Discern the Excellent Things
Updated: May 17, 2019
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
A key area of spiritual growth will be in the gift of DISCERNMENT. The word means to make a right judgement by spirit, to divide, to perceive correctly. I believe this will be a much needed gift in order to make good, decisive and accurate choices in the days to come. Watch! Discernment will increasingly be talked about.
“Knowledge” about many spiritual issues has been rapidly increasing in the last 20 years or so (See Daniel 12:4)
The decade of the “Teachers (of the Word)” was generally seen to have been in the 1970’s. However I believe we are yet to see the coming forth of what I call “Teachers of Revelation”. I am definitely not talking about those who have flaky off-the-wall mystical experiences, angelic visitations that are not Biblical, or visits to the Third Heaven which are so subjective it’s almost impossible to correct the protagonists.
The teachers of Revelation will be those who stick to the Word, not experiences, and who are given great insight to the meaning of what is already written in the Word. Most believers today probably “know” much more (in terms of accumulated understanding) than Christians of 50 years ago. Yet where is the supposed accompanying wisdom and maturity?
So there are two things that arise out of this. (1) Discernment, and (2) Knowledge.
It’s been said that discernment and knowledge without love is nothing more than human suspicion. I think I agree. That’s why Paul says “love” must abound – to hold these two things in check.
Verse 9: And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment
To put it the positive way: Love, Knowledge and Discernment are all linked. You’ve heard people say “I just want to love God; I just need Jesus, not all this other stuff”. Well frankly, and Biblically, that isn’t solid enough.
Love grounded without knowledge and discernment actually DISAPPROVES us to God. A strong passion for God without proper biblical knowledge and experienced discernment will only make us zealous, which is a soul thing, not a spirit thing.
The Jews of Jesus’ day certainly had zeal for God, but not according to accurate scriptural knowledge. Paul writes: “…so that you may approve the things that are excellent…” (verse 10a)
“Approve” means to discern. That is, to know by experience the good things of God and test everything else by that standard. In other words, learn to act out of such spiritual discernment as a regular part of your daily walk in Christ.
Isaiah 11: 3 “And He will delight in the fear of the YHWH, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear…”
This is a messianic text about how Jesus lived. It is a model for us to seek after. When we allow two different standards to be side by side in our life, we dishonour God. Scripture encourages us to DEVELOP our inner character with a “sincere” heart. The word “sincere” means “without hypocrisy, without fault”. It refers to how ancient potters would attempt to disguise flawed vessels by putting wax into the crack. But when the object was lifted up in the light of the day you could see the defect.
So too our inner character is to be flawless, without hypocrisy. It is to be inwardly “sincere”. Let us therefore strive, not by the flesh or soul, but by the Holy Spirit who enables our spirit to discern well in all things.