In the past several chapters we have been talking about what
it means to walk in the Spirit and how this relates to principles of
discernment. In this chapter we want to talk about principles of discernment or
walking in the Spirit as related to discipleship; that is, how to know when
feelings are a basis for discernment. We also want to talk about the place of
trials in our walk with Jesus and how this also relates to walking in the Spirit
and being Jesusí disciple.
In the last chapter we asked the question, "If we are no
longer under the Law, how do we know when we are being led of Jesus and walking
in His will or not?" The first answer we gave was by whether or not we were
experiencing the fruit of his spirit of love, joy, peace, etcetera. The first
thing we want to discuss in this chapter is when feelings are a basis for
discernment and when they are not.
When we first come to Jesus with a need or clarity of
direction, when we get an answer, after making sure it is not contrary to His
Word, our first and final basis for determining Godís will, one of the
principles of discernment we want to look for is whether or not the answer is
accompanied by Jesusí love, joy, and peace. This is one of the trade marks of
the Holy Spirit and how we know we are being led of the Holy Spirit in our
lives. Feelings in themselves though are not the only basis for discernment
because feelings can change. We can be right in the center of Godís will and
This brings up the question, "How do we know when
feelings are a basis for discerning Jesusí will for our lives and when they
are not?" There is only one time when feelings are a basis for determining
Jesusí will for our life. That one time is the first answer we get in prayer
about a matter taking all other factors into consideration that will be
discussed in chapter 13 of this section of the textbook. Jesus said in Matthew
"Or what man is there among you when his son shall ask
him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will
not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good
gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give
what is good to those who ask Him!"
When you go to Jesus with a need, whatever answer you
initially get is Jesusí answer to you and will always be accompanied by his
love, joy, and peace. The first time you get Jesusí answer to your prayer is
Jesusí answer and will be accompanied by the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy,
and peace as confirmation. If an hour, day, week, month, or year later you get
another answer with different feelings, reject it. It is not coming from Jesusí.
Jesus said if you asked him for a fish he would not give you a snake. In other
words He will not allow you to be deceived but will give you what you ask. That
is His promise to you. The only time Jesus might allow deception to creep in is
after you have come to him the first time and he gives you an answer, you come
to him a second time because you did not like the first answer. Under that
condition and attitude it is possible to be deceived (See the story about Balaam
in Numbers chapter 22). Otherwise, Jesusí promise to you in Matthew 7:9-11 is
that the first time you come to him about a need He will not allow you to be
deceived in His answer to you. He does not promise it the second time if you
know that you know already His answer the first time. His answer the first time
will be accompanied by the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, and peace. Once you
have Jesusí answer the first time about a matter you have sought him in prayer
about, after that forget about feelings. Feelings no longer play a part in
discernment after the initial answer.
Once Jesus has established his will in our lives in a matter
it does not change regardless of what our feelings may tell us later. The Bible
tells us in Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8, "For I am Yehovah, I do not
change;" "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and
forever." The Apostle John speaking for the Lord states in Revelation
"Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which
were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My
God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and
repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you
will not know at what hour I will come upon you."
In Matthew 24:35 Jesus states, "Heaven and earth will
pass away, but My words shall not pass away."
Once Jesusí will in your life is established and you make a
commitment to do His will, the quality of that commitment will be tested. When
you first become a Christian, for a period of time Jesus will bathe you in his
love and presence to let you know that you are truly forgiven, born again,
loved, and truly a part of the family of God. But there comes a time when the
honeymoon is over and the work must begin. At first, Jesus begins to reveal his
specific will and direction for our lives. He will confirm this to us by bathing
us with his love and support, but a point will come when He will withdraw the
sense of his presence because he wants you to mature and learn to choose to do
his will because it is the right thing to do, not just because you feel like you
are in his will.
The time in my life when I first began to understand this
principle of choosing to do Jesusí will, not just because I feel like doing
it, began with me when I started a two year degree in electronic technology in a
junior college. Jesus showed me plainly that He wanted me to go through this two
year degree. As I began the semester he bathed me in his love, helped me to
establish a schedule and routine. He did this for the first couple of weeks of
school. Then one night while studying I did not sense his presence as in
previous nights of study. At first I thought something was wrong. I prayed,
"Jesus, is there some sin in my life which is blocking your presence?"
The answer I got was not what I expected. He brought to my mind the passage
"So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your
salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to
will and to work for His good pleasure."
Paul in this passage is talking to the Philippians. He is
telling them that when he is present they want to impress him, make him think
they are spiritual by doing the right things. Paul, though, as he writes this
letter is no longer present with them. He is no longer present to motivate them
to do what is right so he is telling them to choose to walk in the right way now
that he is gone. As I read this the Lord said to me,
"Dale, I have bathed you in my presence and peace to
confirm and establish you in my will. Nothing is wrong. I have withdrawn the
sense of my presence because I want you now to continue in my will by choosing
to do so whether you feel my presence or not. As you do I will be with you,
helping you as you go."
Jesus was telling me He wanted me to grow up and not just do
his will because it felt good but to do His will even when it did not feel good.
As I did choose to do his will he promised that He would be with me and would
empower me to see it through. "For it is God who is at work in you, both to
will and to work for His good pleasure."
James 4:17 states, "Therefore, to one who knows the
right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin." Godís will for
my life at that point was clear. I knew what it was and what I needed to do.
Since I knew it clearly, Jesus was saying to me, "Okay Dale, now you know
what my will is. It is now up to you to choose to do it."
Jesus tells us in John 14:21 that it is the one who obeys his
commands that love Him and that He loves. He also states in this passage that He
will only reveal Himself further to the one who does obey him.
"He who has My commandments and keeps them,
he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I
will love him, and will disclose Myself to him."
Revelation and blessing come only as we choose to obey, not
The quality of our commitment to do Jesusí will though will
not only be tested by a sense of the lack of his presence. Historically and
theologically this is called the dark night of the soul. The Bible also teaches
us that the quality of our commitment to do His will will be tested by many
other trials and tribulations. Jesus said in John 15:18-20,
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me
before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but
because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore
the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ĎA slave is not
greater than his master.í If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you;
if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."
There is a cost to be Jesusí disciple and to truly walk in
his will. I guarantee the reader who chooses to walk in the path of the
principles of this textbook that you will suffer persecution and the rejection
of men. One time when I was feeling sorry for myself because of things I had to
endure to walk with Jesus in total obedience, the Lord said to me,
"Dale, if you want to really walk with Me then you will
always be attacked by men who do not want to walk with me. If you really want to
walk with me I can only promise you that from time to time there will be
rejection and persecution from men."
Jesus was telling me that I did not have to walk with him. It
was my choice and decision; but that if I was going to walk with him and do his
will then I had to accept the fact that there would never be a place or time
where there were not men who would try to impede and destroy His work and walk
He had for me. "If they persecuted me, they will also