But strong meat belongs to those who are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. – Hebrews 5:14
Last time, I said that the five natural senses of seeing, hearing, touch/feeling, smelling, and tasting have corresponding senses in the spirit realm. We talked about spiritual seeing and hearing and how those manifest themselves. The other spiritual senses are less obvious, but they do exist, and as we use them, our discernment increases. The spiritual senses help us in the discerning of good and evil, of which “discerning of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10) is a part.
Have you ever heard someone say, “That idea just leaves a bad taste in my mouth”? They’re probably sensing something in the spirit. Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” That is a metaphorical expression, but there are times when the Lord’s nearness can be sensed very sweetly – almost to the point of “tasting” sweet.
People also commonly express that something just doesn’t smell right. They are not talking about physical odors, but about a situation they are uncomfortable with. Something doesn’t seem above-board. They are sensing that spiritually. Spiritual smell sometimes evidences in the natural, as well. When demonic presences are in the vicinity, occasionally there is an accompanying smell of sulfur, burning cinders, rotten fish, etc. On the other hand, I have personally been in worship settings where the delightful smell of apples, roses, or orange blossoms began to faintly fill the room. It wasn’t my nose playing tricks on me. Multiple people smelled it along with me. It was the Lord, making His Presence known.
What about the sense of touch and/or feeling? Many times we believers talk of having received a “touch of the Lord.” During a time of corporate prayer, I once felt a hand firmly pressed upon my heart for several minutes. I had my eyes closed, and at first I thought someone had decided to pray for me with the laying on of hands and had done so inappropriately. I opened my eyes to find that there was no one touching me. It was either the Lord or one of His angels. The sensation continued long after I had opened my eyes. Perhaps He was imparting something to me in that moment. That was a case of the spiritual sense of touch crossing over into the natural.
We can “feel” in the spirit what is going on with other people. We may sense the Presence of the Lord when a person who has a close relationship with Him walks by us. I tend to experience this as a slight feeling of fire or warm oil while I am around the person. I have sometimes felt an almost tangible darkness around people who were in some kind of spiritual bondage.
The tangible Presence of the Lord often feels like a weighty blanket over us – a thickness-in-the-air sensation. It will sometimes be felt as though rivers of love, or warm oil, are washing over us. This is most common when the Body is gathered together in deep worship, but we can experience it individually as well, perhaps while in personal prayer and worship.
We may have a goose-bumpy sensation when spiritual activity, either good or bad, is going on around us. When angelic activity increases, often in corporate worship settings, a cool, refreshing breeze which has nothing to do with the heating/air conditioning system sometimes manifests. Some have theorized that it might be due to the movement of angel wings. Perhaps it is the “wind” of the Holy Spirit Himself.
On the other hand, an evil presence will sometimes manifest itself as a very cold or hot sensation which is not at all pleasant. We do not need to fear the negative manifestations; they help us to discern the spirits so that we can take whatever action is necessary.
Ask the Lord to heighten your spiritual senses, and expect Him to answer your prayer. As you eagerly anticipate Him doing so, keeping alert in your spirit, you will begin to see your spiritual senses come alive and grow more acute.
Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to rightly apply what you are sensing in the spirit realm. He may be alerting you for prayer purposes, so that you understand more fully how to help others, or for your own personal safety or guidance. When it comes to sensing the Lord’s nearness through any of the five spiritual senses, He may be revealing Himself to strengthen and encourage you, build your faith, or simply to let you know how much He loves you.
I hope this series has been useful to you! I’d be glad to answer any of your questions to the best of my ability, to hear your stories, or to receive your feedback. :-)
Keys to Increasing in Discernment Intro
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