Types of Discernment
Jesus on Discernment MATTHEW Chapter 16
In response to requests for him to perform miracles Jesus warned his disciples not to go looking for signs and wonders.
In MATTHEW 16:1-4 The Pharisees & the Sadducees (who did not believe in life after death) asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven. He replied:
"You know how to forecast the weather [natural], but you cannot interpret the signs of the times [spiritual]. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”
Three Kinds Of Discernment
In this chapter we see three different sources of what we might call 'discernment' in response to Jesus asking:
"Who do people say that I am?"
A. Natural Wisdom of the World (vv13-14)
The general opinion is that he's John the Baptist come back to life or Elijah or one of the prophets.
B. Divine Spiritual Discernment (vv15-18)
Peter under the unction of the Holy Spirit blurts out:
"You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."
Jesus confirms the divine origin of this outburst by saying the Father had given Peter this knowledge.
C. A Demonic Utterance (vv21-23)
Peter, who only moments earlier had been under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, finds himself earning the sternest rebuke Jesus gave to any of his disciples when Peter says he will not let Jesus be executed.
This brings the rejoinder from Jesus:
"Get behind me, satan! You're a stumbling block to me; you're not thinking God's (supernatural) thoughts but only of human (natural) concerns."
As usual Peter meant well but he was speaking out of his soul rather than his spirit.
Jesus' Warning Against The Deception Of Seeking Signs & Wonders
Jesus called the desire for spectacular signs and wonders "wickedness and spiritual adultery" and went on to say the only sign he would give such people would be "the Sign of Jonah".
In MATTHEW 12:38-40 he explained:
"Just as Jonah the prophet was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
In other words Jesus was saying that his death and resurrection after three days was the only miracle we need to know he is the Messiah, God's Son & Saviour of the World.
The Roles of Diagnosis & Discernment
For more on the roles of diagnosis and discernment, go to DIAGNOSIS & DISCERNMENT.