What Is The Key To Spiritual Discernment? – John 7:1-36

Education can easily become an idol – even in Christian circles. We can confuse academic training and book learning with genuine spiritual discernment that can only come from the Spirit of God. In John 7, we see the teaching of Jesus regarding the key to spiritual discernment (as well as the key to impactful communication of the truth of God). We will see here that Jesus does not attribute His insight into truth to formal training under some school of distinguished Rabbis. There is a place for acquiring the basic tools of Bible study and research under the tutelage of godly instructors – whether in a formal Bible Institute/seminary type program or whether in a more informal context. But we must not lose sight of the key to spiritual discernment.

This is the turning point in Gospel of John. From now on Jesus faces increasing opposition and antagonism. (Note the attempts to kill Him: 7:19,25; 8:37,59; 11:53.) Jesus had been under attack for healing a man on the Sabbath. He had also fed the 5000 and recognized that spiritual curiosity did not equate to a true understanding of the spiritual significance behind His physical signs.

In Chapter 7 he addresses the issue of how does someone have insight into spiritual truth.

What Is The Key To Spiritual Discernment? – John 7:1-36

BIG IDEA:
THE KEY TO SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT IS INWARD RIGHTEOUSNESS REFLECTED IN OUR COMMITMENT TO OBEDIENCE AND IN OURSENSITIVI TY TO THE WILL OF GOD RESULT = TRULY SEEKING THE GLORY OF GOD

I. (:1-9) THE LACK OF SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT IS DUE TO UNBELIEF REFLECTED IN A SUPERFICIAL SHOW OF OBEDIENCE AND INSENSITIVITY TO THE WILL OF GOD RESULT = SEEKING THE GLORY OF SELF (CAMOUFLAGED IN RELIGION)

Spiritual Discernment is not guaranteed by:

  • religious activity
  • physical bloodlines
  • access to truth

All of these were areas in which the Pharisees excelled.

  1. (:1-5) The Temptation is to Seek Your Own Glory Apart From Obedience and Sensitivity to the Will of God
    1. (:1) Judicious Restraint: "And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him."
    2. (:2) Impressive Festival: "Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand."
    3. (:3-4) Natural Challenge to Prove Yourself (Presented by skeptics)
      1. (:3) Show Your Stuff to Your Disciples – Cement Your Leadership: "His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works,which You are doing."
      2. (:4) Show Your Stuff to the World – Grab the Glory: "For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world."
    4. (:5) Underlying Motive of Unbelief: "For not even His brothers were believing in Him."
      1. Tone of these comments seems to be sarcastic; putting forth a challenge where they did not feel that He could produce; somewhat of a sneer
  2. (:6) Our Governing Principle Must Be Conformity to the Sovereign Plan of God
    1. Sensitivity to the Father’s Plan: "My time is not yet at hand"
    2. Vs. Disregard for the Father’s Plan: "but your time is always opportune"
  3. (:7-9) Spiritual Discernment (With its Living Out of Righteousness and its Exposure of Wickedness) Will Always Be Hated By an Evil World
    1. (:7) The World Hates Exposure of Its Evil: "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil."
    2. (:8-9) Those with Spiritual Discernment Run on a Different Track: "Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come. And having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee."

II. (:10-13) SPIRITUAL CURIOSITY (APART FROM FAITH AND INWARD RIGHTEOUSNESS) SPARKS LIVELY DEBATES BUT NO TRUE ALLEGIANCE

Without Spiritual Discernment, the Governing Principle remains the Strong Ties of Tradition and Legalism

  1. (:10) God’s Ways are Not Man’s Ways: "But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as it were, in secret."
  2. (:11) Curiosity Seekers Never Arrive at the Real Truth: "The Jews therefore were seeking Him at the feast, and were saying, ‘Where is He?’"
  3. (:12) Differing Opinions But No Spiritual Discernment: "And there was much grumbling among the multitudes concerning Him "
    1. Good Man: "some were saying, ‘He is a good man.’"
    2. Deceiver: "others were saying, ‘No, on the contrary, He leads the multitude astray.’"
  4. (:13) Unified in Bondage to Legalistic Tyranny and Intimidation: "Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews"

III. (:14-24) SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT DEPENDS ON INWARD RIGHTEOUSNESS

  1. (:14-16) Spiritual Discernment Evidenced in Powerful Teaching: The Source of the Teaching determines its power — not rabbinical training in the traditions of men, but direct discernment from a relationship with God the Father
    1. (:14) Prominent Pulpit: "But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach."
      1. Risky Business
      2. Proper Timing
      3. Priority of Edification
    2. (:15) Powerful Impact: "The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, ‘How has this man become learned, having never been educated?’"
    3. (:16) Divine Authority: "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me."
  2. (:17-18) Main Point: Spiritual Discernment Depends on Inward Righteousness
    1. (:17) Commitment to Obedience = Key to Discernment: "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself."
    2. (:18) Seeking God’s Glory = Mark of Inward Righteousness: "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the one who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him."
  3. (:19-24) OT Illustration Validates Legitimacy of His Sabbath Miracle
    1. (:19) As Law Breakers Themselves, They are in no Position to Judge Him: "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you carries out the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?"
    2. (:20) Wickedness Spews Out in Blasphemy and Denials: "The multitude answered, ‘You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?’"
    3. (:21-23) Parallel Between Jesus Healing on Sabbath and Circumcision on Sabbath
    4. (:24) Supreme Principle of Judgment: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment"

IV. (:25-29) SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE (WHERE DID CHRIST COME FROM?) CREATES MASS CONFUSION

  1. (:25-26) Confusion Regarding the Response of the Religious Rulers
    1. (:25) Desire to Kill . . .: "Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill?"
    2. (:26a) Yet Decline to Take Action: "And look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him."
    3. (:26b) What to make of it??: "The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?"
  2. (:27-28) Spiritual Ignorance Lies at the Heart of Mass Confusion
    1. (:27a) Self Deception: "However, we know where this man is from"
    2. (:27b) Misconception: "but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from"
    3. (:28a) Divine Correction: "You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true"
    4. (:28b) No Perception: "whom you do not know."
  3. (:29) Certainty Based on Intimate Knowledge of God the Father: "I know Him; because I am from Him, and He sent Me."

V. (:30-36) SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE (WHERE IS CHRIST GOING?) CREATES INCREASING ANTAGONISM (ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF MUCH POSITIVE RESPONSE)

  1. (:30) Antagonism Frustrated by Divine Immunity: "They were seeking therefore to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come."
  2. (:31) Antagonism Frustrated by Incipient Faith: "But many of the multitude believed in Him; and they were saying, ‘When the Christ shall come, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?’"
  3. (:32-33) Antagonism Frustrated by Sovereignty of Christ: "the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. Jesus therefore said, ‘For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me.’"
  4. (:35-36) Antagonism Frustrated by Spiritual Ignorance: "The Jews therefore said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we shall not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He? What is this statement that He said, You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come?’"