Discernment is the ability to “see through.” It is the ability to see beyond the obvious, and involves insight into what is “really real.” It is a spiritual gift. It is a spiritual enablement from God. It is not the gift of suspicion or scepticism. It is the ability to see clearly as God sees things.
Matthew 16 describes three dimensions of discernment.
1. Matt. 16:1-4. DISCERNING THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES. This is the ability to see what is going on in the world around us. We very much need to have this ability because there are incredibly deceptive winds blowing in our day. Also, we need discernment in order to know what actions to take. Remember the sons of Issachar in the Old Testament who “had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (I Chron. 12:32)
2. Matt. 16:13-20. DISCERNING THE LORD. Peter had his eyes opened to see Jesus. We need that, too. We often can look at circumstances around us and not see the hand of the Lord at work. We need discernment to see the working of God in our lives. John 3:8 says that “the wind (Holy Spirit) blows where it wishes, and you hear the soundof it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.” That’s often the way God works today. We need eyes to see His workings.
3. Matt. 16:21-23. DISCERNING THE VOICE OF SATAN. Peter was a good man, but for a moment, he listened to the wrong voice. One minute he was hearing from God. The next, he was being rebuked by Jesus for heeding satanic wisdom. This is a daily battle for anyone who wants to follow Jesus. Satan comes with appealing lies to seek to turn you on your heels.
May God give each of us discernment today!