If we will move in true discernment, our view of life must be purged of human thoughts and reactions. We must perceive life through the eyes of Christ.
To Discern, You Cannot Judge
We will never possess true discernment until we crucify our instincts to judge. Realistically, this can take months or even years of uprooting old thought-systems that have not been planted in the divine soil of faith and love for people. To appropriate the discernment that is in the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), we must first find the heart of Christ. The heart and love of Jesus is summed up in His own words: “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).
Spiritual discernment is the grace to see into the unseen. It is a gift of the Spirit to perceive the realm of the spirit. Its purpose is to understand the nature of that which is veiled. However, the first veil that must be removed is the veil over our own hearts. For the capacity to see into that which is in another’s heart comes from Christ revealing that which is in our own hearts. Before He reveals the sin of another, Jesus demands we grasp our own deep need of His mercy. Thus, out of the grace that we have received, we can compassionately minister grace to others. We will know thoroughly that the true gift of discernment is not a faculty of our minds.
Christ’s goal is to save, not judge. We are called to navigate the narrow and well-hidden path into the true nature of men’s needs. If we would truly help men, we must remember, we are following a Lamb.
This foundation must be laid correctly, for in order to discern, you cannot react. To perceive, you must make yourself blind to what seems apparent. People may react to you, but you cannot react to them. You must always remain forgiving in nature, for the demons you cast out will challenge you, masquerading as the very voice of the person you seek to deliver. You must discern the difference between the oppressing spirit and the person oppressed.
Thus, Jesus prepared His disciples to be proactive in their forgiveness. Using Himself as their example, He taught, “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him” (Luke 12:10). Jesus prepared His heart to forgive men before they ever sinned against Him. He knew His mission was to die for men, not condemn them.
Likewise, we are called to His mission as well. In His prayer to the Father, Jesus said, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them” (John 17:18). We are called to die that others may live. Therefore, we must realize that before our perception develops, our love must mature until our normal attitude is one of forgiveness. Should God reveal to us the hearts of men and then call us to release them from captivity, we cannot react to what they say. As our perception becomes more like Christ Himself and the secrets of men’s hearts are revealed to us, we cannot even react to what they think.
If we do not move in divine forgiveness, we will walk in much deception. We will presume we have discernment when, in truth, we are seeing through the veil of a critical spirit. We must know our weaknesses, for if we are blind to our sins, what we assume we discern in men will merely be the reflection of ourselves. Indeed, if we do not move in love, we will actually become a menace to the body of Christ.
This is exactly what Jesus taught when He said:
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. —Matthew 7:1-5
Repentance is the removal of the “logs” within our vision; it is the true beginning of seeing clearly. There are many who suppose they are receiving the Lord’s discernment concerning one thing or another. Perhaps in some things they are; only God knows. But many are simply judging others and calling it discernment. Jesus commanded us to judge not. The same eternal hand that wrote the Law on stones in the old covenant is writing the law of the kingdom on tablets of flesh today. This word to “not judge” (by “outer appearance”) is just as immutable as His Ten Commandments. It is still God speaking.
The Goal is To See Clearly
The judgmental carnal mind always sees the image of itself in others. Without realizing it is seeing itself, it assumes it is perceiving others. Jesus refers to the person who judges as a “hypocrite.” The Lord is not saying we should totally stop thinking about people. He wants us to be able to help one another. The emphasis in Jesus’ command to “not judge” is summarized in His concluding remark: “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” The way we help is not by judging but by seeing clearly. And we do not see clearly until we have been through deep and thorough repentance, until the instinct to judge after the flesh is uprooted.
We have seen that Jesus paralleled speaking to people about their sins with taking specks out of their eyes. The eye is the most tender, most sensitive part of the human body. How do you take a speck out of someone’s eye? Very carefully! First, you must win their trust. This means consistently demonstrating an attitude that does not judge, one that will not instinctively condemn. To help others, we must see clearly.
If you seek to have a heart that does not condemn, you must truly crucify your instinct to judge. Then you will have laid a true foundation for the gift of discernment, for you will have prepared your heart to receive the dreams, visions and insights from God. You will be unstained by human bias and corruption.
The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis’ best selling book, The Three Battlegrounds – on sale this week at www.arrowbookstore.com.