This is an excellent question and the answer to it demands our earnest attention. Let’s begin by answering this question: Can everyone get discernment? 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 provides the answer for it reads, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him; and he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned; but the spiritual discerns all things, and he is discerned of no one.” (DARBY version). The “natural man” is the person who has never been born again. Jesus spoke in John 3:5-6 of the necessity of being “born of the Spirit” and when this New Birth takes place the Holy Spirit comes to live inside that person. The Spirit is the Author and the Teacher of the scriptures and one MUST have the Spirit to “receive the things of the Spirit of God.” Without the Spirit “he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned.” But even after one is born again, they need to allow the Holy Spirit to control them. When they do yield their lives to the Spirit, they are “spiritual,” or “Spirit-controlled.” That is the person who can get discernment, for “the spiritual discerns all things.”

In addition to yielding to the Spirit, there is another requirement if we are to “get discernment.” Listen to these pertinent words in Hebrews 5:11-14, “Of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (NKJV). The Hebrew believers had been saved for many years and they should have been teachers of God’s Word and been able “to discern both good and evil.” Yet they were still BABES, in need of the MILK of God’s Word instead of the SOLID FOOD of the Word. How did this happen? Verse 11 tells us, “you have become dull of hearing.” They had become bored with God’s Word and as a result they quit growing spiritually; in fact, they had gone backwards and were “babes.” There is nothing wrong with being a babe in Christ, for we all start out that way when we are born again, but just as a human baby grows up by feeding on milk and then eating food, Christians should also feed on God’s Word and grow spiritually. Peter exhorts believers to do this in 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” The Hebrew Christians had “lost their appetite for God’s Word” and become “stunted in their growth.” The sad result was they had lost the ability “to discern both good and evil.” If we are going to “get discernment” we need to constantly feed on God’s Word!

There are some who think that in order to discern if a person is trying to trick us we need the “gift of discernment.” They point to the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:10 where we told that to some are given the “discerning of spirits.” The apostle Paul had this gift and you can read how he used it in Acts 16:16-18.” But God also gives ALL BELIEVERS the ability to “discern spirits” when it comes to something vital. The Apostle John addressed all believers on this subject in 1 John 4:1-3, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.” Satan has sent many people out into the world with a false gospel and they deny the incarnation of the Son of God. We have been given the ability to discern that they are “not of God” by this acid test: “Do they believe that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh?” In a more general way God can, through His Word, “give us discernment” to know if people are being honest or if they are tricking us. But here too we will need to “yield to the Spirit” to teach us the Word and we will need to “feed on the Word” to grow.  (181.1)  (DO)