Discernment: Session 2

Janet Aucoin October 14, 2017

Session Two: Practical Applications of Discernment

Judging that is forbidden

  • We are forbidden from judging motives. (Matt 18)
  • We are forbidden from judging matters of the conscience. (Rom 14:1-4)

Judging that is commanded

  • We are commanded to judge / discern actions and stated beliefs only based on the standard and authority of the word of God and judged with humility. (I Thess 5:21-22)

Authority of the Word

  • Old Testament tests of a prophet (Deut 18:21-22; Deut 13:1-3)
  • New Testament warning about using circumstances as source of truth (Acts 28)

When reading or listening to someone, ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Is Jesus the hero of this story?
  2. Am I drawn to Christ?
  3. Is my focus lifted to Him? (John 13)
  4. Or am I left thinking about how this will make my life easier?
  5. Who is being glorified?

Use the Discernment tool from page 3 to evaluate excerpts from a popular Christian author:

“No husband feels fond feelings of affection and love in his heart when he believes his wife has contempt for who he is as a human being. Ironically, the deepest need of the wife – to feel loved – is undermined by her disrespect.”

“How much better is it? Have we reached some kind of marital nirvana and all is perfect? We still come across to one another at times as unloving or disrespectful. We still get on the Crazy Cycle like everybody else. But we have 2made a decision that has changed the course of our marriage for the good. If only my mom and dad could have discovered this. Sarah and I now know how to reduce the number of times we spin on the Crazy Cycle, and we often stop it before it gets started. What is this life changing decision we both have made? I have decided to believe that Sarah does not intend to be disrespectful. Oh, she can get nasty, but that isn’t how she feels in her heart. I know she respects who I am deep inside. Sarah has decided to believe that I do not intend to be unloving, though I still hurt her at times with my comments and attitudes. She knows that in my heart I love her deeply and would even die for her.”

“He felt deep feelings of love for her, but they came out of his being convinced that she respected him and admired him.”

“But I want to remind all husbands that their wives were basically good-willed women. They are only acting critical, contentions, and disrespectful because they are crying out for love.”

Extended quote:

“…I have said, ‘Time out…time out! Sir, let me ask you something, does your wife have basic goodwill toward you and others? Would you entrust the children to her?’

‘Oh, absolutely.’

‘Ma’am does he have basic goodwill toward you and others, and would you entrust the children to him?’

‘Of course.’

‘Then what is going on with you two? How can two good-willed people treat one another this way?’

The husband and the wife will look at me as if to ask, ‘Why don’t you tell us? All we know is, we fight and fight and fight, and usually we really don’t know why.’

As I have tried to explain to many couples over the years, a major part of the answer is learning how to decode each other’s messages. Whenever a wife is complaining, criticizing, or crying, she is sending her encoded message: ‘I want your love!’ And whenever a husband is speaking harshly or sometimes not speaking at all, he is sending his encoded message: ‘I want your respect.’”

Based upon the author’s quotes, what might you ascertain about the author’s view of mankind (essentially good? Essentially corrupt? Neutral? Why?)

Based upon the author’s quotes, what might you ascertain about what would make mankind (husband or wife) behave correctly? Behave incorrectly?

What is this author’s goal?

Who is the hero of this story?

What would be the result if you applied this to parenting?

Do you believe the author has accurately developed Eph 5:33? Why/Why not?

Read the excerpt below from the Gospel Coalition Blog and compare this author’s view of mankind with the view of mankind implied in the Love and Respect quotes: https://www.thegospelcoalition...

Kimm and I had one premarital session before our wedding. It lasted maybe five minutes, just long enough for the well-meaning counselor to hand us a crate of cassettes and urge us to listen. We threw them in the trunk. One day, nine months later, he wanted them back. Not a problem, since they were right where I left them—in the trunk, unopened and unused.

It’s frightening to think how unprepared we were for marriage. I don’t blame our counselor. I’m not sure he had premarital counseling either. But as I reflect back on the last 35 years, there have been a few surprises it would have been helpful to know about.

Here are six surprises I believe every pastor or premarital counselor should cover:

1. The Sin Surprise

Engagement is like walking through an amusement park with fogged-up glasses. There’s so much you don’t see clearly, but who really cares? You’re having fun! Here’s the truth: Your fiancé is more sinful than you know. If his or her sin hasn’t already surprised you, get ready: it will. I’m not saying your future spouse is hiding something. You just don’t have eyes to see what’s there. This is why you should seek counsel from friends, family, and the church before a relationship gets serious.

Borrow others’ glasses to look at your loved one through their eyes. Also, be sure to talk about the “three P’s” of past sin—patterns, partners, and particulars. Don’t be unnerved by what you uncover. Your beloved is a sinner just like you. Remember: Our sin is horrific enough to require Christ’s blood to take it away. But God’s grace has power over the “sin eruptions” you couldn’t see before your wedding day. Don’t be afraid. The fallenness you uncover becomes a theater for displaying Christ’s redemption.

2. The Conflict Surprise

I thought the early years of marriage were about how Kimm needed to improve. You can guess where that led. According to marriage gurus, our early conflicts simply indicated a lack of communication skill. But the Bible says, “What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not your passions at war within you?” (James 4:1–2).

Fights and arguments happen when we don’t get what we desire. My early conflicts with Kimm revealed what I craved. I got angry with her, because, well, I had an entitled heart. I wanted Kimm to respect me. I thought being respected was some kind of inalienable right grounded in both Scripture and the American constitution. But it didn’t take long before I saw how a good desire can corrupt into a harmful demand.

I thought each biblical command for my wife revealed a need in me and a right I possessed. But I came to see this takes God out of the picture—and puts me in his place. Sure, a respectful wife contributes to marital harmony. But God’s commands for Kimm exist to help her grow in love for him. They weren’t given for me to manipulate to my own ends.

Gospel Way Love and Respect

Hope is contingent on God Hope is contingent on others

Supernatural Natural

Giving selflessly Giving to Get

Goal: God’s glory Goal: Happy marriage

Result: Fruit of the Spirit Result: short-term possible self- righteousness, long-term bitterness/empty

Contrast with the beauty of 1 Peter’s view:

1 Peter 22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

2 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

3: 8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing

17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 1

4 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

3:11b so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

5: 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Janet Aucoin


Janet is the Director of Women's Ministry at Faith Church (Lafayette, IN); Host of the Joyful Journey Podcast (helping women learn that when you choose truth you choose joy); ACBC certified; teacher in Faith Community Institute; Coordinator of FBS seminary wives fellowship, retreat and conference speaker; B.S. Human Resources, University of South Florida.