Get Off the Rollercoaster: 4 Ways to Practice Biblical Discernment
I am fascinated with roller-coasters and I love riding them. Did you know that, when a roller-coaster is being constructed, if the builders of the coaster are off even a half inch at the start of the first lift hill, they can be off as much as 3 feet at the top, depending how tall it is? That’s a coaster I don’t think I want to ride!
These past few months have felt a bit like being on a roller-coaster. Many of us have been shocked by the recent events and news reports that seem to challenge the very core of our beliefs. We live in a time when women are talking about Planned Parenthood videos, Ashley Madison servers, and Supreme Court decisions on the one hand, while struggling to know what really is true, noble, just, and pure (Phil 4:8-9).
Perhaps, the place in which we find ourselves today is like the proverbial roller-coaster that was a quarter of an inch off at the bottom of the lift hill. The issues that seemed not to be that big of a deal to slide a half inch on a decade ago, set us on a course that has taken us on a ride to the point where we feel as if we are about to fly uncontrollably off the track.
As women, we may not be building roller-coasters, but we mentor, disciple, and have influence on the lives of women, recognizing there are many things that can move us inches away from the truth leading us, or someone else, off course.
And we have the responsibility to make sure we are not even a half-inch off.
Scripture warned that there will come a time that some will try to twist truth and deceive, even to the point of calling evil “good” and good “evil” (Matt 24:4-5; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Jn 7; Is 5:20-21). Additionally, we have been commanded to grow in our ability to discern in order to test all things and to approve those that are excellent so we can hold fast to what is good (1 Thess 5:21-22; Phil 1:9-11; Eph 5:8-11). But, I fear, we have loosened our grip and we are about to fly out of the seat.
As John MacArthur writes in Truth War, “Jesus commanded us to be on guard against false Christs and false prophets. The apostolic era was filled with examples of wolves in sheep’s clothing . . . only sinful and willful unbelief can account for the refusal of so many in the church today to heed those warnings.”
Discernment is being able to decide, determine, distinguish or discriminate what is truth and what is error. So, what is truth? Truth is whatever God decrees. How do we, as women, build up those discernment muscles in order to know truth and recognize what is error? Jude 20-23 gives us four admonitions that help us develop biblical discernment, which will keep us on track.
First, build your faith (vs 20) being secure in knowing what and in whom you believe. The only way to do that is to continually read, study, and be consumed by the Word of God. You must so fully and completely know, understand, engage, and immerse yourself in what is truth, that when you encounter error, it can’t help but be overly obvious. How much does the word permeate your typical day? How secure are you in your knowledge of who God is?
Second, you are to pray in the Holy Spirit (vs 20). You can have true biblical discernment only in and through the Holy Spirit. Pray without ceasing, being in constant communication with heart and ears wide open. Are you staying in constant communication with the Spirit, or do you have an on-again/off-again connection?
Third, to continue developing biblical discernment, keep yourselves in the love of God (vs 21). How are you to love God? By being obedient to all that He has commanded and walking accordingly (2 Jn 6:1, Jn 15:9-10). Are you picking and choosing some things to obey and letting the others slide, or are you daily striving to walk obediently?
Fourth, you are to continue to look for the mercy of our Lord (vs 23). That is, you are to keep your eyes fixated on Christ. Paul puts it this way in his letter to the church at Colossae: Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col 3:2). When we take our eyes off those things above, we become distracted and frightened by all that is going on around us. What are your eyes fixated on today? What things easily divert your eyes away from Christ?
As women of influence and as women’s ministry leaders, we have an added responsibility when it comes to the women over which we have influence.
- Know what you believe, why you believe it, and be able to articulate it. If you can’t articulate it, you can’t counter lies with truth.
- Help the women you lead to develop biblical discernment by teaching the whole counsel of God, not just the easy, feel good, parts that we like.
- Recognize your responsibility to be on guard for the “savage wolves” that will come in attacking the flock (Acts 20:28-29). You are the gatekeeper for what is let in and exposed to the women you lead. Keep your guard up, testing everything.
- Be willing to redeem and rescue. Jude 22-23 makes it clear that there is a time to be compassionate and redeem those who have strayed off course and there is a time to sound all alarms, rescuing someone before they are gone forever.
Yes, it does feel like a bit of a roller-coaster ride today and you may wonder how in the world are you going to be able to navigate all that is to come. Climb aboard with me, pull your lap bar tight, and we will hold on . . . to Him.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever. Amen.