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Sunday: Judgment or Discernment? — 26 Comments

  1. I think if we check what people are preaching against the Word that is discernment, but we can get into trouble when we think we can determine whether a person is in a covenant relationship with the LORD. Jesus knows what is in the heart but we don't.

    But then why did Jesus say "you will know them by their fruits"?
    Jesus was telling us how to discern the difference between true and false prophets not how to judge our fellow believers.
    One is what the prophets say in harmony with the Word and two are their actions in harmony with what they say?

  2. Shirley de Beer I concur with you analysis, However the challenge comes in after we have discerned, we tend to move a step forward and we judge them. For example, sometime back we had a visit from one of the high profile leader from the general conference. During the introduction remarks, the man who was assigned introduce him forgot to say that he had a title before his name. When he stood to preach he said "The person who introduced me forgot to mention that I am Dr [...]. Immediately I said to myself is that important really and i feel I judged him. Example can be many but i find it really a mind boggling topic. There is a thiner line between discernment and judgement because of the subsequent thoughts that accompany discernment. Nonetheless, its possible when we ask God to direct our thoughts.

    • I have thoughts like that too. I get what you are saying about,"Is that important" and finding yourself having thoughts. Human nature...I know I need Christ.

    • Machel, I believe we are supposed to judge whether certain words and actions are in harmony with the Word of God. However, we cannot read the heart as God can, and thus we cannot accurately judge anyone else's spiritual condition. When we judge others' motives, we are climbing on the judgment seat of God, because motives arise from the heart.

      Good actions may arise from bad motives, and bad actions sometimes arise from good motives. Only God knows the difference.

  3. As sinful individuals, we go down a slippery slope into sin when we make comment on people because we can start out trying to discern the scriptures that was just preacher or taught and end up judging the preacher or teaching. I don't think we all intend to do that but it happens.
    I looked up the word judge and discernment, and it means to form an opinion about (something or someone) after careful thought. To regard (someone) as either good or bad. To form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises.
    Who can say we have thoroughly weighed the evidence and tested a person's personality? No, one because you would have to place that person under a microscope and seriously look deep inside them.
    discernment means to the quality of being able to understand or take hold of knowledge and comprehend what is not well known.
    when I read discernment, I can't even say I discern scriptures fully or what is being preached until I go home and study it and even then God takes that scripture gives me a deeper insight weeks and years after. I can say I am learning how to take hold of scriptures and understanding some of the things that are not well known through studying the scripture to get a deeper insight.
    I think we must leave a person character and behavior up to God and study scripture to test what is being preached or taught to us.

  4. It is really challenging to live as Christians without being judgmental, we all faulter in one way or the other. Just as Machel Mizander said, the challenge comes after we have discerned. The scripture emphasizes on the fact that judgment is of the lord, and as Christians, we must obey the scriptures as such. It might seem "virtually impossible" but with God all things are possible. I believe if we ask for the guidance of the Holly Spirit in guiding our thoughts and helping us in discerning the things of this world while reading and relying on His word, we can achieve what the God expect from us as His children.

  5. It is truly unfortunate that we judge so quickly and sometimes so harshly, but we are reminded that we are to be children of the word. As the one brother said in the last days they will only be two camps those who love God and those who worship the devil. Our focus is to be one with Christ and to be developing a love relationship with him. Through prayer and study of the word we are brought closer and closer to the mind of Christ, and as a result spiritual discernment becomes sharper. It is my opinion that we ought to let the word of God be the judge, whether in the church or out of the church.

  6. EGW indicated that in her day God's Church needed to reform in making sure that the counsel of Mathew 18:15-17 was strictly followed as per each step indicated by that counsel of a one on one at the first step, the offended with one or two witnesses at the second step and finally making the case a Church Business issue at the third step.

    I have been a SDA for almost 50 years and I have yet to see this Church reform in this counsel. Problems between believers seem to become Church Committee issues without any counsel to those involved to try to settle this at step one. Or a believer will go to an Elder or Church officer and complain to them about someone and he or she is advised to take the matter to the Pastor etc. and then most Pastors then go to a Church committee also instead of counseling the members about the Mathew 18:15 counsel. EGW indicated that if these steps were strictly followed that most cases would be resolved at the second step. But as it is now and because of this failure to reform in this, members will leave a church because there was no true resolution or reconciliation etc.

  7. We are called to judge and we do it all the time unconsciously about everyone and about everything. I'm not an outspoken person but I remember that after a sermon I had to take aside the person that preached and make him aware that I felt he made funder about another member of the church and it was not appropriate. He thanked me and we are still in good relationship as before. We are called to correct and admonish each other on the path to a heaven with love and patience knowing that we fail so many times and are not better than the person we are judging. I personally need dIvins wisdom when I judge my teenage children. Lord help me be a loving father!

  8. We are admonished in scripture to ask for the spirit of discernment could someone explain to me what does that mean? Are we seeking to cause judgment on others and eventually ourselves?

    • A spirit of discernment allows us to judge rightly between truth and error - between false teachings and true teachings. It allows us to understand the Bible correctly.

      And, yes, sometimes it may allow us to see that someone that pretends to be spiritual is not. The "fruit" may be evident to us, but we need to proceed carefully to remain within the path of God. To be in a position to see someone else's error is very dangerous, and we need to depend on the Lord for wisdom. As Pete pointed out, Christ gave specific counsel regarding how to deal with "offenses." (Matt 18:15-17)

      Usually a spirit of discernment is meant for ourselves - to keep us from believing a lie or doing something that is not according to God's will.

