Some have mistakenly defined spiritual discernment as a God-given awareness of evil or good spiritual presences—the ability to tell if a demon is in the room. That's the spiritual gift of discernment and not the point of this post (for information on the spiritual gift of discernment click this LINK). While some people may possess this capability, it is not the biblical meaning of discernment. Spiritual discernment ultimately has to do with wisdom and the ability to distinguish truth from error.
Wisdom is personified and described as someone that we can “get to know”.
Proverbs 1:20-33 NIV Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Arguments and debates surround spiritual truth because it is obscure.
Matthew 13:11-13 NIV He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
Satan has “blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4), so God must shed light on the human mind to enable us to understand truth. It is impossible to attain wisdom without God. He gives discernment or takes it away (Job 12:19-21).
The Bible says that Jesus Christ is “wisdom from God”, sowisdom, or spiritual discernment, is something that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
The world’s way of getting wisdom is different from God’s way. You can gain knowledge and apply reason to knowledge to solve problems, to invent things and create philosophies. But God does not make the knowledge of Himself available by those means. The Bible says the “wisdom of the wise” is frustrated by God who delivers wisdom to the “foolish” and the “weak” by way of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:18-19 NIV For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
That way, “no human being can boast in His presence”.
1 Corinthians 1:28-29 NIV God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
We learn to be spiritually discerning by knowing Him.
It's not wrong to possess knowledge or have an education, and it is not wrong to use reason and logic to solve problems. However, spiritual discernment cannot be attained that way. It must be given by the revelation of Jesus Christ to the believer, and then developed by training in righteousness and prayer.
Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
You can increase your spiritual discernment. First, recognize that God is the only one who can increase wisdom, and pray for it.
James 1:5-8 NIV If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Philippians 1:9-10 NIV 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,
Then go to the Bible to learn the truth and, by meditation on the Word.
Your local bank tellers know when a counterfeit bill comes their way because they’ve memorized the details of a real dollar. The problem is that new counterfeits are being created every day. The best way to recognize a counterfeit bill is to have an intimate knowledge of the real thing.
This is what Christians have to do to develop spiritual discernment. We must know the authentic so well that, when the false appears, we can recognize it. By knowing and obeying the Word of God, we will be trained to distinguish good from evil. We will know God’s character and will. This is spiritual discernment – being able to distinguish the voice of the world from the voice of God.