The discernment of saints (Part 2)


1)       The first thing to be used for the discerning of saints is heresies. Heresies are the friends of the saints, they are to help us know who are of us and who are not. Were there not abundant heresies out there it would be even more difficult determining who are brethren and who are not (1 Cor 11:19).


2)       The next thing to be used for the discerning of saints is “What think ye of Christ?” Not so much in regards to heresies, but rather how does one think of Him personally. Some refer to Him as Master, which in every incident in scripture is a sign of unbelief in whole or in part. Those in this group often refer to themselves as slaves, and know not that  “thy maker is thine husband.” Others play the harlot with their husband and have many lovers among the world, the flesh and the devil. Not so of the saint, who though they may fall through weakness of the flesh, yet they hate it and their love however feeble, is still for Christ alone. Christ is the Husband of His bride, and His bride will receive Him and love Him as such.


3)       Another thing to be used for the discerning of saints is a humbling. Has the person been humbled? Note: It is not “are they humble?”, but rather “have they been humbled?” When one has been met by God, it leaves them humbled. When one has been humbled they talk not about their practical holiness, nor their value before God, they simply take the lowest place among men and leave any inviting to a higher place to Christ (Luke 14:8-11). Similar to Isaiah who declared “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” The reason he said this follows, “for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Or as Job states, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” A sight of the King leaves no room for exaltation of self, and one willingly takes their place among the lowest of men. Those who claim to be humble, have never been humbled, for a claim of humility is not needed in the humbled.


4)       Another thing to look for is If one has any comfort in any sin, whether lying, adultery, fornication, formality, morality, hypocrisy. Note: The saved can commit nearly any sin that a lost person can, yet they cannot have peace in it, nor can it be a defining characteristic of themselves. It is possible for one to have the comfort caused by ignorance of the sin as David did, but once the sin is exposed, like David, the saint can have no comfort in it.


5)       Being unable to discern a child of God is a quality of the lost, who being lost, have no discernment (Prov 17:15, Jonah 4:11)


6)       Next we are to keep an eye out for the obvious bruised reeds and the smoking flax, for which one needs the utmost wisdom and guidance of the Spirit of God. “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” To exercise this we reserve compassion for the bruised reed, and fear of judgment for the smoking flax, and see with which response it is met. Look not only on outward actions or professions to determine the brotherhood of any, but especially these, for their outward signs may well be contrary to their inward birth.


7)       Those led of the Spirit of God will be found to be walking by faith, not by sight. They may be called to do things against both caution and reason, and will generally be found swimming upstream in the current of their surroundings. They will be considered foolish (1 Cor 2:26-29) yet in their workings will be found the wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:11-14).


8 )       People who are led of a certain spirit will recognize and prefer others led by that same spirit. Those led of the spirit of the world will prefer others led of the spirit of the world; those led of the spirit of whoredoms will prefer others led of the spirit of whoredoms; those led of the spirit of religion will prefer others led of the spirit of religion; and those led of the Spirit of God will prefer others led of the Spirit of God. Fellowship with others led of the same spirit as yourself will not be awkward, but comfortable, even preferable. In this way, those who are led of the Spirit of God will be able to discern others who are led of that same Spirit (1 John 4:5-6).


There are others as well as I am sure you will find, the point of the matter is that the child of God is meant to know who his brethren are, and is meant to judge rightly.


Prov 17:15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.

11 Responses to “The discernment of saints (Part 2)”

  1. Jean says:

    Amen Lee, I agree with you in everything you said. Thank you for giving scripture references as well, I found them helpful.

    The only thing I would like to question is: you say the ability to determine between truth and error is not criteria to determine the lost or saved. Which I think is true. But in this post you say that Being unable to discern a child of God is a quality of the lost, who being lost, have no discernment.
    If you can, can you please explain the difference between the former and the latter?

