Use these Bible verses on discernment to help you recognize God’s leading or voice anywhere you may need wisdom or guidance.
If there is a good way to describe what it means to discern and why it is necessary to have discernment, it would be this quote. “The heart of spiritual discernment is being able to distinguish the voice of the world from the voice of God.”
The word discernment comes from the Greek word “anakrino”, which means to examine or distinguish. The ability to discern is very closely related to wisdom. Someone who is able to discern well has a perceptive way of seeing things. A person who is discerning is often of good judgment.
This does not mean that they are judgemental or critical, in fact, discernment is one of the gifts of the Spirit, and is considered a virtue. In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, we find a list of the different gifts. Some of those include faith, knowledge, healing, and the discerning of spirits.
In other words, discernment is something that the Holy Spirit empowers a believer to do. This is the ability to recognize whether something is, as the quote says, the voice of God or something else. This discernment can be in connection with a person, situation, environment, or statement.
One of the most common ways we see discernment encouraged is when it comes to the word being preached. The early church, like us today, dealt with many false preachers.
Many times the teachings were slightly twisted, enough of the truth to sound right, but with human knowledge or wisdom mixed in between that compromised the truth.
We can find an example of this in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
The more we meditate on God’s word, pray and rely on the Holy Spirit the more we can grow in the spiritual discernment and wisdom that is needed to live in this world as a follower of Christ.
25 Bible Verses On Discernment
1. Philippians 1:9-11 – A Prayer To Be Able To Discern What Is Best
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
2. Romans 12:9 – Hate What Is Evil & Hold Fast To What Is Good
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
3. 1 Kings 3:9 – Ask God For An Understanding & Discerning Heart
“So give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of yours?”
4. Hebrews 4:12 – God’s Word Discerning Our Thoughts & Intentions of Our Hearts
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
5. Proverbs 119:66 – Teach Me Discernment & Knowledge
“Teach me good discernment and knowledge for I believe in your commandments.”
6. Proverbs 14:8 – Seek God’s Will For Your Way
“The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, but the foolishness of fools is deceit.”
7. Romans 12:2 – By Testing We Can Discern What Is The Will of God
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
8. Proverbs 3:18 – Embrace Wisdom
“Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”
9. James 1:5 – Ask God For Wisdom, He Gives Freely To Those Who Ask Him
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
10. 1 Kings 4:29 – God Blessed Solomon with Wisdom & Great Discernment
“Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore.”
11. Romans 2:1-3 – We Ought Not To Be Hypocritical in Our Judgment of Others
“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?”
12. Proverbs 19:8 – Seek Wisdom & Get Understanding
“He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.”
13. Proverbs 10:13 – Those Who Are Discerning Speak with Wisdom
“On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding.”
14. 1 Corinthians 11:31 – We Are Called To Judge Ourselves Rightly
“But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.”
15. 1 Kings 3:9-12 – Solomon Asked God For A Discerning Heart
“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”
16. Romans 12:16-19 – Live Honorably & In Harmony with Others
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
17. Proverbs 3:21-24 – Preserve Sound Judgement & Discretion
“My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
18. Colossians 2:2-3 – In Christ is Hidden All The Treasures of Wisdom & Knowledge
“That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
19. 1 Samuel 25:32-33 – David Praises Abigail for Her Discernment
“Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.”
20. Hosea 14:9 – The Wise & Discerning know That The Ways of The Lord Are Right
“Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”
21. John 7:24 – We Cannot Judge By Appearances, But Must Judge with Right Judgment
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
22. 1 John 4:1 – Test The Spirit & The Words of Those Who Preach According To Scripture
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
23. Proverbs 2:3-5 – Seek Discernment & You Will Discover The Knowledge of God
“For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God.”
24. Hebrews 5:14 – Through God’s Word We Can Grow In Discernment
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
25. Colossians 1:9 – Pray To Be Filled With The Knowledge of His Will In All Spiritual Wisdom & Understanding
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”