  9. it is more important to live our lives in the Spirit rather than wasting our days caught-up with the sins of others. it is one thing to take notice of
    the struggles others may be experiencing. we cross " the line " when we
    allow anger to fester within us to the point of wanting to take action and
    seek revenge. we are all imperfect living in an imperfect world..however,
    we must make the best of it. how bout we step-back and pray, and let God
    be the Judge. it is not our responsibility..

  10. I think that this is talking about more than just whether we think someone is Biblically correct. I think this is referring to me and you in every day little things like change at work or how we deal with a coworker that is an unbeliever. Or at home when the day is not going as we would like and how we deal with our family and neighbors. Are we examining ourselves? Do we have "righteous" anger when we dare not? Do we let Christ ...or do we step in? To me this is what this is referring to.

  11. I feel that the greatest declaration of “spiritual discernment” is each individuals personal confession. The acknowledgment of God's grace , faithfulness, divine power in each distinct life carry’s with it a sort of finger print, marked by that persons individuality. We all live different lives with this distinct witness to the working power of Christ divinity, via our own experience's.

    I confess that there is a irresistible power working for the salvation of my own soul via this ssnet lesson. Praise be to God and blessings be to the people producing it , especially the dear ones comments offered!

    “ Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.” Isa.43:12

  12. Phil 1:9 the best way to influence someone is to pray for him/her . Pauls prayer for the philipians was that they would be unified in love - their love was to result in greater knowledge of Christ & deeper insight (moral discernment ). Their love was not based on feelings but on what Christ had done for them. As you grow in Christ's love , your heart and mind must grow together .

  13. I thanks God for allowing us to ready and studying his words.its the first time for me signing up online ssnet.com.And love it , it's going to be a blessing to me and I hope for you all.Love Maxine.

  14. We should strive to learn more of the word of God in order to grow in Him. By doing so we'll not become judgmental but Christ-like.

  15. i haven't been reading Sabbath lessons that much. I'll have to ask the Holy Spirit to make me interested. Although I always watch Amazing Facts & I always attend bible class before the sermon on Sabbath.

    • Norman, we're very glad to see you here. 🙂 Perhaps you can get interested in the lessons by reading them online and commenting and reading the comments of others.

      Whether or not the lessons are "interesting," probably depends on how you see them. If you see them as "catechisms" - questions to read and answers to fill in, then the lessons will most likely not be interesting.

      However, the printed lessons and these online are meant to motivate you to dig deeper, to think about the issues presented. Look up the text and read the context. Maybe the whole chapter. And pay attention to the questions at the bottom of each day's lesson.

      We cannot become followers of Christ just by passively listening to someone else. We need to read and study His Words for ourselves, so we get to know Him personally. We won't be saved by the person we listen to. 😉 Also check out "Are Sabbath School Lessons Enough?"

  16. I have learnt so much from the comment on the lesson study each week I just have to share with my Sabbath school class. I do not always contribute but I thank the contributors for sharing their thoughts so I could benefit.

  17. I would wonder if the text in James 4:11 NIV, is accurately understood? The word "slander" in the dictionary says nothing about Judging. It says that slander is a false statement between two or more parties, about a third person, doing damage to their reputation or character. This can come from misjudging however. In the rest of that text, James explains it a little differently. If we set in judgment it could, or most likely would be silent. Slandering is the damaging action. The false statement may be about a law or it may pertain to unacceptable societal living.

    • Paul, in my humble opinion the NIV translation of the Greek is unfortunate. It is the only translation that uses the word "slander" most other translations use "evil." Dictionary com defines slander as:

      1. defamation; calumny:
      rumors full of slander.
      2. a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report:
      a slander against his good name.

      The idea of slander is that it is done with intent but "evil speaking" may be done without an intentional desire to destroy someone's character. In other words passing on a rumor thinking that it is true comes under "evil speaking" but intentionally telling something false about someone in order to hurt that person is "slander." I hope you can see the difference.

      Rumoring is evil and should not be done by Christians because often a rumor is not actually true and will end up hurting someone in some way. Intentionally starting a false rumor is slander and is sin because it is murdering a person's reputation and therefore comes under the prohibition of the sixth commandment. One is patently more sinful than the other even though both are bad.

      James 4:11 NKJV says. "He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law." In that verse speaking and judging are two different things that I think you have correctly stated as one usually leading to the other. The only thing is that evil speaking doesn't have to be a product of judgment but rather the product of a loose tongue.

      • According to BlueLetterBible.org, the word translated as "speak evil" or "slander" means "to speak against one, to criminate, traduce" in the Greek. Vine's Expository Dictioary says that "synonymous with No. 6 (kata, "against," and No. 2), is always translated "to speak against" in the RV.
        See BACKBITER, Note."

      • Tyler, I agree with your comment about the differences between evil speaking and slander. I find it interesting that the SS quarterly uses the NIV for that particular James 4:11 reference. They use other versions also in many of the lessons, that I assume are selected to sustain what ever point is being made, the best. I use the NKJV almost exclusively and other versions as helps for understanding. If James had stopped after that opening statement there would be less emphasis on judgment and more on gossiping type of damage, which is what I think James had in mind. The tendency to relate a piece of "juicy" gossip is always present and there is no shortage of listeners.


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