Understanding the Discern Definition in the Bible

  • Billy Cobb
  • Jul 28, 2023
Understanding the Discern Definition in the Bible

The Meaning of Discern in the Bible

The word discern is one that we find throughout the pages of the Bible. It has many meanings, but when it’s used in a biblical context, it generally calls for us to engage our minds and hearts and to look at things from a different perspective. Instead of simply seeing what’s on the surface, we’re encouraged to dig deeper and seek to understand the underlying truths.

Discernment is said to be a gift from God, and it’s one that we’re all called to cultivate. In 1 Kings 3:9, King Solomon asks God for “an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad.” He recognizes that wisdom and discernment are essential to effectively leading and living a good life.

The Bible tells us that the world is full of deception, and that we must be vigilant in discerning the truth. In Ephesians 6:12, it says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” It’s clear that discernment is required to distinguish between the lies of the enemy and the truth of God’s Word.

Discernment also plays a crucial role in our spiritual growth and transformation. In Romans 12:2, we’re told, “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.” By seeking to understand God’s will and ways, we’re able to align our lives more closely with His purposes and experience true transformation.

To discern, then, is not merely to distinguish between right and wrong, but to seek to understand the nature of things. It’s to see beyond the surface level and perceive the underlying realities. Discernment requires both a sharpened mind and a humble heart, as we seek to align our thoughts and perceptions with the truth of God’s Word.

What Does Discern Mean in the Bible?

Discernment is a term often used in the Bible, and it refers to the ability to perceive and understand what is going on in a given situation or circumstance, particularly in the spiritual realm. Put simply, it means being able to differentiate between what is good and what is evil.

Discernment: A Vital Skill in Christian Life

Discernment is a vital skill for Christians because the world we live in is fraught with spiritual danger. The Bible tells us that we are in a spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness, and we need to be vigilant at all times. As Christians, we need to be able to recognize and resist the schemes of the devil and his cohorts.

To do this, we must first have a deep understanding of God’s Word and His will for our lives. The Bible is filled with wisdom and revelation that can only be accessed through diligent study and prayer. God’s Spirit also plays a crucial role in helping us discern what is true and what is false.

The Role of Discernment in Decision-Making

Discernment is not just about distinguishing between good and evil; it is also about making wise decisions. Christian life is full of choices, and we need to be able to discern God’s will in every situation. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

When we seek God’s guidance, He promises to guide us and direct our steps. But we must also be willing to obey His Word and submit to His will, even when it goes against our natural inclinations.

Discernment in Testing the Spirits

The Bible warns us to be cautious about false prophets and teachers who may come into our midst with a message that seems true but is, in reality, a deception. John, the apostle, says, “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).

This means that we need to be vigilant about what we hear and examine it carefully to see whether it aligns with God’s Word. We need to be like the Berean believers who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).


Discernment is a vital skill for Christians to have in the current times. It enables us to differentiate between what is good and what is evil and make wise decisions guided by God’s Word. With diligent study and prayer, coupled with the leading of the Holy Spirit, we can become skilled in the art of discernment and live a life that brings glory to God.

Why Is Discernment Important?

The importance of discernment cannot be emphasized enough in the Bible. It plays a crucial role in our spiritual growth and development. As believers, we are called to live in alignment with God’s will, and failing to discern what aligns with His will can lead us to make poor decisions that can have negative consequences. In Ephesians 5:10, we are called to “find out what pleases the Lord.”

Discernment helps us differentiate between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, good and evil. The Bible warns us of false teachings, deceptive spirits, and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Without discernment, these can easily slip into our lives unnoticed, causing damage to our faith and spiritual well-being. In 1 John 4:1, we are instructed to “test the spirits whether they are of God.”

Furthermore, discernment helps us navigate the complexities of this world. The Bible tells us that the world is full of trials, temptations, and distractions that can pull us away from God. Discernment helps us see beyond the surface level and recognize the spiritual implications of our choices. In Proverbs 3:21-23, we are advised to “keep sound wisdom and discretion…they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck.”

How Can We Develop Discernment?

