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Discernment: The enemy of legalism

December 13, 2017



Hi Lifters,

Before I get in to this blog I just wanted to apologise for something I said on Sunday. In regards to the Pharisees’ actions of creating a system of laws... I might have made it sound like the 10 commandments given to Moses were the only commandments God gave to the Israelites. There are definitely many more commandments God gave, as can be seen in the book of Leviticus. However, the point remains that the Pharisees created extra rules around those rules. I just wanted to clear that up.

On to this weeks blog!

Philippians 1:9-11 (MSG Version)

9-11 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

In the message on Sunday I spoke about how legalism affects our relationship with God. For example it can drive a wedge between God and ourselves, because instead of coming to God and receiving His free gift of salvation, we feel like we need to perform in order to earn it.

Legalism also has a way of preventing us from learning discernment. I’ve come to love this journey of learning to discern, and the beauty this grace from God brings to our lives. I think it’s one of the greatest ways God shows His value for us. He gives us free will to decide and talks to us through the Holy Spirit to help us come to a decision. What a loving Father, hey?

But when we allow legalism in and tell others to obey what we have discerned on our journey, we can sometimes rob them from learning how to discern. It’s like teaching a child Godly principles instead of telling them what to do in every scenario; there will come a time when you’re not with them, and they won’t have the ability to discern what to do!

What’s so precious about followers of Jesus learning to discern for our selves? It’s an opportunity to gain a stronger relationship with the Holy Spirit because we’re learning how to hear His voice! From here, we not only can make wise decisions but we can get to know our Heavenly Father’s heart towards us.

Giving the opportunity for others to discern is definitely a scary thing because you don’t want the people you love, to make the same mistakes you made! But perhaps it’s scary because we don’t use discernment in the way we should. For example there are some things we don’t need to discern because they’re written in black and white in the Bible and have clear actions attached… “Thou shalt not murder” means exactly that – no questions asked!

If you’ve read even a little bit of the Bible however, you would know that there’s also a bit of “grey” area. This is a great opportunity to help our loved ones lean in, and discern with the Holy Spirit’s help.


These are some steps I like to take people through when they have asked for wisdom/counsel. If equipping and empowering are the goals of your conversations, I hope this can be of service to you.

                    “The word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.”

1. Once you’ve heard the whole story and got all the facts, point them to scripture. Go straight to the Truth – not your opinion (I know it can be second nature to go straight for your opinion and experience, but this always needs to be secondary to God’s Truth). The Bible will most likely have a pretty clear directive for them, if not a wise principle to guide them!

2. Ask them what they think the scripture is saying about their situation. This is where they can practice discerning.

3. Explore with them the options they can take, to apply this principle to the decision at hand. I use the word “explore” because it’s important that we don’t jump in with the actionable steps; giving people the “answers” doesn’t leave room for them to discern.

If they come up with a wise step to take, we can encourage their ability to discern and they can gain some confidence – bonus win!

One thing to remember in guiding the conversation is, the step they discern might be vague and not target the issue that’s at hand super effectively. This is a great opportunity to tell a few stories from your experience about what you tried and whether it worked or not.

My prayer is that you would enjoy the (ongoing) journey of learning to discern, and empower the people you’re discipling to find wisdom and confidence in it too!

Lots of love,

Ps Bec


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