From Naiveté: To Discernment: To Release
June 1, 1989
"But I would not have you ignorant brethren—
Be not children in understanding”
“In understanding be men—
filled with… knowledge—
wise as serpents…
have—senses exercised to discern both good and evil”
“We all have knowledge—
knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. If any thinks he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know…
Love covers a multitude of sins…..
Forgive one another…
Love one another.”
Look at these three columns carefully. They describe the progression through which God takes us on our journey to Christ-likeness. We begin in ignorance. From there we move to an illumination and an awareness of right and wrong regarding all things. Our personality is disciplined through perception. Finally, we are led to release from legal perception of right-wrong into the grace of pure knowing of God. Herein is found freedom, joy, and forgiveness of others over their transgressions against our knowledge of good and evil.
I. Naiveté - Ignorance
I want to comment on these three columns more thoroughly, but especially the last two. The first column, ignorance, is fairly obvious to us all. Most of us are already fairly discerning people (2nd column).
Naiveté toward right/wrong, wise/unwise, is the most basic form of lawlessness and evil. We recognize this already. So that is why we have ministry. That is why we have teaching and study— to illumine, to create awareness---of what is right and what ought to be changed to become right.
Every time we speak, teach, write, or preach, we are illuminating awareness and perception of right from wrong. We are addressing ignorance and converting it to understanding. This is all we will say about ignorance.
II Discernment - Perception
As ignorance is the basic form of lawlessness, perception of good and evil is the most basic form of law. Mankind became subject to the knowledge of good and evil at the Garden of Eden. So he became subject to law.
Law presents us a picture, an image of God’s Life. But it can produce no life. Knowledge of good and evil only presents us an image of the way life ought to be. But knowledge can't produce life. It only shows us how separated we are from true Life. This is the curse Adam brought us under when he gave us out knowledge of good and evil.
Everything we come to understand about right and wrong is law that presents us an image of life, but can produce no life. Everything true about law is true about all understanding, for all understanding is based on the law of knowing good versus evil.
All our knowledge is legal. All knowledge therefore carries the weights and bondages that all law carries. The knowledge of what ought to be carries a certain spirit of heaviness and condemnation with it because we are powerless to effect it ourselves, either in our own lives, or in the life of the church.
The more we learn from God about what is right, wrong, and what ought to be, the more prone we are to heaviness, self-condemnation, and an unspoken spirit of judgment toward others who walk outside the bounds of what we have come to discern as right. Discernment produces de facto judgment against others because all understanding is legal and law works judgment.
I think all of us recognize the evil of this judgment. We want to be free from it. We don't want to judge others based on our discernment of life. We hate Pharisaism and have made every effort to be free from all manifest legalism toward others.
The fact remains however, that the spirit of pharisaic legalism is intrinsic to our power to understand right from wrong to any degree at any level. So, to the degree we are functioning based on our discernment of right from wrong, we carry a hidden, latent spirit of legalism in our bosoms that automatically issues judgment against all people walking outside our judgment of righteousness. This judgment is unconscious, but it is there.
As a result, all our understanding works separation and division among us. The more refined our legal understanding, the more particular and minute our points of separation with others become (no matter how kind-spiritedly we may part paths.)
This brings me to comment briefly on the nature of the Word of God. I alluded to this in my February letter and bring it up here again. What people throughout Christendom fail to realize is that the Word of God comes to us through the veil and filter of our finite personality which functions through the legal perception of right and wrong.
We see through a glass darkly. We do not hear the same way God speaks. God speaks in grace. We hear through legal discernment, through the filtering power of the knowledge of good and evil. This makes everything we hear from God a law, a law by which we latently judge others. We are all silent Pharisees to some degree as our image of God's word forms the basis for our judgment against the directions and activities of others.
Every time we preach saying, "The word of God says..," we are speaking based on an image of the word through the legal filter of our personality. When men affirm, "I stand on the WORD..," what they really mean without realizing it as that they stand on their present image of the word. Can you see these concepts together now?
knowledge of good and evil
work of the flesh
Yes, "the law is good." Discernment is good. The image of God's word through our personality is good. Good is better than evil, than lawlessness, than ignorance, than naiveté.