Developing discernment is a constant process that requires dedication, prayer, and a deep understanding of God’s Word. Here are some practical ways to cultivate discernment:

  • Prayer: Ask God for wisdom and discernment. James 1:5 states that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
  • Study the Bible: The Bible is our ultimate source of truth and wisdom. By reading and meditating on God’s Word, we can gain a better understanding of His teachings and principles.
  • Seek godly counsel: Surround yourself with mature believers who can provide wise counsel and guidance. Proverbs 11:14 states that “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
  • Stay alert: Be aware of false teachings and deceptive spirits. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

How Does Discernment Benefit Our Lives?

Developing discernment has numerous benefits in our lives. It can help us:

  • Make wise decisions: Discernment enables us to make decisions that align with God’s will and principles.
  • Grow spiritually: Discernment helps us mature in our faith and develop a deeper understanding of God.
  • Protect us from deception: Discernment helps us recognize false teachings and deceptive spirits, protecting us from spiritual harm.
  • Strengthen our relationship with God: Discernment helps us recognize God’s presence and voice in our lives, strengthening our relationship with Him.

Overall, discernment is an important concept in the Bible that cannot be overlooked. By developing discernment, we can make wise decisions that align with God’s will and principles, grow spiritually, and protect ourselves from deception.

How Can We Develop Discernment?

Developing discernment, or the ability to distinguish between good and evil, truth and deception, requires intentional effort and dedication to spiritual growth. Here are some practical ways to develop discernment:


One of the most important ways to develop discernment is through prayer. As we seek wisdom from God, the Holy Spirit will guide us and give us understanding. In James 1:5, we are told, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Study the Bible

The Bible is the ultimate source of truth and is crucial for developing discernment. We must take the time to read and study the Scriptures, asking the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and wisdom. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we are reminded that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Seek Wisdom from Trusted Spiritual Advisors

Another important way to develop discernment is to seek wisdom from trusted spiritual advisors. This could include pastors, mentors, or other spiritually mature individuals who can offer guidance and counsel. In Proverbs 19:20, we are told, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

Be Mindful of Our Own Biases and Motives

In order to develop discernment, it is important to be aware of our own biases and motives. We must examine our own hearts and motives, seeking to align them with God’s will and purpose. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:5, “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In conclusion, discernment is a crucial aspect of our spiritual growth and development. By seeking wisdom from God, studying the Bible, seeking guidance from trusted advisors, and examining our own motives and biases, we can cultivate the ability to distinguish between truth and deception, good and evil.

What is Discernment in the Bible?

Discernment in the Bible refers to the ability to differentiate between good and evil, truth and lies, right and wrong. It is the spiritual gift of being able to perceive the true nature of things and make sound judgments based on that perception.

Discernment involves understanding the motives, intentions, and character of people or situations. In the Bible, discernment is often associated with wisdom, and it is regarded as a divine gift that comes from the Holy Spirit.

The gift of discernment is important because it helps believers to stay true to God’s word and avoid deception. It enables them to distinguish between spiritual truth and error and make choices that are aligned with God’s will.

Examples of Discernment in the Bible

The Bible is full of examples of people who demonstrated discernment. Here are a few notable examples:

1. Solomon’s Wisdom

In 1 Kings 3:16-28, we read the story of two women who claimed to be the mother of a baby. Solomon was tasked with deciding which woman was telling the truth. He called for a sword and proposed cutting the baby in half, giving each woman half of the child. The true mother begged Solomon to give the baby to the other woman, rather than harm it. Solomon knew that the woman who showed such kindness and compassion must be the real mother and gave the baby to her.

2. Paul’s Discernment

In Acts 16:16-18, Paul encountered a girl who had a spirit of divination and was able to tell fortunes. Although the girl was proclaiming that Paul and his companions were servants of God, Paul recognized that the source of her power was demonic and cast out the spirit.

3. Jesus’ Discernment

Jesus demonstrated discernment throughout his ministry. In Matthew 16:23, he recognized that Peter’s rebuke was coming from Satan and not from God. In Luke 10:21, Jesus thanked the Father for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to his disciples, implying that they were able to discern spiritual truth.

