I briefly mentioned in Part 5 of this series that there is a thin veil between the five physical senses and their corresponding five spiritual senses, and that it is easy to slip back and forth between the two. You can see, hear, taste, feel, and smell things with your natural senses. You can do all of those with your spiritual senses, too. Seeing and hearing are the dominant ones, but the other senses are also available to us. “Discerning of spirits,” one of the nine manifestations of the Holy Spirit, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, evidences itself through the spiritual senses.
In these last two posts of our discernment series, I’d like to give some examples of how we can increase in discernment, especially in our ability to discern good and evil, by using our spiritual senses, according to Hebrews 5:14: “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.”
How do we exercise, and thereby increase, our discerning muscles? By faith, we need to expect God to communicate to us through our spiritual senses and then deliberately pay attention when He does.
You see with your eyes. There will also be times when you will “see” inwardly, in your mind’s eye. (It is really your spirit’s eye, but it seems to be in the mind.) For example, someone’s face flashes into your consciousness. That is seeing in the spirit, and it is not the time to think, “Huh! I wonder why she just came to mind? I haven’t thought of her in weeks,” and then shrug it off. When a face flashes before you, that is a vision. It is the Holy Spirit giving you a hint to pray for that person.
Seeing in the spirit is usually brief. If you don’t get the message, God may repeat the same picture for you, but don’t expect it to hang there for a minute at a time. It could, but typically doesn’t. That’s why you have to be paying attention, and then act on the information you’ve been given. It might not be a face. God may direct you to go to a certain place in the same way. Or He may release to you a new idea or new understanding about something. You can receive lots of revelation through these brief visions.
There may be times when your spiritual seeing will cross over into your natural sight, so that you see something “open-eyed.” Open-eyed seeing does not usually mean that the natural objects within your vision disappear (although it can happen that way). What you see in the spirit is simply superimposed over the top of what is in your natural environment. Again, this experience is usually very brief, so you have to train yourself to expect such things and to pay attention.
You hear sounds with your physical ears. You can also hear God speak to you on the inside — what we often call an “inner voice.” New Agers talk about hearing the inner voice of self — or even of a channeling spirit. That’s not what I mean at all. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. He’s there to help you and be your intimate Friend. As that Friend and Helper, He speaks to you. But many of us don’t expect Him to, so we’re not tuned in as we ought to be. Cultivate listening for Him, and don’t shrug it off when you hear something on the inside that is out of your ordinary thought process.
Spiritual hearing can cross over into our natural hearing. When that happens, you hear an audible voice, which is actually supernatural in nature. Audible spiritual hearing is not confined to words. It may be a sound of some other sort. I’ve been awakened out of sleep more than once by an alarm clock or kitchen timer that was not really ringing in the natural. The Lord then spoke to me in the inner voice things such as, “Do you know what time it is?” or “It’s time to wake up.” He didn’t mean what time of day it was according to the clock, or that I needed to get up to make it somewhere on time. He was talking about needing to be aware of where the world is at on His last days’ timeline and how to respond accordingly. Some people hear trumpet blasts. God can use any sound He wants to get His point across.
We’ll continue on the subject of building up our spiritual senses for one more post, and then we’ll be done.