Last Sunday, after church, we stood and spoke about spiritual meditation for a few minutes.  While discussing the topic, one of the members admitted, “Preacher, I struggle with discernment.”  I am truly thankful for the members we have because there is an openness and honesty that we share with one another.  Discernment, is being able to judge and know right from wrong. I told this member, “you are not alone!” Truly, honestly, there are many believers today who struggle when it comes to spiritual discernment.

How are we to know right from wrong?  I preached a sermon last week on mercy, and wanted to follow that sermon up with another sermon about the merciful one.  That being said, I am going to break away from that thought because I believe this question to be one that needs answering.  So, today, we are going to take a look at discernment: knowing right from wrong.

Christians expected to know right from wrong

11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

hebrews 4:11 nkjv

When we take a look at the Christian faith, it is expected for every believer to be able to properly judge right from wrong.  Here in my text for today, we find that the writer of Hebrews is directing the believer not to fall.  Our writer says (Heb. 4:11), “be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”

The rest that our writer mentions here is the idea of entering into the same rest that the Lord entered into after creation (Heb. 4:4).  We should not think of this rest as in a rest where you have labored all day, got home and ate, took a shower, and was in bed by 8pm. No, after God finished created this great universe (the known and unknown), He rested (or stopped) because He had reached completion.

The rest that the believer should enter into should be a point of completion – no more laboring for salvation and hunting for something to quench your spirit.  The writer wants us to enter into the same rest of that of the Lord, but some are unable to enter such rest. They are unable to enter this rest because some may fall (that is, do wrong).  So, the question that will enter into everybody’s mind (believer and non-believer) is, “how do I know if I am doing right or if I am doing something wrong or going the wrong way?”

There is much confusion over this type of wrong and we cannot confuse it with the kind of fall spoken of here in this scripture.  For example, we all want to make sure we are making the “right” decisions in life instead of the wrong decisions.  (We do this with what we eat, who we choose to allow in our life, etc.) Nobody wants to do anything wrong (mess up), but mostly because nobody wants to start over or get behind the 8-ball (be at a disadvantage).  Whereas, wrong in this manner of thinking is likely failure and there is actually nothing wrong with failure. Failure is what helps us to grow and become better people.

The disobedience of Adam and Eve

So, when we look at what our writer writes here in our key verse, the fall is pretty specific towards it being disobedience.  We will see our writer also says (Heb. 4:6), “those to whom it was first preached did not enter (God’s rest) because of disobedience.”  You see, when it comes to spiritual discernment, right from wrong will always be determined by the Lord.  When one falls short of the rest of the Lord, it is because they were disobedient to the Lord.

The best example I can show you of being disobedient to the Lord can be found in the book of Genesis.  Yes, we are all familiar with what happened to Adam and Eve, and I even preached an entire sermon around them a few months ago.  We don’t really like to apply what happened to them in the garden to ourselves, but what happened to them is a great lesson on spiritual discernment.

In the garden, the Lord told Adam that he could freely eat of every tree except the tree of good and evil (Gen. 2:17).  We could think of God giving to Adam a statute, a law, or even a command. In a way, God preached (or taught) Adam what was right and wrong for him to do.  

God manifested Himself in the world as Christ, preached and taught man what he should and should not do.  We were told to simply trust in the Lord (have faith) – this is considered right to the Lord. On the other side, we were told that should we not have faith, that would ultimately be considered to be disobedient.  (All of those who lacked faith were not found in the Book of Life and were cast into the lake of fire (outer darkness) for their disobedience to the Lord’s way – Rev. 20:15).

Ignoring the Lord’s word and way

The task sounded like a rather simple task, right?  “Don’t eat from the tree of good and evil.”  Yet, we know how the story goes!  The tempter came along the way and tempted Eve to eat the fruit and then Eve tempted Adam to eat the fruit and he did (Gen 3:1-6).  Guess what, this is the same thing that happens with us still to this day.

We have been preached too – some of us been hearing some of the same sermons for 30, 40, 50+ years!  Yet, the temptation is there and though we question whether it is right or wrong, there is a feeling there when we know something goes against the spirit!  Jesus said to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:41), “The spirit indeed is willing [to do what’s right], but the flesh is weak.”  This is us, we want to do what’s right but there is a battle inside of us between our spirit and our nature.  “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul once lamented (Rom. 7:24).

Unable to live by the Lord’s law

The one thing that many people struggle with understanding is the Lord’s righteousness.  What I mean by His righteousness is the fact that the Lord is always right.  You see, God determines what is right and wrong – not anybody else.  This drives many people crazy because we don’t like not knowing everything!  To that point, many people feel that they haven’t truly been told what is right or what is wrong.  Because some people feel they do not know right from wrong, they choose to live according to their own way (which is disobedient to the Lord’s way).

There are many people who try to live life by knowing exactly what every sin is.  They feel that living this way will show that they are being completely obedient to the Lord.  So, some folks try to live by the Ten Commandments which are merely part of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law, yes, the same Law that was given to the Israelites, who by the way, were never able to keep it.  So, man tried to live by knowing everything that was wrong according to the Lord, but when man was unable to do it, God sent His only begotten Son.

Freed from living with the worry of knowing right from wrong

Because Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins, we are free from the guilt of sin through our faith in Him.  Remember that Jesus taught us (John 8:31-32), “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples (followers) indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  I once likened having faith in the Lord to being like a leaf floating freely down a peaceful stream. You see, the leaf just flows with the current of the stream and has absolutely no worries.  Well, our faith in the Lord should work the same exact way!

Faith is not only about believing that God will give you things (“bless you”).  To be blessed means to be spiritually happy.  The greatest happiness that the Lord has given to us is not some physical thing!  No, the greatest happiness that we have been given is our freedom from having to worry about the right and wrong that we do in the world!

Now, somebody is going to take this for believing they can get away with doing anything – that’s not the case.  No, the Lord expects you not to fall back to your old ways but to live righteously (knowing right from wrong spiritually).  Paul wrote that we are now new creatures in Christ and that old things have passed away (2 Cor. 5:17).  So, in this sense, the Lord expects for us to not be like Adam or Eve; He expects us to be obedient to His way.

Coming into focus with God

Ideally, every believer should know right from wrong in the eyes of God.  Again, somebody might ask, “How can that be?”  The answer is very simple but the task proves to be very difficult for some.  We as genuine believers must truly get into the Lord’s word! You have heard me say it time and time again, but be obedient to the message of genuinely studying His word.  

Many of us struggle with being able to discern right and wrong (that is righteousness and sin) because we aren’t doing our best job studying the Lord’s word.  To become better with being able to discern right from wrong spiritually we have to bring ourselves more into focus with the Lord’s way.  We cannot do this by trying to make up our own way and claim that it will be a way that the Lord likes.  No, God has actually told us what He expects from us and how He expects His followers to act!  

Unlike Adam and Eve, we cannot be disobedient to the Lord’s word.  Being disobedient to the Lord’s word will cause us to fall out of His promised rest.  Again I preach to you that you study His word and that you also meditate as often as possible on the Lord and His way.  Doing these things will keep you obedient to His way and you will never have to worry about whether you are doing right or wrong in His eyes.  

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