When the Wednesday morning group began to gather, at least one was still riled about the absurd application and misuse of the word paradise. Since I had done my homework, I was able to make some reassuring comments about paradise, as the Bible explains it, and quell the wrath this brother-in-Christ seemed to feel toward the man that made the statements – as though they were a standard church teaching.
Here is a piece of wisdom for you.
If you cannot do something about it, then it is either time to move along or let it go. No one is asking you to change what you believe to be right, but there is certainly no sense in giving yourself an ulcer over the issue. Aside from that, you will eventually drive everyone away from you.
As the others gathered that morning, it was obvious they wanted to move on. The self-appointed leader indicated that one of our group had some thoughts on the subject of discernment. Since among the religious discernment means dealing with the demonic, we tend to make problems much larger than they are and overlook common sense and logic. The man who did the talking that morning apparently has a fair grasp of Biblical language; either that or he capable of retaining information, unlike myself who tends to forget everything. Unfortunately, his delivery was dull, for he began a long oration on the variations of the Greek word diakrino.
As often happens with me, one word sends my mind in pursuit of an answer. Within moments the speaker lost me. I feel that we, as a church body, need to have a commonsense perception of what discernment means to us.
Discern– Gk word – diakrino¯ (G1252) and means to separate thoroughly, that is, (literally and reflexively) to withdraw from, or (by implication) oppose; figuratively to discriminate (by implication decide), or (reflexively) hesitate: – contend, make (to) differ (-ence), discern, doubt, judge, be partial, stagger, waver.
The Complete Jewish Bible uses the word discernment, while many others like the ESV use the word understanding. Since discernment/diakrino means to separate thoroughly, then, the other translations are equivalent terms as understanding is an act of separating facts or aspects of a matter.
In 1Chronicles 22, we see King David gathering the materials to build the temple. God, however, had different plans and told David that because he had shed too much blood that the job would now go to Solomon. King David passes this along duty along to Solomon with a blessing and admonition.
1Chronicles 22:12 And may GOD also give you discernment and understanding when he puts you in charge of Israel so that you will rule in reverent obedience under God’s Revelation.
So, what aspects of discernment did Solomon, the general contractor, need to build the temple? Almost every aspect of the definition comes into play here.
When trying to understand the Bible, and lacking resources, so much depends on translation. The KJV uses the word wisdom. This usage of the word wisdom sounds very much like the answer Solomon gave when asked what he wished above all else. Here the Greek word is śêkel, and means intelligence; by implication success: – discretion, knowledge, policy, prudence, sense, understanding, wisdom. Are the words understanding and wisdom comparable? Yes, if I consider decision making and a proper response an act of wisdom.
We have an example of discernment in the form of wisdom and understanding in the life of Daniel.
Ponder all the things Daniel had to consider. Taken into Babylonian captivity, and castrated as a young man of marrying age, the hope and dream of being a husband and father went out the window. As a prisoner, any attempt at escape would mean certain death. Over the course of time, Daniel becomes the head of the Wise men – the Magi. So Daniel uses and demonstrates discernment, understanding, and wisdom on a practical basis, throughout his life in Babylon.
Daniel 2:21 He changes the seasons and guides history, He raises up kings and also brings them down, he provides both intelligence and discernment,
Matthew 16:3 counsels about the practical side of discernment.
Matthew 16:3 KJV And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
Since judging the weather does not require great wisdom, then the application of discernment leans toward making a decision about a situation or circumstances. Some of those decisions can be as simple as deciding what to wear, while others can be life changing.
The word discernment is really not that ominous, but we tend to make it that way as we apply the word to things we deem intensely dark and foreboding, such as demonic oppression or possession. The majority of translations use the term diakrino in relation to making sound judgments.
1 Corinthians 6:5 MKJV For I speak to your shame. Is it so that there is not a wise one among you, not even one in your midst who shall be able to judge between his brother?
The NASB uses the term decide, while the ESV translates diakrino as wise enough for a situation that is described as a “matter of life.” So, in a life matter where believers within a church body are struggling with each, we are supposed “to separate thoroughly, decide and judge.”
Because we seem to have no sensibility when it comes to prophesy within the church, we have an instruction that challenges the prophets to judge or weigh what is being said, and we see this in 1Corinthians 14:29.
1 Corinthians 14:29 ESV Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.
While the commentary picked a translation that used the word contending the NASB translated diakrino as disputed. Jude gives us the only example of contending with the spirit world, specifically the devil.
Jude 1:9 “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses,..”
Is Michael the archangel using discernment to back off the devil? Not hardly. Fortunately for us, the word diakrino also means to oppose. Michael very definitely opposed the devil, and won! So, even though we love to used the word discernment when trying to assess the demonic, that is not the primary application. If it were not for Michael, the archangel, as our example, we would have little else, except for the wisdom we gain looking at the actions of Jesus, Peter, and Paul. I say that because they all contended with the demonic rather successfully.
One last example.
Another word that can be used to define diakrino is doubt. We find this in Mark 11:23, and it applies to faith.
Mark 11:23 ESV Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Do we as believers deal with the demonic? Most assuredly. Most of us never even know it; maybe that is because we don’t use discernment and accurately assess the situation.
Even if you did, would you know what to do?