  2. Mike says:

    Lee good stuff…really like 2 and 4.

    i sort of agree with Jean…not quite sure where you are going with this…believers can all lack discernment, but that doesn’t indicate a lost person. Don’t presume that we are to analyze each person to see whether they are born again and if we can’t determine this then it may be a red flag that we are not born again? If you don’t mind could you explain this please?

  3. Lee says:


    To determine truth from error is not what sets one apart as a Christian, for as the Christian may lack much knowledge of these things so a lost person may have much knowledge in them. Yet the Bible teaches that to be unable to discern the brethren is no quality of the saved, but is a quality of the lost.

    Mal 3:17-18 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

    Prov 17:15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.

    Jonah 4:11…Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

    WHAT one knows is very different from WHO one knows, or more precisely WHO knows us.

    A couple examples:
    1) I know of the Queen of England, but I do not know her. It is evident among those who know her, who else knows her as they talk about her. Why? because they know things that only come from knowing her. When she knows me, then it is a much closer relation.

    2) You have lived in England, I have only read about it. When I start talking about England as though I know it, it soon becomes obvious to those of you that my knowledge of England is only second-hand. I wouldn’t know anything that wasn’t already written in a book, whereas you would know many of those things.

    Now because of faulty understanding or memory, some of the details of each one’s understanding may be skewed ( the WHAT), but the fact they know the Queen (the WHO) will be obvious to others who know the Queen.

    Same with Christ, except that He has the power to perform a more recognizable surgery of heart, that leaves its marks.

    Since the Christian is led of the Spirit, there is no ‘analyzing’ per se required, one just knows because being led of the Spirit they recognize the scars of the surgery.

  4. Jean says:

    This explains a lot of things to me, (especially situations in my church). I have given much thought to your reply, and all I can say is you got it brother! God who did not spare His own Son for us, will He not also freely give us all things, including wisdom and understanding. Truly amazing the work the Lord has done in you and your family!

  5. Randy says:

    Hi Again….More food for thought…..Maybe….

    It is quite interesting to me that the cross our Savior was crucified on was made of wood that was hand hewn by men. It was made of dead wood. It was planted in the ground by men. It had no life in it. It has become a symbol (perhaps an idol) to so many, many….of us. We have even gold plated it and wear it as an ornament of jewelry.

    Jesus is the tree of life. He is alive. He is risen above that dead wood.

    It seems, that perhaps this could be a picture of the structures that men build to support their carnal faith. Most organized, institutional, religious buildings, (the things they call “churches”, usually have a cross mounted somewhere inside where their congregations can’t miss seeing it. If Jesus would have been killed by a gun maybe that they might have guns, mounted behind their podiums on the wall, instead of a cross, or wear gold plated guns on a neclace around their necks.

    I just seems kind of ironic that Jesus was crucified on what seems to be an image of man’s typical, fleshly view of judgement and the law.

    After all, we are the church, not buildings made of wood hewn by men, and mounted in the ground by men, like that dead wooden cross.

    I prefer to cling to Jesus like you are doing; not the “Old wooden cross” It reminds me too much of clinging to the “Old wooden church building” or even an upgraded, gold plated version of a church building.

    Great article you have posted here.

    Have a great day in Jesus


  6. Lee says:

    “Jesus is the tree of life. He is alive. He is risen above that dead wood.”

    Indeed He is and He has!

    Acts 17:29-30
    29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

    The symbol of the cross is for those to whom the person of Christ is not revealed in a better manner.

    IE I could wear my wife’s hat on my head to remind me of her, or I could just spend more time with her. Because she is my wife I have no need of the former because I do the latter. Same with Christ and symbols of Him.