Developing Discernment

Discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is also something that can be developed and strengthened. Here are a few ways to cultivate discernment:

1. Study God’s Word

One of the best ways to develop discernment is to immerse ourselves in God’s Word. The Bible gives us a clear picture of God’s character and will, and it helps us to recognize truth from error.

2. Pray for Discernment

Prayer is a powerful tool for spiritual growth, and it can help us to develop discernment. Ask God to give you wisdom and insight as you navigate the complexities of life.

3. Seek Wise Counsel

Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Seek advice from wise and godly people who can help you to discern truth from falsehood.

4. Listen to the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is our guide and counselor, and he can help us to discern truth from lies. Learn to listen to his still, small voice as he speaks to your heart.

In Conclusion

Discernment is an essential gift for believers who desire to follow God’s will. It helps us to make wise decisions and avoid deception. As we study God’s Word, pray, seek wise counsel, and listen to the Holy Spirit, we can cultivate a spirit of discernment that will guide us through life’s challenges.

Discernment vs. Judgment

Discernment and judgment are two important concepts that are often used interchangeably. However, these two concepts have different meanings and connotations in the Bible.

Discernment, first and foremost, involves the ability to understand and distinguish between different ideas, concepts, and actions. It is the ability to separate truth from falsehood, good from evil, and right from wrong. The Bible frequently urges Christians to develop the gift of discernment so that they can make wise decisions and avoid being deceived.

On the other hand, judgment is the process of forming an opinion or coming to a conclusion about someone or something. Judgment, it is worth noting, is not inherently bad. In fact, Christians are called to exercise good judgment in many areas of life. However, judgment often carries negative connotations because it frequently involves condemning or criticizing others.

When it comes to discernment and judgment, it is important to remember that God is the ultimate judge. As Christians, we are called to use our gift of discernment to understand God’s will and make wise decisions, but we are not called to condemn or judge others. Instead, we are called to love one another, pray for one another, and encourage one another in our walk with Christ.

Furthermore, discernment and judgment are closely connected to humility and self-reflection. Developing the gift of discernment requires a humble heart that is willing to learn and grow. It also requires a willingness to reflect on one’s own biases and assumptions, so that one’s discernment is grounded in God’s truth and not in one’s own opinions or preferences.

In conclusion, discernment and judgment are both important concepts in the Bible. However, it is important for Christians to remember that discernment involves understanding and distinguishing, while judgment involves making decisions or condemning. As we seek to develop the gift of discernment, let us remember to do so with humility and a willingness to reflect on our own biases and assumptions. And let us always remember that God is the ultimate judge.

What is Discernment in the Bible?

Discernment is the ability to distinguish right from wrong, truth from error, and good from evil using God’s guidance and wisdom. It is an essential skill for all Christians as we navigate through life and the challenges it brings. In the Bible, discernment is often referred to as “judgment” or “understanding” and is mentioned numerous times, especially in the book of Proverbs.

The Importance of Discernment in the Bible

One of the primary reasons discernment is crucial in the Bible is that it helps us make wise decisions in our lives. It helps us to see things as they really are and to avoid being deceived by false teachers and teachings. According to Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Discernment requires constant practice and training, but the benefits are invaluable.

The Seven Subsections in Discernment

There are seven subsections that encompass discernment, and each is critical to the overall concept. These are:

  1. Wisdom: Having wisdom is the foundation of discernment as it helps us to understand God’s ways and make wise choices in our lives.
  2. Knowledge: Knowledge allows us to gain biblical insight and understand God’s character and principles.
  3. Understanding: This is the ability to comprehend the meaning of biblical truths and interpret them correctly.
  4. Counsel: Seeking wise counsel from others can help us see things from a different perspective and gain insight into our situation.
  5. Discipline: Discipline helps us to stay on the right path and avoid temptation.
  6. Perception: Perception is the ability to understand the spiritual implications of a situation and discern the motives of others.
  7. Intuition: Intuition is the ability to discern God’s will through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.


Discernment is a crucial concept in the Bible as it helps us to understand God’s ways, make wise choices, and avoid deception. It is not something that comes naturally but requires constant practice and training. By developing the seven subsections of discernment including wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, discipline, perception, and intuition, we can grow in our relationship with God and gain insight into our situations.

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