Discernment Bible Study

Choose What Is Right: A Study in Discernment- Lesson 2

Previous Lessons: 1,

What Is Discernment?

Read These Passages

Job 34:2-4, Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:18-22, Acts 17:10-12

Questions to Consider

Throughout this study we will be looking at various passages of Scripture rather than working our way through a book of the Bible verse by verse. Because of that, we will need to be extra vigilant to rightly handle these passages in context. I will always attempt to provide the context you need for understanding these passages correctly, but if you need more clarity please feel free to read as much of the surrounding text as you need to – even the whole book, if necessary – in order to properly understand the passage presented.

1. Quickly read or skim Job 1:1-34:37, especially chapters 32-33, so you’ll have the major points of the story line fresh in your mind. Summarize the story of Job to this point in your own words in a few sentences.

2. Why does Elihu feel the need to speak his piece here (ch. 32-34)? What was the false doctrine with which Job’s three friends were counseling him? What was Job’s position in response to them (32:2)?

Meditate on Elihu’s words in 34:2-4. What does each phrase of this passage teach us about discernment? How does the passage as a whole explain discernment? In your own words, what is this passage saying to us as 21st century Christians? Be sure to explore the concepts of wisdom (2), “testing words,” (3) and the corporate nature, unity, and fellowship (4) of discernment.

3. Carefully examine the two Deuteronomy passages. Which genre of biblical literature is the book of Deuteronomy (law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, or prophecy/apocalyptic)? Generally speaking, were the laws of Deuteronomy laws that governed the Old Testament nation of Israel or New Testament Christians and the church?

Do these two passages in Deuteronomy center on our (vertical) relationship with God, our (horizontal) interpersonal relationships (with friends, family, neighbors, etc.), or maintaining an orderly society (similar to our modern day traffic, liability, tax, etc. laws)?

Which parts of these laws no longer apply to New Testament Christians? (13:5, 18:20) Why? Carefully explain the biblical principles underlying the remainder of these passages:

  • What is God telling His people about our relationship with Him?
  • What is God telling us about how He relates to His people?
  • Why is He telling us the things in this passage?

What do these passages teach us about the nature, character, and attributes of God, and how He desires to be worshiped? Why is it vital that our worship, beliefs, and doctrine are based on truth?

What were the two ways God’s people in the Old Testament could “test the words” of these prophets “as the palate tastes food”? (13:2-3a, 18:21-22) How does this relate to the fact that God used miraculous signs and wonders to authenticate and endorse the message of His true prophets (e.g. Moses, Elijah), Jesus, and the apostles? In what ways do false teachers of today say, “Let us go after other gods.”?

How many times could a prophet prophesy falsely before the death penalty was to be imposed? (Hint: Notice the words “sign,” “wonder,” and “word” in 13:1-2 and 18:20. Are those words singular or plural?) What does this, and the fact that false prophecy/teaching was a capital offense, tell you about how seriously God takes false prophecy/teaching? Does the absence of the death penalty for false teachers in the New Testament indicate that God has changed His mind, “gone soft” on false teaching, or no longer takes it seriously?

Explain what “God is testing you” means in 13:3b. Does God test us because He doesn’t know our hearts and needs to find out whether or not we’ll pass the test?

4. Did you notice that, as we begin to address the concepts of discernment, false doctrine, and false teachers – for Christians – that we’ve started in the Old Testament rather than the New Testament? Many theologians believe the events of the book of Job took place chronologically some time between the tower of Babel and Abraham. Can you think of any instances of false teachers and false doctrine that took place before Genesis 11? What does all of this tell you about the longevity of false doctrine and false teaching?

5. Examine the Acts 17 passage. To whom did Paul and Silas first go with their message – God’s people or the pagans? (10) Upon hearing Paul and Silas’ message, what was the Berean Jews’ initial response? (11) Their subsequent action? (11) The result of their action? (12) Which came first, believing the teachers’ message or examining the teachers’ message against Scripture? Why is this order important? How can we imitate the Bereans’ response>>action>>result when we encounter a new teacher today?

What word does God use in verse 11 to describe these Jews due to their discernment? Many professing Christians today characterize discernment and discerning Christians as “critical,” “negative,” “devoid of love,” “divisive,” and so on. How does God characterize discernment and discerning Christians?


  • Consider Job’s story. How can suffering make us vulnerable to believing false doctrine, and why is it especially important that we believe sound doctrine during times of suffering? Do you know a sister in Christ who is currently in a season of suffering? How can you help her avoid being deceived by false teachers and false doctrine? Pray for her, and how you might encourage her with the truth of God’s Word, this week.
  • How do each of today’s passages fit with the definition of discernment in the image at the beginning of this lesson?

Suggested Memory Verse

(Every week of our study, you’ll see a suggested memory verse like the one above. You are welcome to grab the memory verse pic to use as your screensaver or wallpaper on your phone or computer, print it out and stick it somewhere you’ll see it frequently, or use it in any other way you wish to help you memorize the verse.)

Discernment, Entertainment, Evangelism, Gospel, Movies

Should Christians Boycott “Son of God”? Three Things to Consider ~ UPDATED

thWith the movie Son of God releasing in theaters on February 28, for the next three Thursdays I’ll be rerunning a three part series I wrote on last year’s History Channel miniseries, The Bible. Son of God is Roma Downey’s and Mark Burnett’s movie about Jesus that is drawn from The Bible’s scenes pertaining to His life and ministry, as well as deleted scenes that did not make it into the miniseries.

