Several years ago, I had some serious vision problems. A film had slowly developed in the lenses of both eyes. It was as if I were looking through a perpetual fog. It happened so gradually that I was unaware of my vision loss until it was quite significant. I walked through the world, oblivious to my inability to clearly discern what was around me.
In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul has just prayed that their love would abound more and more, rooted in true knowledge and depth of insight. Now he speaks to the results of such deeply rooted love:
“…so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ…”(Philippians 2:10).
Like the rest of us, the spiritual eyes of the Philippians had become clouded. They were in need of lens transplants so that they could clearly discern what was best, and then live accordingly. I have heard it taught—“It all depends on the lens.” In counseling, we try to assist people in the perceptions that affect their perpetual emotional states. Truthfully, the way we look at things usually affects our feelings more than the things themselves do.
Paul is here addressing something far beyond a simple shift in perception. He is reminding them that abundant love is rooted in knowledge of the truth and depth of spiritual insight. These assets result in clarity of perception, an ability to discern, and a glimpse of our world as God sees it. In other words, it gives a biblical world view. In the Word, we have (at least some of) the mind of Christ.
In relativistic philosophy (the true religion of the masses these days), perceptions and opinions abound. By definition, one point of view is no better than another. Taken to its logical conclusion, there should be no laws and no consequences because the criminal has the same right to express himself as he sees fit as does anyone else. His perceptions of the situation are equally valid to those of the masses who say that opening fire on unarmed citizens in a movie theater, for example, is wrong. In fact, words like right and wrong lose their meaning entirely. In the ultimate philosophical irony, some people insist that “there is no absolute truth.” This statement nullifies itself because the statement itself proposes an absolute truth. This emperor has no clothes.
Paul wants something better for his readers. Christ wants superior things for his church. God’s reality is the one true reality. While we cannot fully comprehend it, we have what we need for this life in his Word. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the Word of God is written on our hearts, changing our desires and perceptions. We discern (the same Greek word as judge) what is best. We live, to the best of our Spirit-assisted ability, pure and blameless as we wait for the coming of Christ. Taking his truth deep within us, we are transformed and remodeled from the inside out, repent when we fall, and agree with God about our sins, while accepting and extending grace and truth.