Discerning Between Good and Evil

John Bailey

As far as I’m concerned, all Christians are meant to have general discernment in the Spirit. Some believers say things like “Oh, I don’t have that supernatural gift, so I’m just going to go on trusting God will take care of me.” That sounds nice, and yes to trusting God, but the Bible warns us that we all need to grow into spiritual maturity, and part of that is being discerning.

Look at what the Bible says here. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14, ESV).

Spiritual maturity involves studying the Bible and growing in your understanding about how scripture applies to life. That means paying close attention to what’s happening in life because you’re not going to be able to apply the Word to something you don’t even see happening, right? Sometimes Christians can be really gullible, and that’s a shame. How often have you heard stories about some con man that no one in the world would believe for an instant, but there’s a Christian writing him a check?

Whatever happened to believers applying the apostle John’s command for us to be wary of frauds? “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). John’s basically saying, “Use your head! Get into the Word, and grow in discerning good from evil.”

Now I’m not saying Christians need to jump into every grimy scam out there so you get experience, but you shouldn’t be a fool either when it comes to identifying counterfeits, evil schemes and when people twist scriptures to their own ends. You don’t want to spend your life stumbling around, falling prey to wicked people and ending up in compromising positions. With all your heart, cry out to God, “Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live” (Psalm 119:144).

John Bailey is the COO of World Challenge Inc. and the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church in Jacksonville, Florida. John has been serving the Lord in pastoral ministry for 35 years, ministering the gospel in over 50 nations, particularly as a pastor and evangelist in Cork, Ireland.