Solid Food for Spiritual Discernment | June 22nd, 2023

It was a beautiful spring day for a walk at the Arboretum, my happy place, surrounded by God’s amazing creativity in both color and detail with the endless varieties of flowers and plants.

I love learning about nature and enjoy taking extra time to read the tags that display the names of the plants. On this particular day, I noticed a tag that read: False Holly. I discovered later that it was given this name because of its resemblance to true holly. Although it will grow clusters of tiny white fragrant flowers, it does not produce fruit.

Wouldn’t it be so helpful if false teaching and deception also had a tag attached to warn us it’s not the truth? We live in a world where it is becoming more and more difficult to discern the truth of the things we’re taught whether it’s coming from the our favorite news channel or even from the pulpit.

Instead of tags, God has given us the perfect way to spiritually discern between truth and error by reading and studying His Word.

What is Discernment?

Discernment is the process of making distinctions in our thinking about truth. It comes from the Latin word discernere which means to “to separate,” “sift apart,” or “to divide.” When we have spiritual discernment, we are able to separate good from evil, truth from error, and wisdom from foolishness. It is the ability to think biblically.

It’s important to understand we cannot obtain spiritual discernment by our own power. It is a gift from God. The moment we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us be discerning. We, as believers, never have to make a decision alone. We always have Him to direct and guide us to make wise decisions.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17

God tells us in His Word that without being a new creation in Christ with the Holy Spirit to guide us, we will never have spiritual discernment. It will all sound like foolishness.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14

The Solid Food of God’s Word

Spiritual discernment has a direct connection to how much we consume and digest God’s Word. It’s our solid food. When we move from sporadically reading a few verses here and there to truly savoring and delighting in the Scriptures like we would a five-course meal, we grow and become more mature as our mind is transformed. It reinforces the truth over and over and becomes much easier for us to detect error.

While training ourselves to learn the truth through the Word, it will be brought back to our mind every time we need it for discernment. Knowing the truth is the key to helping us live a life of obedience to God. If we neglect God’s Word, however, we will begin to think the way the world thinks, which is contrary to God’s thinking, and will often lead to our disobedience with detrimental consequences that could have easily been avoided.

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14

Study the Authentic to Detect the Counterfeit

The more we know the real thing, the easier it is to detect the counterfeit. I remember when I was buying vintage costume jewelry to repurpose for more of a modern look to sell to my customers. I would often look for signed pieces because they had greater value and were usually made with better quality. There was one company to which I was especially drawn called Juliana which produced much of their jewelry during the 1960s.

None of their pieces were signed, but instead were sold with a hang tag. Unless the tag was still attached, it was hard to tell if it was genuine. Many deceptive people took advantage of this and produced knock-offs but with the price tag of the authentic. This created the need for dealers, collectors, and online groups to research the specific traits of the way Juliana jewelry was constructed. A book of Juliana jewelry was soon published for people to be able to identify the real deal from the fakes. I bought that book and studied it carefully so I wouldn’t be duped with my Juliana purchases.

This is what believers must do to develop spiritual discernment. We must know the authentic so well that when the counterfeit appears, we can easily recognize it. Did you know it is the will of God that everyone who belongs to Him would have spiritual discernment? In fact, it is our responsibility as followers of Christ to examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good, and abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

God desires for us to make decisions that are pleasing to Him so we can live without compromise in obedience to His Word. He loves us deeply and knows that the consequences of poor discernment and making choices that go against Him will hurt us. There are numerous choices we must make every day and some will have consequences we have to live with for a very long time.

Without discernment, it is like going to battle without a shield or weapon. We leave ourselves wide open for defeat. Reading the authentic book of truth, God’s Word, gives us everything we need to know to make godly choices and keeps us from falling for the lies. It’s our foundation for spiritual discernment and our greatest protection.

False Teaching

Failure to be able to distinguish between truth and error leaves the believer subject to false teaching, leading to an unbiblical mindset. There have been many led astray into thinking that if a pastor has a megachurch and numerous followers, they must be teaching the truth.

We have to measure everything we hear against the Word of God. Our enemy, who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, uses the world’s philosophies to pull us away from Christ. And he often uses pastors of churches to do it. We must always be on guard using discernment with everything we hear.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

Here’s a perfect example of the need for spiritual discernment with a quote from the sermon of a pastor who has one of the largest congregations in the US, averaging 45,000 attendees per week:

“In dealing with people for several years, thousands of people, one thing I can tell you is that 99.9% of people are not bad people. They may make poor choices, but deep down, they’ve got a good heart.” – Joel Osteen

What does the Bible say?

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12

The Bible tells us that what Joel Osteen was teaching is false. Comparing ourselves to others is not God’s standard of goodness. He compares us to the moral perfection of God. We have all broken God’s laws in some way. Therefore, 100% of us are not good and our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, as the prophet Jeremiah says. So deep down, no, we do not have a good heart.

How does our enemy use this worldly philosophy that most of us are good people to keep us from Christ? If we think we are good enough on our own, we won’t see our need for a Savior. The truth is, every one of us has sinned. God requires sinless perfection to be in His presence and none of us are perfect.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

This is why Jesus Christ, who was the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, had to sacrifice His life on the cross for us to take the punishment for our sin so we could be holy and blameless in His sight. Those who are not cleansed from their sin because they have rejected Jesus as their Savior must be separated from God for all eternity. A holy, righteous God cannot be in the presence of sin.

Righteousness is through Christ Alone

No matter how “good” we think we are, we cannot save ourselves. Do you now see how the world’s feel-good philosophy can lead you away from Christ? We are only made good, pure, righteous, and holy when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. Only He can cleanse us from all of our unrighteousness.

…but it is the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:22-23

Jesus knew the deception would be thick in this world and even warned against it:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:15-16

False teachers may look good and sound like someone who really knows the Bible, but look for the fruit that comes from being obedient to God and never compromising the truth in His Word. Much like the False Holly that will grow clusters of white fragrant flowers making it look and smell pretty, they will never produce any fruit.

With the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s Word, our solid food, He gives us perfect protection and everything we need for spiritual discernment to live an obedient life pleasing to Him.

Kimberly Moore is a blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed and Kingdom Sparkle. To learn more, visit her website at

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