We have been thinking about the biblical practices necessary to obtain spiritual discernment. Here is what we have learned thus far.
# 1 – Learn to separate principles from personalities
# 2 – Pray for spiritual discernment, and value it above all our other personal requests.
># 3 – Seek to grow in your spiritual maturity.
# 4 – Search for Biblical examples where spiritual discernment was applied to a life situation.
Let’s continue with one more biblical practice of discernment.
# 5 – Learn to handle your obligations Biblically.
We are often in a quandary when it comes to our obligations. For instance, should we refuse to pay our taxes because they are being used for ungodly and unbiblical purposes such as funding abortion and diverting monies to organizations that are immoral and unbiblical in their practices? What if you work for a company that is using some of its profits to support immoral organizations and provide charitable funds for causes that are diametrically opposed to Biblical truth? And what about the matter of investing our funds in diverse markets, some of which in turn invest funds in unbiblical and immoral ways? These are not easy matters to decide. Spiritual discernment is much needed. Jesus faced something similar to this and his power of discernment was remarkable. Here is the Biblical account of Jesus’ dilemma. It is found in Matthew 22. The text is dealing with a joint attempt by the Herodians and Pharisees to make Jesus stumble in front of His own people. Here is the context of Jesus’s discerning response of “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The Herodians were a non-religious Jewish group who were Herod’s supporters and sympathetic to the Roman government. They thought that Christ’s teaching and influence were contrary to their own interests. The Pharisees on the other hand, were members of an ancient Jewish sect who believed in strictly observing the oral traditions and the Mosiac law. They refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, despite the miraculous evidence to the contrary. These two entities were not friends at all, but they had one common goal: discredit and destroy Jesus.
So here was their strategy. Jesus had just finished sharing some parables with the crowd. They saw an opportunity to put Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. In Matt. 22:17 they said to Jesus: “Tell us, then what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Now this was a trick question. If Jesus said “No,” then the Heroidans would charge Him with treason against Rome. If He answered“Yes” then the Pharisees would accuse Him of disloyalty to the Jewish nation, and He would lose the support of the crowds. This was certainly a catch-22 issue for Jesus. Jesus’ answer is a powerful example of spiritual discernment. In 22:18-19 we read “But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax. And they brought him a denarius.’”
Now remember that the denarius was a coin used as the tax money at the time, made of silver with an image of the Roman emperor on it calling him divine. The Jews considered such images idolatrous, forbidden by the second commandment. So if Jesus had said “yes” then they would accuse him of breaking the second commandment.
Jesus asked them whose inscription was on the coin and they all answered “Caesars.” Then He wisely said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus answer shows incredible discernment, for He recognized that there is a sharp distinction between the two kingdoms. After all they had already been using this coin in everyday business and commerce. That is Caesar’s kingdom and he holds power over it in a sense. But there is another kingdom, not of this world, where Jesus is king. Temporarily, we are part of both kingdoms. Someone has wisely commented: “Caesar minted coins, as he had a right to do, and he demanded some coins in return as was his right. God has ‘minted’ the human soul, and He has stamped His image on everyone. Make sure you are honoring God with His right as well.”
So to answer the issues of obligation, we must discern the difference between the two kingdoms. Some things we have no control over and thus must give to Caesar what is rightfully his (even though we do not agree with what he does with it) while making sure we are rendering to God what is rightfully His. This is a conflict we must live with which makes us long for the day of righteousness in which our King of Glory will literally rule overall! Think it thru!