Of all our revival tools (prayer, Bible study, witnessing, repentance, and unity), discernment is probably one of the most unfamiliar to us. We just never give it a thought as we look at renewing our spiritual batteries.

But this important safeguard of revival is the topic of this week’s lesson. Just what is discernment in the context of a spiritual revival, how do we obtain it, and why is its study especially important in these last days?

Our memory text is from Psalm 119, which has many references to the word of God and gives us a glimpse of what we’re looking for in our discussion of discernment:

Memory Text: “Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness. The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” Psalm 119:159-160 NKJV

So, the psalmist loves God’s law or precepts. To him, all of God’s word, as expressed in His law, is truth and lasts forever. The word “truth” is going to be a key factor in our study of discernment, as we try to understand the role of discernment in our revival efforts.

Sunday: God’s Will and His Word

In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples He asks “…that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3 KJV) Were there other gods, besides the “only true God”, when Jesus prayed this prayer? Of course there were back in Jesus’ day, and perhaps even more so today.

Any method Satan uses to turn us away from the true God and worship something other than the Creator constitutes a false god. And there are far more of them out there after all these centuries. The tricky part is that they are now disguised so well. That’s why our discernment is vital today.

Our spirituality is based on our knowing God and Jesus, and also on doing His will, as pointed out in His word. Matthew 4:4 tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

John 6:63 is also helpful. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” NKJV

Can we safely assume then that anything other than the truth from God’s word does not give life? This makes our discernment extremely important, if we are not to be led away by false revivals that offer an emotional excitement, but mingle truth and error. It is never safe to neglect plain testimony from the Bible over a feelings-based experience.

Monday: God’s Love and His Law

None would dispute the fact that knowing Jesus is the most important key in reawakening our spiritual faculties. The parable of the ten virgins demonstrated this profoundly. The five who lacked enough oil in their lamps were told by the Bridegroom, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” (Matthew 25:12 NKJV)

But knowing God leads to obedience, because a deeper relationship leads to a greater desire to please Him. This was very clear to the apostle John in I John 2:3. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” We will walk as He walked (v. 6).

John also describes the love we will have for others. Both love for God and for others are laid out in the Ten Commandment Law. Indeed the Sermon on the Mount was a summary of that important document, written by the finger of God and delivered to Moses on the Mount.


Discussion Question: What’s the difference between true and false revivals? Is it related to true and false obedience, or true and false love? Describe each of these related issues.

Tuesday: Formalism, Fanaticism, and Faith

The lesson quarterly stated that “One of the challenges of true revival is breaking through the icy surface of cold formalism, while at the same time avoiding the fiery flames of fanaticism.”

We think of fanaticism as an extremely unbalanced expression of religion that focuses on one or two principles, while neglecting others. It’s seen as “getting off on religious tangents”.

Signs and miracles are hallmarks of fanaticism. But keep in mind that all things supernatural are not from God. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone that says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me…have we not prophesied in Your name…and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you…'” NKJV

Formalism is a very cold, rigid, loveless religion. Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees of this by calling them whitewashed tombs. They look nice on the outside, but death is under the surface.

Both formalism and fanaticism tend to lead to self-righteousness and being judgmental and are enemies of our faith. Real revival is revealed by a commitment and faith so deep that it results in a transformed life, living out God’s will and glorifying His name.

Personal Thought Question: Do I tend to be too formal or too fanatical in my religious practice? Do I depend more on my senses or on my traditions? How can I find the right balance and deepen my faith and relationship with God?

Wednesday: Ministry and Miracles

Many times we focus on the miracles of Jesus while He was on earth, but His earthly ministry was spent mostly in preaching and teaching. Even while He was healing, He was not unmindful of the spiritual needs of the sufferers. He was concerned with the salvation of everyone He encountered. His redemptive ministry was summed up well in Luke 19:10. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” NKJV

Two verses that should emphasize the discernment needed when it comes to miracles are Matthew 24:24 and Revelation 19:20. In both these verses we are told that even God’s special chosen ones, the very elect, are vulnerable to the deceptive signs and wonders performed by false christs and prophets in the latter days.

Discussion Questions: According to the lesson quarterly: “When the desire for the spectacular is far more important than the desire for a new life in Christ, the mind is open to deception.” Does this perhaps mean that we need to stay balanced when hearing of spectacular prophetic signs that may or may not be taking place? Or do some people become so enmeshed in news and politics of the world or even the latest “conspiracy theory” that gets them excited about Bible prophecy that they overlook their own spiritual growth and personal ministry for others around them? How can we avoid our very human tendency to seek out the spectacular and stay focused on God and His will for our life?

Thursday: Fruits and Gifts

Galatians 5:22-25 lists the fruits of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Every Christian should be growing to some degree in all these areas. They are the attributes of love, and although some people seem to experience more of one fruit than the other, it should be our goal to grow them all. Perhaps that’s why they’re called “fruits”.

Spiritual gifts, on the other hand, are diverse qualities or callings that all church members should have. We just won’t all have the same one. And some may have more than others. But that’s alright because, the purpose of these gifts is to edify the church and their diversity are what make them work so well.

Our lesson reminds us to beware “of movements that concentrate on the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit rather than on obedience to God’s will and a transformed character that reveals the fruit of the Spirit.”

Discussion Question: How would you advise a friend who has experienced a supernatural manifestation–perhaps a healing or a prophetic vision/dream? How would understanding the great controversy between Christ and Satan help in your sharing with this friend?

Next week: Exploring reformation!