The Definition of Discernment

The beginning of discernment is separating out a truth from a lie.

Jesus gives us a good bit of truth to that, but not an answer for every situation. Jesus goes on saying God grants us wisdom and has sent the Holy Spirit to be with us everyday as a counselor.

Ultimately, we want to know what is truth in life, but there are circumstances where the truth isn’t clear, and that’s where wisdom and asking for guidance comes into play.

An Overview of The Sermon On The Mount

The Sermon on the Mount is one the most intense points of scripture. It’s lengthy.

What is it? It is what life would look like if you had perfect faith in God. The standards laid out in the sermon are not attainable by anyone on their own. However, anyone can, with the help of God. It describes the kind of people reborn Christians are, or should be.

The context of the Sermon on the Mount is to describe the saved, not declare a path to salvation.

It’s broken into 3 sections:

  • True Righteousness – Matthew 5:1-20
  • True Intentions – Matthew 5:22; 6
  • Hinderances To Righteousness – Matthew 7

Jesus is trying to move us from religion to relationship. He moves us from law to love and from behavior to belief.

We (The Church) Have Not Arrived and That’s Okay

You can’t help someone else if you have unaddressed unrighteousness in your life. Only once you’ve learned to live above the bar yourself, can you help someone else over the bar.

None of us in the church have arrived. We are all incomplete and very much a work in progress in our walk with God. The church should be the safest place to be “in flight.” Invite others to join you and make the church a safe, welcoming place.

 

Blind to Yourself, Deaf to God

A critical spirit will kill any relationship. When you judge others, it’s likely because you’ve become blind to yourself and deaf to God. This means you dismiss what you’re doing wrong and then you magnify the faults of others.

Pray and ask God to help you see things more clearly and tell Him you long to hear from Him. Then, silence the critical spirit inside you.

 

Jesus Lifts Us Over the Bar

Perhaps the church should be more loving to people and tell them, “We’re not above you. We’re actually just like you. We’re only made righteous because of Jesus.”

None of us can leap over the bar of righteousness on our own. Jesus lifts us over the bar with his righteousness.

The Role of the Church Is Not to Judge People

The Pharisees were prideful and judged others harshly. But the Bible teaches us that God opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

The role of the church is not to judge the world, but to introduce it to Jesus. We must unlearn religious judgement and relearn what it means to love.

Does Jesus Raise the Bar?

The Pharisees raised the bar God set for righteousness, and the world removes the bar completely. The world removes the bar by allowing everyone to simply decide for themselves how they should live; there’s no right and wrong.

Jesus came to lift us over the bar. He didn’t come to condemn the world. He came to save it! But if you dismiss Jesus, you condemn yourself.

Man-Made Rules Are Religion

The Pharisees raised the bar for holiness, which was set by God, and added their own set of man-made rules. Then, they condemned the people who couldn’t measure up.

The Pharisees sought to be more righteous, but they only became more religious. And in doing so, they lowered the standard of God’s love.

 

Jesus Wants Us to Unlearn Religion

Often, people who were raised in the church may have a great deal of knowledge about religion, but no real understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.

That’s because what was intended to be a relationship with God became a religion about God. Many people go to church out of religious duty, but never know the power of a life transformed by Jesus.

It’s time to unlearn religion and learn more about Jesus.

 

Theory: Everyone Has A Signature Sin

Dr. Wayne Schmidt believes most of us has a “signature” sin; an area where we have a spiritual “Achilles Heel”.

If we know what ours is and it’s persistent in our lives, we have to put it to “death” daily:

Every dream passes through the cross. Every dream takes you to where you let go of everything and everyone, every agenda and expectation, and then it is only as the Lord resurrects you and your dream that you can go on.

We spend much of our time and energy trying to avoid that place. We want just enough of Jesus to make us happy, just enough to give us peace, and just enough to make things go our way to fulfill our dreams and our agenda.

Meanwhile, He wants to take us to the cross, where our selfish dreams, egos, and plans for “great accomplishments” have to die. The cross brings you to a place of total and absolute surrender of all you have and all your are.

– Chip Ingram, “Good to Great in God’s Eyes”

 

What is Sin?

Our sin nature dates all the way back to Adam and the original sin. To make things even tougher, each of us may have a spiritual “Signature” sin that keeps recurring throughout our lives. Examples of these sins are insecurity and jealousy; hate and anger, lust, addiction – the list goes on (Galatians 5:19-21).

The good news is we do have hope! Examining your life, turning away from your sin, and living under the grace that comes through Jesus’ death on the cross will set you free.

God Made the Way to Heaven

There’s a sin gap between where we are and where we long to be. No matter how much we try, we can’t earn our place in heaven.

Thankfully, God made a way – and He made it clear in the Bible. Through Jesus’s death on the cross, we can find forgiveness for our sins and restore our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

 

 

Guarding the Interests of Others

Under pressure, half-selfish always defaults to selfish. Instead of being half-selfish, guard the interests of others. Do as the Bible instructs and put other’s interests before your own. Serve people selflessly and lovingly. Find inspiration from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3-11.

To become selfless, seek God’s help and tap into the power of the Holy Spirit. Walk the path of “dying to self.”

Half-Selfish

“Half-selfish” is when we’re all about getting what we want and fulfilling our own selfish desires, but we need someone else’s help to make things happen. It’s selfishness wrapped up in a pretty package to make it appear as though it’s something else. We might want to be about others, but we’re still all about ourselves. Jesus’ disciples understood this tension all too well.

 

We Can’t See Our Own Selfishness

The Bible teaches us in Matthew 20:28 that “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We admire that kind of selflessness in Jesus and the people around us. We just don’t want to live that way ourselves! The truth is we want others to live selflessly so we can continue to live selfishly.

Often, we can’t even see our own selfishness because we’re so blinded by the wounds inflicted upon us by someone else’s selfishness.

 

What Practices Can Help Get Us Through A Spiritually Empty Season?

When you’re in a spiritually empty season, remember that God is still at work. Sometimes He takes a step back so you can advance two steps closer. During these times, you’ll grow your heart for God and you’ll grow your strength for seeking Him.

Learn to pine for the Lord in your spiritual winter and you’ll gain new insight in your spiritual spring.