The Bible informs us that we are born with a conscience and therefore have an innate sense of right and wrong (Romans 2:14–15). However, since our natural disposition is to suppress, ignore and violate our consciences, we need a new disposition, a new nature, a new heart (Romans 1:18). We receive these when, through believing in Jesus Christ, we are born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23). We become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become indwelt by the Spirit of God Himself (Romans 8:9–11; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:14).
It is the Spirit of God who teaches us the will of God and convicts us of sin (John 14:16–17; 1 Corinthians 2:12; John 16:8). The Spirit of God illuminates our hearts and minds to love and understand God's Word (John 16:13). As we read, study, and meditate on the Word of God, the Spirit reveals the truth that lies within it. We can learn much about the Word of God from keeping close fellowship with fellow Christians and praying and studying God's Word together. In these ways, we are able to distinguish what God's will is (what is right) and what is against His will (what is wrong). Right and wrong are a reflection of God's nature.
By studying the life of Jesus, we can see God's nature in human form (John 14:9). Therefore, studying what God's Word reveals to us about Jesus Christ and praying that the Holy Spirit reveals to us the truth about who Jesus is and what He commands will help us distinguish between right and wrong. By studying the teachings of the apostles we can learn what is true and sound doctrine and thereby protect ourselves from false teachings (Romans 12:2; 2 Timothy 3:14–17). By sitting under the faithful preaching and teaching of the Word of God we can grow in our understanding and discernment regarding what is right and wrong, true and false.
Ultimately, discernment comes from the illuminating ministry of the Spirit of God who enlightens us to the truth of God's Word as we study it individually and with God's people.
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