How to Grow in Discernment 

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14 ESV)

Would you act differently if you knew what worked and what did not? Or consider that you knew what would hurt you or your family? Would that information change the decisions you make? These questions cut to the heart of why we should focus on discernment and grow in it.

Discernment is the ability to distinguish things that appear similar in some respects. There would be no need for discernment if these things were not similar since the difference would be readily noticeable. Specifically, the discerning of spirits is the capacity to distinguish between God, evil spirits, or just human spirit (the flesh). For example, someone can speak a prophetic word, but that word might not be from God but their minds (the flesh). In this case, the discerning of spirits helps us distinguish the flesh from the Spirit of God.

Hebrews 5:14 above lays a firm foundation for growing in discernment with the words “mature” and “trained.” The mature, as opposed to babes in Christ, discern good from evil; they increased their powers of discernment through training by constant practice. So spiritual discernment comes with spiritual maturity and could be obtained through spiritual training.

There are two parts to the spiritual maturity puzzle that increase discernment. The first is intimacy with the Lord, and the second is the spiritual gift of discernment. If discernment is a house, personal knowledge and intimacy with the Lord are the foundation. Just as a baby recognizes the mother’s voice not by taking a baby course on identifying mama but by an intimate personal acquaintance, a Christian’s most powerful tool to grow in discernment is to know the Lord personally and intimately. Upon the foundation of a mature relationship with the Lord, the Spirit adds discernment as one of the spiritual gifts. So, beyond the discernment that results from intimacy—available for all believers—we can also ask for the gift of discernment.

The second keyword after “mature” in Hebrews 5:14 is “trained.” This training is not formal theological training, classroom education, or a particular course on discernment. However, the training is by “constant practice.” It is the repeated personal training of our hearts in the things of God. In speaking about this form of exercise, Paul said: “Rather train yourself for godliness;” (1 Timothy 4:7 ESV). As you pray, meditate on the Word, learn to recognize God’s voice, exercise the spiritual gift you have, etc., you are training your heart. 

In conclusion, grow in discernment by becoming mature and exercising yourself in the things of the Spirit.

Please read, ponder and mutter the words of Hebrew 5:14.

What would you do with what you have just read? You have just learned the basics of growing in discernment. Put this devotional to work.

Ask the Spirit to help you grow in discernment.

Read & Watch

What is the Discerning of Spirits?
Three Steps to Increase Your Ability to Hear God’s Voice
The Gift of Discerning of Spirits
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