Romans 12 1-2 Discernment
There are areas that believers can disagree.
Disputable Matters - disagreements over personal
Gray Issues - things for which there is no “Thus Saith the Lord”
How are we to handle such times?
Stronger - don’t despise the weaker
Weaker - don’t judge the stronger
How do we come to God-honoring, Biblical conclusions on such matters? We must practice discernment.
Discernment - the ability to judge well
A discerning eye
A discerning ear
Discernment is closely connected to wisdom. It is a part of living a wise life. It is separating apart. ILL: Chex mix - picking out the good stuff.
Discernment is the ability to choose between good and evil, right and wrong, wise and unwise.
This passage gives us an example of the practice of discernment.
1Thessalonians 5:21 Prove (discern) all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
We are to Test: Hold onto: Avoid
Discernment is not just seeing what is good and what is not. It is also an action. Holding fast to the good and turning away from the evil.
Why does this deserve our attention tonight.
1) It isn’t always easy.
It’s not as simple as picking out the good stuff from the Chex mix. It can be very difficult. ILL: bookstore, preaching, radio
2) Having spiritual discernment is of eternal consequence.
We are talking about knowing truth and living a life changed by that truth. We are talking about impacting the lives of others either to Christ or away from Christ through our lives. God’s Gospel and His Glory are at stake. As we live with discernment, the Gospel will be proclaimed to the lost through our lives and through our lips and God will be brought glory as we are accurately reflecting Him.
We can all be discerning.
I Kings 3:9 - Solomon asking for discernment and wisdom
Psalm 119:104 - through spending time in God’s precpets
Ephesians 5:10 - Proving = putting what God says into practice and seeing that He is what He says He is and will do what He says will do.
Hebrews 5:14 - How do you grow in discernment? Practice discernment. Work at it. As you practice discernment, your ability to do so becomes more and more effective
Now lets look at Romans 12:1-2 and see what that passage has to say in this area of discernment.
This is a transitional passage. In the first 11 chapters Paul lays out the doctrine of the glorious gospel of Christ, God’s plan for the ages to being about glory to Himself -- adoption, foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, sanctification, glorification and so many more. After laying all of this out, he transitions into a discussion of the implications of this doctrine in our lives. Here he begins to get to where the rubber meets the road, where he deals with how these great truths should affect our lives.
These two verses are a pivotal point. Paul is taking us from the truth of the Gospel to the living of the Gospel. That is what discernment is really all about. It is keeping the truth and the doctrine of the Word before us and then saying, “This is how I need to live in view of the these mercies.”
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you fellow believers, in view of God’s mercies, that you continually present your bodies a living sacrifice, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this present age, but be transformed by renewing your mind, that through proving you may discern what the will of God is which is good and acceptable and perfect.
In view of what God has done for you, what is the only appropriate response? To make the aim of our lives pleasing God through our live as worship to Him.
Then in verse two Paul tells us how we can maintain a life that continues to live in the way verse 1 is talking about. How do you make sure that you are doing what God wants, that you are living a life pleasing to Him? Verse two tells us that we must live in a certain way so that we can know and discern how we are to live to please Him.
1) Discernment requires resistance
Do not be conformed to this age
Don’t think like the world thinks. This present age is trying to shape you. Do you know it when there is an attempt to shape you? ILL: media
Resistance brings rejection by this world. Do you care more what the world thinks about you or what God thinks about you? Answer that carefully. It’s easy to give the “right” answer here, but what about in your every day life--in the work place, at school, with your friends. Discernment dies when we allow this age to shape our thinking.
Choosing to please God is choosing to reject and resist the world.
2) Discernment requires renewal
In opposition to being conformed to our age, verse two asserts that we are to be renewed ion our minds. This is a continual reclaiming of the truths of God’s Word. ILL: Matt Olson wrestling himself back to what he knows to be true. ILL: renewing books at the library is a statement that you still want to keep the books.
It is not enough to hear God’s Word once and accept it. We must ever be confronting our minds with the truth of God’s Word. When struggling with sin, we must confront ourselves with the truth that we can live in victory over that sin because Christ won the victory at Calvary. When struggling with condemnation and guilt over past sin we must confront ourselves with the truth that there is no condemnation for us. We need to regularly reclaim the truths of God’s Word.
3) Discernment Requires Action
True discernment requires action that is based on accurate Theology. The only way to grow in discernment is to act on what God has made clear and we already know from His Word. Discernment is of no value if it is no put into action. One man put it this way, “If the Theology that you hold doesn’t shape your life, then you’ve not understood it and you’ve not experienced the richness and the goodness of it fully until you live it. Discernment grows as we act on and obey what God has shown us and the reverse is also true. When we fail to act on truth, discernment dies.” The greatest way you can grow in discernment it obeying God in the places He has already made His will clear. Ephesians list. We must take God at His Word and and we live that out and only then, we will grow in discernment.
4) Discernment Requires Regeneration (the Gospel)
We can only be discerning when we understand that the foundation of everything we believe is not in what we can do, but in what Christ has done for us. We can only be discerning as we live life in view of the mercies of God.
Discernment requires resistance, renewal, action and regeneration and we must give ourselves to the task of discernment if we are to live lives that bring glory to God, especially when it comes to gray areas and disputable matters. What a vital task that we must give ourselves to for God’s glory and Gospel are at stake.