But goodness is not life. The knowledge of good and the knowledge of God are not the same. The knowledge of good cannot save us. The law cannot save us. The limited image of God's word through our legal personal perception cannot save us. They only work condemnation and show us how far short we come of God's glory. They only work division among us. They only place a heaviness on us through on obligation and expectation we are powerless to fulfil through our personalities!
We must come out from under the law of our personalities into the grace and Life of God. We have to come to see with the "living seeing" that transcends knowledge. We have to come to see as God sees!
This brings us to the third column:
III. Release - Forgiveness
Once we have discerned what is right and wrong according to our perception of God's word, our discernment has completed its task. Our discernment can't work the righteousness it points us to — either in our own lives or anyone else's.
So what do we do? We have to move from discernment to release! We have to release what we see into the hands of God so He may work the true righteousness behind what we have seen in our lives and in the church.
By releasing our discernment into God's hands, we release ourselves from the bondages that attend our legal perceptions. We come out from under the spirit of heaviness over all the evils we have come to see in ourselves and in the church. It is God who delivers us from these spiritual bondages.
As we release to God our knowledge of good and evil. He brings true healing to us over all the evil we taste because of our refined perceptions. In releasing our power of perception to God, we release others from the bondage of accountability to our perceptions.
This is what forgiveness is all about. Through release to God of discernment, we are able to forgive others for their perceived evils toward us personally, or theologically, or however whatever it is we perceive about them that is wrong according to our spirit through our image of God's word.
This is the love that covers a multitude of sins. Sins against what? Against the laws of our perceptions of right and wrong. As we release our perceptions to God, He works the healing we need in our own hearts, and in our relationships with those who have offended us. We suffer from many hurts and bruises because of our faithfulness to our discernments. But if we release our discernments to God, He will bring us healing. He will restore wholeness to us. He will bring life to us out of broken or lost relationships.
This is what love, grace, and true unity are all about. Love and unity are not based in ignorance, naiveté, and turning a blind eye to the faults of others so as not to offend or confront. Love and unity are based in taking our discernment and releasing it to God.
Love is not blindness to relational injustice or a burying of the truth. Love is seeing beyond to the way God sees once we have seen the truth. Love is not ignorance of faults. Love is the supernatural transcension of perceived faults, losing those perceptions in the sea of Who God is, committed to His mediation and outworking for correction and reconciliation. By this we are enabled at the right time to reach out our hand one more time to those who hurt, offend, or differ with us — each time gaining a greater vision of the person through the eyes of Jesus Himself.
Grace, love, and spiritual unity: these three go together and are collectively based, not on the commonness of our perceptions, but on our release of all our perceptions to the Lord. It is for us to cede up to God the law of our personality and find the deliverance from our legal awarenesses that sets us and others free into the pure love of God.
But if we don't do this--- if we come to some place of latching onto our perception of what is right--- whether over a non-consequential doctrine, or the way something should be done in the church, or over an interpersonal conflict--- then we come to the "end of the line" of spiritual growth.
We remain under legal bondage to the power of our awareness of right and wrong. We remain under "house arrest" within the confines of our own small personality. We become subject to the "tormentors" of which Jesus spoke (Mt 18:34-35), tormented by the gnawing awarenesses of others who have offended us or who are going in what we perceive to be a wrong theological direction. We've got to get free from this is we ever hope to finding lasting fulfilment in God.
Perhaps this is why, when you boil it all down — all the scriptures, all the teachings (mine included), all the ordinances, all the practices of mice and men, all the issues— Jesus, and Paul, and John concluded that everything is ultimately fulfilled according to the "law of love."
And what is it? It is the release into God's grace out of the power of our discernment according to the knowledge of good and evil. This is the true Knowledge of God, eternal Life, and the one Truth that makes us free.
written from Valleyfield, Prince Edward Island, Canada
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created June 22, 2015