When he failed, he exclaimed: “How foolish I have been to think that I could make all men believe alike about religion when I cannot even make two clocks run together.”
This is true even when comparing black & white truth, how much more when those that embrace the Truth, yet still have to decide on issues that are not clearly spelled out in Scripture? As already stated, the majority of the Christian life exists in the realm of liberty. This does not mean that where we stand on these issues does not matter, quite the contrary. It is essential that every believer know where and why he or she stands on these issues. The key is to remember that their conviction is theirs and theirs alone. They arrive at this conviction based on what they discern is what God desires from their conscience.
There are five basic discernments:
a. Significance the Lord has placed on it
Even though the Scriptures may not speak directly to every issue, many times the Lord makes it clear that He places a great significance that impacts whether or not we participate in that liberty. For example, the Bible gives no ideal weight for people, nor does it forbid smoking cigarettes by name, however, the scriptures place a great significance of keeping your body as the temple of God, not being mastered by anything and moderation in all things.
A clear example of this is the Lord’s Table. This symbol is so significant to our Lord, that when folks in the Corinthian church abused that symbol, God disciplined harshly.
1 Corinthians 11:27–30 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
b. Understanding God's Principles
When we seek to understand principles from Scripture we become very sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The more intimate our walk with the Holy Spirit, the deeper our discernment becomes.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
c. Right vs. Wrong
Why not this before Principles? This really speaks to walking by sight versus walking by faith. Black and white commands are sight, they state what they state, no discernment needed, just obedience. Our convictions, on the other hand, may need to change. For example, while in America I may have the freedom to eat pork. However, let’s say the Lord calls me to minister in Israel. Then my stand on eating pork may need to change, if I really care about reaching folks that believe eating pork is wrong.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
As I said, clear commands need no discernment, but the mature have learned to discern their senses through the constant practice of seeking God’s direction in liberty areas.
Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 8:5 He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.
Sensing the right timing requires a close walk with the Lord. God gives no command about when and if someone should get married, that is an individual decision that only that person can make. Timing is essential and only God can reveal that.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
If we are to rightly discern God’s desire for all areas of our life we need His Word constantly in our mind and heart. It alone has the power to expose our true motives so we can walk in integrity in all aspects of our life.
Proverbs 10:9 He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out.
Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.
Meditation Questions: How much time and prayer do you spend seeking direction in liberty areas? When you study the Word do you look for direction concerning liberty issues? How much of your life is built from Biblical principles? Do you require a command to do something for God? What does that say? Why is it important that we have a conviction for everything we do in our life? Should we fight with others who disagree? If so, why? If not, why?