Expect Even Less Discernment as the End of the Age Approaches
Our last article touched on something that is extremely important for today’s Christian to understand: discernment or in the case of our last article, the lack of discernment that appears to be in place in too many churches today and therefore, is lacking in the lives of too many Christians. This subject is a crucial one simply because of all that is going on now and will continue to occur in order for the world to become a globally unified system ultimately headed up by one specific individual.
We’ve been dealing with apostasy and increasing persecution in a previous series and in many ways, the lack of discernment plays into this big time. Because too many Christians today cannot truly discern the times, they have no real ability to rightly divide the Word, and in general, they gravitate toward worship services that make them feel good, the lack of discernment is at an all time high. It is nothing short of tragic but that’s what exists today.
In recalling the church we visited this past Sunday, what was clear is that Christians want to feel good. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that either, but if that’s what Christians are chasing after all the time, then something is terribly wrong. The Bible tells us that Jesus was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Here’s the whole text from Isaiah 53:3 (ESV).
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
I believe that while Isaiah had in mind the time just previous to being crucified (after being beaten by Roman soldiers, etc.), I think the prophet had the whole of Jesus’ life in mind here, which culminated in the terrible situations Jesus had to deal with as He moved toward the cross. I cannot imagine how that must have felt, but I’m certain it did not feel good. Yet, at the same time, the same Bible tells us that Jesus actually looked forward joyfully to the results of the cross!
…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2; ESV).
Though He faced things that you and I would never want to have to deal with, Jesus despised the shame, and set aside the terrible “feelings” He was tempted to notice. Instead, He found joy in those things because He knew the results that would prevail because of His sacrifice, His suffering, His death!
Yet, today, too often Christians are shamefully chasing after things that make them feel good, whether it’s song, music, some person’s testimony, a “word” from the Lord, or some nebulous message designed to inspire listeners to great heights of alleged joy. Jesus found joy in what He suffered!
While visiting the church I mentioned in our last article, the pastor offered a time of prayer for anyone who needed it. He wanted people to come up to be “baptized” in the Holy Spirit, or to pray for healing, or any other felt need. People went up one after the other.
At one point I noticed an older man pushing an older woman in her wheelchair to the front. He looked like he could barely walk himself. Without knowing for sure, it seemed they were going to the front to receive healing. As I say, I cannot be sure of this, yet after the service, she was still in her wheelchair and he still hobbled as he pushed her. To be fair, maybe they did not go up for healing. Maybe it was something else. I simply recall my days during my (short) involvement in the Charismatic Movement and all the people who were suffering from ill-health who always wanted prayer. In all those times, I can only remember two times where prayer was visibly answered. One time, an older man sat through the entire service and went up from for prayer for salvation. He received counseling and prayer and then a few moments later, he had a heart attack and died. I count that as God’s absolute, unqualified graciousness in bringing this man to Him in the last moments of his life, just as He did with the thief on the cross (cf. Luke 23:32-43).
On another occasion, a woman went up for prayer and as soon as people began praying for her, she started swearing and rolling around on the floor, knocking everything within reach over. It was so weird. The woman was possessed apparently, but was delivered. I’ve seen possessed people in my life and it’s nothing I want to mess with either.
There were plenty of others who always went forward for healing and as far as I can tell, never received it. They were told that they lacked faith. Really? So the people praying for them also lacked faith? Sorry, but there was something else going on, but it’s easy to place the blame on the person seeking something for not gaining it.
Friends, we are heading into terrible times. It is as Paul has said when he warned Timothy of the times that would envelope society toward the end of this age.
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
We expect this type of behavior from the world as ugly as it can be, don’t we? Yet, if you look carefully at Paul’s words, it is clear that these attitudes will (have) infected people in churches. Some are certainly not true Christians, but simply professing Christians. Others are – unfortunately – likely Christians who are very immature, who have not grown to the point of having any type of real fellowship with God in Christ and are still very dependent upon how they “feel” about everything. This is the Corinthian Christian and those two epistles of Paul paint a very sad picture of true Christians who seem not to have gotten it, at least in 1st Corinthians. They are selfish, immature, stubborn, proud for all the wrong reasons, sinful, inept, and their love for God and one another was conditional, not unconditional. It seems clear that Paul straightened them out because the picture changed from the first letter to the second.
Brothers and sisters, we Christians are a hearty lot if only we will realize what we have in Jesus. Paul wished the same understanding for the Ephesians, the Galatians, and all the other churches he wrote to. I believe we would be struggling and searching far less if we truly understand what we have in Jesus. The more we know Him (through His Word, prayer, and worship), the greater our strength will become. We will stop being dragged and pushed around by our feelings because we will have understanding.
I know my wife loves me. She doesn’t have to tell me all the time verbally because she tells me in so many ways daily. After nearly 30 years of marriage, I’ve come to understand the truth that my wife loves me. I don’t doubt it. I don’t question it and her love to me (and mine to her) strengthens our relationship without us ever having to question the other about it. Yet, looking back to the time leading up to our wedding day, there were times when I questioned things, when I was in doubt, when I didn’t “feel” as though she loved me. Those were natural feelings for the time because I still had a great deal to learn about my future wife and our relationship needed time to grow and solidify.
It is the same with our relationship with Jesus. You know what I always think as being a bit strange? During worship services, you’ll see people wiping their eyes, getting out their handkerchiefs, and crying. I’m assuming it’s because of how much these folks know and believe they are loved and maybe how much they love God in return for what He’s done. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that except that too often, people can come to rely on those feelings and when they are not there, they begin to doubt the truth, which is clearly stated in His Word throughout. It can be a form of Cultural Marxism that has crept into the church, teaching people to rely on the way they feel about things.
These same people never come to tears when they think of how much their wife or husband loves them, do they? They simply accept it as the truth that it is and they go from there. I wonder then if some of those tears shed during worship services are due to the feelings that people get caught up in, as opposed to the truth they are focusing on? I don’t know and would not presume to judge. I’m simply asking the question.
Folks, discernment is at an all-time high today because it seems to be so lacking. Too many Christians cannot explain why they believe what they believe from Scripture. They can only explain it based on how they feel about things and friends, that is not good enough.
I know my wife loves me and I can point to all the tangible ways in which I can actually see her love. It’s not a feeling, but an understanding. Might I suggest that today, you begin to start looking at your relationship with Jesus in a new way? Separate yourself from your feelings and through the Word, understand why He loves you regardless of how you feel about it. Once you begin to put feelings where they are supposed to be (at the back of the train, as opposed to leading your life as the engine of a train), you will see more true discernment coming to the surface. Feelings do not last. They are always changing. Truth does not change and when we understand that, we begin to see discernment taking up root in our lives and guiding us to greater understanding regarding His truth and our fellowship with Him.
Stand out from the crowd. Learn to seek discernment. Use it to guide your decision-making processes. See it as you seek to fellowship with God in Christ. You want to find out more about discernment? Solomon called it “wisdom” and he wrote quite a bit about it in the Proverbs. Start there. Do not allow feelings to reign within you. They can punctuate your life, but they are not to govern it. Let discernment do that.
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: 2 timothy 3:1-7, discernment, solomon, wisdom.