|“We must relearn how to think. We must learn how to pause before we speak — give ourselves a moment to enter the secret place of God’s presence — and then listen to what Jesus has to say. For Christ Himself is the source of our discernment. In listening, we create the opportunity to hear the Lord’s voice; postured before Him we can receive answers, wisdom and insights that we otherwise would not discern.
Indeed, using the gift of discernment, we can counter the advance of the enemy and reverse the gains he might have otherwise obtained. Consider the gospel story of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11). As experts in the Mosaic Law, the Pharisees knew well that the woman had sinned. Wishing to publicly discredit Jesus, they brought her to Him hoping, perhaps, to prove Him a heretic:
“Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” —John 8:4-5
This is the big question: What does Jesus say? Everything we will learn about discernment is found in knowing the answer to this question. There will be pressure to answer. It’s likely that turmoil may surround us. Yet we must stay sheltered in the calm of God. The woman is obviously guilty; witnesses have condemned her, as does the Law of Moses. Stones are waiting in the hands of her accusers. But if we will actually possess true discernment we must stop, listen, and actually hear: What does Jesus say?
Christ recognizes her sin. However, His thoughts were higher than that of the Pharisees. He saw this situation as a means to bring redemption to the woman, repentance to the Pharisees, and glory to His heavenly Father. Stooping down, He wrote on the ground. Then, as the Pharisees persisted with their accusations, He stood and said, “He who is without sin … let him be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7).
The hardened hearts of the Pharisees were so deeply pierced that, “one by one, beginning with the older ones,” they departed (v. 9). Scripture does not tell us what Jesus wrote (some say He wrote one of the Ten Commandments or perhaps some other Scripture). What He wrote is unknown. However, in the Lord’s response He made it clear: in His kingdom, the merciful and the pure in heart decide when, and if, stones will be thrown.
The issue I seek to underscore is not that Jesus drew on the ground but that, in the heightened turmoil of the moment, Jesus drew upon the Father. He remained calm. He waited, listening in His heart to hear the voice of His Father.
This is the pattern for true discernment: we disown the limits of our opinions and reactions, and we learn to wait and listen to the Lord.
As the Voice Comes to Me
Jesus expands this discipline of focused waiting. Consider His comment in John 5:
I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord — but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision]. —John 5:30 AMP
Jesus said, “As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision.” This small statement unveils such a large truth!
When we accept Christ into our hearts, He does not enter simply as a doctrine. No, He enters us as a living voice. His Spirit brings conviction and direction; He speaks through dreams, visions, revelation, and understanding of the Scriptures. He illuminates our hearts, speaking to us of repentance and the renewal of our soul. He lifts us, reminding us of the faithful promises of God.
Yet this voice — the sacred voice of God — refuses to compete with the clamor of our fleshly minds. This is God, King and Creator of the universe. He requires the honor of our full attention! He will not yell as though we were disobedient children and He a frantic mother. He will not chase us. He waits.
Yes, there are times when He may resist us, gently pushing against our prideful efforts. He will wait until we stop our harmful activity. Our problem is not that God won’t come to us; it’s that our anxious souls fail to give Him time to speak.
Remember, His thoughts are “higher than” our thoughts (Isa. 55:9). He would speak to us, but our opinions monopolize the conversation. Our ideas and preprogrammed reactions rush out of our mouths and into the world of men. We hurry by the narrow path that leads to His presence. He is left out of the conversation; He wants in.
Jesus taught, “Take care what you listen to” (Mark 4:24). Do we truly know how to listen? Discernment is the art of listening to Him who does not speak audibly and perceiving Him who is otherwise invisible. And the one great question that leads to all we need to know is this: What does Jesus say?”
(c) 2015 Francis Frangipane Used with Permission http://www.frangipane.org/