Monday, August 8, 2016

Discern and be wise

It was my day to share a lesson at a local group studying scripture.  This is what I shared. 

A good question has often lead to important revelation.  Questions are sometimes better than answers, because God answers questions.  With that here are just a few questions to help get the topic moving. 

What does it mean to discern? 
Who is trustworthy when it comes to discerning?  Can't I trust others who associate with me or think like me? Could you recognize the voice of the Spirit as easily as the voice of President Monson?
Can I rely on the LDS church’s logo/trademark on a piece of material to act as proxy discerner? 
Can I rely on a person’s church status, or church calling (or lack of) to discern a matter for me?  
Does someone’s church office relieve me from needing to discern? 
Can I rely on what the Church News Room says on a subject and assume discernment is no longer required
Are my feelings reliable when I attempt to discern?  
Does the building you are in make any difference as to whether the message you hear is true or not? 
How do I tell which are my own thoughts, and which might be the Holy Ghost communicating with me? 
Why should I care about discernment?  What’s the big deal? Won’t everything just be totally clear once I die? 
What do the scriptures say about discerning?  
Where do I even begin? 
How do I know if/when I discerned correctly? How do I know if I got it wrong? 
Is there a checklist or set of criteria I can use to discern to at least get me started? 
How personal and far reaching is my need to discern? 

Bedrock Foundation for Discerning. 

-Live the light that you already possess.  It’s critical to live the light God has already given to you. Seek into the light God has given you, even if it’s only a faint glow in the darkness.  Allow God to correct and shine clarification and expound the light or intelligence he has already given.  By acting consistent with what you already have, you obey the law which allows you to receive more.  If you are not sure if you are living all God has already given you, seek, ask, knock, and it will be opened. As with a child asking for more dinner, we all know they ought to finish what they already have, then we’re more than happy to give more.  If we want more, before we have implemented what God has already given, we risk deluding ourselves.   

-Sacrifice(See Lectures on Faith)  Do what God asks you to do, even if it brings the persecution the scriptures speak of.  If you know God has asked something, and you don’t do it, it makes sense that it will not be possible to discern that which originates from God vs that which will only entertain you or deceive you. Sacrifice makes the vessel able to discern.

-Seek the gift from God.   (D&C 46:8-23) (Ether 12:27) Prayer, fasting, and humility will bring it. Have faith, know that the grace of God is sufficient for the humble.  I’ve seen this, it is as the scriptures say.  His grace is sufficient. Humility is the only advantage anyone ever had.  

-Knowledge of the scriptures(John 5:39) Satan can quote scripture too, but notice how when Satan quoted scripture to Christ, Christ responded with other scriptures which identified the misguided and false premise the adversary was using when quoting scripture.  You won’t be able to compare someone’s teachings or doctrine or any new concept to what is found in scripture if you are not familiar with scripture.  Reading scripture is far better than listening to someone who has no idea what they are talking about.  It’s best to read scripture without all the cultural baggage and traditions we tend to overlay onto scripture.  Leave that stuff behind and just read the words of scripture as if they were the textbook.  I know that’s hard.  But God can help if we ask.  

-Recognize tradition vs truth.   Not all traditions are true. Living true to your traditions is not the same thing as living light from heaven.  It’s traditions of our fathersand disobedience which the Lord says the wicked one uses to take away light and truth.  D&C 93:39.  There are many incorrect LDS traditions and they often directly interfere with our ability (or even need) to discern.  

-Know what Joseph Smith said and taught.  The Lord said we were to have His (The Lord's) word through him (Joseph) (D&C 5:10).  And God said he vouched for Joseph's words.  This is part of appreciating the light God already gave. 

-Be weary of any who encourage you not to think, or to rely on some leader as if they were God.  The glory of God is intelligence, so we should be on the lookout for false philosophies and teachers that are unintelligent and encourage people to shut down their reasoning ability, shut off their thinking, and follow along with any philosophy that neglects the duties devolving upon us to gain light and truth. To seek, ask and knock.  The opposite of "seek, ask, and knock" takes different forms.  Such as "don't delve into deep things of God".  "Leave the mysteries alone".  Those are the opposite of what Joseph Smith and scriptures teach.  Don't be fooled.  Remember what Jesus taught.  Done in the right way, those things are good and God wants us to understand.  

Wait on the Lord and be patient:  Said Joseph, A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.

Give it time, experience and solemn, careful and ponderous thought.  I'm not sure there is anything that God will not ultimately make known to the humble and patient disciple of His Son.  Rushing or any sort of shortcut is no solid foundation from which to discern.  The deceived never ever think they are deceived, so be humble.    

Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world and also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. – D&C 50:2-3

A false prophet's message will produce as its fruit vanity, corruption, evil, foolishness, arrogance, self-assuredness, error, distance from the Lord, poor understanding, popularity, wealth, success, ease, false hopes, ingratitude, pride, displays of popularity, worldliness, hard hearts and ten thousand other meaningless or deceptive fruits.

A true prophet's message will produce repentance. It will cause you to instinctively pray and kneel as you begin to become aware of your need for, and dependence on God and his word. The fruit which gives eternal life is repentance and a return to Christ. False messenger will feed your vanity, your self importance, your special and elect status, and assure you that you are right while everyone else around you is going to hell.

Discernment isn't THAT hard.  Well...granted you are willing to proceed in humility, look honestly at our history, and follow only the Lord's voice.

Scriptures to read and ponder: 
D&C 50:10-24
3rd Nephi 14:15
D&C 46:8-23
D&C 129
D&C 128:20