Bible verses about discernment
Discernment is a word that gets mangled a lot in modern evangelicalism. Many people turn discernment into a mystical feeling.
But what does the Bible say about discernment? Let’s find out below.
“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” Charles Spurgeon
“Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to faultfinding.” Corrie Ten Boom
“Discernment is the ability to see things for what they really are and not for what you want them to be.”
“The heart of spiritual discernment is being able to distinguish the voice of the world from the voice of God.”
“God does not exist to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God.” Oswald Chambers
What does discernment mean in the Bible?
The word discernment and discern are derivatives of a Greek word anakrino. This means “to distinguish, to separate out by diligent search, to examine.” Discernment allows us to properly make decisions. It is closely related to wisdom.
1. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
2. 2 Timothy 2:7 “Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
3. James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
4. Proverbs 17:27-28 “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise, when he closes his lips he is deemed intelligent.”
5. Proverbs 3:7 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.””
6. Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of he Holy One is insight.”
Why is discernment so important?
Discernment is more than just what you hear or see. It is given to us by the Holy Spirit. For example, the Bible itself is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is spiritually discerned by believers due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
7. 1 Corinthians 2:14 “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
8. Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
9. Proverbs 8:9 “To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.”
10. Proverbs 28:2 “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.”
11. Deuteronomy 32:28-29 “They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. 29 If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!”
12. Ephesians 5:9-10 “(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”
Discerning good and evil
Often times what is evil will not appear evil. The devil appears as an angel of light. We have to rely on the holy spirit giving us discernment so that we may know whether or not something is actually evil.
13. Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
14. Philippians 1:10 “so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
15. Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
16. 1 Kings 3:9 “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?”
17. Proverbs 19:8 “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.”
18. Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!”
19. Job 28:28 “And he said to man, ‘Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.”
20. John 8:32 “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Discernment and Wisdom
Wisdom is God given knowledge. Discernment is how to apply that knowledge rightly. King Solomon was granted the power of discernment. Paul commands us to have discernment as well.
21. Ecclesiastes 9:16 “So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.”
22. Proverbs 3:18 “Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”
23. Proverbs 10:13 “On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.”
24. Proverbs 14:8 “The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, but the foolishness of fools is deceit.”
25. Proverbs 4:6-7 “Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom and whatever you get, get insight.”
26. Proverbs 14:8 “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way but the folly of fools is deceiving.”
27. Job 12:12 “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding is length of days.”
28. Psalm 37:30 “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.”
29. Colossians 2:2-3 “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
30. Proverbs 10:31 “The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out.”
Discernment Vs Judgement
Christians are commanded to judge RIGHLY. We can judge rightly when we base our judgment upon Scripture alone. When we base it on preferences it most often times will fall short. Discernment helps us to keep focused on scripture.
31. Ezekiel 44:23 “Moreover, they shall teach my people the difference between holy and the profane and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.”
32. 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.”
33. 1 Corinthians 11:31 “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.”
34. Proverbs 3:21 “My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion.”
35. John 7:24 “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
36. Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
37. Romans 2:1-3 “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?”
38. Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Developing spiritual discernment
We develop spiritual discernment by reading scripture. The more we meditate on scripture and immerse ourselves in God’s word the more we will be in tune with what is according to scripture verses contrary to it.
39. Proverbs 8:8-9 “All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are upright to those who have found knowledge.”
40. Hosea 14:9 “Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”
41. Proverbs 3:21-24 “My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
42. Proverbs 1119:66 “Teach me good discernment and knowledge for I believe in your commandments.”
43. Colossians 1:9 “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
44. Proverbs 10:23 “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.”
45. Romans 12:16-19 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
46. Proverbs 11:14 “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”
47. Proverbs 12:15 “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.”
48. Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Praying for discernment
We are also supposed to pray for discernment. We cannot attain discernment on our own – it is not in or physical ability to do this. Discernment is solely a spiritual tool, it is shown to us by the Holy Spirit.
49. Proverbs 1:2 “for gaining wisdom and instruction for understanding words of insight.”
50. 1 Kings 3:9-12 “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”
51. Ecclesiastes 1:3 “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?”
52. Proverbs 2:3-5 “For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.”
53. Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter, fear God and keep his commandments for this is the duty of all mankind.”
54. 2 Timothy 3:15 “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
55. Psalm 119:125 “I am your servant, give me discernment that I may understand your statues.”
56. Philippians 1:9 “And this I pray that your love may about still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment.”
57. 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
Examples of discernment in the Bible
There are several examples of discernment in the bible:
- Solomon’s request for discernment, and how he used it in 1 Kings 3.
- Adam and Eve failed in discernment in the garden with the words of the serpent. (Genesis 1)
- Rehoboam forsook the counsel of his elders, lacked discernment, and instead listened to his peers and the result was disastrous. (1 Kings 12)
58. 2 Chronicles 2:12 “And Hiram added: “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth! He has given King David a wise son, endowed with intelligence and discernment, who will build a temple for the LORD and a palace for himself.”
59. 1 Samuel 25:32-33 “Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33 and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.”
60. Acts 24:7-9 “But Lysias the commander came and took him from our hands with great force, 8 commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you will be able to discern all these things we are accusing him of. 9 The Jews also joined in the attack, alleging that these things were so.”
Seek wisdom above all things. Wisdom is found in Christ alone.