Discernment

(Continued from yesterday)

Q. I am very concerned about the extradition protests in Hong Kong. I watched video clips sent by friends from both sides – protesters as well as police supporters. It appears both sides are showing only what reinforce their position, ignoring anything that shows their opposition might be right, at least partially, and not the evil monster they portrait them to be. It seems each side is both right and wrong at the same time. What should we do?

A. Yes, we are entering an age of massive deception, when both sides of a political issue won’t hesitate to use lies to rally people to their side. If you examine video clips posted by either side, you can see that both are spreading a lot of fake news. Some think “seeing is believing”. Really? Have you watched the “Lion King” trailer? It’s very realistic, but completely computer-generated. Artificial Intelligence have fooled many people. Many have watched Trump or Obama videos thinking how they could say something like that on camera, not realizing that the videos have been “photoshopped”. Others are true footage, but of another unrelated incident taken out of context. Some stories do not have authentic sources including names, time, and place that can be verified. How can we respond in these turbulent times?

In what ways do people lie to us? Although any deviation from the truth is, by definition, a lie, and there are countless ways you can deviate, lies fall into three main categories. Using the oath when we give a sworn testimony as the reference point, a lie can be anything that is NOT:

  • The truth – any deviation from what happened; twisting the facts;
  • The whole truth –hiding or subtracting certain parts, even though what’s disclosed is true. For example, protesters point out the loopholes in the proposed extradition legislation, but hide who their own backers are and their motives;
  • Nothing but the truth – they may divulge all aspects of the case, but add elements that are designed to raise doubts, cause confusion, and mislead the audience. The easiest way to con people is to mix truth with error.

What is the antidote? I believe what’s needed is discernment, a distinguishing, clear discrimination, and judging of right from wrong. The word appears many times in the NASB:

  • Verb “discern” – 17 times in 16 verses; “discerned” – 2 times in 2 verses;
  • Noun “discernment” – 11 times in 11 verses;
  • Adjective “discerning” – 10 times in 10 verses.

I won’t cite them all here, but the key teachings are:

  • 1 Kings 3:9, 11 So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” … God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice,
  • 1 Kings 4:29 Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore.
  • Job 12:20 “He deprives the trusted ones of speech and takes away the discernment of the elders.
  • Ps 119:66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.
  • Prov 2:3, 5 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; …  Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
    And discover the knowledge of God.
  • Prov 28:7 He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.
  • Ezk 44:23 Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
  • Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

We learn the following about discernment:

  • Why? – Discernment is important because with it we distinguish between good and evil, understand justice, tell the difference between the holy and the profane, the unclean and the clean. Without it we will be deceived 100% of the time.
  • What? – Discernment consists of a breadth of mind (perspective) and knowledge (depth). You cannot discern if you are narrow minded, or if you are superficial and can’t learn from history.
  • Where or Who? – Discernment comes from knowing God’s commandments, fearing the Lord, and keeping His law. If you know God, you have wisdom from above (James 3:17). If you don’t know God, the best you can have is earthly wisdom, which is unspiritual, demonic (James 3:15), for the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. (1 Co 3:19)
  • When? – Discernment generally comes with age (elders), through experience. Hopefully we learn from our mistakes!
  • How? We get discernment when we cry for it and train our senses by practice. We must desire and pursue it. It is like spiritual discipline or exercise – no pain, no gain. Nothing venture, nothing gained.

In short, if you are the Lord’s disciple, you will have discernment, because the Holy Spirit will guide you. You can see through the smoke and mirrors the world is throwing at you and won’t be deceived. So, when people ask, “Whose side are you on, the government or the protesters?”, I said “neither”. Is China good? Are the CIA/Freemasons pulling the strings behind the protesters good? Neither. No one is good except God alone (Mk 10:18b; Lk 18:19b). There is none who does good; there is not even one (Rom 3:12b). That’s why the only foundation you can stand on is the sure word of God. All other ground is sinking sand. I hope we are all following Christ closely.

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