  7. Lewis Churchill says:

    I’m confused about number 2. If you veiw Christ as master and yourself a slave to Him, that it indicates unbelief. Paul in Romans, Phillipians, and Titus refered to himself as a slave to Jesus Christ. This would indicate that he obviously veiws Christ as His master. James refers to him self this way and so does Peter (2peter1;1) and jude(1;1). The direct translation of the word doulos is slave. Now given it is obviously indicated that these apostles love Christ and belonged to Him. but your statement in #2 would indicate otherwise. Please explain the logic on this particular point in harmony with the Word of God. The others are spot on but number two seems contradictory.

  8. Lee says:

    Hi Lewis

    A slave serves unwillingly out of fear, whereas a servant serves willingly out of love. If you belong to the bride of Christ, you will not serve unwillingly out of fear, but rather willingly out of love.

    The KJV translators knew God and understood this, which is why they have translated it as ‘servant’. Those who translate it as ‘slave’ (IE Macarthur et al) at the very least don’t understand this, and at the worst they simply don’t know God.

    “Doulos is a legal status, making one person the property of another person who has all rights to the labor and production of his property. Hence the doulos serves his owner. Contrary to common belief, the doulos was well cared for, was often better skilled and educated than his master, enjoyed great freedom of trade and mobility, and was able to rise to high posts of power, respect, and influence. It was common for a person to sell himself into doulos in order to improve his position in life. The abject slave was more often an unpardoned prisoner of war or a criminal.

    At the time of the writing of the KJV, the two terms — slave and servant — were not as carefully distinguished as they are today.”
    The difference is the pardon. The slave is an UNPARDONED criminal and must fear, the servant is a PARDONED criminal and will love.

  9. melissa says:

    Hi Lee,
    I know you would want to be correct on what you attribute to whom so here is what Macarthur says in his notes:
    Romans 1:1
    “bondservant, Doulos, the common NT word for servant. Although in Greek culture it most often refered to the involuntary permanent service of a slave, Paul elevates this word by using it in the Hebrew sense to describe a servant who willingly commits himself to serve a master he loves and respects”…..
    Macarthur seems to understand the word in the same context as you do. It seems as if it not so much the word chosen but the actual relationship. Doulos means slave as in one being owned by another, the same goes for the meaning of bondservant in the NT. Macarthur and others freely interchange between servant and slave in various writings and commentaries. When I read your post it sounded as if you were saying that to use the legitimate words “slave” and “master” meant you werent saved when clearly scripture refers to us as doulos as well as the bride as well as heirs as well as children..but i see from your response to Lewis that you dont mean the use of the word but what the persons understanding of that word is. Is that correct?

  10. Lee says:

    Hi Melissa, good to hear from you again. I was going to check and see how you were doing. I knew you would be one who would keep thinking on this stuff.

    One of the problems with JM is that as a Mr. Facingbothways he faces whichever direction the wind is blowing.

    You see, Macarthur also writes this in his sermon “Slave of Christ”

    “The second point: Christians are slaves. You might have a hard time buying into that. Doulos is used 130 times in the NT, and with other forms up to 150 times. And in 1 Cor 7:22 we are called Christ’s douloi. This word means one thing: “slave.” It’s all it ever means, nothing else. It’s a person owned, a person with no rights, no freedom, no standing. A slave could not own property, give testimony in a court of law, could not seek reparations from a civil court of law. No autonomy and no freedom. Doulos means that!”

    Without freedom, there is no love, and without love there is no salvation.

    Then he goes on and destroys this verse.

    “In John 15:14 we read this: “You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” This is one of the richest of all passages. The word of note here is slaves. No longer do I merely call you slaves, no longer only slaves; I now call you friends. But you are friends who are slaves, because you are my friends if you do what I command.”

    The way he connects friends with slaves is worthy of any cult.

    John 15:14-15

    14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants (doulos); for the servant (doulos) knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

    When we read the verse simply and plainly it clearly states Christ doesn’t call his friends doulos anymore, He simply calls them friends.

    And you are correct, that it is not so much the use of the particular word as the understanding of the use of it.

  11. ricky says:

    I read this again brother Rankel and really grabbed what you were saying when I did so.