Developing Christian Discernment ~ How To Find Peace

All of us have longed for discernment when we have experienced confusing and trying times. (Especially, in this wacky year of 2020!) And, as with all “trying times”, there are those around us that truly want to help. The thing is, not all advice will actually benefit our particular life or situations. So, amidst all the well-meaning advice and helpful tips, how do you decide what tidbits to utilize and what portions to discard?

If you’re a Christian like me, then taking a situation to God in prayer is paramount. And the same goes for all the advice you may be receiving while going through those tough patches in life. After discussing these things with God, I have a litmus test, of sorts, that I pass received advice through. This helps me to clarify what I need to take heed of, and what I can simply ignore for this current “bump” in my road.

For discernment over advice or experiences, I ask myself the following series of questions:

1) Is it scriptural?

Is this situation presented in Scripture? Does the advice line up with the Word of God? This is vital! For example, someone advising you to kill someone, for whatever reason. Well, obviously, that isn’t from the Lord. (Mt 5:21, Mt 15:19, Mk 10:19, etc.) Plus, the Lord is all about redemption and restoration throughout His word. (Heb 9:15, Gal 6:1, Joel 2:25, etc.) Therefore, that should always be our goal, if at all possible. After all, God is the God of the impossible! (Phl 4:13)

2) How does it “witness” to my spirit?

What is your initial response to the situation? What’s your internal response to the advice? Are either of those throwing up “warning” flags for you? If your natural alarm bells are ringing then listen to them. Your gut is usually right. So, take note of its response. And, remember it.

3) Am I getting an “alert” from Holy Spirit Himself and/or can I sense His peace?

Do you get a feeling or sensation as if you’re getting cautionary warnings, beyond your natural internal responses, about proceeding with a certain process? Are they stronger when you “check in” with the Holy Spirit for direction? Remember, God is the author of peace, not confusion and chaos. If there is no peace, then God is not in it. (1 Cor 14:33) I have a saying, “follow the peace”. And the peace of God is vital in discerning which path, or advice, you should take. Always, always, follow the path that includes having peace within you.

4) Is there “biblically defined” fruit according to Galatians 5?

The later portion of Galations 5, verses 16 through 25, makes note of the natural human vs spiritual struggles many people face. This passage lists many aspects of the Holy Spirit which naturally manifest when the Holy Spirit is present in any area. Likewise, there are also many tendencies of man that are revealed in the presence of our natural human spirit. Educate yourself on the varying “fruits” of these very different influences. And take note which “fruit” is apparent in a particular situation. This also applies to advice people have given you. Pay attention to these things. Grow your spiritual discernment by taking notice of what prevailing spirit is encouraged. This generally only takes side in one list or the other. And there will be your answer.

5) Finally, does this advice, or experience honor/exalt Jesus?

As a Christian it is our honor and pleasure to point others to the pleasure of knowing Jesus Christ personally through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (1 Pet 1:7) Likewise, in every area of our lives, the presence of the Holy Spirit should be able to ebb and flow with ease in reflection of our ties to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, how we choose to proceed with a situation or advice should also continue this theme of our lifestyle. If either of these causes you to “break away” from your unity with Christ, then it probably doesn’t pass muster and should be avoided.

Ultimately, growing your discernment is up to you.

As Christians, our load may appear light, but from within any situation it can feel overwhelming. In reality, in our own power, it IS overwhelming. But, with sound spiritual discernment, choosing the best option for our next step is thoroughly possible. God has given us many tools to aid us in our lives here on this spinning rock. Its up to us to learn to use them. And when we’ve done all we can by seeking sound advice, praying, and discerning everything we can, we stand on the choices we make. Stand strong. Choose wisely. And keep moving forward.


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