Examine your thoughts
When you ask yourself a serious question, listen to the answers you get. Let’s take a simple question like, “Should I marry this woman?” Or “Should I accept this job offer?”
How would you know? You certainly cannot trust something as fleeting as emotion. You quickly discover that you are deluding yourself if you think you can figure it out. Only God knows the answer to these things. So you need to hear from Him. You need to carefully examine your thoughts about matters like these.
Your mind is controlled by your flesh at best
This is the norm before you come to believe in Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to renew it.
Paul talked about this in Ephesians 4:17–18:
Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. [NRSV]
Paul goes on to talk about the trouble they got into due to the dependence on the mind and fleshly understanding. He talks about the same problems in Colossians 2:18 and Romans 1:21. Our minds are clouded by sin and defenseless against an enemy we were not aware of.
The goal for discernment is to eliminate or disregard all thoughts which are not from God. He has the only answers you can trust. You don’t know enough and the enemy is trying to hurt you. The same is true of opinions offered by other people. They are in no better shape than you are—unless they are obviously more mature than you in the Lord; unless God has told you to listen to them; unless the Holy Spirit tells you their words are true.
As mentioned, thoughts have three sources. Next week, I begin covering them each individually as we continue to examine the process of thought discernment.