Definition of assent as an intransitive verb: to accept a concept or course of action formally.
Definition of discern: the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure: skill in discerning . 2: to see or notice something that is not very clear or obvious.
In 1 Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul said “1NOW ABOUT the spiritual gifts (the special endowments of supernatural energy), brethren, I do not want you to be misinformed.
2You know that when you were heathen, you were led off after idols that could not speak [habitually] as impulse directed and whenever the occasion might arise.
3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking under the power and influence of the [Holy] Spirit of God can [ever] say, Jesus be cursed! And no one can [really] say, Jesus is [my] Lord, except by and under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit.
4Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same.
5And there are distinctive varieties of service and ministration, but it is the same Lord [Who is served].
6And there are distinctive varieties of operation [of working to accomplish things], but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all.
7But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit.
8To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit;
9To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit;
10To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues.” AMP Version
So verse 10 says God gives some the gift to discern (tell the difference) between true and false spirits by what they speak (utter). It is a special gift of discerning the spirits. We are all spirits in a body. As always, check with your pastors because I may be wrong, but I understand this to mean knowing the difference between truth (God’s Word through and by His Spirit) and deceit (lies from the author of lies, Satan and his evil spirits).
Paul goes on to say in chapter 12, verses 27 & 28 “27Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].”
28So God has appointed some in the church [for His own use]: first apostles (special messengers); second prophets (in spired preachers and expounders); third teachers; then wonder-workers; then those with ability to heal the sick; helpers; administrators; [speakers in] different (unknown) tongues.”
So, spiritual discernment has to come from God, through His Holy Spirit, and mental assent is our mental agreement, through our cognitive mental understanding.
In the past I read my bible and thought I had a good understanding of it through mental assent. I understood the words and sentence structure, and when I came upon a new word I’d look it up! A good bible dictionary is essential, in addition to Webster’s. A good friend suggested I pray before reading God’s Word, and ask God to give me understanding, because it is written in James 1:5 “5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
“1MY SON, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you,
2Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it];
3Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,
4If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures,
5Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God.
6For the Lord gives skillful and godly Wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7He hides away sound and godly Wisdom and stores it for the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with Him); He is a shield to those who walk uprightly and in integrity,
8That He may guard the paths of justice; yes, He preserves the way of His saints.”
Verse 3 says “cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding.” Ask and receive.
Each time we read God’s Word, no matter how many times we’ve read it before, a deeper understanding will be given to us, and that by His Holy Spirit, who is our Teacher.
I believe the only way we can get to know Jesus is through reading His Word, and if we can’t read it, we need to hear it in church or on CD or IPod, or whatever means there is to listen to it, and we need to be sure it is truth (by taking notes and checking it out for ourselves in our bibles), so we, too, can discern whether it’s truth or false. Some preachers put their ‘spin’ on it and accidentally or intentionally leave out part of it, or add their own opinions into it.
Each word is important and woe to the one who misconstrues it! Let the Holy Spirit teach us, each being different, as our hearts are ready to receive it, God, in His perfect timing, will reveal it to us.
Jesus said in Revelations 22:16-21 “16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. 18 And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.
20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.”