UPDATE: Click here to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, of my article “Six Thoughts on History’s ‘The Bible'”.

During and after The Bible’s run last year, Downey and 0bc90ac98e8e3d20a24be1f335b5966aBurnett received quite a bit of criticism for the show’s inaccuracies and copious amounts of artistic license taken. It would give me great joy to discover that they took those critical reviews to heart and fixed in Son of God the rampant errors and faulty theology of The Bible, but since they are using scenes and deleted scenes pulled directly from the miniseries, it doesn’t sound like they’ve re-shot and corrected anything.

Since I have not seen Son of God, I’m not comfortable suggesting Christians boycott it, but I would like to throw a few things out there for your consideration as you make your decision about whether or not to see this movie:

1. Do you boycott products, organizations, restaurants, stores, actors, or political candidates who support abortion, the homosexual agenda, or any other sin?

Well, taking God’s name in vain, the third Commandment, is still a sin. A big one. And it’s not limited to saying “OMG” or boycottusing God’s name in an expletive. Far worse than those is attributing to God things that He has not said or that are not true of His nature and character. This happened a myriad of times in The Bible, and, unfortunately, I anticipate that the same will be true of Son of God.

Are you being consistent if you boycott Girl Scout cookies and Starbucks yet give your money to people who claim to be presenting the Jesus of Scripture but put words into His mouth that He did not say and philosophies into His teachings that He did not espouse and which conflict with God’s word?

2. If you do choose to see Son of God, or if you have friends stock-footage-african-american-friends-having-conversation-at-caf-x-ewho see the movie, make the most of the opportunity to start conversations for sharing the gospel and pointing people to the true Jesus of Scripture. God can use anything to draw people to Himself, but they can only be genuinely born again if someone tells them the truth of the gospel and they put their faith in the Jesus of the Bible.

3. Do your homework. If you choose to see the movie, read one or more of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) before and afterwards. Did Jesus really say to Peter, “We’re going to bible-studychange the world,” as He does in the movie? If so, which verse says that? If not, what did Jesus actually say, and why? If you choose to see the movie, don’t just take for granted that what you see on the screen is true. Get your Bible out, dig through it, and sharpen your discernment skills. Be one of those Bereans Luke praised so much for comparing what Paul preached to what Scripture said.


UPDATE: After the original publication of this article, Downey and Burnett announced that they would be removing all of the scenes from Son of God that contained the actor portraying Satan due to last year’s controversy over his striking resemblance to President Obama. 

A reader asked for my reaction to this announcement. My remarks to him were as follows:

Since I haven’t seen the movie, it’s hard for me to give a really fair comment on this, but I’ll take a stab at it. I am much more concerned about the theology of leaving out Satan than I am about the politics. 

When I read a statement like this (and granted, these are the reporter’s words, not Roma Downey’s words): 

Eager to avoid rehashing the drama, producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett decided to leave the character out of their film…” 

it tells me they are more concerned with political fallout and controversy than they are with adhering to Scripture. (In my opinion, the bulk of The Bible miniseries bears out that they were not overly interested in adhering as strictly as possible to Scripture.)

When I read a quote like this from Roma Downey: 

“‘It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting-room floor,’ …’This is now a movie about Jesus, the son of God, and the devil gets no more screen time.” and, “For our movie, Son of God, I wanted all of the focus to be on Jesus. I want his name to be on the lips of everyone who sees this movie, so we cast Satan out.”

it tells me that she and Mark Burnett don’t have a full understanding of the meaning and implications of Christ’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The story of Jesus goes much deeper than just words on a page. Everything He said and did had eternal, omnipotent, prophetic, God-magnifying, salvific, miraculous foundations, impact, and effects. We’re not talking about an entertaining little story like The Three Bears or Gone With the Wind, here. The story of Jesus turns the universe inside out for every atom of everything that’s ever existed, including every single human being who has ever walked the planet. You can’t just cut a little here and cut a little there and sew the edges back together without the crippling the impact of the gospel.

To say that now that they have cut out the scene with Jesus being tempted in the wilderness (I’m assuming this is the main scene they’re referring to. I can’t remember which other scenes may have had Satan in them.), NOW this movie is all about Jesus just further demonstrates their lack of biblical understanding. Are they saying the wilderness temptation was not “about Jesus”?

That incident was not about Satan. It was about Jesus. It is one of the major incidents in which we see that Jesus is both fully God and fully man. It also encapsulates the main point of the entire Old Testament sacrificial system– that Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God without blemish or spot, the only sacrifice that could permanently take away our sin. He could not have been our sacrifice for sin had He given in to Satan’s temptations even once. Finally, it is a demonstration to us that Jesus understands the struggle with sin that we go through because He went through it Himself, personally (Hebrews 4:15).

To sum up, I think leaving Satan out has worse theological consequences than the political fallout for leaving him in.


Should you see (and financially support) this movie? That’s between you and God. But whether or not you choose to see it, as with anything else in life, use it as a springboard for sharing the gospel and studying God’s word more deeply.

What do you think? Should Christians boycott Son of God?