus has done for you, here is the appropriate response: give Him everything you are.
1. Discernment requires resistance
–> “Do not be conformed to this world.”
–> One aspect of discernment is taking the time to understand this age and its values. Do you know how this world wants to shape you?
–> This kind of discernment is not attained easily; it takes a lifetime of hard work. It not only takes work to understand, but inevitably, following God’s way and choosing His good and acceptable and perfect way involves being rejected by this world.
–> Discernment dies when we allow our hearts and minds to be shaped by our age in order to be accepted and approved by our age.
2. Discernment requires renewal.
–> We must daily be renewed by God’s Word. We don’t just hear God’s Word and say, “Okay, I’ve got that down. . . ”
–> Discernment comes when we know and constantly review and constantly recommit ourselves to the truth of God revealed in Scripture.
3. Discernment requires action.
–> You can’t discern God’s good will by sitting back and watching from a distance. Discernment requires theologically informed action.
–> If the theology you hold doesn’t shape your life, then you’ve not understood it.
–> When we fail to act on truth, discernment dies.
–> If you’re wondering why God’s not revealing His will in a particular way, ask yourself, are you being obedient to what you know He has already revealed to you?
–> The most important way that we can grow in discernment is to obey God in what He has already revealed to us in His Word.
4. Discernment requires the Gospel
–> “In view of God’s mercy. . . ” In the flow of the text, this point would be the first point, but Josh said that He saved it for last because it was the most important point that He would be making.
–> We cannot rightly live the Christian life or be loving or holy or discerning unless we understand that the foundation of everything in our faith is not what we have done or what we do, but what Jesus Christ has done for us as our representative.
–> Discernment is only possible because of the Gospel. We can only be renewed in our minds because we have been reborn in Christ Jesus through His death and resurrection.
–> It’s not that we were inherently discerning and thus able to understand and accept the Gospel, and now we will go on being discerning in all of these other areas because of our own ability to discern right from wrong so clearly—God came looking for us, and He opened our eyes.
–> That is why we should always exercise discernment in humility. The only reason we discern anything is that God has poured out His grace on our lives.

Other Points
–> We share the truth, not merely as people who are right, but as people who have been rescued.
–> Why a whole conference on discernment? You can’t have humble orthodoxy without discernment. You can only love the truth if you can distinguish it from error.
–> Even as we focus on discernment, let’s not be preoccupied with discernment, but with the mercy of God—we have been rescued, and we see because Christ died.
–> Discernment is not an end in itself. In view of God’s mercy, we are called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. God calls us to holiness, a life of worship before Him.
–> Discernment is simply the fruit of a life willingly offered to God.

Some Application Questions
–> Do I think about, in light of Scripture, the ways the world is trying to influence my thinking about church and relationships and money and eternity?
–> Am I as excited about applying the truth to my life as I am about understanding it in my head?
–> Any time I perceive truth versus error, do I see that that moment is a moment for me to turn and thank God for His mercy on me?

One Thing That Has Stuck With Me
We have no discernment apart from God’s self-revelation in Christ. It’s not as though, out of our own great wisdom, we were discerning enough to see the truth of the Gospel, and can now go on discerning apart from the Gospel.

One Thing I Re-learned By Re-listening
A common temptation for me is to put more of an emphasis on understanding than on applying. If we want to live according to the truth, we need to understand it. But head knowledge, without an emphasis on life application, brings conceit.

–> What are one or two things that you learned in listening to this teaching?
–> If you were re-listening to it, what are some ways that God has used this teaching in your life over the last two years?
–> Also, feel free to give suggestions on the focus and format of these posts.
–> Finally, as great as it is to be able to talk about this online, talk about it personally with people you know. Use it as an opportunity to share with each other what God is teaching you, and how He has given (and is giving) you the grace to apply it.

This was Week 8 in the fifteen weeks of reviewing humble orthodoxy, leading up to New Attitude 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky on May 24-27. Listen to “Discernment” for free.

Next Week: Discern Your Doctrine (Mark Dever)

Background on this series: Humble Orthodoxy



Blogger Megan said...

I think that sometimes I am more excited about applying something than I am about really taking the time to understand it first. I know that sounds silly. But I think I can be impatient in that way.

4/25/2008 4:41 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home